Malka Dubrawsky is a modern quilter whose work with improvisational techniques continues to be influential, and yet it’s difficult to limit her biography to style and process as she continues to press her talents in new directions. Her new fabric line, Mark to Make from Robert Kaufman Fabrics, is aptly named as it celebrates her love of the hand of the maker.
I recently caught up with Malka at Quilt Market in Houston to chat about her life and her work. Here’s a snapshot of that conversation.
Where is your workspace? Would you change anything about it if you had the opportunity?
Malka: I work from my home. For a time, I had a studio about 20 minutes away, but found that I was able to get more done when I worked where I lived. When the process is in my garage, I can spend 10 extra minutes after dinner taking care of things. Sometimes it’s a matter of moving fabric between dye baths, or letting something soak a bit longer—easy to do when everything is a few steps away. I do wish my dye space was a bit bigger—and temperature control would be great!
My quilting space is in one of the bedrooms. I keep things simple and don’t store or collect fabric. I have what I need for my specific project, then when that’s finished, I clean up and start fresh.
When you start a project, what drives the design?
Malka: My quilts are all about the fabric. My designs are driven by my desire to use specific colors and patterns in a specific way. For instance, what would happen if I divided them into lights and darks? What if I adjusted how the way the lines and prints moved across the design? I always go back to the fabric—that’s the starting point.
When a quilt “just isn’t working,” what steps do you take?
Malka: What you imagine and what shows up in a quilt design is not always the same thing, so it’s okay if things aren’t working. It’s part of the process. Rip out a few seams. Set it aside for a while. Look at only a few of the blocks and see if you have any new insights. Approach things mindfully.
I tend to work visually and don’t make extensive sketches and I also consider solving design problems to be fun. Take the time to critically determine what part is working and what part isn’t. Keep at it and figure it out.
How do you refresh yourself professionally?
Malka: I make clothes! I love the patterns of so many of the indie pattern companies. I also love to run. Some of my running friends are also excited about sewing—so we combine our two loves and talk about sewing while we are running.
Malka Dubrawsky is an author, teacher, and fabric designer, who is a frequent contributor to Modern Patchwork magazine and has appeared on several episodes of Quilting Arts TV. You’re sure to be inspired as you explore projects and tutorials by Malka in our online store.