The Quilter: Quilting with Malke

Archive for January 2009

Here is the direct link to the latest Quilting Challenge. Please let me know your thoughts and contact me if you would like more information.

Challenge Quilt Fabric

Challenge Quilt Fabric

I discovered that I enjoy doing journal quilts. I never did traditional quilts per se.  My quilts have to have some humor to them or tell a story.  I started joining small challenges just so I could do that.  The formats are usually small and there are very few restrictions.  You are given a challenge fabric and a time limit.  Both those work well for me.  At Sew Materialistic we are also having a challenge, if you would like to know more about it, please email me.

I went to California for a wedding.  It was beautiful and I have started making a quilt with the monogram of the invitation in the center.  I’ll start posting pictures as I work.  I haven’t decided how big it will be but I’m sure it will let me know.

Hello Fellow Quilters,

If you have an interesting quilting site or blog please feel free to contact me so I can share it with the rest of us.  And no, I’m not a Marxist.

My daughter reminded me that the fabric she used for the crib set is from my store. As you can probably guess, my children like “shopping” in my store.

A challenge quilt that is 24″x24″. We had to use a robot fabric. I used the robots in descending size order (that I altered and photo transfered by myself) because I wanted the look of them coming to earth, that’s why the quilt is called “Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts”.

Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts Quilt

Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts Quilt

A question often asked at Sew Materialistic is: “Do you only sell craft fabrics?” Obviously, you can make whatever you want with cotton fabrics.

My daughter made this crib set as a gift because she doesnt like quilting but likes personalized gifts.

These titles are my own inventions.  I guess it’s like art, you see what you see.

Road to Califronia Melting Pot Quilt

Road to Califronia Melting Pot Quilt

Another quilt from the show.  Every kids dream.

Road to California Treehouse Quilt

Road to California Treehouse Quilt

I went to a quilt show in Ontario California called “The Road to California.”  It is always held in January, which works out good for me because it’s my mother’s birthday, and she lived in LA.  This year I took a few pictures of some quilts that, I felt, stood out.  Here is the first oneThe Road to California Button Quilt

I thought this was cute.  My store name, “Sew Materialistic”, was cited in as a store name pun.

My personal pride and joy.  Lots of fun doing this one, and lots of years!  I’ve always been fascinated with the grandmother’s garden quilts but, I also know, I’m never going to sew all those little suckers together.

For years, I’ve been collecting bottle caps, the metal ones.  Whenever we would have family gatherings I would give the grandchildren the job of collecting for me (I don’t think we want to know what those little hands have been into).

When I finally had enough (but, like fabric, who ever has enough?) I separated them by color, drilled holes in them and put them on reinforced fabric with clear tie tacks.  The gg design shows through but, not being made of cute fabrics, it became my grandpa’s garden and guess what grows there? !?  You can’t see it in the picture but there are tassels made of wine corks, old keys, chicken wishbones, screws, cards, etc…  What grows in your grandpa’s garden? With the extra caps I made a frame for a mirror in my shop, I will try to send that picture soon.

Grandpa's Flower Garden Quilt (Beer blooms beautifully this time of year)

Grandpa's Flower Garden Quilt (Beer blooms beautifully this time of year)

Did you know that Eleanor Burns has a free web site where you can watch her videos?  Her link is

Another challenge. the fabric is in the flags.  Another fascination of mine.  I even own all the appropriate figures!  Notice Dorothy in the balloon?  I did a lot of beading in this one too.  Funny story is that I finished the quilt and was so excited to do it within the deadline, when I finally read the rules (last of course) and I saw that it was too small and I had to figure out how to make it bigger, hence the border. mistakes CAN make your quilt look better, and bigger!

Do you have a similar story?

Farewell Dorothy Quilt (Wizard of Oz)

Farewell Dorothy Quilt (Wizard of Oz)

Another common question I get asked at my store:

What colors can I use to go together to make a quilt?

Pick a focus fabric, meaning something you absolutely love and will make you feel good every time you look at it while you are working on it.  The selvage edge (the outside edges of the fabric on the bolt) will have dots of color of all the colors used in the fabric.   Just use this guide to choose your coordinates.  Relax, almost anything works!

Another FAQ:

How much ribbon will make a bow in the hair? 3/4 of a yard.

How much ribbon will make a nice sash with a bow? 2-21/2 yards.

It's lonely at the top. (King Kong)

It's lonely at the top. (King Kong)

This was a challenge quilt with the challenge fabric being the figures in the front. I hated the fabric and didn’t want to participate but was talked into it. I tried to use as little as possible. I’ve had a fixation with King Kong ever since I saw the original (maybe I go for the strong silent type) so this is my homage to him. I also collect King Kong memorabilia. Don’t ask how many people think I’M weird! What do you collect?

Another FAQ:

What thread should I buy to sew on buttons?

Coats and Clark has a button and carpet thread that is very good for that purpose but it isn’t an all purpose thread and you shouldn’t use it for mending or hemming. In particular, metal buttons are a problem. The metal shank often cuts the threads because there might be a burr in the metal that cuts through almost any thread over time. I read the best thing to use is dental floss. If you get hung up about the color, but really no one can tell (and anyway, who cares what they think anyway?!), use an appropriate colored permanent marker.

Another question I get is:

What should I put in a beginner’s sewing box?


Needles, pins, seam ripper, tape measure, small scissors, resque tape, safety pins, and small variety of threads.

Actually I like giving a filled sewing box for her, a small tool box for him, and a first aid kit for both when I go to weddings.

This is one of the most asked questions in my store:

“How do I know which sewing machine needle I should use?”

Almost all over-the-counter needles that you can buy are for all household machines: one side is flat, one is round.

The 3 brands that I sell are:

Schmetz: a German company that makes a superior needle in many different styles.

Organ: I carry them only in bulk for dressmakers, not the best quality but quite servicable, I use them very often because they are very reasonable.

Singer: most people ask for these right up front, somehow the singer name is still synonymous with sewing. What I like about Singer is that the color code all their needles so you don’t have to guess what is in the machine. Red band [red color on top] are for regular sewing of woven fabrics. Size 14 is also the average size, use a higher number for heavier fabrics and a lower for lighter weight. The red band needles have a sharp point. Yellow band [yellow top] are for stretch fabrics. The point of these needles are actually rounded a little [seen only through a microscope] so that when you sew knits the needle slips between the threads so as not to break them and maybe cause a run. You would also use a very small number yellow band for very fine chiffons.

A paper pieced quilt where all the centers are fods and the setting blocks are bugs.  It’s called “Guess who’s coming for dinner.”  Funny how you learn from every experience.  I learned from this quilt, which is only a small wall hanging, that I shouldnt be lazy about making a sleeve. it never hangs flat because it hangs just on the loops.
My faster way of putting in sleeves is to sew the sleeve and binding by machine at the same time and then go back and hand stitch the bottom of the sleeve the same time that i do the binding.  (Was that clear?)

Guess whose coming for dinner? Quilt

Guess whose coming for dinner? Quilt

In one of the classes we offer, the teacher requested, as part of the supply list, “That Purple Thang.”  Not being a gadget girl, I suggested the students do the same thing I do, use the point of a large seam ripper.  It works for me and I have a few.  This way I don’t have to be looking for that particular tool.

I found a great product (and I am far from a gadget girl) the 2 pronged pins (“Forked Pins“)that will hold down your seam allowance on front and back at the same time.  We sell them.  How convenient is that?

(Original Post)

When I finished the holocaust quilt, and put in the last stitch, I sat back and announced that I finally finished my life’s work. my youngest daughter was sitting there and said quite innocently, “I thought we were your life’s work!”

How true, they all are, and I thank G-d for them everyday. But this quilt is important to me, too, because it tells the story of my mother’s family during the Holocaust. As a religious Jew, who lost most of my family during that time, the naysayers (deniers, revisionists etc) hit a very sensitive cord in me.

How could someone say it all never happened when just from one family so many perished? But the point of the quilt is not about the loss but, rather, how many of us survive today to prove that we are still here and the master race is no longer.

Front of my Holocaust Quilt
Front of my Holocaust Quilt
The back of my Holocaust Quilt
The back of my Holocaust Quilt

The quilt represents my family’s struggle and triumph. The back of the quilt shows the darkness, on the bottom, with the names of those who were killed and then it blends to the light, on top, with the names who survived, and their children, grand-children and great grand-children.

I spoke to a salesman about selling the same fabric to the large chains and us smaller guys[or gals]. He said there is a big difference in the quality of the product. They don’t sell the same lines, the fabric sold to the big chains are a little inferior and the printing is done in china, not japan like the fabrics sold to the small stores. Now you know.

Insider Info: Coats and Clark is changing their thread spools. cotton wrapped poly will no longer be available so stock up now, they will only have the dual duty in poly.

My tech guy says i should always impart some of my phenomenally extensive wisdom on this blog. (FYI, I have a dry sarcastic humor, don’t take it personally)

So here goes: I know that a lot of you new quilters are afraid of making mistakes so you are afraid to try something new. We would all be laying in our cribs drooling and saying “googoo” if we didn’t try something new and different.

For me, its challenges. I join the ones I can to push myself to try something new that i wouldn’t think to try on my own. There is no such thing as bad work. Say it LOUD, say it often! If you love what you’re doing, who else should care? After all these years in the business, I’ve come up with one motto [albeit about clothing construction]: if it’s perfect and all the stripes match, its home-made, store-bought never matches.

Raising kids at work was loads of fun, too. I couldn’t afford sitters so the kids usually were with me. From carriage to stroller to stroller to walker to grabbing anything off the shelves to finally sitters.

I’ve always had my kids at work too. When a daughter had time off school they worked in the store, all 6 of them. The boys on the other hand had to be bribed with food to get them to redo stock.

Now I sometimes have some of the grandchildren that live in brooklyn work for me on sundays when they are bored. My granddaughter from Argentina came in for a week and thought it was just the best vacation to just stay and work with me in the store and, of course, work the cash register and answer the phone. she is 10 yrs old.

I count my time in the business by what pregnancy I was in.  I started in my basement with a partner when i was pregnant with my 24 yr old son.  He’s now a father.

I moved into my third location on the day i gave birth to my youngest, he is now 18.  I remember my husband telling me that he would take me to the new store to see how it was shaping up.  I kept on telling him that I just had my 13th kid and I needed some time away from work.  He said “just for 2 minutes.”  Did I mention that he doesn’t wear a watch, ever?  And his sense of time is screwy?

Of course, I stayed and put away stock.  If that’s not dumb and dumber, I don’t know what is.

Being in the fabric business for 24 years has had its ups and downs.
I’m happier with myself now that we are almost exclusively a quilt shop. A long standing argument between me and my daughter about what extras to carry. I say that if I have the customers that are looking for more crafty stuff, i should be able to offer it to them, afterall, a sale is a sale. she is more of the purist mind and would like to do only quilting. what you think?

Hi!  Umm…  come back for more!

Hi, I’m Malke

I've been a quilter for a couple of decades and I decided to share my quilts, methods, joys and thoughts on quilting with the rest of the blogsphere. Please bookmark my blog by clicking the cute "Add This" button below. Read more on the "About Me" page.

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January 2009
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