Hi I’m Pat Sloan the Aurifil Designer of the Month coordinator. October’s Designer of the month is designer Allison Harris who creates wonderful, doable quilts! I am always excited to see Allison’s newest creations as they are always quilts I want to make.
Allison has been on my Radio show February 18, 2013. To Listen to my show CLICK HERE. then scroll down until you see the Green “Disco” ball. Once the shows load.. scroll the radio player to the date Allison was on the show with me.
EACH MONTH we will pick one random winner that has made a block from our designers and that random person receives a FULL BOX of my Aurifil thread as the prize! Winners are all contacted via Flickr email and posted at our Flickr page in the winner topics.
Let’s meet Allison Harris…
When was your FIRST quilt sighting? Did it inspire you to start quilting?
I grew up with quilts in my home and my mother is a fabulous quilter. I never had an interest in quilting until I was older and had a home and family of my own. About 7 years ago I was walking through a store and saw the cover of Quilts n’ More with a snowball quilt made in Denyse Schmidt fabrics. I hadn’t seen anything like it…the fabrics appealed to me and it was so happy…and I really wanted to make it. I bought the magazine, took it to my Mom and asked her to help me make it. Luckily it was a simple pattern and it went together quick…but I had just scratched the surface and couldn’t wait to start the next project!
Do you still have your first project you ever made?
Of course I do! I wouldn’t get rid of this quilt for anything. The quilt turned out just as I wanted…and I had it long arm quilted because I had no idea you could quilt on your OWN machine. I learned that later…when I couldn’t spend any more money finishing quilt tops!
When you go to a quilt show, what types of quilts are you drawn to? Why?
I like a little bit of everything, but I’m mostly drawn to clean lines, fresh color pallets, symmetrical patterns, and pieced quilts. I always like seeing what new color combinations are being used, and I love anything simple and modern looking.
I don’t like to look at a quilt and feel overwhelmed with too much to look at. I definitely admire the quilt makers and the process for more intricate designs…but for myself I’ll take the simple and easy. ;)
We all have parts of the process we ‘prefer’ more than others. What part of quilt making do you ‘Prefer’ most and why? And which the least.. and why?
I love laying out all of my fabrics and deciding on the perfect palette for a new project. I have stacks all over my sewing room of fabrics I’d love to make into quilts (if only I had the time to make all of them!). I also love piecing the blocks…it’s relaxing and I usually watch a TV show or something while I sew away.
My least favorite is definitely the finishing of the quilt. I don’t mind quilting…but I don’t love it, and don’t even get me started on the binding. ;) I have to force myself to trim them and bind them before I can talk myself out of it, or else nothing would ever get done!
Did you have a career prior to making art, and what was it? Do you still do that career while having your design business?
I went to college to be a Dental Hygienist and worked full time until I had my first baby. I worked for awhile after he was born and then cut back. I still do temporary fill in work here and there to keep my skills up, but other than that I get to stay home with my kids. I’ve always been “artsy” and dabbled in different arts through school…but quilting has obviously been my favorite. :)
When you want to ‘recharge your batteries’ what do you do, where do you do this?
We do a lot of outdoor activities as a family and we’re lucky to live outside of Seattle with parks and trails and beaches all around us. My husband loves to fish, so we can usually be found spending the afternoons at the beach playing while he fishes
I also love to garden, and we enjoy working in the yard. My kids are old enough they can help plant and weed, and they’ve loved picking fresh veggies and flowers from the garden. It also gets me out and off my tush since I’m sitting at the sewing machine or computer so much! ;)
One of my other hobbies is re-finishing and painting furniture. I love looking for great finds in thrift stores and garage sales…and I always have great new pieces to rotate throughout my home!
Do you have a tip or trick to make your quilt making easier?
I used this simple trick just today while sewing on corner square/triangles! Just place a piece of masking or painters tape directly in line with your needle, and you don’t have to mark diagonal lines on all the little squares! It can be found on my blog also: http://www.cluckclucksew.com/2010/10/triangle-corner-trick.html
Laying blocks out in piles before you sew also makes things easier….keeping things nice and tidy as you sew helps things go faster!
Do you have a process you go through to get your ideas started?
If I’m thinking of a new quilt design or working out dimensions I use a plain old graph paper notebook. It’s messy and filled with random numbers and drawings, but it helps me work out the math and any kinks before I put the designs into the computer
What is your 3 favorite colors of Aurifil thread?
I have boxes of white Aurifil thread in my drawers right now…I use it for everything. But my other go-to colors lately have been Seafrost (#2835) and Mint (#2830).
Do you travel to teach?
I teach a bit here and there…but it’s always tricky to get away with kids in school and work schedules to sort! But I hope to teach more in the future. I can hardly stand leaving my kids for 5 days twice a year when I’m at Quilt Market…I don’t think I could travel much more than that without them! :)
What does your studio look like?
Right now I have my machine set up in our (un-used!) formal living room. I love being able to see my kids and be close to them while I’m working, so they can be anywhere in the house or sitting by me playing with Legos and I can hear what they’re up too. So far they’ve stayed out of my sewing stuff…crossing fingers that lasts a little longer!
If you could train with, or work with, or follow one person for a day.. who would it be?
Martha Stewart….I think she’s pretty great.
Anything else you’d like to share?
My first book was released in April through Stash Books. Growing Up Modern is full of quilt projects for baby’s and kids and I loved writing it.
I found out I was pregnant the day I signed my contract… and sent in all of my quilts and manuscript a week before I was due! That pregnancy flew by! ;)
What is the Rock and Roll Song that Inspired your Quilt Block
My block is named “Stairway” and is inspired by my favorite Led Zeppelin song “Stairway to Heaven”. I grew up with Led Zeppelin…and I know the words to most of their songs!
(Allison doesn’t know this is one of MY all time favorite songs… it was awesome to look for a great rendition on youtube… love the flutes CLICK HERE to listen. You also might find this article about the song interesting.. http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=328 )
And a few on the light side…
- Your Favorite Movie – A Christmas Story…I’ll watch it year round
- The Song Stuck in your head – Cold Play…Para-Para-Paradise :)
- Do you like to Dance? yes…I embarrass my kids and husband
- The Color you have always LOVED…..any shade of BLUE!
Visit Allison at
Here are all the Aurifil blocks so far! CLICK HERE to pick up any blocks you missed.. they are after the block photo in each designer’s interview post