Hi, Bay Area MQG’ers! 

I am Alison Schmidt, and I’ve been living in the Bay area for 3 months and a day now.  I moved to Oakland for a new job (a dream job for me – I edit quilting books!) in the East Bay in August.  I am new to the Bay Area MQG, but not the Modern Quilt Guild overall. Just two years prior, I became the third member of the Los Angeles Modern Quilt Guild, after the founders Alissa Haight Carlton and LatifahSaafir, back when we were still just a bunch of online folks who had found each other through Flickr, setting up a site on Ning to help us get to know each other. By the fall we had our first meeting, at an adorable shop called ‘Home Ec’ in Silverlake, and I was totally hooked and blown away at the same time.  There were only 20 of us at that first meeting (I got there late, due to crazy-long working hours in my former career as a costumer in the film & television industry.)  Two hours later, we had 4 officers: President Latifah,VP Alissa, a secretary, and a treasurer; a Media/PR person; and a full slate of ideas. We knew we wanted to meet one weeknight a month for business and non-sewing (speakers, demos, and my personal fave, show’n’tell). We started right off scheduling a fabric swap and show’n’tell for the next meeting. We were also charged with finding a location to sew regularly on weekend days once a month.

The first Los Angeles Modern Quilt Guild meeting, 10/14/2009
by handmadebyalissa
 © All rights reserved
I came home that night and I could barely sleep, I was so full of ideas & inspiration. 

We started sewing at a rented space in a church on the Westside of Los Angeles soon after, and the extended hours together (usually 1pm to 6 or 7pm) really allowed us all to become friends. I have other friends who sew & craft, but haven’t spent hours on shared activities like this since college (I was a theatre major, so I spent many hours stitching costumes together with classmates.)  I was surprised at how much I loved that time, and my goal on moving to the Bay area was to find another group of folks with whom I could enjoy those productive (or not 😉 afternoons sewing. When I pulled into the Redwood City library for my first meeting, and saw other women lugging in their sewing machines and bags of fabric and supplies, I felt like I had found a new home!

In the time since the guild started, we have had speakers, swaps, and demos, made 2 charity/fund-raiser quilts, planned group trips to fabric stores and quilt shows, and had a three-day quilting retreat to snowy Big Bear.  Denyse Schmidt even came out for a talk and to teach two workshops!  The Guild has had some moves, some unplanned (when the brick&mortar shop where we met Monday nights closed and went online-only), and some planned (to another member’s new fabric shop, Sew Modern).  We have switched our weekend sews from various Saturdays and Sundays throughout the month on the Westside to the same Saturday every month at a new location on the east side of Los Angeles (Hollywood, to be specific). One of the biggest challenges has been finding large, affordable meeting space with enough tables and electrical outlets for the growing group of quilters (The Redwood City library is a great location! Elevator. ‘Nuff said).  The Modern Quilt Guild has grown right along with Los Angeles  – there are guilds up and down this state, around the country (two started by LA guild members who have moved on), and even overseas. Quilt Market has seen official (and unofficial) meetups of Modern Quilt Guild members who also work in the quilting industry….some as pattern and fabric designers, some authors, shop owners – more and more, traditional quilting business are trying to learn how to attract the modern quilters’ dollars.  I for one am happy to let them know what I want, whether through the images I pin on Pinterest, favorite on Flickr (where I go by the handle ‘msalleycat’, an old,old nickname), stitch and show on my blog, www.theoccasionalpin.com, or talk about on our – the Bay Area’s – Modern Quilt Guild website.