Director’s Choice – Road 2019

Joanne Baeth, from Bonanza, Oregon, won Director’s Choice for her art quilt, Sea Breeze. She received $5,000 from Sponsor, Moore’s Sewing Center.

art quilt Road to California Quilt Show

A quilter since the 1980’s, Joanne Baeth started making art quilts after she retired from a career in teaching. Her favorite subject for her art quilts is creating realistic scenes in nature as evidenced by her winning entry, Sea Breeze.

art quilt Road to California Quilt Show

The inspiration for Sea Breeze was twofold. For two months every summer, Joanne and her husband salmon fishon the Oregon coast. The coastal scenes that surround them for those two months was part of her inspiration. More inspiration for this art quilt came from her sister who has a beach house. On one of the walls of her house, her sister has hanging several floats that she has collected from her walks on the beach. Those floats provided the rest of Joanne’s inspiration for Sea Breeze.

Joanne began this art quilt right after Road to California 2018 ended. She started with painting and cutting out the floats then thread painting the crab pots and small background trees. Joanne shared that the work on the floats was done while she was camping in California. The bait shop, boats, and small buildings in the background were cut out and fused one board at a time. The roofs were painted and heat distressed for more texture. The sky was painted and the water was constructed with many strips of fabric. Extensive machine quilting completed the art quilt.

The Director’s Choice Award is chosen by Road to California’s owner, Matt Reese.  Joanne didn’t find out that she had won this prestigious award until she walked in to the show on Thursday and saw it hanging in the front of the Exhibit Hall.

art quilt Road to California Quilt Show

She immediately called her husband and a few friends to share the good news. Joanne said she was “thrilled” to receive this award. She was also “thrilled to attend the show and talk to attendees about my quilt.”

What did Joanne do with the prize money for her winning art quilt?  She “spent part of the prize money at Road – lots of great vendors.”

Congratulations, Joanne Baeth, for your winning entry.

Quick Quilt Tips From Rob Appell

Rob Appell talks fast – really fast.

He can share a lot of quick quilt tips in a single quilt class!! 

Here are a few of the quick quilt tips Rob Appell gave in his classes at Road to California 2019:

Don’t Over Complicate

Are you ever overwhelmed by making fabric choices for your quilt projects? You’re not alone. Rob Appell shared that, “We all over complicate.” He suggested the next time you don’t know where to start in making fabric choices, ask yourself, “If there was a fire, what would I take?” Line up your choices and always start with your favorite fabric and have that be at the center of your quilt. Next pick your favorite light fabric, then your favorite dark fabric and continue until you have all the fabric you need. Your least liked fabrics can be used for the borders as borders aren’t the focus of your quilt. Trust your favorites to guide your fabric choices.

Quick Quilt Tips Road to California Quilt Show

Straight Stitching

Rob is the first to admit that he is a “dude who makes a lot of quilts and breaks a lot of rules” For one, he sews his quilts from the top down.

Regarding his best quick quilt tips for perfecting straight stitching when sewing strips, is to simply Go Slow. When he first started quilting, Rob did the opposite and sewed fast and learned his lesson. How does Rob put together strip quilts?

Quick Quilt Tips Road to California Quilt Show

Why use a stiletto? It allows you to let go of your work and make the last 3-5 stitches count, keeping a quarter inch seam. Did you know that Rob also makes handmade tools like his stiletto/seam ripper duo?

Quick Quilt Tips Road to California Quilt Show

Another quick quilt tip is to put the heaviest fabric strip on the feed dogs as it will carry the lighter fabrics through.  

Iron Piece by Piece

Lay your fabric flat on your ironing surface. Set the seam first by holding the iron for a few seconds on the seam. Hold fabric up in the air to flatten the seam. Replace fabric on surface and press down one side and up the next, pressing each seam allowance in the same direction.

Quick Quilt Tips Road to California Quilt Show

Thanks, Rob Appell, for giving away some of your best quick quilt tips.     

Do you know Quilter Rob Appell?

Rob Appell has a ton of energy.

And luckily for the quilting world, he spends a lot of that energy quilting and helping others to quilt as well.

Rob Appell Road to California Quilt Show 2019

Rob Appell started his quilting journey working in his Mom’s quilt shop, The Cotton Ball, in Morro Bay, California, while his wife was finishing up her teaching credential. At first, he was the guy who repaired the Pfaff sewing machines that came into the shop.  His first sewing project was making 30 Aloha Shirts from batik and floral scraps. He wanted to try free motion quilting, so he used those same scraps to start making quilts. His very first quilt “wasn’t much to look at,” but his second quilt, “The Dolphin Dance,” got a lot of attention.  A stripped, pieced quilt, today, it has sold hundreds of patterns. From there, Rob Appell has pretty much taught himself different quilting techniques on a domestic machine and shares what he knows at quilting retreats and quilt shows like Road to California.

Rob Appell Road to California Quilt Show 2019

Known as “the surfer dude who quilts,” Rob Appell first taught at Road to California in 2015. He had just landed a video spot with Missouri Star Quilt Company as “Man Sewing” and was eager to meet prospective fans. At Road to California 2019, he announced that he was no longer affiliated with Missouri Star and had started his own website,

Rob Appell Road to California Quilt Show 2019

It features “new and exciting” projects and videos as well as his new exclusive partnerships with Michael Miller Fabrics and Juki sewing machines.

Rob taught several sold-out classes at Road 2019. He said he was “stoked” to be back at Road and that he was enjoying every minute. “I started teaching in Southern California and so I get to see students, guilds, and shop owners from when I started.” Watching his students create was “really something.”

Rob Appell Road to California Quilt Show 2019

Kathi from Eagle River, Arkansas has been quilting for over 50 years. Road 2019 was her second time at the show. She signed up for Rob Appell’s class because it “looked visually enticing. I wanted something I could use my jelly rolls with and get it done.” Kathi had some questions beforehand about the class, so she called Rob directly to get some answers. “He was so enthusiastic about his process.”  What did she think about the class? “Great. Good information and new information about artistic theory.”

Rob Appell Road to California Quilt Show 2019

Sara has been a quilter and Road attendee for the past 8 years. Why did she take one of Rob’s classes? “Rob Appell came to our guild, the High Desert Quilt Guild, in Ridgecrest, California a couple of years ago and I was familiar with him. I wanted to get into his class really bad, but it sold out and I was put on a waitlist.” Lucky for Sara, and the other people in her class, Road and Rob decided to open another section as the wait list got quite long. During her class, Sara found Rob to be “energetic.” “He makes quilting look not so boring.”

Rob Appell Road to California Quilt Show 2019

Longarm Quilt Class Winner

To encourage excitement for Road 2019, several contests were sponsored under the tag of “Get Ready for Road Give Away.” The first prize offered was a longarm quilting class taught by Linda Gosselin.  

Linda is a Handi Quilter Educator who is a certified Art & Stitch instructor. She teaches online classes for both Handi Quilter’s Art & Stitch and Pro-Stitcher using Simulator. She quilts for customers, Quilts of Valor and for charity, and teaches quilting classes at local quilt shops. Samples of her work can be seen on her website.

Linda was flattered that her class was chosen for the prize. Road 2019 was Linda’s first time teaching at Road to California and her first time visiting California. She said she smiled nonstop during her classes because her students were doing “fantastic work.”

The winner for this giveaway was Lora Gearhart. Her winning entry appeared on our Facebook Page. She said that she was “super excited to win.”  Lora had recently gotten in to free motion quilting on her domestic machine and was looking forward to giving longarm quilting a try. “I want a longarm machine now,” she said during her class.

long arm quilt class winner

Lora has been using rulers to help her with her domestic machine quilting and applied some of those principles as she worked on the longarm machine.

Road 2019 was also Lora’s first time at the show. She was employed by the City of Ontario’s Fire Department and was part of the team that inspects the Pavilion Tent each year prior to the Show. From doing that work, she knew she wanted to attend the Road and winning the class was a great way to get her to attend.  

long arm quilt class winner

Road to California is all about giveaways before and during the Show. With 2020 being Road’s 25th Anniversary Show, we are already planning more giveaways than ever before to celebrate. Follow us here on the blog for the first announcements of all the great things happening for Road 2020.  

Quilt Guild Atrium Special Exhibit

Each year, one lucky Southern California Quilt Guild is chosen to represent all quilt guilds by supplying the quilts that hang in the atrium of the Ontario Convention Center.

Their contribution sends an important message as those quilts are the first Special Exhibit that guests see when they come to Road to California. For 2019, that quilt guild was the Coastal Quilters Guild of Santa Barbara and Goleta, California.

The Coastal Quilters Guild of Santa Barbara and Goleta began in 1988 as an idea from a small quilt shop in Goleta, H&H Country Store. They wanted to get quilters together to form a monthly group. Six women showed up at their first meeting, with four of them bringing children along with them.

The first quilt guild meetings were held during the day and grew quickly. They decided they wanted to try to meet without the kids playing around. So, they changed their location to the Goleta Library in the evening. Today, quilt guild meetings are held in the evening on the second Thursday of each month at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Goleta.

Supporting the community by donating specialty quilts to various organizations is one of the Guild’s popular programs. Each year, the quilt guild chooses an organization to focus on. In the past they have contributed over a hundred “Fidget Quilts” to patients with Alzheimer’s who receive daytime care through the Friendship Center. Because many patients with dementia suffer from anxiety and agitation,” Fidget Quilts” can help to calm them by keeping them engaged and occupied.

Some of the other philanthropies they have supported included donating over a hundred quilts to CALM (Child Abuse Listening and Mediation) and to Sarah House which provides residential care for people who are very low-income at the end of their lives. For 2019, they are focusing on quilts for veterans.

To encourage friendship and quilting skills, each month the quilt guild sponsors a “Block of the Month,” where a member wins all the blocks made that month in a drawing at the guild meeting.

The Guild also sponsors a friendly “Challenge” competition. Each year, a theme is chosen for members to interpret and create a quilt which is displayed at future guild activities. For 2019, their Challenge theme is “Don’t Touch.”  Members are to create a Public Awareness sign with a reminder: “Just Look, Don’t Touch.”

Thank you, Coastal Quilters Guild of Santa Barbara and Goleta, California, for supplying such a stunning, visual welcome to Road 2019.

More and More Giveaway Winners

Giving away cool prizes at Road to California is what we do!!

Thanks to the support of our wonderful Sponsors, who also like to give away cool prizes, Road 2019 had more giveaway winners than ever before.

As in years past, Road’s Daily Raffle giveaway was again very popular. We had so much support from our Sponsors, that on a few of the quilt show days, we held TWO Daily Raffles!!

Thursday Giveaway Winners

Pollard Sew Creative donated a Pfaff Passport for the first Daily Raffle of the day. The winner was Rita Miranda of Chino Hills, California. She was in a vendor’s booth, waiting in line to pay for her merchandise, when she heard her name over the loudspeaker. Rita has attended Road for 18 years and has been a quilter since 1999. She credits Road’s founder, Carolyn Reese, as the one who “taught me how to cut by straightening out my fabrics.” Rita brought two friends to the show who didn’t have any way to get to Road. “If I didn’t take them, they would not have been able to come.” Rita’s giving heart continued when she won her prize. Said Rita, “I might donate this machine to a needy friend who doesn’t have a machine and loves quilting.”

Giveaway Winners

Later in the afternoon, Jean Fry from Goodyear, Arizona, won a Bernina B330 First Love from Mel’s Sewing and Fabric Center. It was the first time that Road had to draw 3 times before a winner came forward to claim their prize (One of the rules for the Daily Raffle is that the winner must be present to win). Jean received a text that she had won and RAN from the tent to accept her prize. A Road attendee for 14 years and a quilter for over 30 years, Rita likes to achieve “quality accomplishment” with her quilting, making things for friends. She was just elected President of the Pebble Creek Quilters Guild.

Giveaway Winners

Friday Giveaway Winners

Moore’s Sewing Centers donated a Baby Lock Joy won by Star Strahle of Columbia, California—a town in the “Mother Lode” area of California. This was Star’s second year at Road. She brought her daughter, Wendy, who was enjoying her first experience at the show. Star has been quilting since 1993 and is excited to replace her older machines with her prize. She loves fabric; she pets it, collects it, and uses it for scrappy quilts.

Giveaway Winners

In the afternoon, Moore’s also donated a Janome sewing machine. The winner was George from Herndon, Virginia. He came to the show with his wife and her sisters. It was their first time ever to attend a quilt show as the women have only been quilting for a year. He thought he was coming just “to be a driver and carry everyone’s stuff.” Little did he know he would be going home with a beautiful sewing machine!! The group was admiring the Elvis Exhibit, looking at the Virginia entries, when he heard his name. “I just laughed,” said George, “And my wife and her sisters screamed.”     

Giveaway Winners

Saturday Giveaway Winner

There was only one giveaway winner on Saturday: 87-year-old Mary from South Bend, Indiana. She won a Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 965Q from OC Sewing and Vacuum. This was Mary’s third visit to Road. “I was sitting in the hallway and thought I heard my name. I started crying and almost went into A-Fib with my pacemaker.” A quilter since 1990, she loves “everything” that Road has to offer.

Giveaway Winners

Sunday Giveaway Winner

As is traditional, Sunday’s Daily Raffle giveaway is a Sewing Table donated from Martelli Enterprises. This year’s giveaway winner was Patrice Marcarelli. Road 2018 was her first time at the show and she had purchased the Martelli Cutting System. She was “overjoyed” to add the sewing table to her Martelli collection. A sewer for over 50 years, Patrice is new to quilting.

Giveaway Winners

Congratulations to all our 2019 Giveaway Winners!! We know they are enjoying their prizes.

Don’t forget: Road 2020 is our 25th Anniversary Show. We are already planning additional ways for our guests to win. You won’t want to miss out!!   

Quilting is Inclusive: Disabled Quilters

Meet Priscilla and Richard from Long Beach, California. Road 2019 was their first time at the show because Priscilla has only been quilting for a year. Their quilting instructor, Gloria Molina, invited them and other members of their quilting group to attend.

disabled quilters

Priscilla’s quilting group is unique:  It is made up of all disabled women.

Their disabled quilters group has been meeting for about a year at the East Los Angeles Community Center. It was the center who saw a need for a disabled quilters group and approached Gloria to see if she could lead it.

disabled quilters

Gloria, a former Los Angeles County Supervisor, has made a name for herself in the quilting world.  As a member of TELAS (The East Los Angeles Stitchers), Gloria and her group work to promote their heritage and culture through quilting. In 2014, TELAS and a Mexican quilting group from Puebla, Mexico, teamed up to provide a Special Exhibit at Road featuring angels, a translation of both of their cities’ names.


At Road 2019, Gloria and her group sponsored the Special Exhibit, Catrina.


The disabled quilters group meets three times a month. “We all have different limitations, but we are all into quilting,” said Priscilla.  How do they make quilting inclusive? “We find a way around our disabilities and help each other to make it work for us.”

Priscilla was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy at 8 years of age. She was told that she wouldn’t live past age 20 but here she is, 50 years old and has been married 28 years. “The power of doing has kept me alive.”

So far, Priscilla has made three quilts. Richard cuts out the fabric and sets up the sewing machine. “I love quilting,” said Priscilla. “It has become my hobby.”

Richard has also become a fan of sewing. He enjoys helping Priscilla and hopes to make a Washington Redskins blanket soon.

What did Priscilla and Richard think about their first time at Road? They loved looking at all the patterns, materials, and of course, the “beautiful quilts.”

Quilting is an inclusive community!! Do you know of any other disabled quilter groups?

De-Stress With Hand Piecing

Who doesn’t need ways to de-stress? One great way to de-stress is to go back to our quilting roots and do some hand piecing.

De-Stress Hand Piecing

Pat Yamin, owner of Come Quilt Me and a well-known quilter from New York, led a hand piecing class, Time on my Hands, at Road 2019. Hand piecing is a “lost art” says Pat because “it takes time.” With a background in psychology, Pat easily sees the connection between mental well-being and hand piecing. “It is tactile and healing. Small pieces of fabric are manipulated using your hands—something you can’t get from sewing on a machine.” Another benefit is there is no rush to get it done. “You can take it with you traveling, to doctors’ appointments, or any place you know you will have some down time. Hand piecing is very portable and gives you the feeling of immediate success.”

Time on my Hands was an all-day class. Students received a hand piecing quilt kit to work on and everyone was encouraged to just “take your time” and de-stress. Because there was no sewing machine noise, students were also engaged in great conversations and sharing.

De-Stress Hand Piecing

Rebecca took the class to relax. “It’s a great way to de-stress.” While she has been quilting for 10 years, Rebecca was brand new to hand piecing and liked how it was so “incredibly easy.” She also liked how hand piecing provides a” connection to our past because it is what our ancestors did.”  

De-Stress Hand Piecing

Gwen shared that because hand piecing is “so relaxing it is also a great way to be creative. You can really get in the Zen Zone.”

De-Stress Hand Piecing

Anita is brand new to quilting; she has made one quilt. She took the class because of hand piecing’s history. “I love 1930’s fabric. It reminds me of my grandmother’s home.”

For inspiration, Pat shared a quilt that she had found at an auction.

De-Stress Hand Piecing

The quilt was made from feed sack prints from the 1930’s and 40’s and needed some hand piecing repair work. She also added the sashes to give it a different look. She liked how it turned out so much that she enlisted John Flynn to make kits for her out of 1930’s reproduction fabrics and that is what she uses in her hand piecing classes. “It saves time so the students don’t have to cut out the individual pieces and they have more time to do the hand piecing.

A few of the students took the class not only to de-stress but because they were familiar with Pat and wanted to learn more from her.

De-Stress Hand Piecing

Cindy has been quilting for 30 years and was familiar with piecing. She came to the class because of Pat and the camaraderie of the students. “Pat is fabulous. She is calm and knows her subject matter.”

De-Stress Hand Piecing

Joe has been quilting for over 20 years. When he first started quilting, all he did was handwork. While he has known Pat for over 20 years (they met when he was working part time in a quilt shop) he still wanted to take this class because “I learn something new every time I take a class from Pat.”

Piecing and quilting on a sewing machine are rewarding. But if you are looking for a project without a deadline, can be taken anywhere, and encourages comradery as you aim to de-stress, nothing can compare to hand piecing.  

The Voice of Road to California

If you’ve attended Road to California, undoubtedly you heard many times over the loud speaker: “Attention Quilters. Attention Quilters,” followed by announcements of giveaways, vendor activities, and $5.00 Lecture Classes.  Just who exactly does that booming voice belong to? Why none other than the voice of Road to California, Randy Graves.

voice of Road to California

Randy came to Road with a unique background. For one, Randy has a doctorate in Mechanical Engineering. He worked for NASA for 26 years, has had his own company making sails, and is now retired—sort of. He still stays busy in his field spending a lot of his time volunteering for his alma mater, George Washington University in Washington, D.C..  He has served on their National Advisory Council for their School of Engineering and Applied Sciences for the past 18 years. Randy is also a director with GWERT, a mentoring organization that provides experienced volunteer mentors to student and faculty startups at George Washington.  And he is on the Board of Directors of the George Washington Alumni Association.  When Randy isn’t working with his GW groups, he spends time with his hobby: doing machine metal work on a milling machine, where one of his projects was designing a four-cylinder airplane engine!!

So how does a man with his background end up being the voice of Road to California? Well, a lot has to do with wife of 52 years, Stevii Graves. Stevii is well known in the quilting world and has been on staff with Road for the past 22 years. One of her main responsibilities is overseeing the judging of the contest quilts. She is also involved in bringing outstanding teachers to the Show.

voice of Road to California

Six years ago, Stevii invited Randy to come out to Road with her. Not one to sit around, Randy was looking for ways to contribute. In addition to being the voice of Road to California, Randy oversees vendor check in/check out, and runs the Daily Raffles.

For Road 2019, that duty was expanded to include the new Daily Roadie Bucks Raffles. Lastly, Randy helps after the Show with packaging the show quilts to be returned to their owners.

voice of Road to California

What does the voice of Road to California enjoy most about Road? “Meeting all the interesting people.” Randy’s favorite Road moments are when “the winners of the sewing machine raffles come running down the hall” when their name is announced.

On February 16, 2019, Randy will be celebrating his 80th Birthday!!  Randy confided, “I never thought I’d be 80.” He attributes his longevity to staying mentally active with his volunteer work and physically active by playing golf and shoveling snow. (He and Stevii make their home in Virginia). Randy has also taken “massive doses of vitamins every day” for the past 60 years, starting when he was in college. About 30 years ago, he added glucosamine to his regimen to aid in mobility.

Summing up his 80 years, Randy says, “Life is Fun. Every day I wake up it is a great day!”

Randy Graves, the voice of Road to California, is a great asset to the Show. Road to California wishes Randy a very Happy 80th Birthday— and many more!!!   

Marie White Masterpiece Award Winner 2019

Do you know why the second highest cash award at Road to California’s Quilt Contest is named The Marie White Masterpiece Award?

Marie White was the mother of Road to California’s founder, Carolyn Reese. Marie was very active in the quilting and doll making world until she passed away in 2011, six weeks shy of her 93rd birthday. An anonymous donor approached Carolyn a few years ago and offered to sponsor the first runner-up award on two conditions: One, that she, the donor, would remain anonymous and Two, that Road to California call the prize, “The Marie White Masterpiece Award.” Road gladly agreed to her terms.

The winners of The Marie White Masterpiece Award for 2019 were maker, Gail Stepanek and quilter, Jan Hutchison. They received $7,500 for Spangled.

The most common question people ask Gail and Jan is, “How long did it take to make your quilt?” Gail commented that that is a loaded question because Gail and Jan’s quilts involve two people in the making and quilting. Gail, who lives in Illinois, spends 6-10 months completing the top. Then, she sends it to Jan, (who is lives in Kansas), to do the quilting. This can take Jan up to 3 months to finish. When Jan returns it to Gail, the quilt is bound, photographed, and entered in to the Road to California contest by their October 1st deadline. By the time the Show is held in late January, Gail and Jan’s quilt is already about a year and a half old. Gail and Jan complete one competition piece a year.

What was the inspiration behind Spangled? Two years ago, a booth at Road to California was selling sheets of heat transfer glitter vinyl. Jan and Gail bought several sheets thinking they could possibly use it in a future quilt. Not being familiar with the product, they decided to test it out on the back of their next quilt. They used a hole punch to cut out glitter dots and ironed them to the back of the quilt. After a year of traveling to different quilt shows, the dots were all still there, so they felt confident in using the vinyl in another project.

Because Gail loves round designs, for Spangled, she used a typical Dahlia block with an additional line added to each petal, splitting it in half. The first seven blocks were paper pieced and discarded because Gail didn’t like their intense color and size. She reduced the pattern and replaced some of the colors in the block with background fabric to lessen the impact. By rotating colors and background in each block, it kept her interest and gave a different look to each one. Appliqued dots were used as sashing.

Jan flew to Illinois for a few days to help design the border for Spangled and add the glitter vinyl. They added glitter dots to the sashing and the glittery swag border design. Afterwards, Gail appliqued fabric dots to the border and then shipped it off to Jan for quilting.

Spangled has two layers of batting: Hobbs 80/20 and Tuscany Wool. Using heavy weight black thread, Jan mimicked the loopy border design in each pieced block. Contrasting black thread was also used in the outer border.

Gail and Jan had no idea what the judges would think about the use of glitter vinyl on such a traditional pattern. Gail said, “It was a risk that paid off!” They received an email with the news of the award and were “SO thrilled.” Gail attended Road 2019 and enjoyed talking to fellow quilters while standing by Spangled. Her portion of the cash award was spent at the vendors at the show. Jan is saving her award for future travel.

As an added note, Gail and Jan are not new to winning top awards at Road to California. In 2014, they won their first award for Outstanding Innovative Quilt and in 2015 they won, Outstanding Traditional QuiltThey also won The Marie White Masterpiece Award once before in 2017.

Cathedral Points

And last year, Jan was awarded Best Longarm Quilt for her independent work.  

Congratulations Gail Stepanek and Jan Hutchison for another Road to California winning design, Spangled.