1. Name: Alison S
  2. In what city do you live? Currently, Oakland. I moved last year from Southern CA, where I lived for 13 years.
  3. Do you want people to look at your blog? website? Flickr stream? If so, please provide links? My blog is pretty much dormant these days. It’s www.theoccasionalpin.com.
I do love Flickr: that is http://www.flickr.com/photos/msalleycat/
  1. Tell us about your family and/or the important people (pets are GREAT!) in your life and how they feel about your quiltmaking? Well, I probably would not be up here, in the Bay Area, and loving my new job working at C&T Publishing /Stash Books if it weren’t for my boyfriend. (I don’t really like that term, I really think of him as my partner, but if I use that word, people get confused. We’re not married, but he’s the one.) He works in IT and when I told him I was considering a career change to the Bay Area (we did not yet live together at the time), he was totally on board and started looking for a new job up here right after I got mine.
My mom taught me to sew before I even started school, and always encouraged my creativity (my parents got me an easel after I started drawing on the wall in my bedroom – that was NOT encouraged). If it weren’t for her support and encouragement, I would not have lasted as long as I did in the entertainment industry, or had the strength to make this big leap into a new field.

I also have a cat, Tangerine, who used to love to sit next to my cutting mat b/c it got the best breeze in the house. Now in the apartment, he avoids the sewing room, and mainly sleeps on this blanket in the living room, which is probably for the best.

  1. How long have you been making quilts? Since my friends started having babies – so maybe 5 or 6 years ago.
  2. How and where did you learn to quilt? Well, my mom taught me to sew when I was little, and I was a theatre major in college, specializing in costume design, so I sewed in classes and for stage crew. When I decided to quilt, I was amazed at how much information I could find in the middle of the night on the Internet. Then I discovered quilt books. I did take one class, on appliquéd and embroidered quilts from the talented artist Andrea Zuill,and I never finished my final project. I have taken classes on the long-arm, which I love, and I am taking some classes this summer on FMQ on a home machine (b/c I suck at it, so maybe that’s something you can’t learn from the internet or a book) and hand quilting.
  3. Who inspired you to get started? My best friend, Jess, is a production designer in Hollywood, and she couldn’t find anything she liked for her first child (daughter)’s nursery. No pink allowed! So I took her fabric shopping, and then made the entire layette: curtains, pillows, crib bumper, and finally my first quilt.
  4. Please describe your first quilt (Include a picture if you have it). Pastel yellow, green, and orange squares in a checkerboard layout (if checker boards came in 3-color combos) with 2 checkerboard mitered-borders. I figured, I can sew clothes, I can sew miters. 

    After that one, I got a 1/4” seam foot and a walking foot. The second quilt was much easier.
    1. Where do you find inspiration? Everywhere. Blogs, Flickr, guild meetings, quilt shows (I take lots of photos at them), fabric shops, ads I see in magazines (more inspired by home mags than by quilting mags), store window displays, walking down the street. Having a camera in my phone is great for that kind of stuff!
    2. Do you have a quilting “style”?  If so, what is it? Modern. Improvisational. Lots of value contrast.
    11. Do you belong to other guilds besides BAMQG? If so, which ones and why?
     Oh, yeah! A woman at work called me an MQG hoarder! I started out in the Los Angeles MQG. I still post on their forum & Flickr pool regularly, and try to see them when I go to LA. Then up here, I go to the East Bay MQG b/c that’s my ‘hood. I started coming to this one b/c Adrianne was so friendly and welcoming online before I had even moved here, and b/c you all get together to sew, which I think is so much fun (and a great way to get to know people & make friends. Friends who sew, that’s really all a girl needs!) My friend Janice from LA now lives in Petaluma so I have been going to the new North Bay MQG for the past few months for some spirited chat at the cool shop StitchCraft.
    1. Favorite quilting blogs?  (mainly b/c Joelle wants some new blogs to read 😉  ) 
    So sad, but my Google Reader feed has gotten very dusty since I moved here. The regulars (some biggies in the MQG world): Alissa Haight-Carlton: Handmade by Alissa, Elizabeth Hartman: Oh, Fransson, Jacquie Gering: Tallgrass Prairie Studio, Angela Walters: Quilting is My Therapy, Ashley: Film in the Fridge. Oh, this active link thing takes forever. Some various others: allsorts, Be*mused, Lazy Gal Quilting, Angry Chicken, Sew Kind of Wonderful, Blempgorf, I’m a ginger monkey. I gratitate towards quirky writing and process shots and talk about design and technique, not giveaways, styled photos of finished quilts (that make me jealous and wonder ‘How does she do all that?’), or stacks of fabrics. If I like your quilts, and you make me laugh, I will be a dedicated reader. Talk about your god, your church, your home life  all the time on your supposed-quilt blog and I will unsubscribe.  (That said, I love Angry Chicken’s home life posts. But she’s quite the hippy at heart.)
    1. What guild job do you hold and why did you volunteer for that position?
     Gee, none. Is that a suggestion?
    1. What do you generally do with the quilts you make?  Give away? Keep? Sell? Show? So far, mainly give away. I am showing things. I never feel like I have enough time to sew all my ideas up into quilts.
    2. What is your favorite block pattern? I don’t really have one, but I like anything where I can improvise. And I like to foundation piece.
    3. In what room of the house do you sew? Tell us about your sewing /quilting /crafting space.

    The small second bedroom: There is a day bed, a big closet, and a 2.5 x 5 foot tall table on 2 Ikea kids’ bookcases that holds books & supplies where I cut and sew. The closet doors are covered in flannel to serve as a design wall.

     In my house in So. Cal, I had more space, so I had a 5 x5 foot square tall table, a separate little computer desk, a station for my printer & scanner hidden away in a closet, and another book case and small bureau with artsy/crafty supplies. Now most of the art supplies and art books are in our apartment’s living room. I like our current neighborhood, but I am looking forward to being in a bigger space again.
    1. Do you create in any other areas of craft? Is quilting your main creative outlet?
    I used to draw and paint a lot when I was younger. Now, I occasionally make cards or do collage. Sometimes I sew kids’ clothes (I sewed a lot of clothes when I was younger, too.) I was into knitting briefly before quilting hooked me. Sold most of my yarn at a yard sale 2 years ago.

    17. What is your favorite fabric (line, designer, pattern are all ok) and why? My favorite fabric is from Moda: 12120 16 Moda Woven #1

    1. What is your favorite quilt book? All-time faves: Denyse Schmidt Quilts – best visual inspiration. Are there any quilt books you recommend? Gwen Marston books for great instruction on improvisational piecing – also the books by Gwen and Freddy Moran. And I am loving the new book from Stash, Sunday Morning Quilts – so many great ways to use scraps! I have learned a lot about paper piecing from books by Alex Anderson (she is great for beginners) and Carol Doak (disclosure: both C&T authors.) 
    2. Are there any must have quilting tools?  Extra blades. I need reminders to change blades more often. 1/4” seam foot with a guide on the side. I am much better b/c of that type of foot:

    1. What are your favorite shops either online or in the neighborhood? I am not much of an online fabric buyer b/c I like to touch, exact color is important to me, often I am bringing fabric with me to pair before buying, and so many websites don’t show you the scale of the print. I will buy online if I have seen another fabric in the line in a store, liked it, and the print I like is not available. In LA, my favorite shop was where I used to work, Sew Modern, and they now sell online, which is great! I am still getting to know the shops in the Bay area, but I love that I can walk to the little gem of a fabric shop in my neighborhood, Piedmont Fabric.
    1. Is there an area of quilting you feel you would like to learn more about and why? Paper piecing – I like the precision it allows when you want it. So much of what is out there in paper piecing is NOT my style, so I like the idea of encouraging more modern paper piecing designs. I am also trying to get better at my actual quilting. I still don’t like my work in that area, so I am taking some classes.
    2. Is there an area of quilting at which you feel you excel? Tell us about it. Do you prefer the process of designing, piecing, or quilting? I love picking and playing with fabrics the most. I think it’s where all my art training and years of working with fabrics for costumes come together.
    3. You have to evacuate your home quickly due to a natural disaster.  What 3 things would you grab from your sewing room/space? My Featherweight, my vintage pinking shears, and my bee quilt.
    4. Do you have a favorite sewing tip or trick? Pre-wash. It makes the fabric easier to work with – less slippery,it frays less,and it takes away any fear of bleeding. Seriously. Pre-wash, people. It is so worth the time. When I have to make blocks for other people who don’t pre-wash, I find myself cursing. And when I pre-wash, iron, and re-fold the fabric properly, I can cut strips across the width of the fabric without the dreaded V’s at the fold. I cannot do that w/unwashed fabrics.
    5. What else do you want your fellow members to know that we have not asked?
    OH, gosh, I’ve feel like this is lots more than anyone wants to know. Just ask me. You know I am not afraid to talk 😉