Category Archives: behind the scenes

Meet Road’s Display Manager Debby Bennett

Road 2017 began a new era for displaying quilts accepted in to Road’s annual quilt contest.

Continuing the tradition of a family owned and operated  quilt show, Debby Bennett, mother-in-law to Road’s Show Manager Matt Reese, was hired to freshen up the displays located throughout the main Exhibit Hall.

Work began in mid-December, 2016, to plan out the exhibits. Debby reported that her goal for the displays was to organize the quilts by category. Within each category, Debby worked with size, colors and themes to highlight each quilt.

At that time, all Debby had to work with were the pictures and dimensions of all the quilts accepted for the contest. It took Debby and her daughter, Jennifer (Matt’s wife), approximately 30 hours to organize and map out the 255 contest quilts. This was all just preliminary work until the winning quilts were chosen (the day before Preview Night) and adjustments would have to be made to the original plans.

During the judging, Debby was present so that she could have access to each winner’s information. When the judging was completed on Tuesday, Debby re-mapped the winners’ booths and fine-tuned the rest of the booths.  

Because maps of the display areas were prepared earlier, Debby felt the hanging process went by more quickly and efficiently than in the past. It took Debby and her team of 15 volunteers approximately 10 hours to hang all the quilts.  

When her job was done, Debby became a regular guest at the show, shopping and enjoying the quilts. She also was able to have a fun evening with her family at Party Time.

What did Debby think about her first experience as display manager? “I had so much fun.” Debby was able to use her organizational skills as well as her creativity to create quilt displays that she was “very proud of.” Debby added, “The group of volunteers that hung the quilts were so welcoming to the ‘newcomer’ and receptive to my new ways. I couldn’t have done it without their quilt hanging expertise. It was truly a team effort.”

Debby is looking forward to continuing her position at Road 2018. However, she is going to make sure that she has her own tool box next time around, something she wished she had had last January!!

What was your favorite winning quilt on display?

 

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.

 

 

Giving Back With Love And Stitches

On Saturday, January 21st, more than 40 quilt enthusiasts gathered at the Ontario Convention Center for the first ever, Roadies Give Back, a quilt-a-thon benefitting cancer patients at the Robert and Beverly Lewis Cancer Care Center at Pomona Valley Hospital in Pomona, California.

The event was planned by Road to California Director, Matt Reese, as a way for show attendees to get involved in the local community. In the past, Road offered speakers on Saturday night but in recent years, the attendance had been waning. Matt had hoped that by offering Roadies Give Back, that it would draw in lots of quilters who wanted to be a part of a worthwhile activity. And it did!!

A “whole lot of planning” went in to Roadies Give Back. Last October, a request went out for blocks that would be made into the quilts for the event. Road 2017 teacher, award winning quilter and author, Anita Grossman Solomon, designed the pattern for the blocks—her variation of Jacob’s Ladder. By the time of the event, Road had received hundreds of blocks from people all over the country.

Two rooms in the convention center were designated for the activity – a sewing room and a quilting room – where volunteers did their work. In the sewing room, Moore’s  donated the Baby Lock sewing machines that were used and Baby Lock donated the thread. Stitchers efficiently sewed the quilt blocks together to make the quilt tops.

After, the tops were made, they were passed on to the quilters in the quilting room for finishing. Batting was supplied by Mountain Mist, fabric for the quilt backs was donated from various fabric vendors at the show, and the Bernina sit-down longarm machines were donated from Mel’s Sewing & Fabric Center. Some of the quilters had never used a longarm before, so it was a great opportunity not only to quilt for charity but also to experiment with high-quality Bernina machines. Even Matt tried it out.

Four quilting buddies–Barbara, Lynn, Debbie, and Kathy — came ready to sew in their “cancer jammie pants.” Barbara is from Los Olivos, CA; Lynn and Debbie came from Solvang, CA; and Kathy came all the way from Utah. All women have members of their family or friends who have died from cancer or who are suffering through it currently. Together, they brought 81 blocks for the event (Kathy’s Utah friends contributed 55 of those blocks!!) Said Lynn, “Our charity quilts in our guilds make a difference where we live. We knew helping with Roadies Give Back will make a difference in Ontario too.”   Joe, a quilter for over 20 years, came to the event as a way to support his mother who just went through breast cancer surgery last July. While he was helping his mom, he found out that his sister had the same surgery two weeks before his mom.  Joe made 15 blocks to bring to the event.

Anita Grossman Solomon stopped by to see all the blocks and watched them come together in the various quilt tops. She commented that she was “in awe that Road, on top of everything else, got it all together to present this event.” Anita was admiring the work of Carol Payne from Texas who said, “I love to sew and I especially love to sew with a group. This is better than laying in my room watching TV.”

Throughout the night, Road gave away raffle tickets and had drawings to encourage the sewers. Prizes included swag bags from several of the Road vendors and tickets to Party Time at Road 2018.

In the quilting room, Wonderfil Specialty Threads vendor, Joanne from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, who is also a retired nurse, wanted to help out because she had a good friend pass away from cancer in June, 2016. About the event, Joanne said, “It is fun whenever quilters get together.”

Mother and daughter, Gerry and Feliz, wanted to help out as a way to honor their husband and father who passed away from cancer. Feliz said they wanted to participate as a way to give back. Gerry brought 50 blocks that she had made before the show and commented, “This is wonderful. I would do it again.”

Shellee Reese, Matt’s mom and the Administration Director at the Robert and Beverly Lewis Cancer Center, said that the quilts will be given to chemotherapy patients because they “get really cold during their treatment.” After watching the volunteers hard at work, Shellee remarked, “Cancer has touched most people and the quilters are so generous. It touches my heart to see what is going on here tonight.”

By the end of the night, many, many quilts were completed—but not all. Road to California is going to give the remaining blocks and quilt tops to local guilds to finish before the quilts are presented to the cancer center.

To sum up this first ever Roadies Give Back, Matt Reese said it was definitely worth doing. “I have been amazed at how charitable the quilters were to give of their time and their resources. These quilts will give hope to the patients who receive them.”

 

Returning Quilts Safe and Sound

Why do our guests come to our show?

Some come for the vendors. Some come for the classes. Some come to see friends. But everyone comes for the quilts.

Show quilts accepted for our annual contest and for special exhibits begin arriving at our office in December. The quilts are meticulously logged in and stored until the Sunday before the show when they are moved to the Ontario Convention Center for judging and displaying.

When the show closes on Sunday at 3:30 PM, dismantling the many quilt displays begins immediately. Each quilt is removed by white-gloved volunteers and carefully stored until the next day, when the process for packaging and shipping begins.

Other large shows can take up to a month to return their show quilts to the makers. At Road to California, we pride ourselves in developing a process where over 1,000 quilts are readied for pick-up by FedEx by Monday afternoon following the show.

Show Director, Matt Reese, personally oversees the packing and shipping of the quilts. “This is the only part of the show that I am 100% directly responsible for,” commented Matt. “I do not delegate this responsibility to anyone. I have retained full oversight even when I was in law school and even when I was sick.”

Matt has spent the past three years perfecting Road’s packing and shipping method. His goal is to have the job done as quickly as possible without compromise. Matt says using computers, having multiple packing stations, and hand-picked volunteers make the difference.

Because of bad weather, Matt received extra volunteer help this year from Road 2017 Vendor Maria Tamaoka of Pinwheels,  Road 2017 Vendor and Teacher Pat Yamin of Come Quilt With Me 

and Road 2017 teacher Patt Blair

They were a great help.

Each quilt has a return instruction sheet completed by its owner that accompanies it throughout the 5-step Shipping and Packaging Process:

Step 1- Expediting

One person verifies the return instruction sheet along with the quilt’s assigned tracking number and a volunteer matches it to the quilt.

Step 2- Packaging

A volunteer folds the quilt as it was originally received, per the owner’s direction, and puts it in a plastic bag to protect it against any possible insect or water damage in shipping.

The quilt is then placed in a brand-new box that matches the dimensions requested by the owner.

Occasionally, when a quilt is received, the owner asks to have it returned in the box they provided. In those cases, Road holds on to the boxes until final shipment. And sometimes two quilts are returned to the same owner in the same box.

Our shipping boxes are put together on site. This year, all boxes were assembled by volunteer Randy Graves, quilter Stevii Graves’ husband. An engineer by profession, we knew the boxes would be well constructed!!

 

All boxes are then filled with acid-free packing paper to avoid movement in shipping.

Step 4-Weighing

All boxes are weighed on a scale and the weight is recorded on the return instruction sheet.

Step 4-Computer Station

This is the final check point for the quilt. It’s number and box contents are verified and a packing label is printed.

Step 5-Sealing and Mailing

The boxes are sealed and the mailing label is affixed. Also, the number of the quilt is written on the side of the box. All sealed boxes are stacked, ready and waiting for the FedEx truck to arrive. The FedEx driver loads the boxes, verifies the order and takes all the boxes to their main hub at Ontario International Airport for shipping.

This year, the packing and shipping was done in record time. Anxious owners should be receiving their quilts safe and sound by the end of the week.

 

 

What’s New At Road 2017?

At Road to California, you can always expect fabulous quilts, great classes, terrific teachers, and wonderful vendors. It’s the premiere event to see and experience the latest in the quilting world.

Each year, we try to stay on top of the curve by adding exciting and innovative things to the show. What can you expect to see at Road 2017?

New Management: Road to California is family owned and operated. For the past 21 years, Carolyn Reese, her three sons and their families, have brought you the 2nd largest quilting show in the United States. This past year, Carolyn Reese retired and turned over the management of the show to her grandson, Matt Reese. Matt has held various responsibilities with the show since he was a pre-teen and for the past few years, has assisted Carolyn in running the show. A recent graduate of the California Bar, Matt divides his time between overseeing the day-to-day operations of Road to California and a budding law career focusing on family law.  

Giving Back: On Saturday night, attendees have the opportunity to participate in quilt-a-thon to benefit the Robert and Beverly Lewis Cancer Care Center. Roadies will be piecing tops, quilting tops and finishing quilts that evening.

The Pavilion: The front addition to the Ontario Convention Center is added each January exclusively for Road to California. Improvements this year to the pavilion include the removal of trees and street lights. The floor will be carpeted and the floor plan has been rearranged to be more accommodating for vendors and guests.

New Café: Located at the north end of the Convention Center, under the stairs, it resembles a famous coffee shop that shall not be named. Breakfast will be served as well as quick meal items for easy take and go. The grand opening for the café will be January 20th, so Road guests are the first to use it.

Outdoor Patio: Located near the north doors, there will be a fireplace and comfortable seating – the perfect place to rest and visit. If you are wondering what happened to the food venues that were previously located in the new patio area, the ice cream can be found in the food tent; kettle corn and roasted almonds will be between the pavilion and the exhibit hall.

Road to California Booth:  Where to find special souvenirs of the show. New this year include:

Artic Cups

Handmade bags made by Carolyn Reese featuring Road to California 20th Anniversary Fabric

Fold-up Grocery bags

(Note: California now charges for grocery bags. Show them and bring your own Road to California Bag!!)

The Road App: Our new app is easy to navigate. It gives real time announcements and changes to the show plus it allows you to keep your notes from classes and vendors long after the show ends.

Before you come to the show, download our app at IOS at www.konnected.co/ios or Android at www.konnected.co/android

Don’t worry…if apps aren’t your thing, you can download for FREE the Show Guide at http://www.road2ca.com/2017%20SHOW%20GUIDE%20copy.pdf 

Please note: A limited supply of Show Guides will be available to purchase at the event at the North and South Info Desks. However, once they are gone, they are gone.

We hope our guests will enjoy these changes and look forward to hearing their feedback.

 

 

 

Families That Quilt Together Stay Together

Road to California is a great place for family members of all ages to enjoy.Vandenberg

Judy Brink, her daughter Lori Vandenberg, and granddaughter Allison Vandenberg are all Road to California veterans. Judy has come to Road the past 19 years and Lori for the past 15 years. Allison’s first visit to Road was when she was just 6 weeks old. She’s been back two other times.

Judy has been sewing since she was 6 years old and has influenced both Lori and Allison with their sewing. When Lori was expecting her first baby, she wanted to make a baby quilt and Judy helped show her how.  Allison got her first sewing machine last Christmas. Grandma Judy shared with Allison some of her stash to get her started on her first sewing projects, pillowcases.

Judy, Lori and Allison regularly plan their own quilt retreats twice a year. They go to Palm Springs, California where they quilt, swim and share.

Lori commented that “Road is an event we never miss.” Added Allison, “Road is really fun and I get to get a half day off school to come!”

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Kim, age 19 from Simi Valley, California, attended Road 2016 with her mom and grandmother, a third generation quilter. Kim got into quilting when she decided she wanted to make a quilt for her best friend. Since then, she has also made a couple of wall hangings. She finds quilting to be a nice break from school and work. Road 2016 was her third time at the show. “I love it.” Kim likes seeing all the quilt entries. “They are mind blowing.”

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These three generations of quilters visited Road from Bakersfield, California. Grandmother Kay, Kay’s daughter Judy along with Kay’s granddaughter  and Judy’s niece Alyssa, age 13, enjoyed spending the day together, enjoying the variety of quilts and skill levels on display.

Kay has been quilting for 30 years and is 90 years old. Judy started sewing in the 8th grade and has been quilting for the past 25 years. Her first quilt was made from fabric she bought at J.C. Penney. She cut out hexagons, created her own pattern and sewed it together. Today, she prefers to applique. Alyssa started quilting 5 years ago. She likes to piece together fabric to make pillows.  While her aunt and grandmother have been to Road dozens of times, Road 2016 was Alyssa’s first visit. “I liked it,” remarked Alyssa. She especially enjoyed the Carol’s Zoo Booth.

Who in your family do you bring along to Road?

 

 

 

 

Shannah’s Cameo: The Story Behind The Quilt

Shannah’s Cameo won First Place in the category, Excellence in Longarm Quilting, for maker and quilter Karen Sievert.

Karen received $1,500 from sponsor, American Professional Quilting SystemsExcellance in Longarm

Road to California was a tremendous experience for author, teacher, free motion longarm quilter, Karen Sievert. She taught three of her own classes, substituted for Linda V. Taylor for two of her classes, and found out that she won first place in the quilt contest for Excellence in Longarm Quilting.

Every quilt has a story and Shannah’s Cameo is no different.

Karen Sievert and her husband, Vince, have three adopted children — Wayne, Shannah, and Travis — that were all drug/alcohol babies. Says Karen, “Raising my children, I have learned more from them than they have from me.”

When the kids were younger, they would help out with Karen’s trunk shows and became very familiar with the quilting world. Shannah had asked Karen to write a book and make a quilt named for her. Karen wasn’t interested in writing a third book, but she was interested in making Shannah “just one quilt” especially for her.

 Shannah’s Cameo served two purposes: not only was it a gift for her daughter, it also provided the background for teaching a new type of fills class using whole cloth. “Teaching and quilting on whole cloth doesn’t distract the students like a patterned fabric would,” shared Karen.

The focal point of the quilt is a replica cameo of Shannah’s face. A friend digitized Shannah’s image and Karen used different fills for the hair.Excellance in Longarm CameoKaren credits Stevii Graves for being the cheerleader behind this project.  It was her support that gave Karen the courage to try new techniques for the quilt that she never would have attempted before.

For classes, Karen gives students her drawing  Karen

And they practice their own fills in simulating Shannah’s hair.Student's work

This technique has led Karen to develop more classes for the future, using different image sketches like a hummingbird to promote the same idea.

Sketch by Karen Sievert

Sketch by Karen Sievert

What does Shannah think about her quilt?Shannah Sievert

Karen says Shannah “loves it.” Shannah will be able to keep it after Karen is through showing it,

The Ultimate Friendship Road Trip

What does it take for nine friends, who live in Arizona, Oregon and Nebraska, to get together? Why a 10 day vacation centered around Road to California of course!!!

Last January, we caught up with part of the group outside the vendor mall. Their Road Trip took a whole year to plan. A couple of the ladies had never met before this trip but that didn’t matter. Everyone’s love for quilting was all it took to embark on this friendship gathering._i4c3729_copy

It was friend Barbara  (on the far left) who brought all these women together to stay in one house and to explore Road to California and Southern California. She was the one friend who knew everyone. As she put it, “I am like a rolling stone…I gathered all this “moss.” (Oh my–there’s a photo bomber?!! I guess she wanted to be a part of their group too)

Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Barbara had a 1,000 square quilt studio in her home. A few of these friends met Barbara by coming to her home to quilt. When her husband retired, he and Barbara established a winter home in Goodyear, Arizona. She joined the local Pebble Creek Quilt Guild and that’s how she met the other women. Because Barbara loves all her quilting friends, she wanted to find some way for all of them to meet and play. Road to California was the perfect choice. Especially since one of the friends, Chris Taylor, had three quilts entered in the show.

My Blue Loge Cabin - Honorable Mention- Traditional, Wall, Pieced

My Blue Loge Cabin – Honorable Mention- Traditional, Wall, Pieced

I Have Felt Lonely In A Crowded Room - Modern Piecing

I Have Felt Lonely In A Crowded Room – Modern Piecing

What's Up Buttercup?-Art, Naturescape

What’s Up Buttercup?-Art, Naturescape

What did they all think about their Road Trip? Cindy, a 30 year quilter from Oregon and an Arizona Snowbird, said, “There was so much to see. It was so inspiring for all of us.”   

Happy Friendship Day to these terrific quilting friends.  

How We Choose Classes For Road To California

It is almost time to announce our Road to California 2015 classes. Because we are often asked how we come up with our slate of offerings, we wanted to share the planning process that goes in to our class selection. 

The first step is to secure our teachers. Selecting the faculty for Road to California actually begins more than two years prior to an upcoming conference. Carolyn, Matt and Stevii Graves (Road’s consultant and talent scout), search for the newest, upcoming talent (as well as seasoned veterans in the teaching world) that would be a good fit for Road. They look for teachers at trade shows, in trade publications (Stevii does book reviews for IQA) and in blogs on the internet. Searching for teachers is a full time job!teachers_classrooms__i4c6216Choosing the classes can best be summed up as one giant jigsaw puzzle with pieces that don’t fit together! To be certain that we are offering classes that meet the needs and desires of our attendees, we have several methods set in place to ensure that we have a diverse cross section of classes that represent quilters today. We want to make sure that our classes range from Appliqué to Zentangle! teachers_classrooms__i4c6372

We have 22 classrooms with certain rooms better utilized for certain techniques. For example, this year we have Kim Eichler-Messmer teaching a two day class on Fabric Dyeing for quilts. Her classroom must not only be near water, but also be covered with plastic on the floor so that the fabric dye does not damage the carpeting. 

We have received some complaints that Road is primarily catering to the long arm quilter and is not meeting the needs of all quilters. Rather than simply deny this, we would like to provide you with some numbers:

              Three of the 22 rooms are utilized with Longarm Machines (Gammill, Handi Quilters & Innova)  

Two of the 22 rooms are utilized with sit-down, Longarm Machines (Gammill Charm & Handi Quilters Sweet 16). The techniques used in these classes are directly applicable to domestic machines. 

Seven of the 22 rooms have sewing machines provided for attendees (Brother, BabyLock, Bernina, Janome, PFAFF, Viking). These rooms are used for Machine Quilting, Machine Piecing, Machine Applique and many other techniques & projects. teachers_classrooms__i4c6375

Ten of the 22 rooms are utilized for other classes including Hand Work, Fabric Dying, Painting, Bring Your Own Machine classes, etc.teachers_classrooms__i4c6209

Classes for Road 2015 will be posted on our website no later than July 1st and registration begins on-line July 13th.   

We invite you to join us for THE BEST Road to California yet, our 20th Anniversary Conference & Showcase. 

Aspiring Appraisers Alert

Each year, Road to California offers quilters the opportunity to have their quilts appraised by a Certified American Quilters Society Quilt and Textile Appraiser.

This year, the appraisal booth moved to a new location.  Located by itself at the southeast entrance, there was plenty of room – and quiet space — to conduct the appraisals. Charges for this service depended on the appraisal request. An oral evaluation cost $25.00 and a written appraisal cost $50.00._i4c3302pg    

At any one time, there were three appraisers on hand to assist patrons. One of these appraisers was Beverly Dunivent from Olympia, Washington. She has been conducting appraisals at Road since 1996. She said that the appraisers were very busy scheduling oral evaluations every 30 minutes and that written appraisals took longer. Both types of appraisals required additional time after the show to type up the findings._i4c3912

Violet Vaughnes, another on-site appraiser, has been appraising quilts since 2004. She had a 40 year career as a Registered Nurse and pursued quilting as a hobby in 1995. She enjoys the camaraderie found within the Appraisal Association and the ability to travel all over the country performing appraisals at various quilting events.Violet V

While at the Featured Artist booth, we met JoAnn Woods, a hand quilter for over 30 years and an aspiring appraiser. Joann shared that it was Violet who inspired her to be an appraiser. JoAnn had asked Violet to appraise one of her vintage quilts. While Violet was working, she told JoAnn about how she took the necessary classes to learn how to be an appraiser and JoAnn was impressed with her story.Joann Woods

To prepare for her new venture, JoAnn enrolled in a 3 day required appraiser course offered at Paducah by the American Quilters Society. She is also reading everything she can get her hands on regarding quilt history. She considers appraising as a form of the game, Clue, asking questions like, Who started this quilt? and Why wasn’t the quilt ever finished?  From her training, JoAnn has learned that a quilt isn’t always incomplete because its maker passed away. Sometimes a quilt isn’t finished because the maker ran out of fabric or time, or money. JoAnn plans on starting her appraisal business after she retires in five years.

Is being a quilt appraiser in your future?

Did you have any surprises with a quilt you had appraised?