Interview with Paula Nadelstern

Posted by Deirdre Quirk on Apr 13th 2017

Today's interview is with Paula Nadelstern, a longtime C&T author. She has quite the list of books to her name, including Fabricadabra—Simple Quilts, Complex FabricFantastical Designs Coloring BookKaleidoscope Quilts—The WorkbookKaleidoscopes & QuiltsPaula Nadelstern's Kaleidoscope QuiltsPuzzle Quilts, and Snowflakes & Quilts

Where do you find your quilting and fabric design inspiration?

I welcome color and motif inspiration whenever I'm lucky enough to notice it: an elevator door, a set of Italian dishes, a painting at the Met, the arabesque patterns in the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque on a teaching trip to Abu Dhabi.

In between my teaching trips and business responsibilities, I’m currently working (very slowly and intermittently) on the forty-first quilt in my Kaleidoscopic quilt series. It references the Old Prague Synagogue ceiling. As soon as I looked up I knew. Pattern and pattern and more pattern.

You can see the quilts in the gallery section of my website,

Who has inspired your creativity?

For over 30 years, I’ve benefitted greatly from the enthusiasm, humor, snacks, and joint genius of the members of the Manhattan Quilters Guild. MQG is a diverse group of New York metro area fiber artists with very individual styles who are committed to advancing the quilt as an art form. The guild began around a dining room table in 1980. The founding members shared an interest in the rich tradition and vital future of quiltmaking as an art form. We meet monthly to provide mutual encouragement and to support each other’s efforts to express ourselves in fiber, via work critiques, discussions of pertinent topics, and sharing of skills, techniques, and related information. You can find out more here:

Where do you shop for fabric?

Wherever I am.

On my website there is a guide to the NYC garment district, which is a genuine textile lover's shopping mecca. Instead of hunting for the materials you find in your local quilt shop, expect to bag uncommon species: bargains like mill-ends and cut-rate decorator fabrics, high-end goods like silks and fine wools, nontraditional materials like vinyl and metallics, and cottons from Indonesia and Africa. Not to mention shops brimming with embellishments, some arranged with a museum-like precision, others reminiscent of yard-sale chaos.

The rules are: Wear comfy shoes. Buy it if it speaks to you, even if you don’t have a project in mind; you’ll never see it again. Don't ask for or expect anyone to know what a fat quarter is, and don't expect many shops to cut less than 1/2 yard lengths.

Read the full guide here:

What is the one tool or notion you can’t live without?

What would I do without Visi-GRID, the perfect grid product? I can’t even bear to think about it. The grid is always printed accurately, it accepts ink on either side equally well, and it is laid out in a balanced way, so even the margins are useful.

My kaleidoscopic technique is template-driven. My long-time collaborator, the see-through template, has led me places I would never have gone to on my own. Without it, I’m just your everyday quilter. Put a see-through template in my hand and I have super powers, the ability to explore my fabric from every angle without leaving my seat.

In my real life, I can’t live without my Kindle. If I think it is misplaced, I panic. I’m an avid reader of novels and welcome great book suggestions. I recently purchased a lime green cover to replace the black one in the hope that I’ll be able to see it better in my overstuffed bag when I’m on the subway and ready to read all the way home. 

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