Improv Piecing Class with Malka


I was lucky enough to spend all day Thursday learning improvisational piecing from the queen of improv, Malka Dubrawsky. If you don’t already read Malka’s blog, A Stitch In Dye, check it out, because it is inspiring. She’s also written two books, both of which I love—Fresh Quilting: Fearless Color, Design, and Inspiration, and Color Your Cloth: A Quilter’s Guide to Dyeing and Patterning Fabric. Malka’s work is so unique, and it’s always immediately recognizable as hers—I love that. I wish I had that kind of voice!

Also attending the class was the lovely Faith from Fresh Lemons Quilts. We just finished hosting the Summer Sampler Series quilt-along together, so it was a lot of fun to meet her in person. We had a great time making our blocks together and talking quilting. We’ll get to hang out again in Salt Lake City at the Sewing Summit in a little over a month—I can’t wait to see her and meet all my other blogging friends! (Sorry about the awful photo, Faith. The camera on my phone is terrible.)

When it comes to wonky, I have issues. It seems I either don’t wonk enough, or I wonk too much. As I told Faith during the class, I love wonky on everybody else’s quilts, but on my own, it just never seems to be quite right. But I started feeling a lot more confident about it after a solid 7-hour day of Malka’s style of improv piecing. (Seven straight hours of sewing? That never happens at my house! Such a luxury!)

And let me tell you, when Malka says “improvisational,” she means it! She was very insistent that we not even use our rulers. That was, um, challenging for me. I am so not used to using a rotary cutter without a ruler to guide me! Faith and I were both convinced we were going to chop off our own thumbs before the day was out. But by the time we were done, I was a lot more comfortable with the process. It was a great exercise in loosening up my creativity. And, as improvisational as Malka’s style is, she does still have some rules guiding the design process. There are always one of two elements in her quilts that keep them from becoming chaotic. It was nice to have that framework to work within.

Some of you may have seen this on Faith’s blog as well—here are our two quilts. Faith’s blocks are on the left and mine are on the right. Think we have similar taste in fabric? LOL.

And here’s the table Faith and I shared. I think we brought enough fabric to make a king-size quilt each. : ) And you can’t even see the giant pile on the floor!

We also got a sneak peak of Malka’s fabulous new fabric line, which will be available from Moda in January 2012. The line is based on her colorful hand-dyed fabric creations. It is amazing in person—between the pictures taken on my phone and the hotel’s flourescent lighting, these pictures aren’t doing it justice at all. This fabric is definitely a must-have.

I really enjoyed my class with Malka. I was only able to finish 7 of my 9 blocks during class, but I’m hoping to finish them off soon and make a mini quilt that I can hang on the wall in my sewing room. Thank you, Malka, Faith, and everyone else in the class, for a wonderful day!

15 replies
  1. diane
    diane says:

    Can you believe I passed up an opportunity to take a class with Malka a few months ago because I didn't know who she was? Duh? Since the beginning of the year when I started blogging I have become aware of more and more inspirational people and Malka was one of them…only a little too late to take the class when she was in California! Your blocks are so fun and bright and I am now envious!

  2. Teje
    Teje says:

    Hi Lee! You must have had wonderful day and so much fun with talented Malka and other sewing friends! For me that looks like a dream day!
    I love your happy colours blocks and they will be adorable wall quilt!

  3. Elizabeth D.
    Elizabeth D. says:

    Wow, that sounds like an awesome day! Lucky you 🙂 I love your mini so far, can't wait to see you finish it off. And you definitely have a recognizable style to your writing, by the way 🙂

  4. Kate @SwimBikeQuilt
    Kate @SwimBikeQuilt says:

    I'm so glad you guys had a great time! I've always wondered what, exactly, you would learn in an improv piecing class. Can't wait to see the finished product–I think my fabric choices would have been right up there with yours and Faith's 🙂

  5. Letterpress
    Letterpress says:

    These look terrific. I remember when I took a class with Roberta Horton at Houston and it was on utility quilts, i.e. quilts made sort of haphazardly. She wouldn't let us use rulers either and I about croaked inititally–some feeling as you that I was going to slice my hand off! I used the scissors for the first part of class.

    I finished the quilt (made from utility fabrics, too, so not as pretty as yours) and I really loved the experience of trying this new way of doing things.

    As far as Malka, I've got a spot cleared on my shelf for when her fabrics come out–fun to see them early!

    Thanks for posting this!

    Elizabeth E.

  6. AnneMarie
    AnneMarie says:

    Wow – sounds like a great class. And 7 hours of sewing – unheard of!! Sweet! Love your blocks and good for you to conquer the lack of ruler. That sounds EXTREMELY difficult.

  7. Lee Heinrich
    Lee Heinrich says:

    Wow! Sounds like it was an awesome time! 🙂 I love that you guys used basically the same color palate too! …and doesn't this make you so excited about the sewing summit?? I just can't wait!


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

I love comments! Please join the discussion!