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Q & A with Alex Anderson

Emily Achondo
Alex Anderson, celebrity quilter, designer and author, is a featured guest at the Be Inspired: Quilter''s Retreat at at Meissner Sewing, Sacramento in June. (Photo courtesy of alexandersonquilts.com)

Alex Anderson is a familiar name to many quilters and crafters, but she is especially well known among Northern California natives.

Anderson grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, graduating from San Francisco State University with an art degree. She began sewing when she was in middle school and received her first sewing machine for her eighth-grade graduation, Anderson said.

It wasn’t until college, during what she refers to as the explosion and “renaissance of quilting” that Anderson began to discover a passion for quilting, she said.

“When I discovered quilting, I knew that was the art form for me,” Anderson said. “Whenever I could go to cloth, it felt exactly right.”

She marks her breakthrough moment as her television show “Simply Quilts,” which aired on HGTV for 10 years. While the show was running, aspiring quilters would ask her where to begin, launching her career as an author and publishing her second book, “Start Quilting,” she said.

“(The show) gave me a voice and a platform that was bigger than I could have even imagined,” Anderson said.

Today, Anderson is a well-known author, designer, celebrity quilter, and co-founder of the Quilters Select line of products by R&K. Meissner Sewing will welcome Alex in the Sacramento store this June, during the Inspired By: Quilter’s Retreat.

In preparation for the two-day workshop, Alex talks about her creative process and love for quilting, while sharing a preview of the upcoming Quilter’s Retreat:

Q: How would you describe your personal creative process?
Alex Anderson: I don’t start with a master plan. I will look at some fabric, or I’ll think of a specific pattern or a general idea, and then I will just start creating and use my design wall as a guide. And I know that quilts, as an art, they have a mind of their own, and you have to be willing to let them grow as they want to grow. So it’s very organic, my creative process, and I don’t feel that there’s any sort of box a person can put me in, especially lately. I’ve been taking a lot of classes and growing a lot as a quilt maker.

Q: Do you identify yourself as a particular category of quilter (modern, traditional, or other...)?
Alex: I would say until about the last 10 years, I would call myself contemporary -traditional, meaning you take traditional patterns and then make them look like they were made in the year they were made. But recently, I have been exploring many, many different venues because, living in the United States, especially in California, we have access to so many wonderful teachers and experiences.

Alex Anderson, celebrity quilter, designer and author, is a featured guest at the Be Inspired: Quilter''s Retreat at at Meissner Sewing, Sacramento in June. Participants of the workshop will experience a full day of stitching with Anderson, creating an 18" wall hanging and/or pillow.

Q: What can participants of the Quilter’s Retreat expect to experience?
Alex: I’ve recently been taken with straight-line quilting. We’re going to go through the basics of straight-line quilting and then how to do a beautiful blanket stitch with raw-edge appliqué. And it’s going to be an 18-inch wall hanging and/or pillow, whatever the participants wants to do with it. In the end, it’s their choice.

Q: Do you have a favorite technique or style? 
Alex: Not really. I love it all. I love to try different things.

Q: What draws you to quilting? 
Alex: I was going to be a weaver for life, and I found that the loom took control of the situation. And I couldn’t get everything the way I wanted it. The thing about quilting is that, as the maker, you are completely in control of it, and you can make changes; you can make a mistake. Most things are fixable, unlike when I did wood working. When you cut it wrong, you can’t just stretch and pull it a little bit. Quilt making is very forgiving. And the fabric, and the colors and the textures and the patterns are just glorious to play with.


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