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Outstanding Wall Quilt Road 2020

April 7th, 2020

Margaret Solomon Gunn won $5,000 from Sponsor, Janome, for The Value of Violet, Road to California’s 2020 Outstanding Wall Quilt.

Outstanding Wall Quilt

Meet Margaret Solomon Gunn

Margaret Solomon Gunn, winner of Road’s Outstanding Wall Quilt for 2020, has quilted much of her life. She learned how to sew over 40 years ago but her journey to quilting was not your typical path. Margaret has college degrees in mechanical and aeronautical engineering and spent nearly 20 years as a professional engineer.  When that profession proved too challenging to juggle the needs of 3 kids, Margaret bought a long arm quilting machine and started her own longarm business. For nearly a decade, she has quilted for clients all over the US and Canada. Before the Coronavirus, Margaret was traveling several times a year to national quilt shows, like Road to California, to teach her passion and talents to other eager quilters. Margaret continues to create her own works of art, which have won numerous awards. She has also published dozens of articles in quilting magazines and has five published books to her credit.

Margaret is not a stranger to having winning entries at Road to California. Before winning Outstanding Wall Quilt this past year, in 2014, she won the Masterpiece Award

And in 2017, she won Outstanding Traditional Quilt.

The Value of Violet

The Value of Violet gave Margaret a chance to explore creating depth, texture and design with just one color.

Margaret began working on this Outstanding Wall Quilt in 2018 while on a trip to Road to California. It took her about a year to complete and was “without a doubt the fastest of any show quilt I have done of this size, and with the fewest ‘issues’ too.”

Margaret says she often takes a traditional pattern (be it log cabin blocks, or hexagons, or with The Value of Violet, orange peels) and modernizes it with either her fabric choice or color. Recently, Margaret has “been bitten by the silk bug” since she learned about Kaufman’s silk, Radiance. Her quilts have been made in this fabric for the past 7 years. In the summer of 2018, when she learned it was being discontinued, Margaret bought and hoarded 50-60 yards of it for future projects. (Margaret lamented: “Who knew griping to the right people would have it back 18 months later?!) 

Outstanding Wall Quilt

One of the trademarks that has been incorporated in many of Margaret’s quilts is combining commercial cottons with the silk. The Value of Violet is no exception. She used the silk as the canvas to best show the machine quilting.  Because Margaret “loves handwork,” all the applique on the quilt is turned edge and stitched by hand. Margaret feels the wide applique floral border gives the quilt interest. Rather than making all 4 sides of the applique identical, she made them all different, showcasing whimsical flora designs rather than making them “purely realistic.”

The top had a distinctive Asian feel to Margaret, due to the orange peels and the applique, so that was the direction she took for quilting the background behind the floral applique. The clamshell shape she placed in the pieced diamond corners was intended to visually draw the shape of the 3 similarly shaped applique flowers into the quilting. Further, Margaret explained, “the clamshell motif (as well as the pumpkin seed) is derived from the Japanese Sashiko patterns, so it all seemed appropriate.” The quilting was done using both a silk thread and a 40-weight polyester thread and, for the first time,  Margaret tried cutaway trapunto.

Outstanding Wall Quilt

The edge of the quilt was made up of ninety scallops which were quilted on the longarm. She added the deep plum piping and finished each on the domestic machine. Prairie points were placed behind them in white silk and batik. A pop of white was needed to better tie in the white appliqued ribbon so the final detail Margaret did was to add white pearlescent paint as a way to pull the viewer’s eye to the visual center of the quilt

Winning Outstanding Wall Quilt

Margaret found out she won Outstanding Wall Quilt when somebody who was at the show, saw the award, and shared the news with her. Margaret said she was “quite surprised” that The Value of Violet won because it had previously attended several shows and this was “the best that it has done at any show.”

The next project for Margaret is to bring forward the next idea for a silk quilt that is “lurking in the back of my brain.”

To learn more about Margaret Solomon Gunn, please visit her website.

Quilting Bus Tours

April 3rd, 2020

Ever since 2013, Road to California has used The Traveling Quilters to take guests on quilting bus tours around Southern California.

Quilting bus tours

Who Are The Traveling Quilters?

For the past 30 years, The Traveling Quilters have offered a unique tour service for quilters based in Southern California. Started by Pam Overton and Lynn Crawford, the company’s philosophy is: “As long as we’re going to a quilt show, let’s take 40 friends along with us!”

Lynn and Pam

The Traveling Quilters offer day trips to local quilt shows, quilting retreats in Temecula, California, and at least one “quilting adventure” a year. These extended trips are all over the United States. In 2019, their Midwest Quilt Adventure took them to Kansas City and Lincoln, Nebraska, home of the International Quilt Museum.

The Traveling Quilter’s relationship with Road to California first began in 1998 when they sponsored bus trips from the San Diego area, bringing quilters to the show. Then, in 2013, Road asked them to oversee one-day quilting bus tours during the show. These quilting bus tours traditionally took place the Wednesday before the show opened and on Monday following the close of the show. The intent was to give attendees something to do if they arrived early or needed something to do before returning home.

quilting bus tours

Road’s 2020 Quilting Bus Tours

For Road’s 25th Anniversary Show, quilting bus tours took off on Tuesday and Wednesday before the show opened. On both days, attendees had the opportunity to head south to the San Diego area to see Eleanor Burns and visit her Quilt in a Day.

quilting bus tours
Photo by Pam Overton

The quilting bus tour included watching Eleanor tape one of her quilt shows, a behind-the-scenes tour at Quilters Paradise where most of Quilt in a Day’s pre-fused, laser cut kits are made, and of course, shopping. Before returning to the Ontario Convention Center, the quilting bus tour stopped at one of Road’s vendors, Primitive Gatherings.

On Wednesday, an additional quilting bus tour was offered. This tour took bus riders to the Palm Springs area where they went to The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens and then shopping at Monica’s Quilt and Bead Creations (another popular Road vendor) in Palm Desert.  

What Travelers Were Saying

First in line for Tuesday’s quilt bus tour, was Sandy from British Columbia, Canada. A quilter for 21 years, Road 2020 was Sandy’s first trip to Road. She came to the show by herself. She had recently retired and had friends who had come in the past who talked highly of the show, so she wanted to come. As she was going through Road’s schedule, she knew a quilting bus tour was what she really wanted to do. “I’m a big Eleanor fan,” said Sandy. “I wanted to have fun and see the countryside.”   

quilting bus tours

The last people to board the bus on Tuesday were Mary and Kathy from Lincoln, Nebraska. Both have been quilting for 25 years and both were attending Road for the first time. “We heard it was a great show and The Traveling Quilters sounded fun,” remarked Kathy.

quilting bus tours

Leslie and Linda have been friends for over 50 years. Both nurses, they met in New York through mutual friends at the hospital they both worked at. Leslie is the one who got Linda in to quilting. They have gone to Road for the past 5 years and each year they have gone on one of The Traveling Quilters quilting bus tours. Linda said they chose the desert quilting bus tour because it fit in their schedule and “it sounded like a great trip.” Leslie said she was looking forward to “seeing something new.”

quilting bus tours

A quilting bus tour with The Traveling Quilters is one of Road’s popular added activities. If you like discovering new places plus learning about the Southern California area with its many quilt stores and fabric manufacturers, then planning to go on a quilting bus tour at Road 2021 is the right activity for you!! Registration for Road to California 2021 begins in July 2020.  

When Roadies Volunteer And Give Back

March 31st, 2020

Quilters and volunteer service are a natural fit.

Roadies Volunteer

What is Roadies Give Back?

For the third year, Road to California has hosted special evenings for guests to share their time and talents in giving back to the local community. Their philanthropy activity, Roadies Give Back, allowed quilters – whether or not they attended the show — to volunteer in creating comfort quilts for cancer patients receiving treatment at the Robert and Beverly Lewis Family Cancer Care Center at Pomona Valley Hospital in Pomona, California. To date, almost 300 quilts from these Roadies Give Back activities have been donated to the center.

Roadies Volunteer

Held the Saturday night of Road, this activity was entirely volunteer driven. It gave attendees at the show a chance to meet other conference goers, participate in a worthwhile activity, and fill up an otherwise open Saturday night. Everything that was needed for the quilters to work on the quilts – sewing machines, thread, batting, irons, and backing — were donated for the activity by some of Road’s vendors.

Roadies Volunteer

Of all the special events that were planned for Road’s 25th Anniversary Show, Roadies Give Back was one of the most important. Said Karen Jones, a past volunteer coordinator, how the event impacts patients: “It lets people with cancer know that a lot of people care about them, are rooting for them, are praying for them and are hoping that they get better.”

Volunteers at Work

Over 30 volunteers showed up to put the comfort quilts together.

Sisters, Shannon and Barbara, have participated with Roadies Give Back all three years. They keep coming back to volunteer because they like being a part of a community that takes care of the greater good. “If I can do a little bit to help, that is a good thing,” said Shannon, “And I get to practice my scant ¼” seam!” Barbara is a 6-1/2 year breast cancer survivor. “As a survivor, I know how important a quilt can be when going through chemo. Chemo is cold. If I can put sunshine in someone’s life, I’m going to do it.”

Suzanne and Sandie are friends who live in Burbank, California. Sandie was a band mom for John Burroughs High School and Suzanne helped her make a t-shirt quilt for her student. That got Sandie interested in quilting 5 years ago. “It’s a fun, creative outlet.” Jenny Doan has had a huge influence on Sandie. “She’s amazing.” Both Suzanne and Sandie attended “Jenny on the Road” during the anniversary show. Suzanne likes to take classes at Road. Road 2020 was her 5th time attending the show. She especially liked taking a class with Krista Moser. “She is so awesome.” Suzanne thought Roadies Give Back was a great event. It was her second year to volunteer. “My mom died of cancer and I have a friend going through it now.” Suzanne brought 12 squares she had put together before the show.

Roadies Volunteer

Joan came from Maine to volunteer. She has been quilting for 20 years. Road 2020 was her first time at the show. She heard about Road from a friend and wanted to come for the 25th Anniversary. She was impressed by the size of the show and all the beautiful quilts on display. She took a class from Jen Kingwell, another reason why she came to the show. “I believe if you have the ability to help someone else, you should. I do charity work at home. This was a great way to end my trip.”

Traditionally, the Roadies Give Back quilts are donated to patients at the Cancer Center in the Spring. With the Coronavirus outbreak, plans to present the quilts are now on hold. Road looks forward to making the volunteer donation when the situation improves.

Thank you to everyone who helped make Road 2020’s Roadies Give Back a huge success.    

What You Can Do With Road Fabric

March 27th, 2020

Road to California has a tradition of having fabric specially designed for their anniversary shows.

20th Anniversary Fabric

Alexander Henry Fabrics was commissioned to create the fabric used to help celebrate Road to California’s 20th Anniversary in 2015.

Road Fabric

Philip de Leon, designer with Alexander Henry Fabrics, said of the experience of creating the fabric, “We were flattered to be asked for this project. We were shooting high and wanted to make {Road to California} happy. The end result is very ‘Road’ and very ‘Alexander Henry.’”

Road Fabric

The design process took two months. It began centered around the state flower of California, the poppy. It was also important that the fabric represented Road’s “community of quilters” in a graphic way.” Phillip and his sister, co-designer Nicole, got inspiration from graphic artist Alexander Girard who is known for his clean lines and iconic illustrated style. The result included symbols for the industry and for Road: a sewing machine, the Ontario Convention Center, quilt designs and tools.

25th Anniversary Fabric

Road to California’s 25th Anniversary Fabric featured snapshots of actual Road activities through the years. Featured on the fabric was Road’s logo and colors along with pictures of past teachers and vendors.

Road Fabric

Anniversary Fabric Seen Around Road 2020

Donna, from Reseda, California, has come to Road for 15 years. She likes finding items for quilting and clothes. Road’s 20th Anniversary Fabric suited “my fancy.”

Road Fabric

At Party Time, Jean, from Fresno, California, was sporting a vest that her friend, Diane, made for her out of Road’s 20th Anniversary Fabric. They go to Party Time every year. “It’s fun and exciting.”

Debbie also wore her Road 20th Anniversary Fabric Shirt to Party Time.

Road Fabric Challenge

Road will soon be announcing the details for the 2021 Road to California Fabric Design Challenge. Create a quilt, garment or bag using over 50% of Road’s 25th Anniversary Fabric and enter to win great cash prizes!!

Didn’t get any 25th Anniversary Fabric at Road 2020? Not to worry. We will soon have it available for purchase on our website. Or you can win some Anniversary fabric in the Giveaway we will be sponsoring beginning Monday, March 30 and running through Friday, April 3rd. See our Facebook Page for details and the place to enter starting March 31st.      

Missouri Barn – Outstanding Artistry – Road 2020

March 24th, 2020

LeAnn Hileman received $5,000 from Sponsor, Handi Quilter, for her winning entry, Missouri Barn.

Missouri Barn

For LeAnn Hileman, fabrics had always felt like love to her.

LeAnn’s mother and grandmother both sewed. When LeAnn was little, a doll quilt was made for her by her grandmother who was going blind due to untreated cataracts.  LeAnn treasured that tiny quilt for a time and then “it went the way of solo socks and mittens.”  When LeAnn was in high school, she made her first quilt and then set quilting aside for many years until she was pregnant with her son – nearly two decades later.

Missouri Barn

First Quilt Show Attempts

The first show LeAnn entered and showed in was the annual show of the Arizona Quilt Guild in 2013.  She was “greatly disappointed” when she didn’t win anything.  Despite that, LeAnn became even more determined to find her creative way and not copy what others were doing.  She kept making show quilts and entering shows because knowing that the quilts would be seen and judged motivated her to dig deeper, stretch further and aim higher. Says LeAnn, “If it doesn’t look to be impossible at the outset, what’s the point?”

The Making of Missouri Barn

LeAnn and her three “quilting besties” attended an AQS Paducah Spring show and then traveled by car to Hamilton, Missouri, to experience the Missouri Star Quilt Company.  As they were exploring the nearby towns, they passed an intriguing and obviously once prosperous farmstead.   LeAnn and her friends made a quick U-turn, hopped out and took photographs.  She wanted to “KNOW what happened there, who lived there, and everything about it.”  All that curiosity went into making her quilt, Missouri Barn.

Missouri Barn

It took LeAnn about took about 5 to 6 months to make Missouri Barn, but the pondering of her photographs went on long before that.  She said that she learned a lot about sky and clouds from doing this quilt.  For example, Candy is the shade of the Kona cotton blue that became the “lovely deep sky color.” The clouds had to be faced with at least one additional layer of white (or other color) to give them “the depth” LeAnn was after.  

Missouri Barn

Winning Outstanding Artistry at Road 2020

LeAnn first realized she had won Outstanding Artistry when her friend had posed in front of Missouri Barn with the ribbon at the show and posted the photo on Facebook.  LeAnn said she “was amazed and thrilled to know I had won this particular prize especially as I strive for creativity.”

With her prize money, LeAnn purchased fabric, “first of all.” She is also planning on treating herself to a retreat in some wonderful location – after the Coronavirus precautions are over. 

Congratulations, LeAnn Hileman for winning Outstanding Artistry at Road to California 2020-25th Anniversary Show. To Learn more about LeAnn and her work, visit her website.

Creative Relief from Coronavirus

March 20th, 2020

Quilters and crafters have a lot of free time on their hands due to the recent precautions being taken to ward off the Coronavirus. And that’s not a bad thing. Staying in homes and observing social distancing provides the perfect excuse to Carry on and Create without worrying about pressing schedules and responsibilities.


Uniquely Crafts LLC is a Great Solution to Coronavirus Boredom

For the second year in a row, Uniquely Crafts LLC was a vendor at Road to California, offering a fun and soothing way to create with a medium other than fabric. The company is a family owned and operated business out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. For the past five years, they have been designing and selling 5D Diamond Painting tools and canvas.

Owner Amy Regal has found that not people who attend Road are quilters. Sometimes, quilters bring along a non-quilting friend. “Crafters like to also create something with their hands. Our product is something anybody can do,” observed Amy.  

Each kit sold by Uniquely Crafts LLC comes with everything needed to complete a 5D Diamond Painting: a tool set, design canvas sheet, color coded instructions, and of course, the beads. The kits are portable; a canvas can be rolled up and taken along to appointments or on trips. And with the Coronavirus, when everyone is homebound, the kits are perfect to use along with watching television. Should an artist lose beads, Uniquely Crafts LLC takes pride in responding to customers the same day, mailing replacement beads at no extra charge.

New for 2020

Amy is constantly looking at what designs are popular and trending to update her products. She also listens to her customers and works to produce designs that they are looking for such as a sloth or fox—both new designs.

Because customers had a hard time reading her original designs, Uniquely Crafts LLC switched manufacturers who can now accommodate easier instructions that use numbers to code the beads instead of symbols.

What else has been added since Road 2019?

  1. Beginner Kits. The kits are half bead work and half painted canvas to engage starters in not getting discouraged by attaching so many beads. The beads are also larger for younger crafters.

New products. Two new products included journals and cards. The 60 – 100 page journals come in 66 different designs.

The cards can also be put in 5X7” frames for display.

Additional designs with quilters in mind. The popular sewing machine design now comes in four new colors: purple, pink, blue and teal. New designs include a fabric stack, patchwork fabric, and a button jar.

Round and Square Beads. Round beads are larger and perfect for beginners. For more complicated pictures, square beads fit together like a cross-stitch pattern and the finished result looks more like an actual picture.

Ziploc bags for storage. The bags are numbered by bead color and are easier to use when needing to put beads away when working on a project.

What to Expect in the Future

Starting this month, new products will include bookmarks and later this year, Christmas ornaments. Amy is working on having tote bags with a window to slip in any 12×12 design by Road 2021.

Amy was looking forward to attending 30 to 35 shows in 2020, but the Coronavirus is having her reevaluate her plans. Customers interested in purchasing Uniquely Crafts LLC products during the Coronavirus pause in quilting and crafting shows, can go to their website.

Did you know that Uniquely Crafts LLC purposely does not sell on Amazon because she would prefer to support the small business mindset? “Thank you to everyone who buys from me direct because you are supporting small business in the United States,” said Amy.    

Don’t let Coronavirus get you down. Use this temporary situation of staying inside your homes to be creative. Quilt and craft away!!!

Upcycling: Newest Sewing Trend

March 17th, 2020

Sewing garments is making a comeback.

What is Upcycling?

Upcycling means using old or discarded or vintage pieces of clothing and transforming them into something which is better than its original by design and value additions.

According to The Economic Times, there are several reasons why upcycling clothes has become so popular:


Upcycling at Road 2020

Walking the Ontario Convention Center, there was plenty of evidence of this popular trend:

In the vendor booth, Paganoonoo, owner Michelle Paganini helped guests imagine new clothing options through upcycling.


An avid upcycling enthusiast and professionally trained fashion designer, Michelle sold garments and instructions dedicated to sustainable fashion. Michelle also taught a $5.00 Lecture Class, Refashion, Upcycle, Re-Use: 3D Sewing.

Jeanne and Sue met Michelle at a quilt show. They were admiring her work when Michelle offered them one of her patterns if they modeled her designs at Road.

Sue and Jeanne

Both quilters, they had heard of Road to California but had never been before. Sue owns Patchwork Quilts in Hamilton, Montana and Jeanne just moved from Hamilton to Tucson, Arizona.

They were enjoying the inspiration at the show while modeling their upcycled creations. “Upcycling is a cottage industry for garment sewing that is huge right now,” remarked Sue.


Louise and Suzi live on the westside of Los Angeles. Both women enjoy going to thrift stores, looking for old clothing to embellish.


Suzi is a fashion designer and is a member of Wearable Arts Connections. The jacket she was wearing at the show had been a quilt that was upcycled twice; first, when she bought it at a flea market and then when she reworked it.


Louise is a trained Millner and avid upcycler.  Her jacket was also made from a vintage quilt.

Why do they shop thrift stores and upcycle? “It’s more fun than going to malls. Malls are boring,” commented Suzi. “I’ve been upcycling since I was a child,” said Louise. “There’s a thrill in finding stuff and customizing it. And it saves the environment.”

Recently, Suzi and Louise began attending Mending Circle, a new group in Los Angeles that meets once a month. Members work on hand projects: mending, darning, applique, needlepoint, and knitting. Currently, there are eight women who belong to the group. They are looking for men to join.

They were also first timers at Road to California. Louise came for inspiration and really enjoyed looking at other people’s work. Suzi was looking forward t seeing the Egyptians again. She first came across them at the Textile Museum in Los Angeles.   

Road to California was proud to promote sewing’s latest trend at its anniversary show. Do you upcycle?

Road 2020 Atrium Quilts

March 12th, 2020

Thank you to the Inland Empire Modern Quilt Guild for providing the beautiful quilts that hung in the Atrium of the Ontario Convention Center during Road to California 2020- 25th Anniversary Show.

Atrium Quilts

Atrium Quilts Tradition

Road to California knew early on that the beautiful, light filled main hallway of the Ontario Convention Center could provide a remarkable welcoming statement to the guests who arrived at Road to California.

In 2004, local quilt guilds were asked to supply the Atrium Quilts. That year, the quilts were placed along the walls. It was in 2011 that the Atrium Quilts hung for the first time from the ceiling. Then show owner, Carolyn Reese picked a theme for those Atrium Quilts, “So. Cal Ice Storm,” and local guilds were encouraged to participate.

The following year, in 2012, began the current tradition of inviting one local quilt guild to provide the Atrium Quilts made by its members. The first quilt guild to participate was the South Bay Quilters Guild.

25th Anniversary Show Atrium Quilts

For Road to California 2020, the Inland Empire Modern Quilt Guild was asked to provide the Atrium Quilts. The guild reported that they felt “very fortunate” to be asked to participate.

Atrium Quilts

President, Gayle Bennett, helped gather the quilts from guild members. Gayle kept the quilts at her home, delivered them to Road, retrieved them after the show and delivered them back to their quilters.

Not only did IEMQG provide the Atrium Quilts, they also had three members who had quilts displayed in the Road to California Quilt Showcase.

Guild members, Kelly and Simone, had their diptych juried into the show

Atrium Quilts
Simone and Kelley, shown with their diptych quilt, in black and white. Simone designed and made the quilt; Kelley quilted it. Photo by Mike Graves

and guild member, Elizabeth, had three quilts accepted.

Atrium Quilts
Elizabeth next to her Plitvice millefiori quilt. Photo Credit: Mike Graves

Inland Empire Modern Quilt Guild

Photo from IEMQG Blog

The Inland Empire Chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild, is a relatively new guild with just over 40 members. They meet on the first Saturday of each month between 2:00-4:00 pm at different locations throughout the Inland Empire.

Thank you IEMQG for providing such a stunning display of quilts at Road 2020. To learn more about their guild, please visit their website.

Why Class Evaluations Matter

March 10th, 2020

At Road to California 2020-25th Anniversary Show, Road offered over 200 classes, Lectures, and Special Events. To help us get feedback on what was offered – and to help us plan for future quilt shows — we provide each instructor and all students with a Class Evaluation to complete before leaving the Show.

class evaluations

Road staff appreciates the input it they receive from the class evaluations. All class  evaluations that are returned are read. Comments and feedback received are evaluated to see what changes need to be made for the future.

Past Changes Instituted  

Some of the changes Road has made from past class evaluations have included:

Turn on irons before class starts to make sure they are working

Change the way classes are numbered for registration

Replace ironing board covers as needed

A past common complaint was that the irons were not hot enough. To address this issue, we take all classroom irons back to our office and clean them after the show is over. Then, we test each iron to make sure they are working before boxing them up and storing them for next year’s show. If an iron is not working, and cannot be repaired, we take them out of our inventory.

class evaluations

Suggestions We Don’t Have Control Over

There are some issues from the class evaluations that we cannot fix, especially when they have to do with the Convention Center. We are a contracted guest with the Convention Center and need to adhere to their rules and regulations. Still, we will let them know of the concerns we receive such as issues with the food or the temperature in the classrooms.

Teacher Recommendations

Road to California prides itself for getting the best and most relevant teachers in the quilting and sewing worlds. The class evaluations play an important part in helping us secure those types of teachers. Road’s Show Assistant, Stevii Graves, makes a list of all the recommendations and researched those names she is not familiar with. Some teachers suggested might be retired,  their teaching style does not fit Road’s teaching philosophy, or they might even have passed away.

class evaluations

Future teachers that we will be bringing to Road based off class evaluations include Sue Nichols, Paula Nadelstern and Sue Spargo (who will be coming in 2021).

Road to California takes very seriously each and every class evaluation that is returned. They are very important as they help us plan for future events. If you were not able to fill out a class evaluation at Road 2020, please contact our office at info@roadtocalifornia.com and we would be happy to send one out to you.

Thank you to all those whose comments help make Road to California the Best in the West Quilters Conference and Showcase.     

Meet Road Vendor One Sister Designs

March 6th, 2020

Road to California 2020-25th Anniversary Show was the first time for vendor One Sister Designs to have a booth and meet their fans. Janet Nesbitt and her husband, Tom, were “thrilled” to be at the show. So thrilled, that they cancelled a scheduled vacation in Cabo in order to attend Road 2020.

One Sister Designs

Farm Girl to Engineer

Janet was raised on a farm in Washington State. She learned to sew through 4H. When she came across a McCalls quilt pattern that had stars in the design, Janet wanted to try to recreate it for herself. So she adapted the pattern, cutting out her own stars using tissue paper and scissors.

Janet left the farm to attend college and graduated in civil engineering. Later, her young family moved to the Seattle area in the 1980’s where she worked for the Navy and began taking sewing classes. Janet had all boys and quickly realized that there was no cute boy stuff, so she began designing her own boy baby quilts.  

In 1990, Janet realized for the first time that she was a “designer.” She took an applique class taught by Sue Linker, the creator of Sunbonnet Sue. Ms. Linker gave permission to Janet to change Sunbonnet Sue from a girl to a boy and put him in various farm themes. “Sue really taught me a lot” about pattern designing, recalled Janet.  

Buggy Barn to One Sister Designs

Janet’s first sewing business venture was Buggy Barn, a quilt store in Reardon, Washington. It really was located in a barn, 25 miles from “civilization” near Spokane. Under this name, Janet partnered with her sister and together they published 36 pattern books as well as designed fabrics.

When her sister left their business, Janet closed Buggy Barn and rebranded to One Sister Designs, an online-only retailer and wholesaler for her full line of unique quilt patterns and books.

One Sister Designs

In 2000, Janet began designing fabric for Henry Glass. She does 5 fabric lines a year for them. Janet says a unique sense of color is the inspiration for her fabric lines, mixing prints and plaids. “I have to have plaids—plaids are my florals.” Her standard formula for her fabric lines is a big and small plaid, a word design, and a stripe.    

One Sister Designs

“Crazy” Piecing Technique

Using her engineering background, Janet and One Sister Designs has developed a popular “crazy” piecing technique. This trademark piecing method is easy and forgiving, ensuring quilting success for piecers of all levels. The method consists of:

  1. Tracing the quilt block pattern, found in every One Sister Designs book, on to freezer paper;
  2. Putting the freezer paper on to a stack of 12-15 squares of fabric and cutting out the pattern on the lines, then
  3. Taking the freezer paper off, and shuffling the fabric squares before
  4. Lastly, stitching all the pieces together.

This method provides that no two-quilt block’s material will look exactly the same.

One Sister Designs

“Meeting all the people” is why One Sister Designs goes to 4 – 5 shows a year. They still open their barn occasionally to accommodate their customers.

To find out where One Sister Designs will be next, visit their website.