Interview with Alissa Haight Carlton

Saturday 12th July 2014, 9.55



Handmade by Alissa is the blog of modern and minimalist Alissa Haight Carlton a quilter, author and mother. Alissa’s distinct contemporary style of blocks of colour was one of the reasons she started the Modern Quilt Guild which she co-founded in 2009. Creating a community to share projects online and in person. Along with her day job of casting stars for television shows she has a passion for sewing and making quilts. There is never a wasted minute and luckily Alissa had some spare time to answer a few interview questions for us.


Tell us about yourself?

I live in Los Angeles with my husband and two year old son. I am a modern quilter and designer, author and blogger. I’m also the Executive Director of the Modern Quilt Guild. I have written two modern quilting books, Block Party and Modern Minimal. I work part of the year at the career I’ve had since pre-quilting, casting Project Runway. I blog very sporadically and I enjoy posting on Instagram as so much is said with an image.

Have you always been a quilter and who or what inspired you to make your first quilt?

I have not always been a quilter at all – I have been quilting for six years now. But it’s been a very intense six years! When I starting quilting, I took to it like a fish to water and have made a lot of quilts since. I was first inspired to make a quilt in early 2008 when I came across the flickr group “Fresh Modern Quilts”.  For the first time I saw quilts that would fit into the design and taste of my home. The craft of sewing quilts appealed to me enormously and so seeing modern quilts made me want to dive in and try it myself. I bought Denyse Schmidt’s first book and from there I am self taught. I cringe when I look at that first quilt, but I have learned by doing!

You often work with blocks of colour and have a contemporary style, where do you get your ideas to make your quilts from?

Well, unlike a lot of quilt designers, I’m not someone who says “I have a million ideas in my head all the time!” I have to work to come up with my ideas and designs, they don’t just show up all the time… My tried and true policy is to always just “make the next quilt.” I don’t worry about it being hugely different from the quilt before it. I never make the same quilt twice, and I always design my own quilts, but I wallow in a colour story and design ideas for a long time. I find that I end up making a series of quilts and while they are all very different from each other, I don’t stress about reinventing my entire design wheel with every single quilt. I allow myself to explore the same ideas over and over and this helps me a lot.

In terms of the nuts and bolts of coming up with designs, I use Illustrator and find that just sitting in front of my computer and dragging around this rectangle or that and mixing and matching colours… just playing around… leads me to new and interesting ideas.

Your quilts are always finished with diverse quilting techniques, what sewing machine do you use? Are you lucky enough to own a long arm quilting machine?

These days, I tend to only straight-line quilt my quilts. It’s a texture and look that I’ve fallen in love with and I don’t think that I’ll be back to the free motion for a time to come. We’ll see… I am very lucky to be a part of Janome’s on-loan program and I sew with their Horizon 8900. I love it. It’s very big and it’s fantastic for all of the (admittedly very time consuming) straight line quilting that I do.  I don’t have a long arm (we have a tiny house in LA, so it’s not realistic any time soon) but I don’t mind so much as straight lines are possible on my home machine.

How do you think your work has developed over the years?

My work has change enormously over the years.  If you look at my first quilts and my most recent quilts it’s a bit hard to see a through line.  But if you look at the work along the way, it’s there!  I have always worked with lots of solids and bold colours, but as my work has grown I’ve developed a more minimalist graphic aesthetic.

What do you do with all your finish projects?

I have recently slowed down a lot with the projects that I get completed (I’m so busy with so many other things in life right now that the time to sew has dried up a lot!) but when I do sew I tend to always be sewing a project with it’s purpose in mind.  It’s either for a baby shower I’m headed to the next day, or I might be on a deadline for a project for a publication. It varies!

Can you tell us if you have some exciting projects coming up?

Well the Modern Quilt Guild has QuiltCon coming up in February in Austin, Texas and that has me very busy these days. I also have a quilt in the recently released book, Lucky Spool’s Essential Guide to Modern Quiltmaking. From there, I’m just working at keeping up with the things I have going on right now!

Follow Alissa on Instagram @alissahaightcarlton

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The Liberty Design Studio Inspires Crowds at Hampton Court Flower Show

Wednesday 9th July 2014, 18.07




The lovely Liberty Design Studio creatives have designed a giant Liberty print-covered letter sculpture for the Hampton Court Flower show.

Last week three members from our lovely wholesale design studio spent a busy few days at the Hampton Court Flower Show, creating a beautiful and inspiring Liberty print patchwork letter ‘I’ to greet the thousands of visitors who will enter over the coming week.

Head of Design Emma Mawston said, “The interior and rear side of the letter represent over thirty years of Liberty history, and the classic designs Liberty is so famous for. The fabrics were arranged in a beautifully random way as we don’t work to specific colour stories when colouring the classics.

The front of the letter is created with blue, pink and purple swatches to blend with the colour the other letters were painted. We started with blues, moving into pinks and then purples. The designs were mainly from the fashion fabric collection with a few classics included. The purple  front of the letter being very apt as it represents the colour of Liberty.

The side on show has more of a graded colour distribution as our seasonal fashion fabric collections are created with specific palettes. The designs are placed to represent from the bottom upwards: earth, grass and flowers with the sky, clouds and sunshine at the top. Prints used were a selection of styles by the Liberty Art Fabrics design studio, The Liberty Archive and 25 artist and group collaborations including Grayson Perry, Rachel de Thame, John Malkovich, Florence Welch and Deborah Landis.”

Visit Hampton Court Flower Show this week to see the design studio’s printed masterpiece and tweet us your pictures @LibertyLondon.


Behind the Scenes: Exclusive Markus Lupfer Scarves

Tuesday 8th July 2014, 13.08



Markus Lupfer takes Liberty behind the scenes at his studio to talk us through his new range of exclusive designer scarves.

MArkus Lupfer exclusive scarf

Renowned for his playful knitwear and jersey pieces, designer Markus Lupfer is a safe bet when it comes to bold, covetable designs. For his latest venture, he has created a collection of exclusive pieces that will sit in the Liberty scarf hall for Autumn/Winter 2014. We asked him to talk us through the collection, and the creative environment that houses his label.

Markus lupfer liberty scarf

How do you organise your work space? Talk us through your studio.
Our studio has three floors. Our first floor is the development floor where I work with pattern cutters and machinists on the new collections. We have all the fittings there and this is our hands-on creative floor. One floor above is the design area where we design the prints, knitwear, embroideries, fabrics etc. for both womenswear and menswear as well as footwear and eyewear. The next floor up is our business floor where all the logistics and production is organised from.

What’s on your studio walls/current mood board?
We are just finishing our Resort 2015 collection and the mood boards have modern tribal pictures on them.

What are your must-haves when designing?
Good happy music and a packet of wine gums.

What is your favourite part of the design process?
I love the part when fabrics are chosen and the designs are about to take shape. I love working on finishings and making sure that the garment looks expensive and nicely made.

Which one is more important: the process or the product?
To me it’s the product.

Do you have any quotes or mantras that you live your work life by?
Work hard but enjoy what you do.

You are well known for your knitwear and jerseys. How did you find designing scarves; was the process any different to designing womenswear?
I loved designing the scarves for our exclusive project with Liberty! It wasn’t much different than designing other womenswear products.

What was the inspiration behind your Liberty scarves?
The scarves are an extension of our Autumn/Winter 14/15 womenswear collection with which I wanted to do something British, but put my own spin on it. I was drawn to the humour and colour in the photography of Martin Parr, his love of ordinary British people and the attitude that his subjects provide.

How have you stamped your design personality onto this collection of scarves?
I wanted to design scarves with high quality that tell a story and possibly raise a smile or evoke a special positive feeling.

What was your first experience of Liberty?
The very first time I walked into Liberty I was in awe. I was and still am fascinated by the magnificent architecture of the historic building as well as the quality of all the beautifully designed products from all over the world. Liberty is always very inspiring after so many years I still love going to shop there.

Discover the exclusive collection of Markus Lupfer scarves in-store today, and available online soon!


A lesson in bohemian jewellery from Dannijo

Tuesday 8th July 2014, 11.40



The Dannijo sisters give Liberty a lesson in bohemian jewellery styling and tell us how their eclectic jewellery has grown from strength to strength.

If you haven’t yet heard of Dannijo, you’ll definitely want to familiarise yourself with the jewellery brand this season. Created by Floridian jewellery makers, Danielle and Jodie  Snyder, the eclectic line of bohemian, rocker-inspired pieces that wouldn’t look out of place at music festivals such as Coachella and Glastonbury,  has been spotted on some of Hollywood’s most revered and infamous names (ahem… Natalie Portman, Beyoncé, Oprah, Rihanna and Black Lively to name just a few).

The girls first used their cardiologist father’s medical tools to make jewellery while at school. Then, reunited in New York after finishing University, they returned to their hobby and created a capsule collection of jewellery pieces for Danielle’s L.W.A.L.A  non-profit fundraising initiative to create change in underdeveloped countries. Since it’s inception, Dannijo has a advocated creating sustainable economic opportunity for women, and now all their packaging is made in Rwanda as part of their women’s empowerment initiative.

We caught up with Danielle and Jodie for a lesson in Dannijo jewellery styling first-hand and how they like to spend their time in London whenever they visit.


Describe your jewellery in 3 words:
Statement, powerful and eclectic.

How many pieces jewellery do you wear on a daily basis? Is it your own, or a mix of brands?
We wear our own everyday and mix in Native American Indian jewellery or antique pieces every now and again. We wear anywhere from 2-10 pieces: loads of dainty rings from Fine by Dannijones, a statement necklace or several bracelets and cuffs stacked, and either studs or statement earrings.

Which is your favourite piece from the collection this season?
The Shelton II earrings or the Norgaard necklace because they’re such versatile, bohemian-rocker styles that really finish a look.

What is LWALA and how did it help turn your jewellery making hobby into a business?
Lwala (Live With A Lifelong Ambition) is a non-profit I co-founded in 2007 to help fundraise for grass-roots initiatives in Africa. The organization was named after a village called Lwala in Kenya– we helped fundraise for their first health facility by getting our peers to use their passion and talent (be it in fashion, music, film, or photography) to fundraise and impact change. Our talent was jewellery design and the philanthropic initiative was the impetus for us to start designing jewellery again.

You have a lot of famous followers. How did Dannijo make its big fashion break?
It was a combination of experiences and events that got us to where we are today. The brand has really leveraged social media as a means to connect with our following and establish a powerful presence. Our feature on the Today show very early on was great exposure for the line as well as Beyonce’s support (she bought a necklace our first month in business at Bergdorf Goodman and wore it on tour all over the world).

You’re coming to London for a personal appearance in our Jewellery Hall on 10th July, where are your favourite places to spend your time when in London?
We love shopping at Liberty, vintage shopping at portobello market and having drinks at Claridges and Shoreditch house. We often get lost and wander to new places and eats.

What do we need to know about Dannijo? Are you planning anything exciting for the next season?
The brand is expanding into categories that are natural extensions. Our handbag collection really took off as well as our fine jewellery capsule with Rashida Jones – called Fine by Dannijones – so we’re expanding our fine jewellery presence in addition to new categories altogether.

Come and meet Jodie and Danielle  in our brilliant Jewellery hall on Thursday 10th July, 12-3pm and 5-7pm. The first 10 customers to purchase any piece from the autumn/ winter 2014 collection will receive a free Dannijo iPhone cover and luxury goodie bag, including a Le Labo Calone 17 Vintage candle,  NARS lipstick in Heatwave, Claire Aude Liberty print wash bag and pocket mirror (in an assortment of colours), and an Essie nail polish in Mademoiselle.