Featured Designer - Alison Glass January 01 2016
To kick off the New Year, we are featuring Alison Glass, a surface designer who has made her mark not only in designing her own fabric lines for Andover Fabrics but also designing quilt patterns and embroidery designs. I first met Alison at a school house session at Quilt Market in the Fall of 2014. Not only do her patterns, designs and color sense appeal to me, but also her advice during her lecture really resonated with me. She shared that in order to evolve your business, you must create an experience and give each customer a vision. From there, one should help their customer achieve that vision or goal and connect with him or her along the way.
I appreciate how Alison has built out her brand in hopes of teaching others new skills to, as I quote from her book, Alison Glass Appliqué, "create lovely, useful things yourself, each packed with meaning and beauty."
Now, let's get to know Alison!
Jen: Where were you born and raised?
Alison: I was born in Galveston, TX and lived in Houston for a bit. My family moved to Austin just before I started elementary school, and I lived there until eight or nine years ago. (Alison now lives in Virginia with her husband and two children.)
Jen: How and when did your passion for handmade begin?
Alison: I have always loved art and drawing; it is simply a huge part of who I am and handmade just flows naturally from that. My grandmother and mom made lots of handmade things, and I always knew there was a lot of value in what they were making. I love the individuality of handmade, that a person can create the ideal version of an item for whatever purpose is needed. It allows mundane typical things to have more meaning and beauty.
Jen: How did you learn to quilt and embroider? Did you stitch as a girl?
Alison: I guess I am mainly self taught in sewing. I did take a couple of classes as a kid, but really started sewing when I had a place of my own to make things for. Most of the things I sewed starting out were ‘for the home’ items, just whatever was needed. I did make a quilted bumper for my kids crib without really thinking about it being quilting. A lot of my recent quilting and embroidery stems from my work as a fabric designer.
Jen: Complete this sentence. When I am not creating, I am…..
Alison: Working or being with family probably. :) The business requires a lot of time that isn’t really creating, but I do love it. I am really enjoying building something. I have two kids, both in middle school, and most of the rest of my time is spent connecting with them and my husband.
Jen: So how did Alison Glass Design come to be?
Alison: I started out doing interior design for clients with a little bit of organization thrown in. I started using a lot of fabric from the quilting industry for the space designs and got very interested in the idea of designing it myself. In the fall of 2011, I started showing designs to manufacturers and ended up working with Andover. My first line shipped the next year and about a year later, I released the first embroidery patterns. A lot has happened between then and now.
Jen: How would you describe your style?
Alison: This is always such a funny question because it’s so open ended. With fabric design I tend to like dense and colorful with a lot of detail in the artwork, except for Handcrafted, where I think space is essential and good color combinations are key. With spaces, I tend to like industrial and a little sparse with colorful artwork and details as accents. We are moving soon, and I’m excited to get to make a space for us that is consistent with this, which is not something we’ve had the opportunity to do for quite a few years. With clothing I’m generally super basic, jeans and t-shirts. So, I guess my style depends a lot on the context.
Jen: Tell us about your creative process for fabric lines. For your embroidery patterns? For your quilt patterns? What were your inspirations?
Alison: I get a lot of inspiration by just looking at the world and things in it. The tiniest shape or color can be a starting point. I also really enjoy naming the fabric lines, and find that once I find a good name that has some sort of meaning or story attached to it, the designs within the line come together easily. Color in general is very inspiring to me, and the process of combining the colors is something I love to do and get a lot of energy from.
Jen: Any big plans for the year ahead?
Alison: There are always a lot of plans and ideas for things I would love to do, I just need more time to do them all! The studio is moving as well as our family, so the first things we will do in the new year will be to get set up and operating smoothly in the new spaces. The new studio will have way more space and opportunity for organizing, and I expect our physical space to have a really positive impact on the creative work. I am really looking forward to getting into a lot of designing in the next year.
I am excited to see what Alison has in store for us this year. I know that I plan to do some surface embroidery using a panel from her Ex Libris fabric collection. Shortly, we will also be launching a new kit featuring her Indigo Handcrafted fabric collection. In the meantime, you can check out the other Alison Glass patterns, designs and fabrics that we stock at Red Thread Studio.
UPDATED JUNE 2016:
You can also check out Alison's video interview!