What led you to become a quilt maker?
For Alex Anderson, it was being one unit short of graduating from San Francisco State University. One month before graduating, and in a bind (pun intended), Alex approached her college counselor to get permission to obtain that remaining credit by finishing her Grandmother’s quilt that was begun in the 1930’s. Permission was granted and Alex was off to a local quilt store to buy the materials she would need to finish the quilt, which was the size of a bath mat. She wanted to stay true to the period the quilt was created in, so she purchased batting that had cotton seeds woven in it and for the back, chose some Laura Ashley upholstery fabric. Alex finished the quilt, got her degree, and forever after, became a quilt maker.
Alex’s first quilts were inspired by Amish quilt designs. In the beginning, she wanted to be an art-quilt maker. Her advice for those starting out with their own quilting adventure: “It doesn’t matter what kind of quilt maker you are. What is important is that you quilt.”
Alex reminded those in her class to take advantage of all the resources available to assist them with their quilting. “You have a virtual tool belt,” she told the 100+ crowd in her lecture. “The more tools you add, the more equipped you will be as a quilt maker.” Is there something holding you back in your quilt making? Alex had this advice: “Face your villain and embrace it.” For her, machine quilting was her demon. Alex explained that she was “a really good hand quilter” and didn’t feel she could adapt to machine quilting. After an attitude adjustment and 150 hours of practice later, she felt she finally became competent with machine quilting. The Key? “Anyone can master machine quilting if you stitch straight and get rid of the walking foot.”
The love of quilting has taken Alex on quite the quilt journey. She made 20 quilts using other people’s publications before she decided to do her own quilt book, Start Quilting. Today, it is in its 3rd Edition and has sold over a quarter of a million copies. What this tells Alex is that “there are still people who want to quilt.” Her latest book, Scrap Quilting, came out September 13, 2013 and celebrates her “stash.”
Start Quilting led to her first television show, Simply Quilts, which had an 11 year run. Who stopped by on the first day of taping her show? Her quilt hero, Jenny Byer. And believe it or not, half the people who worked on Simply Quilts became quilters themselves! Alex’s motto: “If someone taught you to quilt, bring someone else into the quilt fold.”
Where has her quilt making taken her to today? Partnering with fellow quilter Ricky Tims in presenting the “friendliest, interactive, online community for quilters worldwide, TheQuiltShow.com. Members who join TheQuiltShow.com community not only enjoy the full length, “Web TV” programs but receive other membership perks such as multimedia tips, techniques, and tutorials, blocks of the month projects, and access to top quilting experts.
Being a quilt maker brings joy to Alex. To all quilt makers, Alex says, “As you put one foot in front of the other, you will grow as a quilt maker. Bring others in to the fold and keep our community growing.”