Alissa Haight Carlton lives in Los Angeles and is one of the founders and president of the Modern Quilt Guild. She has written two books, Modern Minimal: 20 Bold and Graphic Quilts and Block Party: The Modern Quilting Bee. When not quilting, she casts reality shows including many recent seasons of Project Runway. She blogs at www.handmadebyalissa.com.
How Blogging has Changed my Craft
It’s fair to say that my quilting and my blogging are directly linked and have each influenced the other enormously. I started my blog handmadebyalissa in 2008 when I first started quilting so I almost can’t remember a time when there was one without the other.
When I made my very first quilts I was on flickr (which inspired my desire to quilt in the first place) and my descriptions were getting longer and longer. I remember saying to my sister who was encouraging me to start a blog “really… a blog? What will I write?” Well obviously I came up with plenty because here I am, a few years later and my blog has grown into something that has provided me many opportunities and led to an unbelievable sense of community and friendship for me. I sometimes wonder what I did with my time before I quilted, blogged and worked on all of the things that it has led to.
The most important thing that my blog has done for my quilting is that it has helped me to push and grow creatively. I’ll openly admit that this is partly driven by a sense of obligation. I always feel like I need to get that next post ready, but I don’t think that is completely a bad thing. As long as it doesn’t take over more important things in my life, it pushes me to get to my sewing room to design and sew.
It’s in my nature that I dislike making the same quilt twice, so I try to push and grow my voice with each quilt I make. Not every quilt is equally as successful at taking a new step, but I’d like to think that a gradual, natural change and growth happens over time. What is certain is that without my blog I’d have made fewer quilts and therefore would not have grown creatively as much as I have.
Aside from the creative influence my blog has had on me, it’s been immeasurably important in terms of community. In October of 2009 I co-founded The Modern Quilt Guild (MQG), which has grown into an organization made up of more than 100 guilds all over the world and it all started with one blog comment.
I wrote a blog post about feeling that I didn’t see Modern Quilting represented at mainstream quilting events and wondered how we could work to change that. Latifah Saafir, another modern quilter local to Los Angeles, posted “Maybe we should start our own modern quilt guild!” And the rest is history. The LAMQG met, I blogged about the fun we were having, and quickly there were other Modern Quilt Guilds popping up everywhere. Now, under three years later, the MQG is still growing at an amazing pace and has added a lot of fuel to the fire of the Modern Quilting Movement.
In February of 2013, The Modern Quilt Guild will be holding it’s first convention and quilt show, QuiltCon, in Austin, Texas. Tons of workshops, amazing teachers (including keynote speaker Denyse Schmidt), a huge quilt show and lots of shopping in the vendor hall will all lead to the first large scale event aimed specifically at modern quilters. One blog post a few years ago (and a lot of hard work after that!) has led to this. It’s astonishing what can happen when you voice your thoughts to a group of like-minded people!
Without my blog, I’d still consider quilting a hobby. It would be a hobby I love and that would help to fulfill my life but with my blog it has turned into my passion and career. Really what it comes down to is that quilting and blogging have changed my life – and for that I’m so, so happy.