Thursday, April 20, 2017


A highlight of our Unbroken Thread Quilt Show is the great speakers we present from 1:00 to 2:00 each afternoon, Tuesday through Sunday, April 25-30.  Here's a little bit of information about them:

Maren Beck      Hill Tribe Art, Hmong Appliqué and Traditions

For the opening day of the show, we have invited Maren Beck to speak on Hill Tribe Art, Hmong Appliqué and Traditions.  Maren is passionate about traditional textiles and the (mostly) women who weave, dye and design beautiful and often functional fabric art.  For the past decade, her focus has been to share traditional weavings and culture of Laotian and Vietnamese hill tribes.  The fibers used are hemp, cotton or silk--the dyes are natural, the patterns ancient from the tribal groups and from memory, the looms often made by craftsmen in the villages.  The results are stunning and more rare every day as modernity intrudes.

The artists come from diverse ethnicities--Hmong, Dzao, Akha, Lao Loum--but share a passion, talent and reputation for quality textiles using radiation materials.  Appliqué is a tradition in some of the cultures, as is cotton embroidery and silver ornamentation on clothing.

Maren will share examples of both cotton and silk pieces and appliquéd clothing.  Her business is Above the Fray, based in Eugene.

Kennette Blotzer      Trends in Quilting, Gadgets, Books, etc.

Kennette is the owner of Something to Crow About quilt shop at 42nd and Main Streets in Springfield.  Kennette's passion for quilting has had a profound effect on the quilting community in our area.  In addition to running a delightful full-service quilt shop, she was the force behind the founding of Emerald Valley Quilters, and its first president.  Kennette will tell us about trends in quilting, gadgets, books and more.

Viki West      Tips

Although Viki learned to sew from her mother and grandmother, she didn't become a quilter until a couple of decades ago.  After visiting a meeting of our local quilt guild, Emerald Valley Quilters, she not only learned to quilt, but became very active in the guild, holding several positions, including president.  Over the years, Viki has taken many workshops and classes, and said that if she has learned just one new thing, she feels the workshop was worth taking.  And when sewing with friends, she frequently picks up new tips, or learns a new block or technique.

At her presentation, Viki will share a variety of tips that she hopes will make your quilting a little easier, or make you look at everyday objects in a different way.  Even seasoned quilters may take away some new ideas.

Rachel Greco      Women and Quilting in The Great War      

Rachel Greco, the owner of Grandma's Attic Sewing Emporium in Dallas, Oregon will speak Friday about women and quilting during the Great War.  Rachel has spent nearly a lifetime working with and learning about the role of textiles in women's lives throughout history.  A self-taught quilt historian and an avid reader, Grandma Rachel is frequently asked to give lectures about quilts, quilt blocks and the role of women and their connection to fabric.  When not hard at work at Grandma's Attic, either on the sales floor or within the online store, Rachel spends much of her time researching the history of women, quilts and fabrics.

Ken Casey      Color Rules are Meant to be Broken

Ken Casey is a recent arrival to Eugene, but a long-time quilter.  He grew up making articles of clothing for himself and others, and worked in the fabric department of a Phoenix area department store in his youth.  Originally a stained-glass artist who complained about having to create in a hot garage in the Phoenix heat, Ken was encouraged by his sister to give quiltmaking a try.  He's never looked back.  

In his quilting journey, he has spent  a few summers at Quilt Camp in the Pines and Flagstaff, has taken classes from many internationally known teachers and further developed his skills, and has had quilts hung in shows across the country.  He is a certified instructor for AnglePlay Templates.  He currently works and teaches at Piece by Piece in Eugene.

Ken most likes to work with the design process, often creating his own patterns from images in nature or landscape.  A favorite challenge is to take a photograph, then create a quilt with the same colors and ratios of color.

Ken's topic on Saturday is Color Rules are Meant to be Broken  and he will treat us to a trunk show.

B.J. Titus      Machine Appliqué Method

For the quilt show finale, B.J. Titus will share her method for machine appliqué.  B.J. creates art quilts, often using an appliqué method of layering fabrics.  She also uses brilliant colors and extensive use of thread and bead embellishment.  Many of her quilt designs are inspired by nature and memories of her childhood summers in Florida.  She designs with a focal point that draws the viewer in for a closer view.

B.J. encourages quilters to reach beyond traditional norms and have fun with the design process . . . and most of all, to enjoy the process!

Want a sneak peek?  Photos of B.J.'s quilts can be found at


We hope you will enjoy our twice-daily demonstrations by Pioneer Quilters on a range of topics, Tuesday through Saturday, April 25-29.    The morning demos are from 10:30 to 12:00, and the afternoon ones are from 2:30 to 4:00.  Stop by--you'll be glad you did!

Here's the schedule:


AM:     Sheila Steers, Around and Around
  • Around and Around is a design based on half-square triangles, done with two or more fabrics.  Sheila also offers a variation of the original design.

PM:      Denise Crawford, Beginning Hand Piecing 
  • A step-by-step instruction on how to hand piece.  Includes making templates, supplies needed, stitching instructions, pressing and trimming seams.  


AM & PM:   Robin Fouquette,  Crazy Quilting

  • Robin will demonstrate the construction of a crazy quilt block, and show embellishment techniques and examples.  She also will cover assembling the blocks, embellishing the seams, and finishing the quilt.


AM:      Caren Ross,  Exploding Squares
  • This is an easy way to create many different results using the Jenny Doan (of The Missouri Star Quilt Company) method of making exploding block squares.

PM:      Mary Brooner, Appliqué Christmas Stocking
  • Mary  has been making beaded appliqué on velvet Christmas stockings for many years.  She is the keeper of the tradition, inherited from her mother--every new child and new member of the extended family receives a stocking.  She appreciates that families are now smaller; her mother sometimes made several each year, all in time for Christmas Eve.

In her workshop, Mary will show examples of the stockings made by her mother and by herself, as well as talk about the materials and patterns she uses.


AM:      Carol Goins, Sew-Like-the-Wind Quilt Patch
  • Carol will demonstrate an innovative way to construct an unusual block
PM:      Beth Weldy and Lois Scott, Appliqué Techniques
  • Beth and Lois will show hand appliqué techniques that use interfacing and freezer paper.

AM & PM:      Susan Rogers, Easy-Does-It Labels
  • Susan explains an easy method for making quilt labels, and provides ideas for embellishing them.

Sunday, April 16, 2017


Our Featured Quilter for 2017 is Denise Crawford, who has been a Pioneer Quilter for 25 years.   

Denise has completed about fifty quilts in her quilting years, mostly bed size.  Fifteen of those are in her home, and the rest were given to family and special friends.  

Denise spends about 7 hours a week on quilting.  It's especially pleasant with her heated laptop quilting table.

Here's Denise's story:

I began quilting on a whim.  I had just started a new job and didn't know what to do for a whole hour lunch break, so I took a walk.  The next thing I knew, I was in front of a quilt store (The Quilt Patch), and went inside to pass the time.  Belva Greenleaf welcomed me in and the next thing I knew, I was signed up for a beginning sampler quilt class.

That fateful day changed by whole life.  I put away my knitting needles and never turned back.  The class was all done by hand, and rotary cutters hadn't been invented yet.  "Sewing machines" were bad words in those days--the 1980s.  I learned piecing, appliqué, binding and quilting.  I thought I knew how to do everything about quilting (was I ever wrong!), so I wasn't scared to try anything.

I told my mom I was taking a quilting class, and all she said was, "Why are you doing that?  Quilting is for old ladies."  LOL, she was wrong too.  When I visited my Aunt Esther in Astoria, she took me to visit her quilting club.  It was so much fun that when I got back to Eugene I called The Quilt Patch asking if there were any quilt clubs in Eugene.  I was told to call Dorothy Bettis, a founding member of Pioneer Quilters.  Dorothy invited me to the next meeting at her house.  That was 25 years ago--before there was a waiting list.

When I interviewed for my next job, I said I would accept the job only if I could have at least a 2-hour lunch to go to the Pioneer Quilters meeting.  I was young and thought no one would think of telling me no.  And they didn't.  It's nice to be able to keep priorities in your life.  Quilting and my quilting friends are a very important part of my life.

When I started quilting, I would go to the store and only buy enough fabric to make a quilt and have maybe 1/4 yard left over.  I would only make one quilt at a time.  That changed over the years when I wanted to try my hand at art quilts.  Art quilts take a color palette of fabric, so I started to collect many colors for my palette and before I knew it, I had a fabric stash.

I've had three quilts accepted into the Paducah quilt show.  The first one was Friendship Cabins, made in 1996 for my friend Janet Stubblefield; the second was a Storm at Sea quilt made in 2000 for my nephew Brad Jarvinen's wedding gift; and the third was My Blue Flowerbed quilt made in 2003 just for me.  The first and third will be displayed at our show.  All of the quilts that went to Paducah were hand pieced or hand appliquéd, and hand quilted.  Each one took me about three years to complete.

I have been in three rounds of friendship block exchanges.  That is where I have learned the most about quilting and designing quilts.  With each quilt that I make, I learn a new trick or make a mistake that I will never do again.  Quilting is a learning process.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Friendship Blocks

Every few years, Pioneer Quilters decide to do a friendship block exchange.  Each participant selects a block she'd like to have made for her by the others, and commits to make a block of their choice for each of them. 

The person whose month it is selects her block size and theme or pattern.  She can choose to provide all, some or none of the fabric.  She gives written  instructions and anything else the participants might need.  Sometimes there's a sample block we can look at.

Last spring and summer, members began talking about starting another friendship block exchange.  "It's time," one longtime member told me, when "we have forgotten how hard or stressful the last one was."  Participation is totally optional.  This round, 20 people are signed up, roughly half of our group.  What an adventure--each month is something different,  sometimes stretching our creativity and/or skill level.  It's so fun to see the completed blocks as they are brought in.  And they do trickle in at times, because, well, life is like that.  

Here are some blocks from the first months of our current exchange, which started in September:

Jeanne's tulips:
This block was one of our raffle blocks a few years ago.  Look at the April 20, 2015 blog entry about raffle blocks to see one interesting way of setting them.

Ann's pomegranates:

Robin's crazy quilt:

Block detail

Carol's Mariner's Compass:

Wanda's Celtic:

Caren's Prince's Feathers:

Blocks for Denise show us what snow people do when we're not watching.  On the right, you get a glimpse of some of the 49 Dresden Plate blocks that we're raffling off during the show.  

Here are photos of several of our quilts made from friendship blocks in previous exchanges:

 I asked our group to share any photos they might have of Friendship Block quilts from the past.  I'm delighted to say that four organized women came forward and showed me photos of many quilts, blocks and instructions from previous exchanges, going back decades.  Thank you Louise, Carol, Joyce and Ann!  What fun it's been to see this piece of Pioneer Quilters' history.