So You Want To Make A Winning Quilt: 1st Place Innovative, Wall, Pieced Road 2016

Beth Markel won 1st Place: Innovative, Wall, Pieced for Spring Storm at Road 2016. She received $1,000 from sponsor, Artistic Creative Products.1st-place-innovative-wall-pieced

Beth Markel’s interest in quilting began when as a little girl, threading needles for her Grandmother Broyles, who lived with her family.  Grandma Broyles was always cutting a quilt, sewing a quilt, and quilting a quilt – 3 quilts in 3 different stages.  Heaven for young Beth was sitting under the quilt frame her father built for her grandmother, practicing her spelling words.

While Beth is a 5th generation quilter, for a while it didn’t look like she would be a part of her family’s tradition.  She got discouraged with sewing when her 7th-grade Home Economics teacher commented to Beth, “Stick to cooking, because you can’t sew worth a darn.”  It wasn’t until Beth was 36 years old that she decided to attempt quilting and made her first 9-patch. She has been hooked ever since.

Beth and Sophie

Beth and Sophie

The inspiration for Beth’s winning design came from an experience she had after graduating from college and starting her first job in Boston. She had to travel often to New York City and one sunny morning when she was at a farmer’s flower market, a spring storm roared through.  Beth recalls, “Literally, one minute there were purple iris and golden daffodils and crocus, and the next there were purple and yellow petals spinning and whirling through the air.” That impression has stayed with her to this day.

Spring Storm is the first in a series of four seasonal quilts Beth is designing. Beth believes “there are seasons in our lives.  Spring happens when we’re young, a little wild, tempestuous, naïve, and turbulent…the beginning of growth.  Evolution.  Storms.  Setbacks.  More growth.  Beauty.  So stand back.  No, literally, stand back!  The only way to see the twister is to stand back a way, then be slowly drawn into the joy that is every single decision, every single choice, and every single piece that together, tell a story.”

It took Beth almost 14 months to make and quilt Spring Storm partly because  the piecing got so tiny (less than ¼” x ¼”) and all the seams were ¼.”  The quilt has a lot of “stitch in the ditch” as well as quilting in individual squares.  All of the threads were tied-off and hidden because she used her regular sewing machine, a Bernina 300, to do the quilting.  Because of the basis of the piece, Beth wanted to give voice to each individual piece of the pattern.  And while her choice was “tedious and wildly time-consuming,” Beth says it was “worth the effort in the end.”

Persistence is what Beth says she learned the most from Spring Storm.  When she decided to start the 4-Seasons series based on her life, she knew she had something specific to say.  Her youth was fairly wild, and she was constantly straining against where others wanted to pigeon-hole her.  Beth has realized that growth begins “when we’re honest with ourselves, regardless of what anybody else thinks about us.”  Spring Storm actually began as a 9-patch and then a 16-patch, hearkening back to her first quilt – with determination to say something new.

When Beth heard she had won first place, she was “speechless surprised.” She used some of her prize money to enroll in a writing class to help her with her blog. The rest of her winnings was spent on more fabric.

Where does Beth go from here? She is currently working on her second piece of her series, a summer themed design, which is up to 5,000 small pieces at this point. She has a “fun & interesting” trunk show which she presents to quilt guilds, as well as teaches 1, 3 and 5-day workshops. Two of her quilts are currently hanging in the National Quilt Museum as part of the book, “Art Quilts of the Midwest” by Linzee McCray.

Thumbs InVinoVeritas by Beth Markel

Thumbs InVinoVeritas by Beth Markel

Another two of her quilts are part of the exhibit, “Circular Abstractions:  Bull’s Eye Quilts” curated by Nancy Crow, which opened in August, 2016  at the Muskegon Museum of Art.  She continues to write on her blog, discussing everything from long-arm quilting to what happens when a quilter passes away with unfinished projects.

Beth’s quilting interests are many, varying from applique, fabric painting, indigo, and fabric dying to thread painting and using Shiva sticks. Whatever she is working on, Beth remains steady with her “persistence in fine-tuning her voice, breaking down walls between groups of artists, and making textiles relevant to people who only see “quilts” as worn-out bedspreads their grandmothers made…grateful & joyfully!”

To learn more about Beth Markel and her work, please visit her website.


How to Enter Your Quilt Online

Is your quilt ready to submit for the Road to California 2017  Quilt Contest?

By now, you have read and become familiar with the complete Road to California 2017 Quilt Contest information including rules, quilt categories and definitions at our website. You’ve spent hours and hours working on your quilt design and then having it quilted. You are finally ready to submit it to our office and we are ready and waiting to receive your entry. We want to make sure you are confident on how to complete that last step: submitting your quilt entry.  

The deadline to enter your quilt(s) for Road to California 2017 is Monday, October 3, 2016.

Entries can be mailed in to Road’s office or submitted online. By entering online, you save both time and money. Online entries save $10.00 on their submission.

Award Winning Quilt Best of Show Road 2016

Best of Show Road 2016 – Silk Road Sampler by Melissa Sobotka

Matt Reese, Road’s Show Director, has provided these easy step-by-step instructions to help you enter your quilt online:

In order to process an online entry, you need to have an online account and be logged in. If you have any questions about the log-in process, please check out this previous blog post that explains how to log-in. Although the article focuses on how to register for classes, the process to log onto our online system is the same).

Once you are logged on, move your mouse over to ROAD2017 and click Contest Entry.  (Don’t worry about the dates in our examples below. The procedure is still the same).

First, on the upper left hand corner, you need to select Quilt under division. Second, you need to choose a Style which will be either Art, Innovative, Miniature, Modern or Traditional.

Photo 1

I selected Art. Next, you need to select a Theme. Since my entry is a quilted photograph of Pug, Max.  I’ll select Art Critter. (For information on themes, check out the information on the rules. If you have any questions about what theme your quilt belongs in your can either email us at  or make your best guess and if the jury/judges determine it belongs elsewhere, they will move it).

Next you need to put in the Dimensions of your entry. My quilt is 60 x 60. If your quilt meets the size requirements for the category you choose, a green message saying “Road to California entry category: xxxx” and a green Submit button will appear.

Photo 3

Enter the Title, Maker’s Name and Quilters Name. Please Note: we have had complaints in the past about failing to list the quilters name. We print what you submit, and have no way of knowing if you have not changed the Quilters Name. It is the entrant’s responsibility to ensure the entry form is accurate.

The Design Basis is a required field. This is where you should list what your design basis for your entry is (Pattern, Book, Photograph and so on.)

Photo 4

I started my quilt in 2010 and completed it in 2013. I am a first time entrant. I quilted my quilt with a computer assisted longarm machine.

Lastly, I completed my Artist Statement. Once finished click Submit.

When you click submit, you should be taken back to your account home page which shows a purple box with Contest Entry information.


Photo 5Next, I need to submit my Photos. Click upload under front to upload a front picture of your quilt. Helpful Hint: make sure your photos are at least 2,000 pixels on the smallest side prior to uploading. Any smaller than 2,000 pixels will be rejected.

Photo 6

Once you have uploaded your photos, pay the entry fee by clicking pay bill. Enter your credit card information and you’re all set!

Photo 7

If you have any questions about our online entry process, please let us know by email:

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Meet Road 2017 Faculty: Sharon Miller

Sharon Miller will be teaching on Friday, 5067C  Espadrilles  and on Saturday,  6063C     Espadrilles  sharon-miller-one-shoe

Road to California 2017 will be featuring several handwork classes, including these beginner to intermediate level classes on how to make espadrilles shoes by Sharon  Miller. sharon-miller

Espadrilles are casual, flat, shoes that originated in the Pyrenees. They usually have a canvas or cotton fabric upper and a flexible sole.sharon-miller-brocade

Sharon has a Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics, clothing and textiles. She began sewing, crocheting, and tatting when she was 10 years old and has created everything from clothing and costumes to home décor, bridal gowns, crafts and quilts.sharon-miller-dress

How did Sharon get started in making espadrilles? “I love new things and when I saw the espadrilles I could hardly wait to start making them.  I envisioned them with kids clothes, casual wear, in leather, and a fun bridal party activity.”sharon-miller-childs

There was a bit of a learning curve in learning how to make the shoes. Sharon tried all kinds of fabrics and had to figure out how to adjust the fit for unique feet.  Luckily for Sharon’s students, she has developed many quick tips to make the process easier that she will be sharing in her classes.

Does Sharon have a favorite espadrilles style? She likes — and has a pair — of both flats and wedges. In her Road 2017 classes, students will be making the flat version.

At Road 2016, Sharon demonstrated her espadrilles shoes in the EE Schenck Company booth in the Marketplace. It was such a popular demonstration that the Reese family asked her to offer a class at Road 2017. Previously, she has taught her espadrille class for shop owners in Portland, Oregon in 2015.

Sharon is excited to share something she loves to make that has become natural to her. Students can expect to finish at least one pair of shoes and hopefully start the second pair before the end of class. Sharon describes her classes as both “fun and educational.” She adds, “We have a good time.”




So You Want To Make A Winning Quilt- 1st Place Modern Piecing

Rebecca L. Smith of Rapid City, South Dakota won $1,000 from sponsor Clover USA for winning 1st Place for Road 2016 Modern Piecing.

Modern Medallion

Modern Medallion

Rebecca L. Smith says she was “very fortunate” to have had a grandmother that quilted who patiently taught her to hand piece and quilt many years ago. Rebecca added, “I miss her every day.”null

Modern Medallion was started in 2014 and finished in 2015, taking 60-70 hours to quilt. The quilt was inspired by Rebecca’s rather large collection of beautiful gradated fabrics and from the interesting curved patterns from Sew Kind of Wonderful. She said she learned a lot about curved piecing on this project.  The quilting on Modern Medallion is mostly free hand.

What did Rebecca think about winning 1st place for Modern Piecing? She was ‘so excited” when she found out and was pretty sure she spent her prize money on buying more fabric.

Rebecca is hoping that her future quilting endeavors will challenge her to design an original pattern for her next quilt .

Meet Road 2017 Teacher Susan Else

Susan will be teaching two, two day classes:  4502C  “People, People, People!”  on Thursday and Friday4502c

and 6702C  Beasts in the Jungle  on Saturday and Sunday.6702c2

A native of Northern California, Susan Else is known for her use of 3-D elements.  She is nationally and internationally known, and teaches at art centers, museums, conferences, and fiber guilds across the U.S. Her work is in public and private collections, and she has completed many commissioned pieces. In addition, Susan serves on the board of the Studio Art Quilt Associates, so between that, teaching, and working in her studio, she is one busy lady!!else-6-1

Susan has always an interest in textiles; she started out as a weaver and spinner. She grew up in a family of artists and learned a great deal from watching their process, even though she never expected to become an artist herself. Her mother was a sculptor and she also taught Susan to sew.

Susan learned how to quilt by taking an adult ed quilting class so that she could make a baby quilt for her first child. She didn’t actually finish that project until her daughter was seven years old. Since then, she’s has learned bits and pieces from every class  she’s taken,although what she does now, she has developed on her own.

Susan began her journey into 3-D in 1998 when she attached 3D elements to flat wall quilts, and it took off from there. One source for her inspiration was Michael McNamara’s bird figures and she patterned some figures of her own. Susan shares, “My brain seems to generate these wry commentaries on contemporary life. My work is often based on my own experience in some way.”else-ponies_dream_email

What are Susan’s favorite quilting tools that she uses with her technique? “My stuffing fork, my spring-loaded scissors, and the extremely thin curved needles I use for all my hand-work. Over the years, all of these have helped to keep the arthritis in my hand stable, and I’m still able to sew.”

Susan has traveled as far away as Finland with her fabric art experiences. She is looking forward to teaching at Road 2017 because  she loves  when her students get excited about what they can do with the techniques she teaches them. “It opens up a whole new way of looking at fabric,” says Susan. She hopes her students will “play”  and get more tools of what they can do with fabric and thread.else_s_1

To learn more about Susan Else, please visit her website.



Meet Road 2017 Father/Daughter Teachers: John Flynn and Kate Flynn Nichols

John and Katie will both be teaching Tuesday classes.  

John will be teaching 2003C  Double Wedding Ring2003c  and Kate will be teaching   2004C   Storm at Sea2004c-2In addition, Kate will be teaching a Friday night class5061C   Half Rail Fence


What could be more fun than sharing your passion of quilting by giving workshops, creating innovative templates and kits, and bouncing off new ideas with someone from your own family? That is exactly what John Flynn and his daughter, Kate Flynn Nichols, have been doing for over 17 years. Both residents of Montana, they spend a lot of time together fine tuning patterns, assembly directions and pressing techniques so that their templates and laser pre-cut kits go together as easily and smoothly as possible.












John got in to the quilting scene in the 1980’s when he was testing the quilt frames that he was designing and building for his wife Brooke. He soon discovered how relaxing hand quilting was and has been working at it ever since.  Kate started quilting in 1988. She grew up watching both her parents quilt.  She went to guild meetings with them and started stashing fabric at a young age.   Kate entered her first quilt show when she was just 8 years old!! As she grew older, she was “actually surprised to find out later in life that not everyone quilts!”

They each find inspiration for their designs in different ways. For Kate, it comes from nature and her parents’ old magazine collection. John has an engineering background so he finds inspiration in the geometry of objects and from old traditional quilts. John and Kate have different preferences when it comes to working with color. John’s favorite palette is the colors of the rainbow; bright primaries and secondaries.  Kate likes strong pastel combinations and monochromes. Interestingly, Kate is the company’s fabric buyer; she has a sure hand in color selection. While they enjoy their partnership, working closely with each other can have its drawbacks. Kate says, “It’s hard not really having a separation between work and family.  Who wants to plan their next business trip at Thanksgiving dinner?”  John admits his challenge is that since he and Kate both have engineering minds, “they think alike most of the time” which can be both positive and negative. When they aren’t working together, John likes fly fishing, fly tying, and biking.John_Flynn bike riding                 kate and kevin

Kate, who has been married since August, 2003 to graphic designer Kevin Nichols, enjoys reading, rockhounding, gardening and watching either Animal Planet, the History Channel or the Discovery Channel.

What are their favorite tips for quilters?  From Kate: “Relax and be forgiving with yourself.  You are a human, not a machine and your projects should reflect your humanity!” John adds, “Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy. It is easier to take your time and do it right the first time rather than rush through and do it over and over.” There is still limited space in both of their classes.

You can learn more about this dynamic father-daughter quilting duo on their website:

Meet The Friendship Square Quilt Guild

When friendship is in the name of your guild, you know that there is a lot more than quilting going on each month.4c7ff3_114e218c07a242a086c28837df35789a-mv2_d_2744_2787_s_4_2

The Friendship Square Quilt Guild was started in 1981 when a group of women in the Whittier, California area wanted to get together to share their love of quilting. Today, with over 120 members, the guild meets monthly, sponsoring  guest speakers on both traditional and modern quilting. Every other year, the guild holds a quilt show at the La Habra Community Center. Their next show is scheduled for March, 2018.

At Road 2016 showing off their Opportunity Quilt

At Road 2016 showing off their Opportunity Quilt

The friendship activities that the guild is most proud  of is their community and philanthropic outreach. One of their longstanding projects is with Quilts for Wounded Veterans. Members work together on red, white and blue themed quilts quilts that is part of a nationwide effort to thank wounded veterans for their service.  The Marine Corps Family Foundation distributes the quilts to the Veterans Hospital at Camp Pendleton.118

Another adopted organization is From Maddi’s Closet which is dedicated to the memory of little Madison Holmes, whose brief life touched so many and continues to inspire others to reach out to children and families who still struggle in search of a cure for pediatric cancer. Guild members make pillowcases and Beads of Courage Bags for children undergoing treatment for cancer.  The Beads of Courage Bags are used to store the beads they receive for their courage in undergoing treatment. Pillow casesEach December at the guild’s holiday meeting, local non-profit agencies are honored and receive a donation from the guild along with quilts to be used in their programs. Agencies honored last December included  Women’s and Children’s Crisis Center, St. Matthaias Episcopal Church, Interfaith Food Center, Salvation Army Transitional Living Center, Rosie’s Garage, and From Maddi’s Closet453

Friendship Square Quilt Guild is so much more than a love of quilting. It is reaching out in friendship to those less fortunate, providing them warmth and security through quilting.

To learn more about the Friendship Square Quilt Guild, please visit their website.


Sibling Time at Road


Siblings who share family ties and quilting ties are a great combination!!

Lauraine Clark (Upland, California) and Dianne Gullino (Bonnie Lake, Washington) 164

Even though Dianne is the sister that lives the farthest away from Road’s show location in Ontario, California, she has been coming the longest, for the past 10 years. About four years ago, she began persuading Lauraine to come with her and they have been attending together ever since.

Dianne figures that she generally makes about 12 quilts a year. In 2014, she made 30 pieced quilts to honor all the veterans in her Pomona High school graduating class for their 50th class reunion.  At first, she was just going to make one quilt for the student body president, a veteran who was suffering from MS and could not make the reunion. After making his quilt, she decided to make quilts for all the veterans in her class. Classmates donated the money for the fabric to help relieve Diane of some of the cost. Lauraine helped with the piecing.

The veteran classmates were moved by Dianne’s gift and were very appreciative.  For some, it was the first time they had ever been recognized for their service.  Dianne made sure that those who didn’t attend the reunion still got their quilts, mailing them off after the event.


Terri Krause and Keith DommerIMG_8758

For over 20 years, sister and brother Terri Krause and Keith Dommer, have met their mother at Road to California to celebrate her birthday and do some quilting. Terri thinks Road is the best place for a family outing.

While Terri loves applique, she doesn’t have any desire to do it. She prefers a more traditional style and gives away most of the quilts she makes. Keith started out making pieced quilts. After 10 years of quilting, he started doing machine applique. His quilt tops integrate bold, graphic designs. Keith has won numerous awards for his quilting including this second place award for Traditional, Large, Mixed at Road to California in 2012:photodisc


Marina (Oak Hills, California) and Lisa Caraway (Rancho Cucamonga, California)199

Sister-in-laws who both love to quilt, Lisa brought Marina for her first visit to Road in 2016. Marina loves to quilt and loved the show. She said “I can’t wait to come back.”

Lisa offered some good advice for show guests from her own experience. She said,  “make the rounds to all the vendors before you commit!!”

The sister-in-laws have already begun their “plotting” to attend Road 2017.

Do you have a sibling that quilts?   Will you planning be getting together at Road 2017?

Road 2017 Special Exhibit: The Lion King Cherrywood Challenge 2016

At Road to California 2015 – The 20th Anniversary Show, Cherrywood Fabrics presented their popular The WICKED Cherrywood Challenge special exhibit.Wicked logo

Road 2017 will be hosting Cherrywood’s second in their series of quilt challenges, The Lion King Cherrywood Challenge 2016. Explains Karla Overland, owner of Cherrywood Fabrics, “The Lion King was a natural progression after doing “WICKED” for our first challenge. The resources we had for that first challenge led me to the Lion King and it happens to be their 20th Anniversary in 2017. They will be showing off some of the quilts at the Minskoff Theatre in November of 2017.”Cherrywood Lion King

The exhibit is made up of 120 small art quilts that were submitted for The Cherrywood Challenge 2016. When displayed together, they create a dramatic (jaw-dropping) visual experience that covers 80 feet. The cohesive color, size, theme and texture of the Cherrywood fabric makes it easy for the viewer to see the entire exhibit as a whole. The excitement of discovering all the details of each little work of art makes this collection unforgettable.Cherrywood1

All entrants started with the same four hand-dyed Cherrywood fabrics (golds and black) and designed their own original quilts within a 20-inch square. Accent colors had to be Cherrywood as well, but techniques were wide open. Karla said that they “saw many examples of thread painting, coloring with pencils and pens, Zen tangle drawing, intricate piecing, all kinds of appliqué methods, and even tatting. Images of the final squares were uploaded to ArtCall, a website designed for the jury process. A panel of three jurors was enlisted to select the final quilts for the exhibit using a point system. It was an extremely difficult process considering there were over 300 quilts entered from 41 states and 9 countries. After the 120 finalists were sent to Cherrywood, three prize winners were chosen as well as a “Cherrywood Choice” and 20 “Disney’s Choice” quilts – they could not decide on just one!

Compared to the WICKED exhibit, The Lion King Challenge is slightly larger than WICKED which had 114 quilts. Since there were so many more submissions for The Lion King Challenge, Cherrywood was able to get the cream of the crop and select exactly what they wanted for the traveling collection. It was interesting to Cherrywood to see the wide variety of interpretations, skill level and workmanship.

The exhibit made its debut at AQS QuiltWeek Grand Rapids in August 2016. After traveling with AQS in the fall, it will be shown at International Quilt Market and Festival in Houston, Texas. The 2017 season kicks off with Road to California. After Road 2017, the exhibit will continue on to 13 other locations, ending up at the Minskoff Theater in New York City.Cherrywood Exhibit.left

Cherrywood has been able to already meet several of the artists who worked on the exhibit. While each quilt has an artist statements that adds to the quilt, Karla remarked, that hearing “them tell their stories in person is the best part of this adventure. We did get submissions from well-known quilt artists, and yet several people said they had never tried a challenge, or had never shown their work in public, and some had just started quilting!” Karla was able to meet the first place winner, Jill Cranford, and her family. Karla said that Jill “was a young woman who had sewn her whole life and was quietly teaching herself quilting on her own. I was so impressed with her workmanship from the design concept which has many layers, to the perfect stitching, both machine and hand. It is good to see up-and-comers in the quilting world.”


First place winner Jill Cranford and her mother.

As with any quilt challenge, the intent of this project was to allow people to push themselves beyond what they are used to; try working with colors and fabrics they normally would not have chosen; and grow creatively. As Karla observed, “It is not easy to put yourself out there.” A photo book of the exhibit has been created to give the artists a chance to have their work published and be part of a timeless collection.

What will be Cherrywood Fabrics next quilt challenge? They will be announcing the new theme at Quilt Festival in Houston. Stay tuned…



Le Projet Fou or “Crazy Project”

What do you do when your museum has a huge blank wall that sticks out like a sore thumb? Well, if you are Bohin France, you cover it with a gigantic handmade quilt of course!!!Giant Quilt from France Patchwork7

Bohin, France’s last needle maker, has been a popular vendor at Road to California the past few years. President Didier Vrac and Marketing Manager, Jerome Doussard, have become familiar faces to Road’s guests who never tire asking these two gentlemen questions about their needles and scissors, just to hear their French accents.

At the Bohin Factory in Normandy, France, they recently opened a beautiful museum. While the museum is “amazing,” the entrance outside was just a “very big white wall,” noted Catherine Bonte, president of the French quilt guild, Association French Patchwork, an organization with over 12,000 members!! Catherine was very close to the museum project for several years and let it be known that she was not very fond of the huge blank entrance. So, Didier told Catherine to do something to improve it.Giant Quilt from France Patchwork6

Catherine invited all the members of France Patchwork to work on a “nice block with curves,” using the colors of their guild’s logo—white, black and beige — and the color red for Bohin. At the guild’s office in Paris, near the Eifeel Tower, more than 3,500 blocks were sent in!! A team from the guild assembled the blocks to cover the wall. In fact, they could have covered 6 walls with all the blocks they received!!Giant Quilt from France Patchwork3

In addition to the quilt blocks, the group also  pieced together a portrait of Benjamin Bohin and put it in the center of the giant quilt. Benjamin is the founder of the Bohin factory and they wanted to honor him that way.

“Le Projet Fou” was turned over to Didier Vrac on May 21, 2016 and work began immediately to get the quilt up on the wall. People have come from all over France to see it.Giant Quilt from France Patchwork

Catherine and her guild know that the giant quilt will not be there on the factory wall forever. But for the time being, all of the visitors to the museum have “completely” fallen in love with it.Giant Quilt from France Patchwork2