The Quilter: Quilting with Malke

Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

I was asked a while ago if I would be willing to be interviewed for an article on Jewish Women in Business and here are excerpts of some of my answers:

What inspired you to create your business? I had just moved into a new house in a new neighborhood and was in between having babies; and a friend of mine who also sewed a lot approached me and asked if I would like to open a sewing store in my basement, foolishly, I agreed.

Were there any areas where you discovered tricks to cut costs? If so, where and how? I started giving classes so that I could save on the cost of a teacher, even though teaching is not my favorite thing to do.  We also are more careful in our ordering pattern. We order to restock sold notions but order new fabrics not more than once a month.  We also moved from a store front bck to my house so tha I could cut down in the rent and other commercial obligations.

Have you encountered any challenges specifically relating to your being an Orthodox Jewish women business owner? Not so much challenges as venues that I cannot participate in because I choose to be orthodox.

If so, how did/do you deal with the challenge? I do not participate in the many shabbos venues for quilters.

What advice can you offer other Orthodox Jewish Women entrepreneurs? Realize that being a woman today is not what will make or break a business.  Being orthodox puts many restrictions on you but you can compensate by working harder and manuvering around the system.  Know your business inside and out, network, and most importantly, take some business courses.

How do you maintain a work-life balance, juggling the roles of a business owner and mother?  Although any job outside of the home is stressful, if your goal is to work for pleasure because you love what youre doing, you can manage.  I love to run my business most of the time.  I have also been given the golden opportunity to work with my children.  They were always with me when they were small and when they got old enough, the girls work for me, either full or part time, and the boys help with stock when they could leave yeshiva.

Our challenge quilts are due soon and I am pretty excited about it because quite a lot of people bought the challenge fabric.  Remember: they are due the begining of March.

For those of you who live nearby or are coming to NY to visit- don’t miss out on our STORE-WIDE sale! We are putting every item in stock at a 35% discount!!! (when paying with cash, 30% when with a credit card… not including already discounted items)

Come in and stock up on notions and browse through our fabrics for great finds! This sale is really not to be missed and I’m not just saying that because it is my store 🙂

Join our new “Finish-a-Work-in-Progress” challenge.  It’s relatively easy:  register your UFOs (UnFinished Object) by emailing or in person, check in with us your progress every 6 weeks, and when each project is completed, show-and-tell to receive a gift of fat quarters.  The one who finishes the most UFOs by the end of the year 2011, receives a gift certificate.  Remember, there are consequences for those who don’t finish… Let the race begin!

Check out the store’s blog for the first UFOs to be submitted!

Good luck! 🙂

I remember watching an old Johnny Carson show when he said, everyone loves talking about their illness as much as everyone  else hates to listen- so I am not going there.  Suffice it to say, for now, I am back and hope to be for a long time.  Health and happiness to everyone in this year of 2011 and 5771.

Our Monthly Raffle is finally back! The prize is a $5 gift card to my store, Sew Materialistic, or a $5 coupon off your next purchase online @ In order to enter please post a comment, ”like” the page, and suggest our Facebook page to a friend. Thanks!

I used to hear my husband laughing hysterically everytime he went to bathroom. He was reading this book: Anthology of Jewish Humor… That’s why I made the quilt: to remember that going to the bathroom CAN be funny!

Here is the rest of the story:

I started creating this Mendel & Zelda quilt waaay back in 1992, though I didn’t finish it until 2002. The story is copied from Anthology of Jewish Humor and handwritten on the quilt. Pictures are from The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco. Edges of the couples were finished with puff paint done by my son’s friend’s mother, a professional “yarmulka” artist (she decorated Jewish little boy’s skullcaps). I spent $10 for her steady hand, beautiful work and no headache for me!

And in case you were curious about my husband and my sense of humor, here is an exerpt from the book: 😉 enjoy!

What is a landlord? A bore! He asks you one question all the time-rent! What is rent? A fine you pay for being poor.  What is poverty? Dirt-on the surface. What is riches? More dirt-under the surface. Everybody wants money. Money! What is money? A disease we like to catch but not spread.

“Did you marry me or hire me?” asked Zelde.
“I stole you, now I have to pay the penalty.”
What is love? A conquest. What is marriage? An inquest. Don’t worry, your father was no fool. He made believe he didn’t see us run away. We felt romantic and he got off cheap.

What is romance? Soap bubbles. They look nice, but taste rotten. What’s a woman’s tongue? A little dog’s tail.  It wags too much! What is a dowry? Every man’s price.

My daughter is the original recycler- this is a project she made from an old recycled denim skirt:

Denim Skirt Bag Front

“This is the bag I made out of the top of a denim skirt that needed to be desperately thrown out. I had cut it off the skirt a few years ago and only now finally made s/t with it, so I was a bit limited with the size and all.”

Denim Skirt Bag Back

“All the outside pockets can be used; the back one I use for my cell phone. The handle is nylon webbing attached to a padded strap from a laptop bag- but covered with cotton velvet and topstitched with a decorative stitch (I only have about 4 of them on my machine :-/)”

Denim Skirt Bag Inside

“Inside I used a loose weave cotton (I had bought for a wrap, but didn’t work out) lined with a waterproof nylon fabric for the four pockets- all different sizes, two with velcro closures. The top closure is with two size #5 zippers, opening from the center, so the fly of the skirt/bag can still be opened 🙂 (for no other reason, except I thought it would be cool!)”

Reinventing denim clothing is very popular and I hope you readers out there will share one of your projects, too!!

My favorite new product is “Quilter’s Home” which is a really fun magazine geared for quilters but not, necessarily, only patterns.  I read it from cover to cover. try it and get addicted just like me!

My daughter sent me a picture of her husband using the “Moby Wrap” with her son.  I guess it’s a unisex wrap with that neutral black color.  No excuses dads!

Unisex Moby Wrap

Unisex Moby Wrap

This was my daughter’s project.

To make a wrap-around baby carrier (like a Moby Wrap):

  1. Cut approximately Five (5) yards of a slightly stretchy fabric 45″- 60″ wide that also “breathes” (eg cotton knit).
  2. Cut in half the long way; making two wraps.
  3. Fold in half the short way.
  4. Iron on or sew an applique to indicate the center for when you are ready to use it.
  5. The two ends should taper off to be points for an easier tie, so cut a triangle off each.

And that’s all folks!

Moby Wrap: Make it Yourself

Moby Wrap: Make it Yourself

Tools that I haven’t mentioned because you all knew about them and I think are great:

Iron Safe: Our best on-line seller, covers the sole plate of the iron with a Teflon cover that makes it safe to iron on anything without the shine or scorch.

Tailor Tacker is a neat little gadget that is used in dressmaking but works just as well in quilting to accurately mark your quarter seam corners.

120 Inch Tape Measures are simply great for measuring larger quilts accurately.  When I was trying to measure the chupa quilt I had to keep on flipping my 60″ and coming up with different numbers.  I now have a 120″.

Did I mention about the 2 Pronged Pins?  Fantastic to make sure that your seams are in the right place without having to fidget with the seam allowances.
Quilters Suction Cup that makes it more secure when holding down your rulers so they don’t move while you’re cutting.
Fabric Glue that you use as a temporary adhesive so that you don’t need to use pins to hold down the binding when you sew your binding by hand.

A few people contacted me and asked how I got the photo on the fabric for the Exposed Breast Cancer Quilt.  Since I do a lot of photo transfers, I use special fabric bubble jet ink and treat the fabric myself.  The actual xrays is fabric that I carried at the time.  I now have another similar one but not the exact same.  As an aside, I now also sell prepared photo transfer fabric from June Tailor by the piece at $3 each.

I’m sure, by now, all of you out there know that Coats n Clark has changed their thread line.  Not only physically in look but also the thread.  The only colors available in all purpose thread, that is cotton covered polyester, is the large black and white.  They now make two all purpose in 125 yards and 250 yards, these are both polyester covered polyester.  An all purpose 100% mercerized cotton with 225 yards.  Machine quilting 100% mercerized cotton with 350 yards.  Hand quilting 100% glaze finish cotton with 350 yards.

All the cotton threads are from Egypt.  Coats n Clark also continued their specialty threads that vary from store to store because we can now customize our stock.

I was laying out a back for a quilt and thought I would tell you about the new way I tape down the back.  I used to use packing tape because it was wide enough and strong enough to hold the fabric taut.

The problem was the residue on my table when I pulled off the tape and that it is not reusable.  I accidentally used medical tape that I found in the house and it has become my new best friend.  It is wide, reusable if it is rolled back on the roll, leaves no residue, and sticks strongly to the fabric and table.

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

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.

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?

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.

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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August 2020
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