Quilt With Us

An interview with Anita Grossman Solomon!

Recently, Anita volunteered to make a quilt from her book, Rotary Cutting Revolution, from Connecting Threads fabrics. It turned out fabulous! We ended up chatting so much during the process that I decided to make it an official interview! Now you can get to know Anita too:

How did you get started in quilting? Did someone teach you or are you self taught?

In the fall of 1990 I happened to be walking past a decorative fabric shop, Pierre Deux, on Bleecker Street in New York City. A sign in the window indicated its last day of business. When I saw shoppers inside, I couldn't resist the temptation to take a look for myself. The next thing I remember is fingering the scraps and yardage.

For fun I thought I'd make a scrap quilt to document the pieces and toss the leftovers. I borrowed a book and learned to quilt. I discovered a quilt shop. I purchased more fabric. I was seduced into quilting.
I said goodbye to the dining room table as I knew it.

How in the world did you come up with the Make It Simpler® methods??! Do they come to you in a dream?

I stopped dreaming about quilting when I began work on my first book. Prior to that I always thought about quiltmaking, especially in bed, where I mulled over blocks, settings and quilting designs. I often got so

stirred up with ideas that I couldn't sleep.

All the methods I developed were a result of trying to simplify a block's construction. Some ideas were near instant, such as Make It Simpler
® Paper Piecing, others took years to resolve.

Because quilting is your work, do you still quilt for pleasure?

I haven't had an opportunity to sew anything not work related in ten years. But every time I sew fabrics together I am in a state of bliss.

The No Waste Windmill you made from Connecting Threads fabrics is so much fun to look at! You asked for scrappy fabrics and I sent you fabric from at least 10 different unrelated fabric collections, thinking
“there’s no way these will look good together”. How do you know these wildly different fabrics will look so
great together?

I like the challenge of putting a lot of different fabrics together. The more fabrics, the better. I became familiar with the group of CT fabrics by first laundering them, then ironing them and finally sorting them into color families. I think I had more 'blues' than other fabrics. As a 'rule' I generally chose one color to dominate in a scrap quilt, so I chose a greater percentage of blues for the quilt. I make quilts because I love working with fabric. The
actual quilting unifies all the disparate patches. Janice E. Petre of Sinking Spring, PA has collaborated with me
since 2002 to quilt all of my work.

Quilt With Us members are quite active in making quilts for charity. Tell us about your Super-Sized Nine-patch pattern and how it can be used for charity.

The Super-Sized Nine Patch Quilt succeeds because all aspects of it's construction, the cutting, measuring, matching sewing and 'birthing' are simplified. Yardage is used efficiently and the resulting quilt is attractive. It makes the most of fabric. It takes about as much skill to assemble it as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich from sliced bread so its especially suited to endeavors by groups.

Here is a PDF of the pattern:

Link to Super-Sized Nine Patch Quilt tutorial:

Your teaching schedule must keep you very busy. How do you juggle your quilting business with your personal time, or does it all run together?

It's the work behind the scenes, writing books and organizing, that demands an enormous amount of time and concentration.
Basically months of preparation go into one day of teaching. I limit my

teaching to less than two months a year. Traveling by air, coupled with audio
visual equipment and luggage packed with quilts is difficult.

Do you enjoy travel?

These days ‘being there’ is more fun that ‘getting there.’ I traveled through England and Wales during June 2010 to study antique quilts and textiles. Teaching and writing about quiltmaking is my work; looking at quilts is my pleasure. I’m fascinated by antique patchwork, construction and fabric and surprised by how different book images appear from the actual quilts. The textile photographs I took during my trip are only for my study purposes or I’d share them with you; most collections don’t permit photography otherwise.

June 2010. Anita reaches the Victoria and Albert Museum,
London, for the
symposium and exhibition of "Quilts: 1710-2010"

The Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester; Educational samples

Anita at a textile storage facility in the UK

Mad for Hexagons

What is your fabric stash like? Too huge for words? Minimalistic?

Oh my gosh. Ginormous. I still know every single piece I have. It's sorted and organized and there when I want it. But, as I have always said, "I have no expectation of using it all." I still love the very first fabrics that I

acquired. Some fabrics are very dear to me, and I have cut into them.

I have dresser drawers and project boxes full of projects and ideas that I developed years ago in the middle of the night. They are frozen in time. Writing quiltmaking books is a different life than I had when I taught weekly classes and quilted for myself. I have an easy commute. Beyond the kitchen is my office area with an enormous workspace. In the opposite direction is the sewing room. In the midst of it all is a dining room table that I swear, one November, will be cleared for Thanksgiving. My favorite piece of furniture is the swivel chair at my sewing machine. When I sit there I am at peace with the world. By the way, I'm glad you didn't ask if I have more than one sewing machine :)

Here are photos of Anita's creative NY storage space

My Two-Color Pineapple Quilt

To assess the half-drop setting, I used magnetic pins to stagger the blocks onto the salvaged metal kitchen cabinets in my
studio. I use
every available space as a design wall

Anita’s website: http://makeitsimpler.blogspot.com

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Comment by Linda Hughes on July 13, 2010 at 12:00pm
Thanks Karen for the interview and the chance to win her book. I love that quilt she made from CT fabrics. And this site is becoming like a free online magazine. Patterns, interviews, how to's - it is my favorite quilting site now.
Comment by Vicki Olmstead on July 13, 2010 at 11:52am
Great interview! It's always interesting to find out how people got into the quilting biz and what it's like. I absolutely love the quilt she made from CT fabrics! Vicki/NY
Comment by Janice McLaren on July 13, 2010 at 11:49am
Great interview! Thanks for the giveaway.
Comment by Gaile Jenkins Northern BC on July 13, 2010 at 11:40am
Very interesting, thanks (I would love to have Anita's stash that is in her NY storage space!!)
Comment by Pam/NY on July 13, 2010 at 8:37am
This was great...Love the quilt she made from CT fabric!
Comment by Diane Gunter/Canada on July 13, 2010 at 8:28am
Karen how wonderful that you had the pleasure of being with Anita. The interview was fabulous. Thank you for sharing it with us. I love the quilt she made with Connecting Threads Fabric.

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