Reunited After 75 Years

We hear all the time how Road to California is a great event for friends from near and far to meet up. But at Road 2017, it was the first time that we heard how two friends chose Road as a place to reunite after not seeing each other for over 75 years!!

(l-r) Mary Pumphrey and Marion Clute

Mary Pumphrey of Arkansas  and Marion Clute of San Marcos in San Diego county, both 86 years young, last saw each other in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1941. From 1938 until 1941, when Mary and Marion were 7-11 years old, they lived one house apart. In just 3 years, the girls became the best of friends.  As Marion said, “Mary was my first real friend.” The girls were even baptized together on the same day, March 24, 1940.

Mary and Marion pictured with Marion’s younger sister, Nadine

In 1941, Marion’s  family moved to Colorado then to California while Mary’s family remained in Nebraska. Both women later married and had children; Mary had four and Marion had two. They stayed in touch through the years by writing letters and sending Christmas and birthday cards. There were no phone calls between them because it was “too expensive.”

Over the years, Mary and Marion both got involved in quilting. Mary self-taught herself to make a bedspread for her mother in 1980. It wasn’t until 1982 that she began taking classes.  She is still an active quilter, doing machine piecing and hand quilting. Currently, she is working on putting together a 1900-era quilt given to her from a friend.

Marion started quilting in the 1970’s. She found a pattern for one of her first quilts on the back of a McCalls magazine: a drawing of Sun Bonnet SueIt brought back memories of a quilt she had as a child with the same pattern.

She got the fabric for her project from her children’s old shirts and dresses. She made 30 blocks, then put it aside, preferring to work on hand piecing work for other quilts . In the 1980’s, she found the blocks and decided to put them together but she “hated” how it turned out, so she put the quilt aside again. Then, in the late 1990’s, she attempted to work on it once more but only got as far as taking the blocks apart. Finally, in 2008, she decided to revisit the quilt. She made the blocks smaller before reassembling and began quilting it. Currently, it still needs “some quilting” before it can be completed. Marion hopes “that I get it done before I die!”

How did these lifelong friends end up meeting 75 years later at Road 2017? Mary wrote Marion in her annual Christmas letter that she was going to Road to California with her daughter, Linda Pumphrey, a quilt designer and author, former President of the International Quilt Association and vendor with Mountain Mist batting. Marion sent Mary a reply that since Mary was “going to be so close, we have to meet.” They exchanged phone numbers and final arrangements were made over the phone. Seeing each other was “fantastic,” said Mary. “A special, special time,” remarked Marion.

Their reunion also held a fun surprise that brought back a special memory involving their mothers. Both Mary and Marion’s mothers were sewers. One year, Marion and Mary both got a Dy-Dee Doll — the first doll that wet its pants. Marion said “it was the best Christmas ever” when she got that doll. The mothers made complete sets of doll clothes for their daughters’ dolls. However, when they were sewing them, each mother told their daughter that the clothes were for the other girl’s doll!! Mary and Marion were thrilled when they found out that they got to keep the doll clothes their own mother had made!! Those dolls were so important to the young Marion and Mary that they have kept those doll clothes all these years. Little did they know that unbeknownst to the other, each woman had brought along her original doll clothes to share during their meetup at Road!!

Besides their reunion, both women were also able to enjoy the show. What did they think about Road to California?  It was Mary’s first time at Road. She had been to Paducah several times and found Road to California to be “so much bigger than I expected.” Marion thought Road was just “jaw-dropping.”

Road to California is a great place for old and new friends to meet up. We just hope that it doesn’t take any other guests 75 years to reunite!!

Do you have a lifelong, quilting friend too?

Tips For Preserving Quilts

Larry Gonzalez, owner of Retro Clean, presented a $5.00 Lecture at Road to California 2017 on how to effectively care for and preserve quilts.

Photo by Brian Roberts Photography

Retro Clean is a gentle soaking agent designed to safely remove yellow age stains (including mildew, wood oil, tea, coffee, blood, water damage and perspiration stains) from vintage quilts and all washable fabrics.

In testing and selling this product along with Retro Wash, an everyday, general cleaning product, Larry has learned a lot about what to do and not do when it comes to taking care of vintage fabrics and quilts. He shared some really good tips:


When working with a large quilt, it’s best to line your bathtub with a bedsheet, then fill with water and a delicate cleaning agent (like Retro Wash). Wash and rinse the quilt (without twisting or wringing), then gently push the water out of the material. Using the sheet “sling”, lift the quilt out of the tub. Roll the quilt in towels to get out any excess moisture, then lay out to dry.

Never put a damp quilt in the dryer or especially on a line to dry, as you may disfigure it. Instead, lie it flat on a sheet on the grass in the sun. To protect from sun or bird damage, lay another sheet over the top of the quilt.


An average quilt can hang for years if done properly. Never tack or nail a quilt to a wall. Some wood rods seep oil and acids which over time will stain the quilt. To avoid this, seal the wood rod with polyurethane varnish before hanging. Another alternative is to use invisible, magnetic quilt hangers or attach Velcro to a cotton sleeve basted across the back of the quilt.

Photo by Brian Roberts Photography

Because hanging is not a natural position for quilts, Larry suggested taking them down quarterly and laying them flat so that they can breathe.


Acid-Free tissue paper or Tyvek (a synthetic, waterproof material) is essential to protect a quilt when being stored for a period of time.

While preparing quilts for storage, be sure to wash hands frequently to get rid of built any body oil and/or wear white cotton gloves.

Quilts need lots of space when being stored. Fold into thirds placing a sheet of acid-free tissue in-between each layer. Then roll up the quilt. Tyvek can be used to create a breathable, waterproof tube or bag for storage. Avoid storing in damp areas or areas that retain heat (like attics).

What are some common storage alternatives? The 99¢ Store sells water noodles (floating devices). They can be covered in cotton and used in folding to help avoid creasing or you can roll pieces of acid-free tissue into “cigars” to do the same. Acid-Free Boxes are not always completely acid-free. It’s always best to wrap the contents in acid free tissue, to be sure. Cedar Chests are common, but unfinished wood has inherent acids and oils that can leach into your fabric. Without losing the aroma of the cedar, you can line the inside of the box with sheets of acid-free tissue to avoid transfer. Plastic bags are not recommended because they they can lead to yellowing or mold on the textiles over time.

The best place to store a quilt says Larry is on a bed. It doesn’t get any fold lines and it is able to fully breathe. You can lay several quilts down on a guest bed and put a sheet over them to protect from dust.

Photo by Brian Roberts Photography

After all the time and care put in to making a quilt, don’t risk its lasting value by not taking care of it properly. These simple reminders will go a long way in protecting the quality of your quilt.

Meet The Inland Empire Quilters Guild

Every year, Road to California owner Carolyn Reese invites a Southern California quilt guild to provide the quilts that hang in the atrium of the Ontario Convention Center.  This special exhibit is a great way to welcome Road’s guests and set the tone for the show. For 2017, this honor went to the Inland Empire Quilters Guild.

Picture by Brian Roberts Photography

Founded in 1981 and located in Corona, California, the Inland Empire Quilters Guild has 120 members. They said it was “a huge surprise and honor to be chosen. The whole guild was excited.” Each member could enter up to four, large quilts for the exhibit. A guild committee chose the 35 quilts that ultimately hung in the atrium, representing work from all levels of quilting.

Picture by Brian Roberts Photography

Vice-President Susan Helliar was honored to have her quilt chosen. She made her own template and free-motioned quilted her entry using a Gammill Machine.  

Each year, The Inland Valley Quilters Guild makes over 100 quilts for foster children that attend the Royal Kids Camp held at Crossroads Community Church every summer. Every member is required to make at least one quilt which the guild says “is both a requirement and a blessing to be able to provide quilts to Royal Kids Camp.

The guild’s bi-annual Country Fair Quilt Show will be held May 5-6, 2017. Over 200 quilts made by guild members will be on display along with Vendors, Challenge Quilts, a Craft Boutique, Second Hand Treasurers, Door Prizes, a Special Exhibit, and Quilts for Sale. In addition, there will be a drawing for their opportunity quilt on Saturday afternoon. The guild displayed their quilt during Road 2017.  It is all hand appliqued by five guild members. Susan Helliar did the original longarm quilting for this quilt  

Road appreciated the wonderful atmosphere provided by the Inland Valley Quilters Guild. Which guild will be up next for Road 2018? 


Marie White Masterpiece Award – Road 2017

The second highest award given by the judges in Road to California’s Showcase is the Marie White Masterpiece Award. This prize is sponsored by Road to California and is worth $7,500.

The 2017 Winner was Cardinal Points

Made by Gail Stepanek (l) and quilted by Jan Hutchinson (r), this was the sixth quilt they have collaborated on together. 

Gail is from New Lennox, Illinois and Jan is from Kansas. They have been partners for five years, having originally met on the internet after Gail saw some of Jan’s work. They didn’t actually meet in person until two and half years after they partnered together. Jan said that the two of them have “become good friends along the way.” Gail offered they get along so well because “we both have a sick sense of humor.”

The idea for Cardinal Points came from an antique quilt Gail had seen that had a similar pattern but was made from much larger blocks. Gail decided to reduce the size of the blocks to “teeny tiny” dimensions for her original design. It took Gail one year to finish the top. Creating a block pattern that was paper-pieced with lots of teeny-tiny pieces was “not the easiest thing to do,” said Gail.

Jan spent three months on the quilting. She decided to treat each circle with a different type of quilting. Consequently there are lots of different patterns throughout the quilt that she designed freehand.  Jan also wanted to keep the quilting traditional because the top is traditional. She used metallic thread twisted with silk to make the quilting more subtle.  “I loved doing this quilt,” remarked Jan.

They had a difficult time coming up with the name. Because the quilt is a variation of a Mariner’s Compass block design, they decided to name it Cardinal Points– the parts of a compass that point North-South-East and West.

The Marie White Masterpiece Award was the second time Cardinal Points had won recognition at a quilt show.  Previously, it had won First in Show and Third Prize overall at Houston in 2016.

What is Jan and Gail going to do with prize money? Why make more quilts to enter in shows, of course!!

You can stay up to date with Gail and Jan on their Facebook Pages.

Colored Hair Everywhere

Quilters are artists, expressing themselves through fabric. And being artists, they also find other ways to express themselves artistically. One year at Road, the trend was quilt tattoos.

At Road 2017, the trend was definitely colored hair.

Kerri owns the Painted Lady Quilt Shop in Redlands, California. She came to Road 2017 with her friend Terri who works at the shop. Kerri has always dyed her hair but when she became widowed 3 years ago, she stopped. Two days before Road began, Kerri decided to start dying her hair again. 

Aysheh (with the orange hair) and Valerie (with the purple hair) are friends from Riverside, California.  They belong to the Inland Empire Quilt Guild and volunteer at Road with the white glove program, carefully showing the winning the quilts to the guests. On being a white glove lady, Valerie says she “loves being close to the quilts, meeting and talking to people, and getting a free registration.” Aysheh likes the variety Road offers, like having the Tentmakers from Egypt.  

Dani from Lancaster, California has been quilting for four years. She quilts to “take a break” from being a full-time mom and law student. Dani has been coloring her hair since she was 11. Road 2017 was Dani’s first time at the show. She came with her mother and her sons. What was Dani’s first impression?  “It is good.”

Brand new quilter, Gina, from West Covina, California, has made several quilts and bags. She was hoping to get ideas for her next quilt at Road 2017. Gina came with the other quilters in her family: her sister, mother, and her sister’s mother-in-law. Even her dad, Alexander, came along. He likes to give his opinions on fabric choices and helps find the latest tools.

Everyone is welcomed at Road where artistic expression is valued and supported.


International Appeal

Did you know that people not only come from around the United States to attend Road to California, but they also come from around the world?

Birgit, Heike and Ute are from West Germany.  These friends have been quilters for over 20 years and belong to the same quilt group.

Birgit, Heike and Ute from Germany

They planned for two years to come for their first visit to Road. Ute owns a quilt shop in North Germany near Hamburg and was on the lookout for some quilting adventure ideas. It was actually Heike who had heard about Road to California and suggested it to the others. They made the most of every opportunity at the show, including taking one of the bus excursions offered by Road. They were excited to see the stops in Southern California as well as visit the quilt shops along the tour.

Road 2017 was also the first visit for these friends from Mexico City.

Silvia, Lourdes, Monica and Maria from Mexico.

Silvia organized the group’s visit which included all of them taking several classes. She owns a quilting studio (“The best in Mexico!!” declared Lourdes) as well as organizes Mexico’s Quilt Festival every September in Mexico City. Silvia has attended other shows in the United States and had been trying for years to come to Road. They are all long-time quilters who were anxious to learn new techniques in their classes, find new gadgets, meet new people, and “have fun.” Silvia remarked, “The people who come are the best part of the show. Quilters are nice people.” In addition to participating in all of the Road activities, the ladies also visited iconic downtown Los Angeles landmarks like the Museum of Modern Art and the Catholic Cathedral. They all hoped that this would be the first of many trips to Road to California.

These three friends traveled from a rural area east of Calgary, Canada to attend Road 2017.

Sue, Heather, and Karen from Canada

Heather was the ringleader for this trip. She learned about Road to California on Facebook. The timing was good to come this year and it didn’t hurt that they would be “getting out of the snow.” They were in Southern California for nine nights, planning their trip well in advance of when registration for Road opened last July. Heather created a spreadsheet of all they wanted to accomplish while they were here!!  Each of the women took classes (7 in all) to further their education “past piecing.” They were also interested in taking longarm classes as both Heather and Karen own longarm machines. They were also sure to include Party Time in their schedule plus time to visit all the vendors because they don’t have much in quilting fabrics and supplies near their home. They were all “thrilled” to attend and said they are definitely coming back!!!

How far did you travel to come to Road 2017?

Meet The Quilters Behind The Cherrywood Lion King Exhibit

Road 2017 was the second stop for the Lion King Cherrywood Challenge sponsored by Cherrywood Fabrics.

Cherrywood also produced a book about the exhibit, featuring each quilt and giving insights into each quilter’s design ideas and methods for their contribution. 

During the show, Cherrywood held two book signings at their booth with some of the quilters whose quilts were featured in the exhibit and the book. It was a great opportunity for guests to meet these talented quilters and find out more about their work.

Sandra Hankins from Lake Elsinore, California, created Simba. She has seen the Lion King musical 5 times!! “It is my favorite play by far,” remarked Sandra. She chose Simba because he is her favorite character. “He had to learn hard lessons to become the Lion King.”

Wim-O-Weh is the title of Tiffany Hayes’ piece. Named after one of the songs in the play, Tiffany came up with the idea for her quilt when she heard and watched one of her favorite bands, The Fulcos, play the song. Wim-O-Weh is paper pieced. The design was inspired by her daughter’s fiancé’s tattoo artwork.

From Acton, California, Anna Koelewyn likes to do improvisational piecing that is very abstract. She felt that it was hard to choose a lion to represent, so she decided to focus on the feel of the land and the umbrella trees for her piece, Serengeti.

Scar-Pretender of the Throne is the first quilt Eileen Paine of Riverside, California has ever finished!! She has been making Hawaiian quilts with applique for five years before starting this project. Eileen decided to “jump in with both feet” and wanted to go to “the dark side” of the play. The face of her “Scar” is asymmetrical to give the illusion of how he was “scarred.”  

“I loved the whole challenge,” commented Rod Daniel who came from Placitas, New Mexico to talk about his quilt, Sunset Maiden. The idea for his piece came from looking at African masks. Like Anna, he wanted to focus on something other than lions. And because he loves the skin tones of African-Americans, he went “crazy with color” with his design.

The next Cherrywood Challenge is Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Exhibit coordinator and Cherrywood Fabrics owner, Karla Overland, said that most of the fabric they brought to Road for this upcoming challenge was sold out so they are encouraged with the initial response. To learn more about this challenge and Cherrywood hand dyed fabrics, please visit their website.



Best of Show – Road 2017

Margaret Solomon Gunn of Gorham, Maine, won $10,000 from sponsor Gammill Quilting Systems, for her Best of Show winning quilt, The Twisted Sister.

A quilter for nearly 30 years, Margaret Solomon Gunn’s experience with sewing began when she was in middle and high school, making her own clothes. She made her first quilt in college: a dusty blue and peach calico fabric pieced into granny squares and tied on the corners.

Margaret loves “the feeling of being creative.” After her 3 kids were born, (her youngest is now 10), she got back into quilting seriously, making over 100 quilts that were donated to Project Linus between 2007 and 2010.  When she bought her longarm in 2010, she was “kind of accidentally told I should enter a quilt into a show.”  Margaret did and that started “the avalanche of interest in making quilts” for shows.  As she says, “the rest is history.”

The Twisted Sister is actually the sister quilt (hence the name) to Margaret’s 2015 quilt, Bouquet Royale.  The earlier design featured the elongated hexagons of Lucy Boston, set on silk Radiance.  Margaret loved the process of hand piecing the fussy-cut pieces so much, she decided to do it again.  The Twisted Sister also has fussy-cut pieces, but they are regular hexagons.  They are not English Paper Piecing, but rather a hand-pieced technique she developed that is much better for custom quilting.  The colors in the quilt are Margaret’s “current fave” – pinks, greens and orange.  She also has a current addiction with silk, so Margaret revealed, “you can expect the backgrounds of my quilts to be silk Radiance for some time to come! It allows me to use bolder prints elsewhere because the quilting will always show beautifully on the silk.”  The Twisted Sister’s blocks feature a crazy zebra print (because Margaret says this sister is a whole lot more wild!), and an asymmetrical twisting border.   There is also a twisting motif in the quilting of the outer border.

It took Margaret about 16-17 months — from the time she started the blocks– to complete the quilt.  There is about 180 hours in the quilting alone and about 120 hours in the binding.  Margaret realizes that small points in judging “can be won and lost with finishing, so most of my quilts feature more unique edge treatments.”  Margaret noted that she will probably not repeat those edging treatments: double piped and scalloped binding with the looped detailing, all of which was executed by hand.

Road to California 2017 was the second time The Twisted Sister was shown and Margaret said she wasn’t sure what to expect from the judges. She said she was “happy and surprised” to learn she had won Best of Show. She hasn’t decided what to do with her prize money yet.

What does the quilting future hold for Margaret? She is finishing up a book with AQS, along with two other self-published books, all of which should debut April 2017.  She will teach at select quilting shows and intends to write for Machine Quilting Unlimited magazine.  In her spare time, she will still quilt for clients (one of her client’s quilts was also in Road 2017) and also work on the coming year’s show quilts. Margaret exclaims, “It’s a fun life!”

Congratulations Margaret Solomon Gunn on your Best of Show winning quilt!!

Everyone Loves A Winner

A popular event at Road to California is the Daily Drawing Giveaway. Guests had until 3:30 each day to fill out an entry blank at the North Registration Deck. Then, at promptly 3:30, members of Road’s App Team from Konnect, rolled the drum and pulled out the ticket of a lucky winner:


Marilyn McKitrick from Penticton, BC, Canada won a Babylock Rachel from Moore’s Sewing Center. Giveaway Winner Quilt Show

This was Marilyn’s fifth time at Road to California. She came with a friend from Nevada and they spent four days at the show. Marilyn said that Road is the “highlight of my year.”

A quilter for the past 15 years, Marilyn was in Lea McComas’ Thread Painted Portraits class when the drawing was held. Earlier in the day, her phone had died. She knew she had to put a phone number down on the entry form, so she put her friend’s number down instead — and forgot to tell her. When Road called her friend’s phone and told her the news, she ran from her hotel room to Marilyn’s class to tell her so Marilyn could make it to the registration desk before the 15 minute time limit was up. Marilyn said she was in “shock–absolute shock” when she found out she was a winner.


Mel’s Sewing donated a Bernina Red sewing machine which was won by Nancy Zimmerman from Placentia, California. Nancy and her “Bunco-Quilting-Jazzercise-Friends” braved the rain to attend Road that day. This was Nancy’s fifth time at Road and she has been quilting for over 20 years.

“Thrilled” was Nancy’s reaction to winning. She said she had been “looking for a smaller machine to take to classes” and this machine would meet her needs. Nancy loves to see all the vendors at Road. “There are new things every time you come.”


Cathy Hesler came from Covington, Indiana to attend her second year at Road. She won the Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 930 that was donated by OC Sewing and Vacuum.

She also was in a class when she found out she had won, attending Jacqueline Kunkel’s Vintage Compass. Winning was “a dream come true” for Cathy. “Road is great–I love it!!”


Elle Sproal from Orange County, California was the final Daily Giveaway Winner for Road 2017. She won a workstation from Martelli Enterprises.

Thank you to the vendors who contributed the giveaway items and thanks to all who entered.

Learning A Vanishing Art

The Egyptian Tentmakers were once again a huge hit at Road 2017.

Not only were guests able to watch the tentmakers in action on the exhibit hall floor,

some guests were also able to learn and practice their vanishing art in several classes taught by Jenny Bowker and assisted by the tentmakers, Hosam Hanafy and Tarek Abdelhay.

Jenny explained to the students that in Egypt, it is mostly middle class men who have learned and replicate this ancient method of appliqueing. They gather in small groups in work rooms as a social activity. One man will work on one piece until it is completed. They don’t get paid until the piece is sold.

Because of cultural norms, it is difficult for women to learn this trade. Women and men are forbidden to congregate together in public so women cannot work in the shops alongside the men to learn and practice the appliqueing. And since men are the primary instructors, the only way for women to learn these skills, is if they have a husband, father, or brother teach them.

Women’s contributions are less public but their skills are just as much needed and appreciated. Women gather in groups in homes to sew. One such group of 10 women are hired by Hosam to help fill his orders. Hosam gives the women a monthly allowance to help them get by in providing for their families until their quilts are sold. Selling one quilt will feed these women and their families for up to 5 months.  That is why supporting these women is so important.

Maria Canela was one of the students in Jenny’s Tentmaker Applique classes. Maria is from Cuernavaca, Moielos, Mexico – a city about one hour from Mexico City. She came with four friends from Mexico to attend Road 2017 and take classes. Maria has been quilting for 15 years and participates in a weekly quilting group. She signed up for the class because she loves to sew and loves history. “The history of Egypt amazes me,” remarked Maria. She enjoyed not only learning this method of applique but also hearing Jenny, Tarek and Hosam share the history and current status of the tentmakers.

After the three days of classes, the tentmakers moved to the exhibit hall floor where they demonstrated their skills during the show, thanks to a sponsorship by Pollard’s Sew Creative, . In addition, guests were able to purchase some of their quilts.  Part of the money Hosam and Tarek received went back to Egypt to assist the women quilters there.

Road to California was pleased at the response of support by guests for the tentmakers and were honored to present such a unique opportunity to the worldwide community of quilters.