Road Trip to Sisters

For years I’d heard about the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show over in Central Oregon, but it wasn’t until my first visit a couple years ago that I realized just how amazing it really is.

Sisters is a tiny town near Bend, a place you’d drive through without a second glance most weekends. But the second weekend of July? There’s no way ! They even close off the streets for hundreds of quilts and thousands of quilters. (I’ve hear it tops 12,000!)

Stitchin' Post in Sisters, Oregon

Each summer for 39 years, Jean and Valori Wells have been the driving forces behind this celebration of quilting. And their shop, The Stitchin’ Post, is at the bustling center of it all. This wall, in fact, is where it all started back in 1975 when Jean hung up some of her students’ quilts and the idea just took off. Now quilters from all over the world come to Sisters for the show. Pretty amazing, indeed.

My first stop was the shop in hopes of seeing Valori again. I’d worked with her a bit at Robert Kaufman and love her Quill collection (along with the upcoming Ashton Road). Alas, I didn’t see her, but I did see a new-to-me Quill quilt design that I fell in love with. It shows off the huge design so well, don’t you think?

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In addition to her lovely bold prints, Valori has a great collection of blenders that are rolling out over the year called Blueprint Basics. Each week she focuses on one fabric from the collection and then mixes it up with other fabrics, yarns, etc. to focus on her Color of the Week. While I was there, Cinnamon was the focus and I absolutely adored what she did with it in this display at the front of the storm. I hate knitting and I still wanted to pet those yarns!

Caramel: Val's Color of the Week

The whole shop is full of color and texture and you really can’t help but be inspired by it all.  I particularly love the Journey quilt on the far left below and the star quilt on the far right (anyone know what it’s called?)

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After roaming through the crowds at the store, I headed down the street to admire the quilts. There are literally thousands of quilts and I wish I could show them all to you, but we’ll both have be satisfied with sharing a handful of my favorites…

Nel’s Wordplay was made by Irelle Beatie from Santa Barbara, CA and was just a fun way to showcase some quilting lexicon. I love crossword puzzles, so there’s something extra interesting to me about this. Plus who can resist red/white/black combos?!

Nel's Wordplay Quilt

I love traditional quilt patterns, so it’s kind of a n0-brainer that I’d love how Linda Marlow of Lyle, WA hand-sewed and hand-quilted her Grandma’s Flower Garden (76″ x 84″). According to the tag, she bought “a few blocks in a box and a lot of hexagons cut out” at an estate sale and decided to finish it up. So sweet! If there’s a heaven, some quilter is happy to see it finally finished.

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Since I’ve been working on my great grandma’s quilt for so long, I’m always a bit curious to see other’s hand-quilting. I feel better about mine not being perfect either because this was a beauty. All.those.hexies!
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Jane Adams of nearby Bend, Oregon used the Log Jam method to put together this wonky log cabin quilt she called Working It Out (81″ x 81″). This one really grabbed my attention for the bright colors and slightly wonky nature. It’s something I’d love to do, but for some reason I’m still scared of putting together in such a free form method. It’s like the one part of my that is a perfectionist, but really, I need to get over that and just make one. I love the results so very much.

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I also ran into a couple quilting stars at the HandiQuilter booth. Angela Walters gave Heather Braunlin-Jones some stern advice (but only for the pictures!). I adore these two ladies–both have been so supportive these last couple years, with shoulders to lean on and always up for a chat about life, motherhood, and working in the industry. #fangirl
Angela Walters and Heather Braunlin Jones

Then they let me have a turn! I wasn’t a natural by any stretch, but it was an awful lot of fun to give it a try. I even managed to write my name (with an enormous cross on that T!) IMG_8506

And then ran into my recent co-workers, too. Kyle, Ken and Elisabeth were all up from Los Angeles, visiting with the beautiful Valori Wells. Robert Kaufman was sponsoring the children’s booth, their first time at Sisters, so that was pretty exciting. And really nice to see people I enjoyed during my time in LA. Kyle and Ken were so super kind to me during all my sick time there and I will be forever grateful for them.

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The quilts continue around town, but this is one of favorites. So Old West looking!

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Friends from the Portland Modern Quilt Guild had their own exhibit and it included some beauties. This geometric quilt called Balls and Bowls (40″ x 46″) was made by none other than the talented and uber-kind Rachel Kerley of 2nd Ave Studios. I love all the neutrals and crazy variation of  quilting designs. The woman knows what she’s doing in ways I can only dream about.

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Violet Craft showed off her new Brambleberry Ridge collection (with Michael Miller Fabrics) in this graphic quilt she calls Flying Falcons (50″ x 56″). It looks a bit washed out, but really that’s just the sun doing its thing. And in the back, that’s Cherri Langley’s Converging Corners quilt (the Film in the Fridge tutorial is here). There were a few versions of this quilt pattern around and I think I want to do it sometime because it it pretty cool. 
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I really love the bright colors in this, even though it really isn’t my thing personally.  Joni Reading of Boulder, Colorado did a beautiful job blending values and colors in her Garden Path (90″ x 90″), so it’s not really surprising that it sold. I must say that I was pretty impressed with the $950 price tag, too.  (Put that on my bucket list, too: Sell a quilt for almost a thousand dollars.)

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It was a beautiful day and after strolling and ogling and chatting, I headed back through the absolutely stunning scenery of Oregon. I’ve so missed all this green.

the road to Sisters, Oregon

I’m happy to be home, among quilters, designers, family, friends and this stunning natural beauty.

4 Comments

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  1. 1
    Laurie Parrack

    I love the Sisters Quilt show. Living near Salem, I try and go every year. I did not make it this year though. I will definitely be there next year. Glad you had a wonderful time.

  2. 2
    Sue Osborne

    You might think it’s weird that I read your blog, but I love reading your ruminations on quilting and fabric in general. We have a house at Crooked River Ranch, so if you want to make a weekend out of it next year, let me know and you can stay with us. I’ve been wanting to go to the quilt show but haven’t been out there on the right weekend yet.

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