QCN's Interview with the Artist
Anita Grossman Solomon, Rooted in Fabric

Date: 10/20/2010

Anita Grossman Solomon
Anita Solomon

Editor's Note: I'm proud to feature Anita Grossman Solomon as the first subject in our new QCN's Interview with the Artist series. I first met Anita back in 2002-2003 when we were working on her Make it Simpler Paper Piecing book for C&T Publishing. Anita's good work spoke for itself, but she also had such a great personality that made future work something I really looked forward to. Anita continues to teach and grow her techinque-based quilting niche, releasing more books and products for quilters to enjoy. -Luke Mulks, QCN

Helping hands with Anita’s Self-Mitered Log Cabin Quilt top.
From Rotary Cutting Revolution.

QCN: What part of the world do you call home, and how would you describe a typical morning in your sewing room?

Anita: I live in New York City, in the middle of Manhattan near the East River. My sewing room has a large window. Most of the time its window shade is down, to protect my organized mountains of fabric from fading. If I am heading out-of-doors, and need to know how to dress for the day’s weather, it's as easy as turning on the Today show to see what the audience in Rockefeller Center is wearing.

QCN: When did you begin your journey into quilting?
Anita: I started quilting in the fall of 1990. I bought some fabric scraps at Pierre Deux, down in the Village on Bleecker Street . For fun I thought I'd make a scrap quilt to document the pieces and toss the leftovers. I borrowed a book and learned to quilt. Now I have more fabric than sunlight.

QCN: Once you began quilting, what were some of your influences and sources of inspiration for your work? 


Anita: It was a revelation for me when I began to distinguish individual blocks in quilts. Thereafter, Jinny Beyer’s book, the “Quilter’s Album of Blocks and Borders” became my nightly inspiration;  the Electric Quilt became fairy godmother. I’m backward looking: captivated by antique quilts I began sewing traditional blocks from scratch.

QCN: A lot of your work with piecing is detailed and really precise. Did you come into quilting with a background in engineering or architecture?

Anita: I was trained as a painter and always worked in the art world. Students of mine think I studied math and engineering. Nothing could be further from the truth.  I developed methods to simplify the construction of machine pieced blocks. I monkey with block architecture to save steps. Some of my ideas were near instant and morphed into my Paper Piecing books. Other methods, such as cutting and piecing the “Square on Point” block puzzled me for years. My quick methods are just means to spending more time touching fabric and seeing firsthand the relationships among them.

Fabric Starching Tips and Hints from Anita Grossman Solomon

1.) One can measure twice, cut and stitch with flawless accuracy, and yet, there are times when quilt
blocks still won't turn out just right. So, I starch all my cotton quilting fabric.

2.) Starched fabric cuts easily, even when stacked together, and sews together beautifully. It will hold sharp creases, including those made by finger pressing. A block made of starched fabric when pressed during construction will not shrink or become otherwise distorted.

3.) I am convinced that most quilters' accuracy problems stem from virgin fabric shrinking when first ironed during block construction rather than from a flawed 1/4" seam. Starched fabric is already 'pre-distorted' before the first stitch is sewn. I wouldn't starch if I didn't get tremendous results for my efforts.

4.) I mix a solution of 50% water and 50% bottled starch for yardage. I 'cheat' at times by spray starching small pieces of fabric without prior laundering. These pieces shrink on contact with a hot iron, which serves the purpose.

Hint: Prior to starching a laundered length of fabric of one or more yards, tear it lengthwise down the middle, so each piece is no wider than 22". It will then easily fit it on the ironing board and later on
the shelf. I have never run out of fabric from splitting up the yardage. I've only made my life easier by not having to deal with a large piece of fabric.

It's comparable to pressing a pillowcase
instead of a sheet.

Incidentally, starched and pressed fabric is flatter than fabric on the bolt so more of it can be stored on shelves, or as mountains, away from sunlight.

sue beevers headshot

Anita Grossman Solomon has written three books for C&T Publishing: Make It Simpler Paper Piecing, Perfect Blocks in Minutes and Rotary Cutting Revolution". Anita will also be appearing on an upcoming episode of The Quilt Show, thequiltshow.com on a monitor near you.

Anita’s blog:  http://makeitsimpler.blogspot.com

Anita's Books:

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