February 12, 2014

I’m subscribed to the appliqué book feed on Amazon, and as soon as I saw the announcement of a new book that was coming out, I was intrigued and followed the link right away.

The Quilter’s Appliqué Workshop by Kevin Kosbab, from Interweave/F+W Media.

I pulled up the “Look Inside” on Amazon, started reading the section on “Give Appliqué a Chance,”, and honestly, I got chills. Kevin and I could have one brain on the subject of appliqué hesitation. As you know I had just been working on The Appliqué Self-Help Brochure!

I contacted Interweave to see if they would be willing to send a review copy. Not only were they quite gracious about doing so, they set up an interview with Kevin! I’m so happy to share our email conversation, a little later in the post.

The Quilter’s Appliqué Workshop combines traditional methods with a fresh design eye. Kevin gently introduces and thoroughly explains several methods of hand and machine appliqué, including raw-edge, prepared-edge, and needle-turn, all presented with striking projects that fall toward the modern aesthetic. The old and the new… what a great combo platter!

Cobblestones Quilt

Here’s what Kevin and I talked about.

• Kay: I love the front matter in your book… “Give Appliqué a Chance.” You and I both have heard what you aptly call “the old chestnuts,” such as “I don’t have the patience.” Me, in my booth at shows… how about you?

• Kevin: There’s a healthy die-hard appliqué contingent at my local quilt guild, but other members are more hesitant to approach the “A-word”. Just attending quilt shows gives ample opportunity to overhear similar sentiments as people browse the vendors and displays. The most puzzling thing I’ve heard is, “I don’t appliqué, but I do fusible”–which, as you point out in your flier, IS appliqué!

• Kay: You and I think alike when it comes to appliqué method. There are so many ways to go about it, and there’s no one correct way! I really like how you present this concept, both in the section called “Choosing a Method” and as each is introduced. Most books just announce the method, and plow right into it! You start out by asking “Why?” and then delivering an explanation of why one might choose that particular method. Is that the way your mind works?

• Kevin: Definitely! High school calculus baffled me because nobody would (or could) explain the “why” of the processes, so I wanted to lay out actual reasons why one appliqué method might be beneficial in certain circumstances. Projects in the book like Eccentric Concentrics and the All Seasons Pillows take advantage of the freeform nature of needle-turn, while the crisp shapes of the Pineapple Rings and Counterbalance quilts make more sense as prepared-edge projects. And to define edges with decorative stitching or contrasting thread, you can’t beat raw-edge fusible appliqué. I really believe there’s no one-size-fits-all method, and each offers unique opportunities and challenges.

Counterbalance Quilt

• Kay: The subtitle of the book is “Timeless Techniques for Modern Designs.” Its seems to act as a bridge between what’s time-honored and what’s coming up new and fresh in quilting today. Was that your thinking going into the project?

• Kevin: It was definitely one of the thoughts floating around in my head–in a wider sense, that’s how I like to approach quilting and needlework in general, learning from the experience of people before me while applying those skills to a newer aesthetic. I love digging through old needlework books and figuring out how to extract the basic techniques from the often dated examples.

• Kay: The book gives information on very precise ways to achieve results, and also more freeform strategies. I appreciate the way you encourage imprecision and improvisation in appliqué.

• Kevin: I’m so glad to hear that. I think concentration on precision is one of the biggest barriers to enjoyment of appliqué, so I wanted to counter that with a different perspective. There’s been lots of interest in improvisational piecing over the last several years, and it felt to me that improvisation was an even more natural component of appliqué, even though it’s not an aspect I often see associated with appliqué (or encouraged). Historical quilts are rarely absolutely precise, but they have a vitality that’s lost when we try too hard to emulate computer-aided perfection. Improvisation shouldn’t be about shoddy craftsmanship, but about embracing the handmade nature of the things we are taking the time to make by hand.

All Seasons Pillows

• Kay: The sidebar on “Quilt Police, Appliqué Division” had me cracking up! I’ll just quote the first couple of sentences. “Every branch of quilting has its share of self-appointed authoritarians on a mission to ensure compliance with their version of The Right Way To Do Things. Appliqué seems to attract an especially large police force, but as in real law enforcement, their statutes vary by jurisdiction.” Well said!

• Kevin: Thanks, I had fun writing it! Writing pages and pages of detailed technical instructions can provoke occasional outbursts like that. ;-) And besides, who said quilting had to be all serious business?

• Kay: You talk about how when you first became interested in appliqué, there were calls to mom. Can you describe how those calls went?

• Kevin: Well, to start with, my mom was quite surprised that I was considering quilting, since I’d been insistent she not make me a quilt when I went away to college (“Mo-om, it’ll be embarrassing!”). But she offered to quilt my first (pieced) quilt top, and quite fortuitously left the binding for me to do. I told her I found hand-sewing the binding strangely enjoyable, to which she said, “You know, if you like sewing the binding, you’d probably like appliqué.”

She’s an expert appliquér, so since she was my main point of quilting contact then, she didn’t instill any of the fear many quilters feel about appliqué. She encouraged me to try a freezer paper and starch-turned method to start with and gave me a basic run-down of how it worked, and I set off to do a large-scale appliqué across the better part of a full-size bed quilt–not how I’d recommend starting, but it got me hooked. After I’d done a couple quilts that way, I lamented to my mom how the starching and ironing started to feel tedious, a feeling she shared (neither of us get our kicks from ironing laundry), so she promised to show me needle-turn applique the next time we got together in person.

Fruit Market Quilt

The rest of my family couldn’t believe the sight of the two of us messing about with fabric and needles, but since then my younger brother’s also become a costume designer, so my father and other brother (both engineers) really wonder what happened.

My mom also gave lots of advice on tools and supplies, though what I had available at the time was pretty much limited to what was available on foot in downtown Philadelphia (which meant hand-quilting thread for appliqué–again, not what I’d recommend for a beginner!). We still compare notes on new supplies, techniques, and ideas. Though our quilts look totally different, our attitudes about quilting are pretty close, so she’s been very generous in helping me out with pattern samples. Call me a mamma’s boy if you must, but we do live thousands miles apart!

• Kay: The book has full-size patterns in a plastic bag attached to the inside back cover! Excellent! Was that your concept?

• Kevin: The publisher decided the ultimate format, but I felt strongly that the patterns should be printed full size. It’s so frustrating when a book requires patterns to be enlarged–it always seems to take a huge amount of trial and error to get the photocopies to come out right. If people have bought the book, they shouldn’t have to pay a copy shop too.

That said, I did have to work out an enlargement percentage for the Eccentric Concentrics Quilt in the book because the pattern is the size of the entire quilt, but I hope people will prefer to sketch out their own interpretation.

• Kay: How did you and Interweave get together?

• Kevin: I’ve been designing sewing projects for Stitch, one of Interweave’s magazines, since their second issue, so that’s how their books division found me. The acquisitions editor asked if I’d thought about writing a book, to which I replied, “As a matter of fact, yes!” I’d worked as a book editor myself, so a quilting book had been knocking around in my head for a while.

• Kay: When, why, and how did you become interested in quilting and appliqué? Do you teach classes? How do we pronounce your last name?

• Kevin: Still with neither of us thinking I’d get into quilting, my mom bought me my first sewing machine when I started talking about making curtains for my first apartment. That apartment never had its curtains finished, though, because I soon got distracted with quilting: I made a really simple quilt for my bed from Denyse Schmidt‘s first book, then another bed quilt from Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr‘s book shortly after, and then I started designing my own patterns. I actually picked up appliqué shortly after those first two quilts, encouraged by my enjoyment of binding. I’d never planned to get into quilting, but it gave a medium to my lifelong interest in graphic design–appliqué was the last piece of the puzzle, opening up infinite possibilities in designing quilts.

I do teach classes, including some new ones based on the improvisational approaches in my book. Confirmed teaching engagements are posted on my website on the Class Schedule page.

My last name has been mispronounced in lots of ways over the years, but per the U.S. Air Force it’s KOZ-bab, just like it’s spelled but with a Z sound instead of an S. It previously had a more Germanic pronunciation, but my grandfather decided his name was whatever his superiors called him, so that’s what we’ve been running with since.

Thanks for your kind words and thoughtful questions. It’s hugely rewarding to hear that someone “gets it” after all the work of putting the book together.

• Kay: I get it! Been going there and doing that! You did a great job.

Kevin Kosbab, photo by John Lessard

Kevin on Facebook.

Kevin’s putting together a blog tour to celebrate the upcoming release of his book! It’ll be going on February 20-28 over on Kevin’s blog, Feed Dog Designs. Be sure to mark your calendars!

In the meantime, I have a copy of The Quilter’s Appliqué Workshop to give away here! If you’d like to enter my drawing, leave a comment here on the blog before 7:00 p.m. on Monday, February 17.

Open to U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only. And remember, step away from the “reply” button if you’re getting this by email. Come to the blog itself to leave your comment.

Thanks Kevin for taking the time to share some inside info with us!

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie


35 Responses to “The Quilter’s Appliqué Workshop”

  1. Kelly on February 12th, 2014 6:01 am

    How bold and wonderful! Loving the eye candy here this morning. ~Kelly

  2. kathleen C on February 12th, 2014 6:08 am

    Thank you for the interview with Kevin; I wouldn’t have come across his book if you hadn’t given this review and interview. I love applique, mostly traditional except for some small abstract landscapes. I like Kevin’s innovative designs and would enjoy stretching myself to use a modern approach like Kevin has done in his book. Thanks for the giveaway.

  3. Nancy on February 12th, 2014 6:12 am

    I’ve been enjoying traditional appliqué patterns, using both needle-turn and raw edge and am inspired by Kevin’s modern direction.

  4. Christa on February 12th, 2014 6:14 am

    I would love a chance to win this book. I have been wanting to one my skills with appliqué and have been needing guidance!!

  5. Norma on February 12th, 2014 8:55 am

    I would love a copy of this book. I’ve been doing applique since about 1978 but haven’t tried a modern approach yet. Looks fun, thank you for the opportunity.

  6. Nita on February 12th, 2014 9:23 am

    I would love to win a copy of this book! And if I don’t win it, I will put in on my Amazon wish list. It makes such a difference to hear what the author has to say…well done!

  7. Patricia McLaughlin on February 12th, 2014 9:39 am

    Interesting interview with Kevin. I would love to win this book. i”m interested in the different appliqué methods & I believe the book could guide me along the way.

  8. Ruth C on February 12th, 2014 10:11 am

    I can see so many of Kevin’s quilts in my house! I would love to win the book.

  9. Caryn S on February 12th, 2014 10:37 am

    He definitely has some really cool applique ideas. Between you and Kevin, I’ m definitely getting inspired to do some applique.

  10. Beverly Schueneman on February 12th, 2014 10:43 am

    You know how I love applique and I would love Kevin’s book. I like his contemporary style. I will check into his blog.

  11. Brenda on February 12th, 2014 11:06 am

    Great interview with Kevin. Thanks for keeping us up to date with the news in
    the applique world.

  12. Kathy L on February 12th, 2014 11:42 am

    Sounds like a wonderful book,would love to win it. Thanks for the chance.

  13. Jennifer Padden on February 12th, 2014 12:19 pm

    I surprised myself by winning a ribbon for my first applique quilt after being so afraid of the A-Word…Now I’m hooked and I can hardly wait to start another project. These designs look so contemporary yet some of them could be from the 60’s as well. the perfect marriage of old and new. I’d love to win this book1

  14. Sherry on February 12th, 2014 12:46 pm

    I enjoyed your interview with Kevin Kosbab, what a well spoken young man. I have been been doing fusible appliqué for many years and have justed started trying needle turn appliqué. I have been waiting anxiously for Kevin’s book to become available. The patterns I have seen are making me practice more so I can give them a try. Would love a chance at winning this book.

  15. Dee on February 12th, 2014 12:57 pm

    I would love this book. I currently use the freezer paper applique – enjoy the process, but would love to learn additional techniques. Love the humor!!!!

  16. Karen Pastoor on February 12th, 2014 1:27 pm

    Great interview! The book looks like it’s full of fun projects!

  17. Sandi s on February 12th, 2014 2:01 pm

    I love appliqué! This book sounds very interesting. Thank for the chance to win. Hugs,

  18. Gail on February 12th, 2014 2:47 pm

    I’m a fusible applique-r myself and would love to win this book. Thanks for a chance.

  19. Debra Kay Neiman on February 12th, 2014 3:22 pm

    Love the examples I have seen. crystalbluern at onlineok dot com

  20. Patti on February 12th, 2014 3:25 pm

    I would love to have this book. I think it is wonderful that more peolple are enjoying applique. I have been hooked on back basting needle turn applique for many, many years. I like seeing the different techniques other people use. Thanks so much for the chance to win this book.

  21. Dot on February 12th, 2014 3:25 pm

    I heard about this book a few days ago, and would love to own it. Thank you for the review and the interview.

  22. Dari on February 12th, 2014 3:40 pm

    Kevin is one of the most talented people I know. His book is an absolute must for fellow quilters.

  23. Margaret Schindler on February 12th, 2014 3:49 pm

    I would love to have this book. Thanks for the review and the chance to win a copy

  24. Linda Webster on February 12th, 2014 4:01 pm

    So much information in Kevin’s book. I would love to win it.

  25. Nan on February 12th, 2014 5:10 pm

    So exciting and refreshing!
    Will check out The Quilter’s Appliqué Workshop on Amazon.

  26. wandie williams on February 12th, 2014 5:22 pm

    OMG! I would love,love to win this book!!!!!I am an applique NUT!! I already have yours (and others)mall my applique in fushed, I also add hand embrodery to all my work. I just love applique!

  27. Betty Woodlee on February 12th, 2014 5:40 pm

    I enjoyed your interview with Kevin and would love to have a copy of this book.

  28. Kevin Kosbab on February 12th, 2014 6:42 pm

    I’m thrilled to see so much enthusiasm for appliqué in these comments. Thank you all for your kind words, and thank you Kay for the chance to chat!

  29. Lynne Logue on February 12th, 2014 8:53 pm

    What a wonderful story. Men are scarce in the hand stitching world so my hats off to Kevins Mom. Thank you for teaching and encouraging his interesting in the needle arts!

  30. Estie on February 13th, 2014 7:01 pm

    Enjoyed reading your interview with Kevin. Would love to win the book!

  31. Elaine on February 14th, 2014 5:44 am

    I love applique. It gives me just one more tool to get the quilt I want. Would love to have a copy of Kevin’s book. Thank-you.

  32. Pat D on February 14th, 2014 8:44 am

    I myself do fusible applique. Have not attempted needle turn but would love to give it a try. Thanks for a chance to win Kevin’s book.

  33. Robin Gold on February 14th, 2014 11:22 am

    Thank you, Kay, for sharing this!! Last summer, I designed an appliqué quilt for a modern quilt challenge — I wanted to show that needle-turn appliqué could be “modern” too, so this book is really exciting for me!

  34. Maureen on February 15th, 2014 7:41 am

    I thoroughly enjoyed your conversation with Kevin….thank you for sharing! And thank you for a chance at the give-away!

  35. Sue on February 17th, 2014 4:49 am

    Looks like another great book! Thanks for the chance to win a copy.