Category Archives: Road 2014

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. 


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.


Quilt Guild Spotlight: Valley Of The Mist Quilters

Formed in 1990 and located in Temecula, California, Valley of the Mist Quilters has 125 members who meet the second Tuesday of each month. Regular meetings with guest speakers are held seven months out of the year. In July, they host a Quilt University where members present different quilt techniques in 15 minute segments.Valley of the Mist Quilters

One of Valley of the Mist Quilters philanthropies is a school for homeless children in San Diego, California. Last year, they donated over 100 quilts to the school.  The guild has also donated quilts to flood victims in Colorado.

Each fall, Valley of the Mist Quilters host a unique quilt show that is completely outdoors. This year, on Saturday, October 4th, hundreds of quilts will be displayed throughout western themed Old Town Temecula from porches, eaves, and balconies. The opportunity quit they displayed during Road to California 2014, Garden Delights, will be auctioned during the show.  The guild will also be hosting quilter Karen Brow of, during their event. It promises to be a great day to share the love of quilting._i4c3151


So You Want To Make A Winning Quilt? 2014 Best of Show

Sharon Schamber of Payson, Arizona created the Best of Show winning entry, Once Upon a Time, and received $6,000 from sponsor, Gammill Quilting Systems.Best of Show

Sharon Schamber began quilting in 1999. Her winning entry, Once Upon A Time, took 14 years to complete. This quilt was inspired by her love for the romantic and delicate details of the Victorian era. Says Sharon, “I love how things are both simple and complex at the same time. I wanted to create a medallion quilt that spoke to that romantic notion.”

Sharon chose blue roses because “they were unique and the quilt asked/demanded something special like them.”  At the time she started on the quilt, there were no actual blue roses, but by the time she had finished, they became available. Sharon likes to think that “maybe the quilt knew something that the rest of the world hadn’t thought about yet.” Talk about romantic!!!

When Sharon started the quilt in 2000, her plan was to finish it as any other quilt she had worked on. But that didn’t happen. Sharon would work for a while, and then stop because she didn’t feel like she knew what she needed to do next. During each pause, she learned and developed additional techniques to have the tools needed to continue on. This lengthy process taught Sharon that each quilt truly has its own schedule and identity. “You have to follow the clues it gives you if you want the best out of it and yourself,” remarked Sharon. Even though it took 14 years to finish, Sharon felt it was an amazing adventure and she “enjoyed every minute of it.”

How did Sharon feel after she won Best of the Show?“I was ecstatic. Road to California is a prestigious and well respected show. The best quilts in the world are competing here, so winning Best of Show was an honor.”

What did she do with her prize money? “Since winning any award is a surprise, I never have plans to spend the money. I am passionate about machine embroidery, so I bought a few things that’ll allow me to explore this art form in new and different ways.”

What does the quilting future hold for Sharon? “My plan for the future is to combine every aspect of quilting into one piece. Traditional piecing; hand embroidery; needleturn appliqué; machine appliqué and machine embroidery. Each technique has its own strengths and weaknesses and I am exploring the limits of each. You name it, and it will be in my work.”

Congratulations Sharon for winning Road to California’s 2014 Best of Show.





So You Want To Make A Winning Quilt? 2014 Best Modern Quilt

Claire Victor won $2,000 for her Modern Quilt Entry, Lost in Space, from sponsor, Modern Quilt’s Unlimited

Claire VictorAbout 15 years ago, Claire Victor decided she wanted to sew her own clothing. Inspired by her mother who was a great home seamstress, she started taking lessons at her local sewing store, Hartsdale Fabrics in Hartsdale, NY.  Downstairs in the store, they had a quilt shop; something she had never seen before. What she saw there was so much more interesting than any preconceived notion she had had of what quilting was, and they had classes! Because of her work schedule, she was unable to take a class at that time but she sent ahead and bought the Eleanor Burns Log Cabin Quilt-in-a-Day book, picked out some fabrics and off she went. She figured it all out on her own, laughed a lot along the way, had fun throughout the entire process and never looked back.

What inspired Claire’s winning design, Lost in Space? “I am interested in geometric patterns, especially ones with illusion. The tumbling block is my “block of choice.” I do them every which way I can think of. Recently, I had the chance to join a hand sewing group at Monica’s Quilt and Bead in Palm Desert, CA and I started to learn appliqué. All the ladies were doing more traditional patterns which did not interest me so I designed my own, an elongated tumbling block. The group came up with the name “Lost in Space”.  My favorite reference books are from Sara Nephew and Marci Baker. I had also been studying an old Katie Pasquini-Masopust book.

How long did it take to make your winning quilt? What did you learn along the way? “I decided long ago to never pay attention to how long it takes to make a quilt; I just do it until it’s finished. But if I had to guess, I would say three or four months. It was a great journey; since this was my first appliqué quilt. I was (and still am) having trouble with the technique but it was very interesting to figure out the design and combine machine piecing, English paper piecing, hand sewing and then machine quilting.

What was your reaction when you won?  “My first reaction was complete disbelief, and then I cried (a little). You might wish and dream about these moments but believe me they come when you least expect them. Needless to say, once I recovered, I was extremely honored.”

Did you do anything special with your prize money? “Almost immediately I ordered a custom made Sew Steady Table and the rest just went into my general sewing fund.”

Where do you go from here with your quilting? “I just continue…open to future possibilities. After saying I would ‘NEVER do appliqué’ it has turned out to be so interesting and challenging. I can achieve things with appliqué that I could not with regular piecing. I am now working on my fourth appliqué quilt.



So You Want To Make A Winning Quilt? 2014 Outstanding Art Quilt

Lenore Crawford won $3,000 from SewBatik, sponsor of the Outstanding Art Quilt Entry

Outstanding Art QuiltLenore Crawford began using fabric as an art medium around 1995.  She loved the warmth, texture, and value that fabric offers as compared to other media.  It was fun for Lenore to create art quilts with fabric and see how far she could take the medium. 

Lenore’s winning entry, Capturing Brittany was inspired by her many visits to France. She loved France’s ancient architecture ever since her first visit when she was 16 years old.  To be able to create art with fabric that resembled it was very intriguing to Lenore.  Being able to achieve a very realistic design that truly looked like the real thing in fabric was so exciting.  This particular piece was inspired by photos taken in a village in northern France.  A class of art students was sketching that day. 

Capturing Brittany was mostly created during the winter over several months.  While making the quilt, Lenore learned that she loved to add fine detail to her designs, making them seem even more realistic.  She fuses tiny pieces to add some of the detail where it’s still feasible, and when the pieces get to be too small, she uses a little bit of fabric paint instead of fabric.  Shading and detail is what made the design look more realistic.

What was Lenore’s reaction when she won? “I was very excited to win.  This means to me that I am accepted by my peers in my field.  It is also a very great way to advertise my work especially for teaching.” 

Did she do anything special with her prize money? “I spent a good chunk of the money on a good quality espresso machine.  I love good coffee and especially missed it after getting home from our trip to New Zealand last year where you can even find a fabulous latte at McDonald’s!” 

What is next for Lenore and her quilting? “That is the question of the hour!  I feel at this point I want to do something different.  I like change.  We grow when we change.  I don’t know what it will be, but I will always keep creating more art because that is my passion.  I would love to learn to use Photoshop to manipulate my photos I use to create my art quilts, but we will see.  Running a business keeps me very busy with teaching all over the world, maintaining my stock, doing paperwork, coming up with new patterns and classes.  Life is so busy and sometimes gets in the way of the creative process.  I will take some time this fall to see where I want to go now.”





So You Want To Make A Winning Quilt? 2014 Masterpiece Winner

Margaret Solomon Gunn won $5,000 from sponsor Moore’s Sewing Center for her Masterpiece entry, Big Bertha. Masterpiece

Margaret started sewing when she was young, mostly making clothing. She made her first quilt about 25 years ago when she got her first sewing machine.  Over the years, she didn’t quilt much except for making a few for gifts.

In 2007, she decided to try quilting again by using her scraps to make a donation quilt for Project Linus.  And guess what? She got hooked on quilting once more!! Between 2007 and 2010, Margaret made over 100 quilts for Project Linus (and they didn’t decrease her stash hardly at all!!)  Five years ago, Margaret bought a long arm and began a business quilting shortly thereafter.Project Linus

Big Bertha was inspired by Margaret’s love for taking old patterns and modernizing them with bolder fabrics. She began the Dresden plates in the summer of 2011. By the time she had all the plates hand pieced/appliquéd, she noticed that there were Dresden quilt-alongs all over the quilting blogs.  This really bummed her out as she likes to make unique quilts for shows. She ended up sticking the project in a box for nearly a year.  One day, when Margaret was looking for something to work on, Big Bertha was the one closest to being ready to quilt, so she pulled it out and started to work on it again. It took four months to complete the top.  The quilting was done over an eight week period, taking nearly 175 hours.  Big Bertha debuted at its first show in 2013.

What did Margaret learn from creating Big Bertha?  “I never want to make another quilt that is this large!”

What was Margaret’s reaction when she found out that she won the Masterpiece prize?  “Quite surprised!  It was the single largest prize I had ever won.”

Did she do anything special with her prize money?  According to Margaret, “Looks like Uncle Sam will get a nice chunk, but basically no, not really.” 

What is Margaret’s next project? “I always have several show quilts in the works…one in the design stage, one in piecing/applique, and one half quilted!”

Congratulations Margaret Solomon Gunn for winning the Masterpiece category, sponsored by Moore’s Sewing Center.




Road 2014: An Evening With Alex Anderson

What led you to become a quilt maker?

For Alex Anderson, it was being one unit short of graduating from San Francisco State University. One month before graduating, and in a bind (pun intended), Alex approached her college counselor to get permission to obtain that remaining credit by finishing her Grandmother’s quilt that was begun in the 1930’s. Permission was granted and Alex was off to a local quilt store to buy the materials she would need to finish the quilt, which was the size of a bath mat. She wanted to stay true to the period the quilt was created in, so she purchased batting that had cotton seeds woven in it and for the back, chose some Laura Ashley upholstery fabric. Alex finished the quilt, got her degree, and forever after, became a quilt maker._i4c4229

Alex’s first quilts were inspired by Amish quilt designs. In the beginning, she wanted to be an art-quilt maker. Her advice for those starting out with their own quilting adventure: “It doesn’t matter what kind of quilt maker you are. What is important is that you quilt.”

Alex reminded those in her class to take advantage of all the resources available to assist them with their quilting. “You have a virtual tool belt,” she told the 100+ crowd in her lecture. “The more tools you add, the more equipped you will be as a quilt maker.” _i4c4217Is there something holding you back in your quilt making? Alex had this advice: “Face your villain and embrace it.” For her, machine quilting was her demon. Alex explained that she was “a really good hand quilter” and didn’t feel she could adapt to machine quilting. After an attitude adjustment and 150 hours of practice later, she felt she finally became competent with machine quilting. The Key?  “Anyone can master machine quilting if you stitch straight and get rid of the walking foot.”

The love of quilting has taken Alex on quite the quilt journey. She made 20 quilts using other people’s publications before she decided to do her own quilt book, Start Quilting. Today, it is in its 3rd Edition and has sold over a quarter of a million copies. What this tells Alex is that “there are still people who want to quilt.” Her latest book, Scrap Quilting, came out September 13, 2013 and celebrates her “stash.”Scrap Quilting

Start Quilting led to her first television show, Simply Quilts, which had an 11 year run. Who stopped by on the first day of taping her show? Her quilt hero, Jenny Byer. And believe it or not, half the people who worked on Simply Quilts became quilters themselves! Alex’s motto: “If someone taught you to quilt, bring someone else into the quilt fold.”

Where has her quilt making taken her to today? Partnering with fellow quilter Ricky Tims in presenting the “friendliest, interactive, online community for quilters worldwide, Members who join community not only enjoy the full length, “Web TV” programs but receive other membership perks such as multimedia tips, techniques, and tutorials, blocks of the month projects, and access to top quilting experts.The Quilt Show

Being a quilt maker brings joy to Alex. To all quilt makers, Alex says, “As you put one foot in front of the other, you will grow as a quilt maker. Bring others in to the fold and keep our community growing.”   



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 Do You Thread Your Needle?

All threads are not created equal. And who should know this more than Bob Purcell, President of Superior Threads and a Self-Certified Threadologist. Mr. Purcell presented two, $5.00 Lectures at Road 2014 entitled, Thread Therapy with Dr. Bob.MasterPiece-Group-Shot-L

How your thread performs depends on Five Thread Criteria:

  1. Quality: The higher the quality of thread, the less special handling is required. Quality thread is worthy of your machine and your project.
  2. Needles: Make sure you are using the right type and size. A topstitich needle works best with most projects because it has a larger eye and deeper groove. Make sure the needle is inserted correctly in your machine and that your machine is threaded correctly.
  3. Tension: Dr. Bob says, “Running your machine always at the same tension setting is like buying a new TV and never changing the channel.” Learn how to make quick and easy adjustments, even if your machine has an auto tensioner.
  4. Delivery System: How is the thread prepared to use on your machine? Is the thread wound on a spool or a cone? Either type is OK but each has a different use. The larger the spool, the greater the savings.
  5. Condition of Sewing Machine: Always keep your machine clean and in good condition. Regular maintenance insures your machine is in the best condition.

Dr. Bob also answered some common questions regarding thread:

How accurate are thread labels? Because different manufacturers use different standards of measurement, labels are not always accurate. Rely more on your sight and touch than the printed label.

What weight of thread should I use? It depends what you want the thread to do. A simple rule, “Heavy to show, thin to blend.”

Should I only use cotton thread in my quilts? Traditional quilters often used all cotton: fabric, batting, and thread. Times have changed and machine quilting has opened a whole new world. Polyester, medium and heavier cotton and even metallic thread can be used to enhance the beauty of a quilt.Banner-Machine_Quilting

Does polyester thread tear the fabric? No. Under normal use, polyester and softer, non-glazed threads will not tear through the fabric and is perfectly fine to use.   

Does the bobbin thread have to match the top thread in type and size? No. The bobbin thread can be a lighter weight than the top thread and still provide sufficient strength. Since bobbin thread does not go through a needle, bobbin threads have fewer problems.Banner-Prewound_Bobbins

Now is a great time to try Superior Threads. From now until July 31, customers can save up to 75% on Try Me Specials. For the first time ever, Try Me Specials are being put on a bigger FREEDOM sale.  These specials are already 30-50% off, but for the rest of July, they are an additional 50% off the already-sale price.  You choose the thread type and Superior threads will choose the colors. Choose from over 50 products.  With prices this low, you can afford to try a thread you have never used before. Just use the Promotional Code tryme at checkout.

Discover what threads work best for you, keeping in mind the Five Thread Criteria and have fun!!!

What is your favorite Superior Threads product?