Anita Grossman Solomon: Beautiful Quilts With Her “Make it Simpler” Techniques (+ Giveaways!)

Live from NYC:  Anita Grossman Solomon and a "Quilty" Themed Times Square View
Live from NYC: Anita Grossman Solomon’s quilt featured in Times Square–photographed by Dale Riehl of The City Quilter.
Meet Anita sharing what she does best, simplifying quilt making techniques.
Meet Anita sharing what she does best, simplifying (and improving) quilt making techniques.

1-Giveaway IconI’ve had my share of inventive moments while designing quilts, but those instances are not commonplace and so I envy those quilters who pour out smart ideas and clever twists like slot machines. I’d include Anita Grossman Solomon, a popular quilting teacher and award-winning quilter, in their numbers, although I suspect she wouldn’t describe herself that way. For Anita, quilt smarts comes naturally, organically, and when the time is right.

Anita’s clever variation of the classic Arrowhead Block hooked my interest when I was prowling the Internet last year for wedding-quilt inspiration and found her free pattern at the Quiltmaker magazine website. It’s her block-building technique that is mind bogglingly wonderful—a real “who’da thunk?” question that merits an answer. Luckily, Anita took my call and now I can share the backstory with you.

The eye-catching Arrowhead Block featured in Quiltmaker magazine.
The eye-catching Arrowhead Block featured in Quiltmaker magazine.

Some years ago when Anita was culling projects to meet an editorial page-count target set by her publisher, she cut an Arrowhead block from the book’s project collection (in a funny twist, a block built by our own Laura Nownes and her creative partner, Diana McClun). As it turned out, their block lived on Anita’s studio design wall as a pinned reminder of an idea without a published home until the day she saw something she hadn’t noticed before.

Anita Grossman Solomon plays with her Arrowhead blocks.
Anita Grossman Solomon plays with her Arrowhead blocks.

Now this fortuitous “twist” goes back to a variation of the Pineapple Block where Anita uses a printed-paper overlay, ala classic garment sewing patterns, as a rotary cutting guide. She realized that quilters could cut out Pineapple blocks better and faster with a disposable pattern. “Hmm,” she thought after looking at the Arrowhead block with new eyes. “How can I apply the notion of targeted rotary cuts to an Arrowhead block?”

Pineapple Quilt by Anita Grossman Solomon
Pineapple Quilt by Anita Grossman Solomon

Actually, in a very straightforward fashion as it turns out:  sew two squares, right sides together, leaving two-inch gaps on opposing corners. Then, slice the block into two triangles, stack them, and make two more rotary cuts. Voila! The quilter will have all the pre-sewn and cut pieces to render one Arrowhead block.

Anita Grossman Solomon's Arrowhead Block before and after:  quilt making magic!
Anita Grossman Solomon’s Arrowhead Block before and after: quilt making magic!

Mind you, I’m simplifying her technique here—you’d do better to pick up her latest title Rotary Cutting Revolution from C&T Publishing to see the step-out photos that track the process. You’ll also get to enjoy more of Anita’s take on classic quilting techniques. They are smart, achievable, and result in high-impact quilts. Or, go online to learn from Anita herself on Craftsy where she teaches both the Arrowhead and Pineapple block variations. (Click here for a discount coupon to Anita’s class from Craftsy. BTW:  This is in addition to the giveaway described below.)

Book-J:  Rotary Cutting Revolution by AG Solomon

How About That Giveaway? Get the Details Here for Two Anita Treats

Let’s chat about the Craftsy giveaway first: Go to this link and sign up on their website (or login if you are already a member) to enter the drawing for a FREE Anita Grossman Solomon class.  You’ve got until Thursday, August 8, 2013, to do the deed. Craftsy will contact the winner.

Here’s the second prize (and, yes, you can enter both) C&T Publishing has given me a copy of Anita’s book Rotary Cutting Revolution for one lucky winner. Again, because I thrive on TIGHT deadlines, you’ve got until Thursday, August 8, 2013, to leave a comment answering this question:  Have you ever had a “genius” quilting moment, and optionally of course, would you share the anecdote/lesson with us?

I close below with another pictorial reminder of Anita’s Arrowhead quilt smarts.  Oh yeah, one more thingy-dingy, check back on Friday for the giveaway results and to take a look at Anita’s first and latest quilts. Til then, keep those sewing machines a-hummin’

J-Signature

Quilt-J: Arrowhead Block Quilt by AG Solomon

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63 thoughts on “Anita Grossman Solomon: Beautiful Quilts With Her “Make it Simpler” Techniques (+ Giveaways!)

  1. I am new to quilting so I cannot say I have had any genius quilting moments. I do enjoy reading about others though and learn from them.

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  2. Mine are more ‘cheap’…oops, I mean frugal lol. I do a lot of crazy quilting, and bead prices are high for interesting ones. Then one day I was at a thrift store and they had a display of necklaces, $1, on the counter. All manner of wonderous beads, shells, doodads!

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  3. I had a bunch of scrappy blocks that didn’t look right on my design wall, in the layout I had. Decided to put them in Rainbow color order in stripes and that worked.

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  4. My genius moment was using a blank wall in my sewing room to build a design wall. It motivates me to sew, to finish projects and to think. Every quilter should have one. Thanks for the chance to win a book by one of my favorite quilt designs I have had on my design wall.

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  5. I am always on the lookout for genius moments and so far have only found ones like Anita’s. But with these kind of moments who needs more. thanks for the chance to win

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  6. Still waiting for a true genius moment but I recently learned a valuable lesson.
    I was creating a new quilt as part of a 4 month challenge with each border being progressively larger & with specific rules to meet. I finally got to the last border designed & drawn out in color on graph paper. I was anxious to begin working on them and was carefully plotting out the cut list for each of the 16 colors so I would have everything ready and make double sure I had enough fabric for the design . Unfortunately I was trying to get the list finished while 1 husband, 2 dogs and 3 cats were waiting for their respective dinners. So while rushing to finish, I missed the cuts for the very center of the border design and had to go back & recalculate ALL the border cuts anyway. Lesson: Stop what you are doing & FEED the family on time – you save time & frustration in the long run and keeps everyone happy!

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  7. I love to sew and quilt, I watch a lot of videos and read a lot of quilting blogs and that is how I get ideas that make sewing go smoothly. I wish I could come up with something unique. Love Anita and could watch her all day.

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  8. Hmm, not sure I’ve had any genius moments. However, I do appreciate the wisdom of other folks. Anita Grossman’s technique sounds like pure magic. I’d love to win the book.

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  9. My genius moment was when I realized I could actually accomplish sewing a whole quilt in short snippets of time – less than 30 minutes! It is easier to find the 10 or 15 minutes to sew a little than to think I have to set aside huge chunks of time. I leave my project set up and I can easily sit down and sew like a mad woman for a few minutes of “dead time” in my life. Big things are accomplished by small steps!

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    1. Genius indeed! I do the same thing. I learned from a short stint in corporate events that the accumulation of small steps is what matters for accomplishing a goal. That was my transition from graduate school to working. How can you be a last-minute worker and get the job done?

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  10. My genius moment was when I convince my husband that my travel sewing machine needed to be the same brand as my “stay at home” machine. This way I can use the same feet and have the same scant 1/4 inch seam allowance.

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  11. My ah-HAH moment was when I realized how critical careful cutting was to getting good results. I know it sounds rudimentary yet I didn’t quite get it for a long time. It’s like the carpenter’s rule… measure twice, cut once. Maybe I’m just hard-headed. 🙂

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    1. Hey you pessimists–you’ve all probably had great intuitive moments, you just didn’t recognize them. It’s a simple aha moment or a “Wow, that’s how I can do it!” event.

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  12. Wow! I made table runners using Anita’s Arrowhead pattern when it came out in Quiltmaker! Fun and cool to be able to cut, sew, sew, cut, cut, sew, sew, voila! I’ve done quilts with 9 patches that are sliced horizontally and vertically, then restacked to mix up the blocks, or sliced and then the opposing corners twisted…It looks like you’ve pieced the heck out of something but it was really easy!

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  13. I have never really had a genius moment in my entire life. I like to depend on people like Anita to come up with such bright ideas. I love the way she teaches since I am in her class at craftsy. I hope she will do another class there,. Thanks for asking.

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    1. Hey Maggie Lou! Thanks for stopping by and, by the way, your genius moment is signing up at Craftsy with a real pro like Anita.

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    1. You certainly made me laugh–genius? I too give myself a pat on the back if everything falls together nicely. I’m no perfectionist so I’ve got to wiggle and wobble my way to the end of the project.

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  14. My ‘genius’ moment was finding a quilt of Ainita’s design on pinterest, then sleuthing my way around the interest, emailed her to find where she was going to be teaching her workshop in RI. I ended up joining a wonderful guild, Ninigret Quilters, meeting very nice and talented ladies, and will be taking Anits’s workshop soon! Very excited about it! Thank you for the chance to win her book!

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  15. i bought my first rotary cutter 1 1/2 years ago, so any ‘genius’ moments are when i understand what and why i’m cutting and how it all goes together. lol

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    1. Thank goodness for rotary cutters–we modern day quilters would be lost without them. You’ll love Anita’s book/class cuz it’s all about directed rotary cutting and clever sewing techniques. Good luck with the drawing.

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  16. My genius moment is learning from other quiltmakers in my guild. and many of us made several of these A A blocks after seeing it in a magazine. Several of those blocks came back to me, and I made a quilt from them.

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  17. Love Anita’s work! I have had far more reverse genius moments….working hard to figure out how to do something only to find out there is a much easier way!

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    1. Isn’t that the truth Diane. Ya struggle to figure something out and then you find out someone has already written a book about it!

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  18. My genius quilting moment? Deciding to buy the 1/4 inch foot with guide. Now if I could just find a solution for not so straight rotary cut strips I’d be in business. I love learnng from other truly brilliant moments!

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  19. My genius quilting moment is using everyone elses’ great ideas! Makes all my quilt projects easier! Thanks for having a giveaway.

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    1. We do like out giveaways Susan–keep on visiting and entering the drawings! True genius knows who has the best ideas and techniques to follow!

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  20. I’m not sure I’ve had a genius quilting moment. There are times when I’m trying to figure out block placements when assembling a quilt, that I realize I should reposition some squares to make things look better. Thanks for having the giveaway.

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  21. Oh, how I wish I could think the way Anita does! I usually wind up taking the long way around 😀 I did find her Arrowhead block method in a magazine, and I was so amazed by that. I’d love to win her book — that pineapple block method sounds awesome. BTW, I was so taken with her Arrowhead block, I took photos while I made it, and did a tutorial on my blog (giving her all the credit) and somehow, she found the blog and graciously left a comment (and how did she find it anyway??).

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  22. I had a genius moment last evening when the speaker at our guild was talking about using a pattern for cutting like Anita does and I thought it might be fun to design your own. But with Anita’s stitching it together method. I might just experiment today!

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    1. Sounds like a good plan for a day of quilting. The step-out diagrams in Anita’s book are excellent guides for developing your own block-building techniques.

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  23. My genius moment? I wasn’t happy with my quilting endeavors until I CONSISTENTLY used a 1/4″ seam allowance which I learned from the Sally Collins videos on The Quilt Show.

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    1. Indeed, Connie, Sally Collins is a “genius” when it comes to sewing. I’ve had the honor of visiting her in her home and studying her impeccable sewing and block-building first hand. Wow! We are so fortunate in our craft to have such highly skilled teachers to guide us and help us build our techniques. I don’t know how she handles working in such a small scale.

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  24. My genius quilting moments often come when I involve my husband in color consultations. He helps me define what the problem is and what the best options are to solve it. Sometimes it is just because he listens (or pretends well) while I talk through the issue. Sometimes he actively helps choose, such as the double pink alternate squares he helped pick for a scrappy quilt last year. We’d gone through so many available pieces from my stash, eliminating them one by one. Then we tried the pink and both of us knew that was the right one.

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    1. Hey Melanie, aren’t you a lucky one to have a husband with sound color sense. What a sweetie! I too ask my husband (and sons when they are present) and I’m often happy with his (their) input. The “genius” is knowing who to ask?!?

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  25. I don’t think it qualifies as a genius move, but I do like using lightweight fusible interfacing for the flip and sew technique–think the Chinese Coin design. Cut strips of interfacing about 6″ wide x the desired length and start stitching strips at the top.
    This technique can also be used for Crazy Quilt blocks when you are using crazy fabrics like silk or velvet. Use a piece of interfacing about an inch larger all around than the finished block size and start sewing from the center out in a stitch and flip method. The cool thing is that as you sew on the interfacing you are stabilizing your block. Trim it to size and voila! Done and done.

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  26. Skip the hand-sewing when it doesn’t matter SO much, i.e., for baby quilts and potholders: Stitch the binding to the back, fold it to the front and attach with giant, colorful zigzag stitches.

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  27. Since I hate hand work, my “genius” trick (for me) is sewing the 21/2 inch pressed-in-half binding to the back of the quilt and then sewing the front with the machine stitch that looks like a zigzag with 2 or 3 straight stitches in between the bites. Easy and looks great.

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  28. I guess my “moments” are when I can get my sewing organized and I’m able to whip up a quilt top in a day. I’ve always loved how Anita looks at a design differently and simplifies it for the rest of us. Thanks for a chance to win her book!

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    1. Not only “genius” but speedy as well. Quilt-in-a-day is something to aim for Peggy–I’m envious of your stamina and determination. Coupled with Anita’s cool techniques and you are a quilting warrior! Good luck with the drawing!

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  29. Unfortunately I’ve not yet ever had “one of those”. I don’t get to quilt enough yet … But retirement is right around the corner!

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