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Meet Road 2020 Teacher: Margaret Willingham

Margaret Willingham will be teaching 3 classes at Road to California 2020 – 25th Anniversary Show:

Two half day classes utilizing the same pattern:

Whimsical Lollipop Flower Block: Hand Reverse Applique With App, a handwork class on Friday Night (5069C) and on Saturday Night, Lollipop Garden Quilt, Flower Block (6068C) which is a machine reverse applique class.

And an all-day class, 6025C – Appassionata: Machine Reverse Appliqué on Saturday

Margaret Willingham has been a quilter for 25 years, although she started sewing when she was 10 years old. As she says, the only differences are “the seam allowances are narrower, and you iron them differently.” Margaret “properly” started quilting, when she joined a quilt group at her church in Aurora, Colorado. She learned by watching and asking questions. lf she liked a pattern, she would read it and figure it out, usually changing it around to make it her way. She considers herself “basically self-taught with some help from my friends.” Margaret never took a workshop herself until she got a longarm sewing machine.

Margaret Willingham

Quilting Mentors

Margaret Willingham taught dance for 40 years. She compares quilting to dance: they are both about foundational techniques. “lf you have those foundational skills, everything else is just patterns, and how you apply those techniques.”

The most influential person on Margaret’s quilting journey was Mary Wiens who lead the quilting group at her church where Margaret started. Margaret said that Mary “was very experienced and always encouraging. Her most negative comment was, ‘You could do that, if you wanted to.’” Quilting for Mary was all about fun, enjoyment and fellowship.

Foundational books that she still owns and uses include Quilts! Quilts! Quilts! The Complete Guide to Quiltmaking by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes. (former featured artists at Road to California) and The Quilter’s Pocket Reference An Easy Guide to Yardage and More by Peggy Scholley.

Margaret has learned various methods for hand applique, including needle, and is inspired by the work of hand quilters on Facebook, like Andrea Stracke and Elsie Campbell, and the Broderie Perse of Cynthia Collier.

Quilting Space

Margaret has basically two work areas at home. Upstairs, she has her regular chair in the family room where she does her hand stitching and hand quilting.

Margaret Willingham

Her studio space downstairs in an unfinished basement. It’s unfinished, because as her business has grown, there are no walls in her way. She has her sewing machine, a drawing table, cutting table, a dresser and cabinet for fabric, drawers and racks for thread, her “new” longarm (they are still getting acquainted), iron and the like, and lots of shelves. As her business grows, she just reinvents her layout and storage.


Margaret Willingham has been teaching quilting classes for 20 years and teaching hand and machine reverse applique and paper-piecing for 8 years.

She loves demystifying reverse applique and seeing her student’s lightbulb go off!  Margaret says, “Everybody thinks it’s so hard and that they can’t do it. All day long in my booth I hear, ‘The patterns are so beautiful. lt’s too hard. I can’t do it.’ And it simply isn’t true! lt takes time, like anything in quilting, and it will take some practice, but it isn’t hard. Reverse applique has a beauty that draws you in and has a big WOW factor for the time spent!

Margaret hopes her students at Road will enjoy their journey: a journey of excellence, not perfection; a journey of joy. She thinks it’s an honor to be involved in such a prestigious show like Road to California as it celebrates its silver anniversary.

To learn more about Margaret Willingham, visit her website.

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