Category Archives: Road 2 CA Blog

Meet Carolyn Reese: Former Owner and Chief Ghoul at Road to California

Road to California’s founder, Carolyn Reese, set the bar high for our unique, second largest quilt show in the United States. Under her leadership, Road to California has grown from a small event with just a few classes to our current week long premiere quilt show hosting over 39,000 visitors from all over the world. Carolyn provided the vision for our show that includes hundreds of quilts on display, awards over $92,000 in cash prizes, classes taught by experts in the quilt and fiber art world, and over 225 nationally and internationally known vendors.

Born on Halloween, Carolyn felt there were no tricks when it came to overseeing Road to California but there certainly were plenty of treats. A love for family, friends, and quilting, combined with a keen business sense, all came together for Carolyn one  special week in January each year.  

What do you know about Carolyn Reese?

Carolyn Head shot

Personal: Born on Halloween on her grandparents’ homestead in Oklahoma, Carolyn and her parents moved back and forth between Oklahoma and California twice before finally settling in Southern California in 1953. Carolyn’s Halloween memories revolve around trick or treating with her children when they were growing up. Since becoming involved in the quilting world, she has spent many Halloweens at trade shows. How does Carolyn know she’s getting a call on her cell phone? It rings a haunted house melody.Halloween witch

When did you learn to sew? I learned to sew on my Grandma Anderson’s treadle machine. By the time I was a freshman in high school, I was making my own clothes. I worked in the yardage department of the May Company store in Lakewood when in college. We used machines to measure the fabric and then tore it off the bolt. Several years later, I sewed Barbie clothes and sold them at a local department store to make money for Christmas.

How did you get in to quilting? Raising a family of three sons and a daughter, I found myself a displaced homemaker after 27 years of marriage. My mother and I decided to open a fabric store, The Fabric Patch. We soon found that we were the last two women in the area still making their own clothes. I decided to take a quilting class taught by Blanche Young in 1981 and soon after, we changed the emphasis of the store to quilting. (I finally put the binding on that first quilt to finish it in 2011).

How did The Fabric Patch become a trendsetter in the quilting world in southern California? We were one of the first quilt shops to be a vendor at guild quilt shows, one of the first in the country to offer “Mystery Weekends,” and the first to offer fiction books about quilting. I was instrumental in the forming of the Southern California Association of Quilt Shop Owners and started the Quilters Run in Southern California. I sold the store ten years ago.newrdlogo

When did you get involved in Road? I purchased the Road to California brand when it was just a few classes, nothing more. I had a vision to turn it into something more: classes and a quilt show. Road was first held in Anaheim and as it grew, I moved it to Ontario, California, first in the Marriott Hotel. When I was able to add the quilt show, the Marriott could no longer accommodate us, so we moved to the Hilton hotel. The show was located in the atrium of the hotel. We continued to grow in scope and attendance and moved to our current location at the Ontario Convention Center where we are their largest client.  2018 will mark Road to California’s 23rd year.

What did you value most about Road? Seeing all the people walk around with a smile on their face, forgetting their problems and having a good time.        

Even though Carolyn retired last year from Road to California and her grandson Matt Reese is now the owner of the show, her heart is still with the show. Don’t be surprised if you see her at Road 2018 tooting along on her sit-down scooter, waving hello and encouraging a new generation of quilters. 


Happy Haunted Birthday Carolyn Reese

Our favorite Road to California ghoul is celebrating another Halloween birthday!!Carolyn

Carolyn Reese was born on her grandparents’ homestead in Oklahoma on Halloween.  Her family settled in California in 1953. She worked in the yardage department of the May Company store in Lakewood while going to college. In the 1970’s, Carolyn and her mother opened a fabric store, The Fabric Patch, which quickly became a trend-setting quilt store in Southern California. Carolyn purchased the Road to California brand when it was just a few classes, nothing more. Her vision has turned it in to a premier quilt show with classes and vendors. 2015 will mark the 20th Anniversary Show and promises to be a very special event with many surprises throughout the five days. 

What makes Road to California so special for Carolyn is that her family gathers each year to help support her with the show._i4c4160pg

Carolyn’s favorite Halloween memories revolved around her children trick or treating when they were growing up. These days, her Halloween birthday usually finds her at trade shows. Carolyn is reminded daily of her Halloween birthday every time her cell phone rings with its haunted house melody. 

Join us in wishing Carolyn Reese a very Happy Halloween Birthday!!

Road 2015 Faculty Spotlight: Meet Kimberly Einmo

Kimberly Einmo will be teaching 3015C Lone Starburst on Wednesday; 4015C Bermuda Triangles on Thursday5014C Spinning Stars on Friday; and 6014C Variable Pinwheel Star on SaturdayKSEinmo Studio 1a

Personal: Kimberly Einmo is a modern quilter who has been surrounded by men her whole life. She grew up in the small town of Canal Fulton, Ohio with two older brothers. Today, she is married to her husband, Kent, and they have two wonderful sons, ages 20 and 15. Kimberley and her family are all certified, PADI scuba divers. They plan their vacations and trips around great diving destinations.

How did you get started in quilting? My mother had grown up in the depression era and hated anything to do with sewing. But she had the wisdom to know I should have some basic sewing skills so she signed me up for some sewing classes when I was seven years old at the local Singer Sewing shop in Massillon, Ohio. I loved sewing from the start and it wasn’t long before I was making many of my own clothes. I joined a 4-H group when I was eight years old called “Buttons and Bows” where I learned even more about garment construction and crafts such as Christmas stockings, tote bags, and holiday décor items.  I would enter my garments in the county fair every summer and I loved winning blue ribbons! For Christmas when I was 10 years old, my parents bought me a sturdy Singer sewing machine that had zig zag and hem stitches which at that time, were quite a big deal! They also surprised me with a cabinet to hold the machine. They were the best Christmas gifts I ever received! I still have that old Singer machine. However, it wasn’t until I walked into that quilt shop in Alexandria in 1991 when I realized you could piece blocks and quilt on a sewing machine.

Where do you find inspiration for your quilting? Everywhere! Nature, architecture, even bathroom floors! (There’s a story there……)

What is the one quilting tool you can’t live without? My sewing machine! Why? Because even though I can piece and quilt by hand, I love sewing on a sewing machine so much more! However, I also can’t live without a rotary cutter. 

What was the latest award you won for your quilting? My quilt Fire and Ice just won the top award for BEST MODERN QUILT at AQS QuiltWeek in Chattanooga, TN. I was pretty thrilled about that!!Fire and Ice with watermark

Where is the farthest you’ve traveled that was quilt related? I have taught classes at many international locations, but probably the farthest locale was the Czech Republic for the Prague Patchwork Meeting. I have taught there several times!

What do you like best about teaching? Getting to know the students personally! It makes me so happy to meet each and every student and find out a little bit about their life and why they like to quilt. I’m always blessed by meeting and sharing with others.KE

What is the funniest or most embarrassing moment that you’ve had while you were teaching? Oh my goodness, there are so many! But I can tell you about one very scary moment while I was teaching a class on a Friday night. The store was actually closed, but the front door was unlocked. A man walked in to the front counter and told the shop owner that he had a gun and had just committed an armed robbery and that he wanted to turn himself in to the police. I overheard this and grabbed all the students and locked them in a tiny bathroom while I called 911 and kept an eye on the shop owner and the man as she talked very calmly to him. The police arrived and took him away, but it was an incredibly tense situation. Afterwards, we all giggled from nervous energy about having crammed so many women in a tiny bathroom!

What do you want your students to get out of your class? I want students to have an open mind and be willing to try new things! I always encourage students to step out of their box and learn something new. It is my personal goal to make every class I teach a “stress-free” zone! I want students to leave my classes knowing they learned a lot, accomplished a lot of actual sewing, and to go home feeling relaxed, happy, and refreshed from a great day in the classroom!KE-Variable Pinwheel Lonestar block with watermark

What is your best quilting tip?  Take your time and be very accurate as you cut and sew. Accuracy is oh-so-important to achieve great results!

You can find Kimberly at her web site and on her blog.


Pink Travels

There are pink Cadillacs for women who sell facial products and then there is the pink trailer for a woman who sells quilting products.2014-01-25 09.35.10

Laura Heine owns Destination Quilt Shop in Billings, Montana. According to one of Laura’s customers, Tanya from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, “Laura’s shop is a must see stop if you are going through the area.”Head shot

Road 2014 was Laura’s first time as a vendor for the show. Since Laura does not fly, how did she get from Billings to Ontario, California? In her restored, pink 1956 Shasta trailer of course!!

It took Laura most of the summer of 2013 to get her trailer prepped for the journey to Road. She drove out with one of her employees, Nancy. Said Laura, “We ate and talked the whole way!!” their trip took three days. Laura and Nancy stopped in Pocatello, Idaho and St. George, Utah before arriving in Ontario. During her week at Road, Laura’s pink trailer was parked in Road’s host hotel, Doubletree by Hilton, parking lot.  2014-01-25 09.35.28

What did Laura think about her first time at Road? “I was pleasantly surprised at the size of it. I met really fun customers and enjoyed my stay. I can’t wait to come back.”

You won’t want to miss Laura and her Fiberworks booth at Road to California 2015 – 20th Anniversary Show. Just look for her pink trailer and you’ll know she has arrived.2014-01-25 09.35.18

How will you be getting to Road 2015?

Celebrating in Style

Saturday, October 18, 2014 found Road to California at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, California supporting the 11th Annual Celebrating With Style Fashion Show and Luncheon. This event raises vital resources for the Robert and Beverly Lewis Family Cancer Care Center Endowment Fund at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center. Celebrate in Style  

Carolyn Reese sponsored a table and invited nine guests to attend. Those sitting with Carolyn included several members of her quilt guild, Night Owls, and her son Mike whose wife, Shellee, is the Administrative Director for the Cancer Center. Said Carolyn, “I am pleased to support this great cause that helps bring relief and hope to cancer patients and their families.” Celebrate in Style6

Two of Carolyn’s guests were cancer survivors themselves: Lavella Fitzgerald and Maria McKendry.Celebrate in Style5

The morning started with an opportunity for guests to bid on beautiful gift baskets followed by a delicious lunch and then a fashion show. There were seven models participating in the fashion show – men and women – who were all recent cancer survivors. As they modeled clothes from Banana Republic, Chicos, and Carducci Tuxedos, their individual journeys through cancer were shared by two moderators with the audience. Casual wear was the theme for the first segment as the audience heard about the models’ diagnosis stories. During the second segment, the models wore business wear. Each model had their physician accompany them down the ramp as the moderators told of the treatment each model had received. For the third and final segment, special occasion wear, each model expressed thanks to those caregivers that helped them through their cancer experience, especially their families. It was so inspiring to hear each story and see the “other side” of cancer.

In-between the modeling segments, they showed Pomona Valley Medical Center’s award winning video for the Pink Glove Dance. Thanks to all our Road supporters who voted and helped this upbeat video win the grand prize:

Road to California’s table was really lucky as three of Carolyn’s guests won gift baskets.

Celebrate in Style3Celebrate in Style4Celebrate in Style2

All in all, it was an amazing day supporting a cancer program that offers excellent treatment in a positive and caring environment. 




Quilting Latina Style

Road to California welcomes quilters from all over the world to attend its conference. Meet these Latina quilters who cross international borders each year to broaden their quilting experience.   _i4c4064_copy

For the past three years, Perla Cabanillas (Mexico), and Carolin Menendez (Puerto Rico) and Susan Labounty (Cypress, California), have chosen Road to California as their destination spot to renew their friendship and support their love of quilting. 

The three originally met through their church. They became friends when Susan taught a quilting class that  Carolin and Perla joined. For six years, they met on Thursdays at Sue’s home to quilt. 

Susan has been quilting for the past 10 years. She first learned to quilt along with her neighbor at a quilt store near their house.  Carolin began quilting 13 years ago. She first learned to sew in school in Austin, Texas. Perla credits Carolin for introducing her to quilting. Carolin had invited Perla to attend Susan’s class and helped Perla buy the fabric for her first project. 

Why do they love meeting up at Road? “Nothing compares to Road,” stated Carolin. “I like how the show combines old traditions with modern approaches.” Added Perla, “I love seeing all the modern quilting.” Maria, Tere, and Antonia

You might be aware that tour buses come from all over the country to bring excited quilters to Road to California. But did you know there is a tour bus that brings quilters from across the border?  Three friends from Tijuana, Mexico, made the journey by tour bus to attend Road for one very full day.    

Maria has been quilting for the past 10 years. She and Tere have made the trip to Road from Tijuana for the past 5 years. In 2014, they invited another quilting friend, Antonia to join them. 

Why come all the way from Tijuana for just one day? Says Maria, “I do hand quilting and Road has good materials for me to use.”  Antonia thought everything at Road was “very beautiful.”    

While only Maria spoke some English, the three did not feel that their language barrier created any problems. After all, a love for making and appreciating magnificent quilts knows no boundaries.   

How far will you travel to attend Road to California’s 20th Anniversary Show January 21-25,2015?  



Road 2015 Faculty Spotlight: Meet Donna Thomas

Donna will be teaching four classes: 4013C Batik Feathers on Thursday, 5012C Fearless Fabric Play on Friday, 6011C Party Poppers on Saturday, and 7006C Interlocken  on Sunday.Donna Thomas headshot

Personal: Donna Thomas loves her pets so much that she named her company after her cats:  Pre-Furred Qulits! When she is not quilting, Donna likes doing big puzzles. Donna is a devoted fan of the Outlander book series. She has the 8th book waiting for her to finish re-reading the last three books so she can refresh her memory of the details. She is almost done with A Breath of Snow and Ashes. 

How did you get interested in quilting?  My mother loved making clothes and so I sewed all my life from age 3 or 4 in some form or other, but mostly hand needlework and later clothes. In 1975, between my sophomore and junior years of college, I met this awful boy while at my summer landscaping nursery job. He used to tease me horribly. Finally, at the end of the summer, he asked me out on a date. He turned out to be quite a nice guy. That fall, he had a birthday coming and I had no money but I did have a bag of home economic scraps from the late 60’s and early 70’s and a picture of an antique Dresden Plate quilt. So I made this monstrosity from double knits, polyester denim, two extra loft poly batting, and no instruction—I just dove in. I cringe when I think of it. But I loved the colors, all the prints, the puzzle-like aspect of it—- and there were no zippers or buttonholes! Well, yup, I married the guy and we still have it. I take it to local lectures sometimes. It’s too heavy to ship for out of town trips!

Where do you find inspiration for your quilting? I love the old blocks—mixing them, changing them here and there, or designing my own. I’m a puzzle fiend and math geek so I love the geometry and intricacy of piecing.Donna Thomas CandyDots

What is the one quilting tool you can’t live without? My hands!! Why? I couldn’t imagine not being able to sew. I love hand piecing as well as machine piecing so at a minimum as long as I can cut and sew pieces, hold and thread a needle, I can make quilts. Not to say I don’t love my machines and rotary tools. But without my hands I couldn’t do any of it.Donna Thomas 3.jpeg.tif

Where is the farthest you’ve traveled that was quilt related? I had the opportunity to live in Germany and teach at a German quilt shop in Bad Soden for several years. I also taught to American and German guilds around the country while I was there. I happened to be teaching in Berlin the week the wall started to come down. My family was with me and my sons  got to chop off pieces of the wall and get their pictures taken with the Soviet soldiers on the other side. It was quite amazing to see history in the making.

What has been the best class you have taken? Harriet Hargrave’s machine-quilting class. I took it twice and I flunked it twice.  But being a bit stubborn, someday I intend to conquer and master free-motion machine quilting!

What do you like best about teaching? When what I’m teaching ‘clicks’ and you can see it in someone’s face and they’re so excited and proud. There’s nothing better.

What do you want your students to get out of your class? Skills mastery, success, and hopefully some fun too!Donna Thomas 1

What is your best quilting tip?  Learn to master making an accurate quilter’s 1/4” seam allowance. In addition to cutting accurately, there is nothing more important for frustration-free piecing. It’s hard to enjoy the process if your pieces don’t fit.

Visit Donna on her blog, 

Unique International Flair at Road 2015

The international quilting world is no stranger to Road to California. For the past few years, we have had an association with Bohin France, makers of fine pins, needles, and scissors. Last year, one of the special exhibits, The Cities of Angels, featured the quilting friendship between Los Angeles based East Los Angeles Stitchers and their sister quilting group in Puebla, Mexico.

What is the next international group to visit Road? The Tentmakers of Cairo with their exhibit Stitch Like an Egyptian.Egyptian Exhibit

Curated by international textile artist Jenny Bowker, this exhibit sheds light on the art of Egyptian tent making. This ancient, intricate craft has been facing struggles, as machines try to replace hand-made items and unscrupulous businesses copy and sell their unique designs. By hosting Stitch Like an Egyptian’s California premiere, Road hopes to bring attention to the beautiful yet shrinking art of the few remaining Tentmakers who continue to ply their trade.Egyptian Exhibit2

Originally, this type of artwork used to line tents or screens covered in appliqué that could decorate a whole street. The brilliantly colored appliqué are still used today for ceremonial purposes at weddings, funerals, henna parties, or Ramadan celebrations.Egyptian Exhibit3

The artists who will be at Road to California are from Khan Khayamiya—the Market of the Tentmakers in the heart of Old Islamic Cairo. Hosam Hanafy Ahmed Mahmoud and Tarek Abdelhay Hafez Abouelenin will be on hand at the exhibit to demonstrate their method of appliqué. The amazing patterns in their pieces are based on geometry, sacred texts, and ancient artwork and convey much of the intricacy and relevance of today’s world of quilts.  In addition to their demonstrations, some of their appliqué art will be on sale as well.

Please join us in welcoming The Tentmakers of Cairo and their special exhibit, Stitch Like an Egyptian this January.     



Road 2015 Faculty Spotlight: Meet Annie Unrein

Annie will be teaching three evening classes: 4074C Cosmetic Clutches on Thursday; 5074C Project Bags on Friday; and 6075C iCases on Saturday.annie_0614

Personal: Annie Unrein was born in Hereford, Texas, the second of five girls. She has two grown children, a son and a daughter. Her son is a CPA/MBA who along with his wife, work with Annie at They are expecting Annie’s first grandchild in the spring.

How did you get started in quilting?  Both of my grandmothers were quilters and I loved the look and feel of the quilts that they made. Neither of them lived close enough to teach me how to quilt, so I taught myself by studying the quilts that they’d made me and by reading the limited articles about quilting that were available in the early 1970s.

Does anyone else in your family quilt? I share my interest in quilting with several cousins. My cousin Cindy (who lives in Ojai, California) and I reconnect at Road to California every year!

Where do you find your inspiration for your projects? I now primarily use quilted fabric to make purses and bags to organize my quilting supplies. Seeing a mess and figuring out how to clean it up and organize it serves as inspiration for many of my patterns!Annie bags_0614

What is the one sewing tool you can’t live without? My trusty stiletto/pressing tool helps me hold pieces in place as I sew, protects my fingers, and enables me to attach beautiful bindings. I feel that it is every bit as important as a rotary cutter!

What has been the best class you have taken? Learning how to use Electric Quilt software opened up a world of design and exploration to me. Working through the lessons in the various EQ books really helped me to understand the many facets of the program.

What do you like best about teaching? I love showing students how to break down a project into manageable steps so that they can make projects that look like they bought them rather than like they made them. . . and seeing the pride on students faces when they finish a professional-looking project.Annie craftsy_projects_both_400w

What is the funniest or most embarrassing moment that you’ve had while you were teaching?  I taught EQ classes at a state-wide guild event several years ago. There were so many students registered for the class that tables were packed from wall to wall. There was no easy way to get around them, so I had to crawl under the tables and around the cords to help people who had questions!

What is your best tip for quilters?  My best tip that applies to quilting can also be applied to just about anything in life: If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you can’t. Go for it with confidence!

What do you hope your students will get out of your classes? Students will leave my class with the confidence to install zippers in purses and bags and the skills to use ByAnnie’s Soft and Stable in their projects.

You can find Annie at:

So You Want To Make A Winning Quilt: 2014 Outstanding Innovative Quilt

You may have missed our deadline this year to enter your promising award winning quilt for Road to California 2015 – 20th Anniversary Show competition, but there is always next year!!

Gail Stepanek began her journey of making an award winning quilt by taking a quilt class at a local church in the early 80’s. It was a quilt trimmed in lace.  Four quilts later, she learned that there was supposed to be binding on a quilt.  On the fifth quilt she made, she learned that she was supposed to make her own matching binding…not buy packages of blanket binding. “Talk about being a slow learner!” recalls Gail.   

How did Stars to Mars come about? Gail likes to paper piece and she decided to try her hand at designing several stars.  She didn’t feel that she was proficient enough to draft the quilt in EQ7, so she asked Barb Vlack to help her and Barb was kind enough to draft it for her. Gail learned that all she needed was one star pattern.  By changing fabrics and sewing lines, she could create different looking stars.  Stars to Mars

It took over a year and a half to make the top and her collaborative partner, Jan Hutchison  spent three months quilting it.  Road to California 2014 was the first show that Stars On Mars was entered in and we were overjoyed at winning such a great award.  Jan and Gail shared the award money– $3,000 given by Handi Quilter.  Gail has used her winnings to attend several quilts shows throughout the year.  In fact, she just booked her flight to Ontario, California for the 2015 Road to California show!!

What does the future hold for this award winning quilt maker? Gail and Jan hope to continue their collaboration for years to come.  She just received another quilt that Jan had recently finished quilting. Gail was burning the midnight oil to make the deadline for Road 2015 so watch for it in next year’s competition.