Kay Mackenzie Interview plus Book + Fabric Giveaway!

on Mar 31, 2009 in Books, Quilting | 129 comments

It’s my absolute pleasure to welcome Kay Mackenzie to my blog today for an interview about her brand new book Easy Applique Blocks: 50 Designs in 5 Sizes. Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win your own copy of the book. 10 lucky second prize winners will receive a fabric kit containing the fabrics I used to make my own block.

Me:  In the book, you mention you took your first quilting class in 1992. What inspired you to take that class?

Kay: For the first part of my life I had the strange problem of feeling like an artistic and creative person, but I could never sing, play music, or draw worth anything. During my earlier years, I was so busy going to college and then working at two or three jobs that I didn’t have time to think about what I would call a   ‘hobby.’

In my thirties I got married, moved to central Ohio, and found, for the first time in my life, that I did not have to work full-time. This gave me the luxury of being able to try something artistic. I started by taking a class in folk-art painting at a crafts shop. I liked it but I wasn’t all that swell at it, and it didn’t stick. It was a pretty solitary activity, sitting alone painting wooden stuff by yourself all the time. There was no folk-art painting guild with monthly meetings. 🙂

Then I happened into the world of quilting. I learned about the quilt shop in town and heard that the owner taught beginning quilting and appliqué. I can still remember my eyes getting big at the very word. Ooh! I thought. Appliqué! I made my way to the shop, and ended up in a class of one and got a great introduction to piecing, quilting, and a little appliqué.

After that I took off like a jet engine. I absorbed lots of books and quilting magazines, paid attention, and started an avalanche of projects. I was swooped up by the quilting ladies in town and carried off to join the guild. It was great for a newlywed in a new town. Quilting stuck big time!

Me:  What was the turning point for moving your passion for quilting from a pure hobby to a business?

Kay: I never had a career. I had jobs. Many of them. The best ones involved writing. I’ve always been a writerly person. After I got my feet well under me as a quilter and an appliqué enthusiast, I was itching to get into the professional side of things. At that time I was working part-time at a community college, and I took some classes there in digital media, where I learned the principles of professional typography and page design. And, to my surprise and delight, I found that using digital illustration enabled me to draw! It gave me the tool I needed to bypass the hole in my head where sketching ability is supposed to be.

One day, driving in the car, the idea came to me. I could combine my love for quilting with my interest in writing and digital illustration, I could get into the professional side of quilting, and I could prepare for retiring from the day job! It was a convergence and a fever in the brain that persists to this day. Now I have a career. It’s a fantastic feeling.

Me:  I have to tell you Kay, your passion for appliqué radiated off the pages. I definitely was feeling the love as I read the book. Share with us a few reasons why appliqué is your ‘thing’.

Kay: Some of us are just built that way. No seriously, who knows? I remember a time when I didn’t even realize that quilts had patterns. You know, like Log Cabin, Double Wedding Ring? What a concept! Once I started paying attention, it was the Baltimore Album quilts that absolutely captivated me. I felt magic and awe when I looked at them. Plus, my teacher told me I “might just be an appliqué person” when I told her I liked turning the edges of my Dresden Plate and stitching them. Either she shaped my destiny or she spotted an appliquér when she saw one.

Me:  As a newbie appliqué wanna-be I have always felt intimidated by overly intricate appliqué designs. Your book was just the invitation I’ve been waiting for. Tell us a little bit about your decision to do a book focused on easy blocks.

Kay: Come on over Kathy!

Me:  🙂

Kay: Before Easy Appliqué Blocks, I found myself in a trend of creating and stitching blocks that included more and more fine detail. One day I designed a simple bunny block with just a few pieces, and it was a breath of fresh air! I enjoyed it so much that I set out to do a whole collection of blocks like that, and it became the focus for my book project.

Me:  Any sage advice for quilters that are just starting down the appliqué path?

Kay: There are a gazillion ways to appliqué and they’re all good. Different methods are pleasing to different people, so find the one you like best and gives you results that you’re pleased with.

Me: Which method would you recommend trying first?

Kay: It so depends on the nature of the individual. Some quilters prefer hand work, others sew by machine exclusively. Some will only consider turned edges while others like raw-edge appliqué just fine. Some are drawn to a primitive, rustic look, and others enjoy a more refined look. Some would rather spend time on prep work, others would rather get straight to the stitching (I’m in that camp). I’d say learn as much as you can about appliqué and find the method that’s just right for you. Easy Appliqué Blocks gives instructions for three kinds of appliqué that you can throw into your appliqué bag of tricks!

Me:  OK, the CD thing is AWESOME! Totally COOL. Was that idea part of your vision for the book from the beginning? (to everyone reading: All the blocks in the book are on a CD included at the back of the book, each block can be printed in 5 different sizes with the ability to print them out in reverse.)

Kay: I am sooo glad to hear you say that. I just knew it was an idea whose time had come. Yes, it was my concept that I pitched to Martingale as part of the book proposal. It’s a huge added value and solves so many pesky little problems that we used to go through in getting our master patterns ready to use.

Me: How do you feel when you see pictures of projects others have made from your patterns?

Kay: Fantastic! Thrilled and validated! Until I see what others have done with my patterns, they’ve all been in my head, then in black and white on paper, then stitched using my own sensibilities. Other quilters do things I could never have conceived of. I have a Show & Tell Center at http://www.kaymackenzie.com so I can show off what other quilters are making using my designs.

Me: Thank you Kay for visiting today and sharing your applique and book writing journey with us. I’m itching to get back to creating more blocks!


7 pm 3/31/09: I’m turning off the comments. I‘ll announce the winners first thing in the morning. Thank you everyone! Kathy

4/1/09: List of winners announced!

Now for a spectacular giveaway. Leave a comment sharing what you like about applique by 7 pm (pacific standard time) tonight, Tuesday, March 31. The grand prize winner will receive a free copy of the book along with a fabric kit containing the same fabrics I used to create my Cardinal block. I’ll also be giving away additional fabric kits to 10 lucky second prize winners!

If you want more chances to win a free book there are still 5 more stops on Kay’s book tour!

Easy Applique Blocks: 50 Designs in 5 Sizes is now available at your favorite quilt shop, from the Martingale & Company website, and from Amazon.com. Signed copies are available from Kay’s website Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs.

pink chalk fabrics ~*~ new arrivals ~*~ free patterns ~*~ on sale