- Name: Alison S
- In what city do you live? Currently, Oakland. I moved last year from Southern CA, where I lived for 13 years.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- How long have you been making quilts? Since my friends started having babies – so maybe 5 or 6 years ago.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- Do you have a quilting “style”? If so, what is it? Modern. Improvisational. Lots of value contrast.
- Favorite quilting blogs? (mainly b/c Joelle wants some new blogs to read 😉 )
- What guild job do you hold and why did you volunteer for that position?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Do you create in any other areas of craft? Is quilting your main creative outlet?
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
- 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.)
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- What else do you want your fellow members to know that we have not asked?