Thursday, May 27, 2010

spotlight on... SABRA!!

Good morning, quilters! Hopefully I’ve caught you at a good time – just before the lovely looooong weekend. Before you head off to your weekend adventures, please read on to learn more about Sabra Smith, fellow PMQGer:

• Tell me a bit about yourself: name, location, affiliations, personal stuff.

Sabra Smith, Fort Washington. Moved here from NYC more than a decade ago and it's the longest I've ever lived in one place. I got here and discovered that I'd accidentally ended up in a place where I was surrounded by ancestors. In 2003 I went back to school to get my Masters in historic preservation after working in publishing, public relations, and as a stay at home mom. I'm now fortunate to be working in center city dealing with landmarks, heritage, and history.

• What do you do (employment or for fun)?
Historic preservation (making the world safe for old buildings!) see above. I'm also chair of the Upper Dublin Historical Commission where one of our prime goals is to increase awareness of our heritage, how that's expressed in our neighborhoods and why that adds value to our lives everyday. And I have a blog that's a nexus of my various interests in history, architecture, preservation, communications and marketing, art, photography, community, "place," planning, design and urban issues.

• How did you get started quilting?
I can still remember the thrill when my mother sat me down and taught me how to thread her Singer sewing machine. Watching her, it seemed so complicated and the machine seemed a little scary -- so I had such a huge sense of accomplishment when I could change the thread and bobbin myself. I "designed" clothes for my Barbie and sewed them using scraps of fabric. My first pattern was probably one for making clothes from felt for my little troll dolls (I still have some of them!). In Girl Scouts I learned about embroidery making an apron for Mother's Day and working toward earning my sewing badge. I don't think I started quilting until high school, when I thought I'd make a marriage ring quilt for a friend who asked me to be in her wedding (we were living in Scotland). That never got finished! Since then I've made crazy quilt embroidered pillows, baby quilts, wall hangings, dolls and more -- though usually as gifts. The only thing I can think of that I made for my home was a baby quilt for my first son. (I still owe the second son his quilt!) All were sewn on a cheap Singer I bought at Woolworth's in New York City so I could make some curtains for my apartment (I'd found this fabulous lining fabric with little Eiffel Towers all over it at one of the city's terrific fabric shops)

• What do you like best about quilting? Embroidering a little message or picture into one of the squares and wondering when the recipient will notice it.

• What is the hardest thing about quilting? For me? Precision. And boredom after cutting out the gazzilionth triangle.

• Where do you do your work? Do you have a q
uilting room? There's a creative person (author, artist, seamstress, crafter, stylist, gardener, life savorer, wonder woman) whose blog I love to read and whose studio I crave. But my reality is that I quilt all over the house. Someday maybe I'll get the attic fixed up as my own studio space... Who wants to come keep me company while I clean, patch and paint?

• Do you name your quilts or label them?
If it's for a baby, sometimes I will embroider their name and birthdate on it. For my son's quilt I embroidered all sorts of little messages onto a few of the patches. You have to look for them, but they're there.

• How do you choose your colors? What are your favorites? I took a painting course and learned the wonders of a color wheel. But I really would love to better develop my color sense. Lately I've been looking at the Kaffe Fasset books and am trying to absorb the ability to make those loud, wolf-whistle combos.

• Where do you buy your fabrics and materials? Is there any particular supply you’re partial to? I love(d?) the Country Quilt Shop. There was also a splendid, tiny, quirky shop in Lambertville that I adored, but it closed. While working in publishing I discovered a lot of great catalogues for fabric (this was pre-internet and they mailed them because we published a lot of craft books). That's how I found Keepsake Quilting in Center Harbor, New Hampshire -- great catalogue but my real goal is to visit in person. More immediately, I'm taking my lunch hour and hopping over to Spool on South Street. And when I get home tonight, I'm ordering this fabulous Japanese fabric (red, yellow and blue squirrels) from etsy. (Don't we all adore etsy?)

• What quilt(s) are you working on now? Don't remind me! Suddenly everyone I know is pregnant or just gave birth! I mailed the quilt with the houses to the preservationist. I'm planning my first attempt at "contemporary" for my groovy bloggity friend down south. And I get to indulge myself working with pink and girlie for a surprise!

• What other crafts do you indulge in or hope to learn?
Anything and everything. I just love making things.

• What are your quilting related goals? I suppose I'd like to learn this whole paper piecing thing I've been reading about. The instructions seem very complicated and I suspect it would just be easier to watch someone do it. (How "guild" like to learn from others!)

• What do you consider your greatest quilting related achievement? I don't. I'm a hack. I have fun. I have not produced a magnificent piece of art that I'm proud of. I make things that I know are going to end up dragged under a stroller or tossed in the washing machine after being used on the floor as a changing pad. The quilt-related moment that touches me the most, is that my son believed his quilt could keep away bad dreams. And that he still appreciates that even though he's older now and doesn't believe it anymore. He loves I made something that made him feel that way once upon a time.

• What is your most treasured possession? Don't ask me to choose!

• What is your motto?
For quilting? Maybe it's "well, it'll stop bleeding soon"

Thanks so much, Sabra! I appreciate you taking the time to respond to my emails and answer all my questions!! And thanks for reading :)

Questions, comments, suggestions? Leave them in the comments below!

Brought to you by daydreams of fabric stacks and Nicole Bruno


  1. Love the house quilt. The stitching is beautiful and I adore the free spirit it represents!

  2. Sujata interview next! I love, love her work!

  3. I'm still laughing over your "motto". I love that sense of joy in a quilter! It's like the equivalent to "Just Do It" in an athlete. Keep up the good fun, Sabra.