Category Archives: Road 2016

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

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

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

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

Beth and Sophie

Beth and Sophie

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thumbs InVinoVeritas by Beth Markel

Thumbs InVinoVeritas by Beth Markel

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

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

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


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

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

Modern Medallion

Modern Medallion

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

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

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

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

So You Want to Make A Winning Quilt? Road 2016 Best Use Of Color

Technicolor Deco was made and quilted by Shirley Gisi of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Shirley received $1,500.00 from sponsor, Primitive Gatherings.Technicolor Deco by Shirley Gisi

Shirley Gisi has sewn most of her life, primarily with garments and home decoration.  Quilting was just a natural progression for her. IMG_0162 (3)

In creating, Technicolor Deco, Shirley used designs both from traditional quilting and stained glass.  She noted that the elements have a somewhat art-deco feel.  Shirley had recently taken a trip to Cancun, Mexico, and used some designs from an Aztec museum there for her quilting. Shirley said that she spent nearly every day for two to three months working on the quilt.

How did Shirley react when she found out she had won Best Use of Color at Road 2016? “I love color and so this particular award really speaks to me.  I like to use bright warm colors and gradated fabrics which I believe intensifies the piece.”

How did she spend her prize money? “We were doing some kitchen remodeling so I applied the award money to the project.”

What is Shirley working on next? She is continuing to try new things and work on new techniques.

To see more of Shirley’s work, please visit this Pinterest account.


Meet 2016/2017 Vendor: Pollard’s Sew Creative

A family owned business for over 20 years, Pollard’s Sew Creative began from a passion for sewing and has grown to become a creative sewing center as well as an authorized dealer for Pfaff, Husqvarna, and Viking sewing machines.7b6ef5bf-b11f-4c84-ae43-75d15f2c71a6

Founders Bill and Marcia Pollard, along with their daughter, Jennifer Noble, each bring their own area of expertise to the business. Bill repairs the machines brought into their stores. Marcia is the “creative juice” behind the company. It was from her observations 20 years ago that there wasn’t much sewing education available for the consumer that led the Pollard’s to provide a source where they could show “everything that can be done with a stitch.” Marcia is also known for her digitized machine embroidery exclusive collection for Elegance Threads and Designs.169

Jenny joined the business 14 years ago. With a background in technology (she has 2 degrees in technology and is the former head of the Ed Tech Department at the University of LaVerne), it was the recent technological developments with sewing machines that brought her to the business. Today, she oversees Pollard’s Sew Creative business operations. Jenny is also credited with involving their company with Anime Expo, an American anime convention held in Los Angeles, California the first weekend in July and organized by the non-profit Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA). Pollard’s providing sewing machines at the event to encourage youth to sew their own Anime costumes for the convention.    images

Pollard’s first store was opened in Glendora, California and they have just added another location in Arcadia, California. Each store offers daily classes and carries products to “sew on and sew with.” They are leaders in an evolving industry, combining computer technology with sewing machines. Their “full package” includes not only selling one-of-a-kind products, fabric, and notions but also offering sewing classes. In addition, they give computer classes on the Dell laptop computers they sell, bringing together computer programs and sewing machines.

Why do the Pollards like coming to Road to California? Says Jenny, “We like to connect with the people and tell them about all the options there are available to inspire.” As the industry continues to change, Pollard’s Sew Creative will “keep pushing outside the box.”

To learn more about Pollard’s Sew Creative, visit their website.


Traveling The Globe To Get To Road

These guests at Road 2016 traveled half way around the world to come to the show:


Mary Allum and Catherine Dodd

Catherine Dodd came from the Isle of Harris in Scotland. Her hometown is famous for producing Harris Tweed. Catherine journeyed 30 hours to get to Road to California. Her trip began from her home where she drove a half hour to get to the port where she boarded a ferry for a 2 hour sail.  When she got to the mainland, she next drove 14 hours to Heathrow Airport in London for her 11-1/2 flight to Los Angeles. After arriving in Southern California, she drove 1-1/2 hours to Mission Viejo to stay with her sister. Catherine was in California for 2 weeks, which included she and her sister attending Road to California. Catherine’s sister, Mary, is the sewer in the family and has lived in the United States just one year. She heard about Road to California from Mel’s Sewing and Fabric Center. Their first stop at Road was to take the bus tour that included going to Hoffman California Fabrics. Mary was looking forward to going to Hoffman and Catherine was interested in seeing all the fabric on their bus tour.


Jenny Bacon and Margaret McDonald

Quilters Margaret McDonald and Jenny Bacon came to Road from Australia. Both friends spent 10 days in the Southern California area. Jenny is not a stranger at Road. She has attended the show for the past five years and helps with the quilt contest judging. After 3 days of judging, Jenny was looking forward to getting out and seeing the show. It was Margaret’s first time at Road. She was looking forward to all the new experiences that Road had to offer, including going on a bus tour.

Road 2017 is already set to welcome more international visitors. Teacher Jenny Bowker will be coming from Australia to teach her classes along with the Tentmakers of Cairo who will be showing their quilts as well as teaching classes with Jenny.

No matter where you live, getting to Road is easy. We have suggestions for your travel arrangements on our web site.

How far will you be traveling to Road to California 2017?

Color and Quilting

2017 Road Teacher, Michele Crawford, knows a lot about color and quilting. A quilt designer since 1989, Michele presented a $5.00 lecture at Road 2016 on The Value of Color  which explored the use of color value to enhance quilt design.

Photo by Brian Roberts Photography

Photo by Brian Roberts Photography

Michele began her lecture talking about the psychology of colors which often dictates what a person wears, lives with, and puts in their quilts:

Red: action, confidence

Pink: romance, tranquility

Orange: close relative to red; sets apart from surroundings

Yellow: happiness, optimism

Green: soothes, relaxes

Blue: calm, cool, trustworthy

Photo by Brian Roberts Photography

Photo by Brian Roberts Photography

Purple: uplifts, spirituality

White: hope, purity

Black: power, authority

Grey: knowledge, wisdom

When creating a quilt, color provides the basic design principles: Movement, Repetition, and Variety. Michele gave some added tips for repetition and variety.  She said a Resting Spot should always be included in a quilt including a different color or value or border. She also warned about not having the quilt be too busy.  If a quilt is too busy, it’s not pleasant to view because the eye is constantly wandering. And because variety is the spice of life, a zinger color (something not even in the quilt or border) can “make the quilt” sparkle.

The color wheel is divided into 3 categories that are considered the pure colors:

Primary colors – red, yellow and blue with (*Yellow being the most dominant pure color)

Secondary colors – orange, green and violet

Tertiary colors – red/orange, red/violet, yellow/green, yellow/orange, blue/green and blue/violet

Complimentary Colors appear on opposite sides of a color wheel – red/green for example. Black is the mixture of all the pure colors. White is the absence of color. The true neutrals are the achromatic colors: black and white plus grey. The rule of thumb to remember when working with pure colors is that LIGHT ADVANCES ON DARK and DARK ADVANCES ON LIGHT.

Photo by Brian Roberts Photography

Photo by Brian Roberts Photography

Color Value refers to how light or dark a color is. Michele said that understanding this concept is vital in making effective scrap quilts. Quilts will be more interesting not if the colors (or fabrics) do not match, but rather when different colors work together when they are in the same color value.

Photo by Brian Roberts Photography

Photo by Brian Roberts Photography

Every fabric in a certain color can be divided into three main groups: LIGHT, MEDIUM, and DARK. Within these groups, they can be subdivided again into three separate areas of light, medium and dark (i.e. light-light, medium-light and dark-light).

Light: Fabrics in these colors (white, cream, ecru, etc.) are effective as backgrounds, for contrast and to soften the look of a quilt.

Medium: Fabrics in these colors (medium blue, red, green, etc.) provide a rich look as a blender or contrast between light and dark fabrics.

Dark: Fabrics in these colors (black, navy, forest green, etc.) create a strong bold contrast. These are the colors that are going to pull together all the rest of the colors or “pop” in a quilt and are good for borders.

Photo by Brian Roberts Photography

Photo by Brian Roberts Photography

When deciding on the colors for a quilt, Michele recommended starting with the block design first and pull the colors to the outside of the quilt. Whatever colors are used in the center of a quilt should be the border fabric/color.

To learn more about Michele and her quilt designing, please visit her website.

Mixing Generations Makes Great Quilt Friends

At Road 2016, we spotted several quilting friendships that spanned generations:020

Valerie Hall and Velma Anderson, age 80,  met two years ago through their quilt guild, the African American Quilt Guild. The guild was having its show and Valerie struck up a conversation with Velma while waiting in line to buy fabric. Velma has been quilting since she was 9 years old. Valerie is just starting out. She says she is “learning the process.”  Velma said that she is “trying to be a good example to Valerie in helping her quilt.”  Road 2016 was Valerie’s first time at the show and she “loved it.” The show was Velma’s 5th time. She enjoyed the show as well but remarked, “I never have enough money.”


These three friends are each exactly 10 years apart in age. All from the Seattle area, Lois was born in 1949, Teresa was born in 1959, and Michele was born in 1969. They met 12 years ago at a quilt retreat. All three wanted to quilt, but didn’t have any quilting friends, so they signed up for the retreat and have been friends ever since. They came to Road 2016 with their quilt teacher and three other friends. Because of their teacher, Lois, Teresa, and Michele prefer traditional quilting using Civil War fabrics. However, they did say, “We also like to get out of the box.” They stayed the whole week of Road, starting with Preview Night on Wednesday, where they appreciated seeing all the quilts without the crowds. During the show, they had expectations to see high quality quilts and do a lot of shopping. They all agreed that their expectations were met. And what made their trip even more fun was that Teresa was a grand prize winner, having won 2 tickets to Road from a contest Road had sponsored last fall.


Charlotte, Brittany and Lisa

Lisa and Charlotte are running buddies. Lisa was always talking about her quilting and Charlotte wanted to learn how to quilt, so in 2012, Lisa started teaching her. After Charlotte began quilting, that interested her daughter Brittany to start. Now, Lisa, Charlotte and Brittany all belong to the same quilt guild. Lisa has been coming to Road since it began 21 years ago. She enjoys coming to the show because “it is a wonderful opportunity to meet other quilters.”

No matter your age, sharing a love of quilting can break down any generation gap.

Meet 2016/2017 Vendor:  Eye of the Beholder

Eye of the Beholder Quilt Design will be returning to Road to California in 2017

How does someone go from professional dancer to quilter?

That is exactly what Margaret Willingham did. For many years, Margaret taught choreography for a modern dance company specializing in classical ballet and modern dance.  When Margaret developed major back problems (she had 5 surgeries in 2 years), she realized that teaching dance was no longer an option. Newly divorced, Margaret had to find something she could do to make a living. So she turned to her passions to find the answer.

Photo by Brian Roberts Photography

Photo by Brian Roberts Photography

Margaret loved being creative, artistic, and quilting. For Margaret, fabric was “fun to play with.” She “followed the doors God had given” her and started Eye of the Beholder Quilt Design. She has been in business going on 6 years. Instead of choreographing dances, she is choreographing quilts.

Eye of the Beholder Quilt Design specializes in original applique patterns inspired by the world around us. Margaret has developed a reverse applique process that is “a no brainer.” Just Trace-Baste-Snip-Stitch. Margaret shared that she’s even had 10 year olds master her technique. “People are amazed at how easy and simple of a process it is.” Eye of the Beholder Quilt Designs can also be done as machine reverse applique because Margaret has found that some people don’t like to do hand work.

Photo by Brian Roberts Photography

Photo by Brian Roberts Photography

From August, 2015 to January, 2016, Margaret put 11,000 miles on her new van traveling to various shows. She spends most of the time in her booth demonstrating her applique steps with her customers. She has also put up tutorials on her website, has a booklet that explains her technique, and writes a blog sharing applique tips and experiences.

Photo by Brian Roberts Photography

Photo by Brian Roberts Photography

Road 2016 was Margaret’s first time at the show. She had never really been to Southern California before and was excited to be at Road as she had “heard good things about the show.” She is looking forward to returning to Road 2017.

Photo by Brian Roberts Photography

Photo by Brian Roberts Photography

You can learn more about Eye of the Beholder Quilt Designs on their website.

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!”


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.”


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?





So You Want to Make A Winning Quilt? Road 2016 Best Traditional Quilt

The Paisley Peacock was made and quilted by Bethanne Nemesh. Bethanne won $5,000 for Outstanding Traditional Quilt from Janome.Best Tradtional Quilt

While both of Bethanne Nemesh’s grandmothers made quilts, quilting for Bethanne was largely a process of self-discovery.  Her mother didn’t quilt, but she did sew and Bethanne remembers “truly hat(ing) the fabrics from my youth.  The late 1970’s and 1980’s calicos did not do much to inspire a young artist.”  It was when Bethanne went to college and met a fiber artist who did hand dying and printmaking that she realized she didn’t have to tolerate what the stores had to offer. Later, when she moved to Pennsylvania with the rich quilting culture there, Bethanne really took off with her quilting.Bethanne Nemesh headshot 2016

Paisley Peacock was inspired by a henna tattoo that Bethanne got at the beach one summer; the tattoo had swirling paisley designs. She was also inspired by a rich ribbon edged sari fabric from India.

The quilt took close to 200 quilting hours, but that only tells a part of the story.  The design time for the quilt was also significant, but most of her work was with the edge treatment.  Bethanne is known for doing specialty edges on her quilts. The handmade edge for Paisley Peacock is a combination of beads enclosed in a sleeve of fabric and individually made tabs placed carefully around the quilt.  The edge itself took an additional 150 hours to complete.Best Tradtional Quilt

Bethanne was “quite surprised” that Paisley Peacock won one of the top prizes at Road 2016.  Winning Outstanding Traditional Quilt was an enormous honor for her, “especially since a huge number of entries at the show were traditional.”

What did Bethanne do with her prize money? In August 2016, Bethanne sustained a hip injury that required extensive surgery. She is still not fully recovered and so trying to maintain her 2,500 square foot front yard garden of perennials has been challenging. Winning this prize allowed her to hire a professional landscaper to design and execute a drastic –yet still beautiful– scaled down version of her front garden.

After achieving this honor, Bethanne  hopes to continue to push herself creatively making meaningful show quilts.  She is currently working on two quilts that she really feels strongly about. Bethanne also hopes to travel and teach at a west coast show in the near future.