Anita Grossman Solomon
Anita Grossman Solomon invented the “Make It Simpler” technique for making quilting faster and easier. Anita’s innovative method of paper piecing has been described as pinless “fold and sew” foundation piecing, and has been featured on HGTV’s Simply Quilts. For more on Anita, see her web site at www.MakeItSimpler.com. Anita’s book, Make It Simpler Paper Piecing is available from C&T Publishing, www.ctpub.com.
How did you get involved in Quiltmaking? How did you develop this form of foundation piecing?
There was no quiltmaking tradition in my family, so the attraction came out of the blue. I accumulated some fabric scraps–they seemed to multiply overnight. I reasoned that if I could figure out how to piece them into a quilt I could restore some order to the chaos in my home.
Soon after I began quilting, I pieced some Pineapple blocks on paper foundations and loved the process. Whenever I saw a traditional block I wanted to make I analyzed it and, if possible, drafted my own paper piecing pattern. I was forever looking at blocks with an eye towards paper piecing them.
Three years ago, I was lying in bed thinking about a block that I wanted to paper piece. It was a 19th century block pictured on the book cover of Terri Zegart’s “Quilts An American Tradition.” I had just drawn it on the computer with The Electric Quilt and reluctantly, went to bed. Mentally, I exploded the block into subunits. It occurred to me that it was pieceable without cutting the foundation apart. It seemed an infallible way to achieve a perfectly matched intersection. The next morning I made a beeline for the computer and used EQ to print the foundation. I made the block and was awed by the technique.
What inspires your work? How do new ideas come to you in quiltmaking?
For ten years, I’ve been teaching two weekly classes for seniors. It’s resulted in drawers full of unique lessons. What began as attempts to simplify quiltmaking for the class wound up as new techniques and quilt designs.
I work on one aspect or another of quiltmaking every day, often in short spurts. I see things differently when I revisit them and the ideas come about serendipitously. I’m curious about blocks. I dissect them and then try to figure out how I might simplify their construction and the construction of the quilt.
What did you enjoy most about doing the book with C&T?
Their enthusiasm and emphasis on collaboration. They incorporated my design concepts into the book that, had it been authored by someone else, would have looked quite different. They understood what I was about within the first five minutes of our acquaintance. They just “get it” and everyone in the company has an interest in the books and the authors.
What did you find most challenging?
Finding the time to devote to the project. Making a book, I imagine, must be like giving birth. The pain dulls and if you’re lucky, you get to do it again. I’m expecting my second book from C&T, Perfect Blocks in Minutes the Make It Simpler Way, in November.
If you could offer one piece of advice for quiltmakers today, what would it be?
This may seem like heresy but here goes. If you’re working on a project and you want to put it aside, permanently, do so. If you aren’t enjoying it, if you are dissatisfied with, if you’ve fallen out of love with it, stop and move on. It’s been a learning experience. Some things aren’t destined to be a finished quilt. I look through my odds ‘n ends that are frozen in time and know they contributed to my development as a quilter. I don’t advocate being wasteful but no matter how dear fabric is, your time and happiness is even more precious.
Award-winning quilter, designer, author and teacher Anita Grossman Solomon is devoted to making quilting faster and easier. Her Almost to California quilt pattern appears in the September/October 2004 (#99) issue of Quiltmaker magazine.