Malka Dubrawsky designs fresh, modern quilts. While I love just looking at her designs, I enjoy digging a little deeper into a designer’s process—to find out how their amazing quilts come to be. To that end, I asked Malka a few questions and her answers—like her quilts—were bright, engaging, and fresh.
Katie Chicarello: When did you start quilting, and how did you discover this art form?
Malka Dubrawsky: I started making quilts after I graduated from college with a BFA in Studio Art. Towards the end of my college career, I’d made some drawings where grids were a big design element. That started me thinking about quilts and, having never sewn anything but possessing of plenty of nerve, I started making quilts.
Katie: What is your design process? Where do you find your inspiration?
Malka: I feel like my design process is always ongoing. That is, one idea progresses from another. I make something and the whole time I’m wondering, what would it look like if I changed this element or the scale or the positioning of the colors. I have to control that a bit and tackle one idea at a time or else nothing gets finished. My inspiration comes from other design fields: logos, furniture, especially minimalist, other textiles, knitting or weaving patterns.
Katie: When designing a quilt do you choose fabric first, or create a sketch?
Malka: I often create a sketch of some sort. It’s usually pretty rough, drawn with a ballpoint pen. I don’t have fabric in mind, rather I know I want the fabric choices and placement to create movement. My work is almost always rooted in moving the eye across a surface, so I’ll select fabrics to do that.
Katie: Many of your more recent quilts have jewel tone or saturated colors. Do you have a palette you gravitate toward?
Malka: Actually, my palette has changed a lot in the past year or so. I’m much more drawn to earth tones, pale greys, and deep indigos. I’ve spent some time this past year culling unnecessary stuff from my house, trying to live more minimally and sustainably and that’s made my home environment quieter. I like that sense of calm. It feels right and I find myself working with colors that reinforce that.
Katie: “Ombré Gingham” is one of my favorite quilts. One of the things I love about it is how complicated it looks—but the layout is simple if you follow the directions! How did the design and construction of this piece come about?
Malka: That design was fueled by two desires: to use up leftovers from another piece I created for Modern Patchwork Magazine, and craft a quilt that moved from the center out in two palettes simultaneously. I’ve been playing with a concept I call Simple Design in most of my quilts over the past few years and this one is no exception. It’s just two shapes, squares and rectangles, in two dimensions. That simplicity opens up so many design possibilities.
Katie: If you could give a new designer one piece of advice, what would it be?
Malka: Figure out what you want to make and ignore the rest. Don’t ask yourself if it’ll be popular or sell well. Forget the market survey. Life is short. Make what you want to make.