Quilt Festival/Long Beach: Some Of My Favorite Memories

I’ve attended the Long Beach show since its inception in 2008, both as an exhibitor and a member of the Quilts Inc. staff, and I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite memories from over the years. Warning: this is a people-centric (not quilt-centric) post!


• Editors on a Plane


This was an especially hilarious memory. After a long day of editing in the Quilting Arts/Interweave office, we scurried home, grabbed our luggage, and took a late night transcontinental flight from Logan to Long Beach…where the editing fun didn’t cease. As soon as we took off, out came the red pens!

Barbara Delaney Helen Gregory

Helen Gregory and Barbara Delaney opting to not watch the FREE Direct TV on Jet Blue but rather edit. Again.


• Touting an Extreme Manicure



Alisa Burke sporting an extreme manicure with her lime green hands.

Alisa Burke was one of our founding artists at Make It University!, and with her workshops, successfully convinced quilters that paper and paint can be just as fun and exhilarating as fabric and thread.


• Channeling My Inner “Chariots of Fire”


Last Run Long Beach

My morning solo runs in Long Beach, coupled with a music mix of Southern CA artists, made early mornings (typically dreaded at home) my favorite time of day.


Every year, I ran the length of the beach to the pier and back before the show opened, and although I chose a Doors playlist over Vangelis, that quiet time running on the beach made me feel like I could outrun anything or handle any (possible) quilt mishap.


• Getting By with the Help of My Friends



From left to right: Jamie Fingal, Judy Coates Perez, Leslie Jenison, Pokey Bolton, Melanie Testa, and Jane LaFazio

I’ve gotten to know this crew pretty well, and the beauty of these prolific art quilters(besides their talent) is they are not cliquish, but rather inclusive–of everyone, embodying the spirit of the greater quilting community. (And they are pretty darn fun, too, as anyone who witnessed “Surviving the Runway” can attest.)

I got to marvel at and hug other quilt friends, too, like Maggie Winfield, who always dressed to the 9’s for the show:




And I got to know other artists who have a rather beautiful spirit:



Sheila Frampton-Cooper

I also hung out with women who turned their love into a business (not to mention are hilarious):

Jaybird Quilts

Julie Herman (left) of Jaybird Quilts


• Show & Tell….I Got to Play, Too



“This Thing Of Ours” by Pokey Bolton. My sister-in-law, Sally Murray posing with me in The Silver Screen exhibit.

With the Silver Screen exhibit I finally had a reason to turn my obsession for “The Sopranos” into a quilt.

Upon reflection in reading my narrative for this quilt (below)–given the passing of James Gandolfini–I wont see my silver screen wish come true, but it will always be my favorite  TV series!

My Narrative:

Fans of HBO’s “The Sopranos” know it isn’t just a TV show about wise guys. There’s a bit of Tony in all of us: impulsive and selfish; concerned friends will rat us out; living with the guilt of whacking others (so to speak); distrustful of those supposed to have our backs; and deep down, a little panicked that—in the end, and despite our best efforts—the ones we love most will fly away.

 Not only were heavy issues and the ensuing plot lines handled masterfully by David Chase and his posse of writers and actors, but the show was also hands-down funny. It’s no wonder millions of people waited patiently during the long hiatus between seasons to find out what would happen to the Don and his crew next. I can only hope that the intensely disappointing, anticlimactic last minute of the series finale was conceived for one reason, and that is…the movie’s getting made! Here’s to “The Sopranos” making it to the silver screen.


• Witnessing A College Degree Put To Good Use

2010 (or 2011?)


My niece Lindsey Murray, a recent proud Boston College graduate in this shot, blowing hot air into a plastic dolphin. I think she passed out a couple seconds after I shot this.


However it was the Long Beach show where my Lindsey bought her first quilt kit, and made her very first (of many) quilts:



•  “Somebody Pinch Me: I Won! I Really Won!”


Colleen BERNINA winner

Colleen from Redondo Beach rendered speechless when she realized she had the winning ticket for a new 550 model.


Helping to host the Iron Quilter challenge was a total hoot (for full, in-depth coverage with LOTS of photos, visit this page). However, the best moment for me was watching a very lucky attendee win a new BERNINA. She was so shocked and grateful…I teared up.


• Coming Home With Loot!


Khaleesi protest doglandia fabric

My kitty, Khaleesi disapproves of my dog-themed fabric.


What quilter doesn’t love to come home with gobs of fabric?

• Being With One of My Greatest Mentors


Pokey Bolton Yvonne Porcella

Sittingwith Yvonne Porcella, Founder of SAQA, My Mentor, Cheerleader…and Friend.

Yvonne Porcella has been one of my biggest cheerleaders and supporters. Perfect example: years ago at a BERNINA retreat before a TV taping, she saw how stressed I was with segment preparation, cleared off a pool table in the hotel bar (and made it clear no one in the bar could play), assisted me in setting up my sewing machine, and helped me finish everything, all the while being careful not to slash the green pool table felt with her rotary cutter. It was wonderful to catch up with her at the Dinner@8 supper at the Hyatt.


Working alongside some of the best people I know.


Ruth Polanco Pokey Bolton Iron Quilter

With Ruth Polanco, Show Director



And with Lindsey Murray McLelland and Sally Murray of Interweave


With love to Long Beach! I know it’s not on the roster for next year, but you never know what will happen down the line. Until we meet again…

Wanted! Create on the Spot Teachers for our Cincinnati and Chicago Shows!

Happy Monday, everyone! I am indeed happy for the most part…except last night’s New England Patriots’ loss to the Baltimore Ravens was hard to take. But no matter, my home team, the San Francisco 49ers, are going to the show, and that is something to be elated about!

In non-football-related news, we are gearing up for our first two International Quilt Festivals this year, the first in Cincinnati (April 11-13) and later in Chicago (June 21-13), and I am helping with getting instructors who would like to teach one-hour workshops on the show floor at Create On The Spot (formerly known as Make It University). This is a lively, interactive portion of the show floor, and we are looking for quilters and artists who would like to teach a short, one-hour workshop on anything from stitch and surface design techniques to quick projects like ATCs, small purses, etc.


Students taking a stenciling workshop at International Quilt Festival/Houston in 2009.


Do you have a process, project, or technique you’d like to teach for an hour at one of these shows? We would love to hear more about it!

Here’s what you need to do…

Email me (pokeybATquilts.com), with the following:

1. Proposed title of your workshop

2. Two-three sentences explaining what you would like to teach

3. A  low-resolution (72 DPI) picture of your proposed project or technique

4. In the subject line please (in CAPS) write: WORKSHOP PROPOSAL/CITY (either Cincinnati or Chicago). This is pretty important so I don’t miss your email!

Deadline: The sooner the better!

Once I get your proposal, I will give you more details and particulars.  Please share this blog post with your friends who you think may be interested in teaching a workshop!

A Quilter’s Favorite Tunes and Something Quilt-y that is FREE

I did a crazy and spontaneous thing Monday night: I up and took myself to see Coldplay at the Toyota Center for their Mylo Xyloto tour.

Don’t ask me what Mylo Xyloto means (the band has a hard time explaining it, too), but every time I hear the words Mylo Xyloto, I want to make the Mork and Mindy Na-Nu Nan-Nu gesture as if I am offering my salutations to some foreign entity!

Despite the odd name for an album, it is a keeper, and the concert was an amazing musical and visual experience.  If you squint really hard, you can see the graffiti backdrop on stage.

And it reminded me of the graffiti wall we had at Make It University at International Quilt Festival/Houston a couple of years ago…


I like to think that lead singer Chris Martin and his band mates heard about the graffiti wall at International Quilt Festival/Houston, and decided that it was so fun and colorful, they needed to follow suit and feature graffiti for their album artwork. (See how trendsetting quilters can be?!)

Here’s a picture of Chris Martin’s piano with graffiti, perhaps the coolest piano I have ever seen. (And if you don’t know who Chris Martin is, he is married to actress Gwyneth Paltrow.)

Coldplay played a very solid set list, and for the encore, they surprised me by dimming the lights to total black, then reappearing just one aisle over from where I was sitting. I couldn’t stop laughing, I didn’t expect they would pop up so close to me!

And they played one of my very favorite songs of theirs, “Warning Sign.”

And, yes, I came home with my very own souvenir, a Mylo Xyloto t-shirt.

Speaking of music, did you know that we put out a quarterly FREE newsletter called Friends@Festival that is downloadable? In each issue, editor Rhianna Griffin patchworks together a sundry of quilt-y content, including interviews with quilt artists, favorite recipes of quilters, free projects and patterns, and yes, even things like music to quilt by. If you click the image below, you can see the edition that included some of my favorite songs to listen to while quilting. (And, hey, if you have a great idea for an article for Friends@Festival, reach out to Rhianna by emailing her at pubs2@quilts.com!)

So tell me, what kinds of things do you listen to when you quilt? Do you listen to tunes, a specific channel on satellite radio, or just the chirping of birds perched outside your studio window?

Take a Peek Into My Quilt-y Office (…And Announcing This Week’s Fabric Winner!)

I’ve received a number of emails from people wondering what my new digs at Quilts, Inc., look like so I thought to blog about how I decorated my space.

I wanted to create an office that was welcoming, creative, and clean (not cluttered!), so comfy chairs were on my list of wants. I found a pair of vintage chairs quilted in blue velvet at an antique store, but I didn’t care for the color of the arms and legs, so I painted them black.

I also got an off-white desk at a hotel consignment warehouse, but since I’m so picky about color, over the holidays I painted it charcoal gray:

Green plants also keep a place cheery, so I bought plenty of them. Surprisingly, I haven’t killed any yet!

I made a patchwork bulletin board a while ago, which I mounted onto foamcore, then framed. I like to work three months out, so I always have three calendars up. Now that I’m looking at it, I realize the International Quilt Festival/Cincinnati is only three weeks away! Yay!

Patchwork bulletin board with my calendars. Quilt by Bonnie Ouellette who knows I have a slight obsession with The Sopranos.

Mixed-media assemblages with whimsy keep me smiling:

Assemblage with found objects made by Patricia Chapman of Boulder, CO.

As does handmade art. A few years ago artist Debbi Crane made a box for me with my initial on it and gave me a bunch of mini-handmade books inside…

Box made and given to me by artist Debbi Crane.

So I thought to repurpose it to store my business cards.

Right behind me, I keep some things that have meaning to me…like the picture of my godson, art by Lesley Riley, Beryl Taylor, and Kelli Perkins, and my “That was easy!” and “Insult” buttons. (Fortunately no one has made me mad yet, so I have not had to push the insult button.)

And the one item I love to gaze at throughout the day, what makes me smile most, would be the quilt my former Interweave colleagues made for me as a going away present. It is a reminder of what an amazing crew they are, and what they will always mean to me.

And I needed something to make me laugh, too, so I got a magnetic chalkboard that I have hung right by my door so I can leave important, time-sensitive messages for all my coworkers:

And Announcing The Fabric Winner!

First things first! Congratulations to Mary Brown! You are the winner of this week’s Maudlin-Free Monday fabric giveaway! Mary, please email me at pokeyb@quilts.com with your shipping address, and I will have the fabrics sent to you next week.

Opinions Wanted! What Stitch, Quilt, or Surface Design Classes Do You Crave?

I love taking classes. I love walking into the classroom, getting my supplies sorted, meeting like-minded quilters, and readying my mind to experiment with something totally brand new in fabric and stitch for the day. Nine years ago I took my niece, Lindsey Murray to a weekend-long class with Susan (“Lucky”) Shie. I had just put one of our dogs down, a very old Pekinese we had adopted named “Gizmo,” who was the most ornery creatures ever to live. Ever. For instance he slept at the foot of my bed, and I slept hunched in a fetal position every night because if I extended my legs, he would bite my toes off. But alas I went to Susan’s class so sad and teary that I had lost Gizmo, so I made a little Gizmo quiltlet using Susan’s techniques. I like to consider this a more primitive, folk art-y, heartfelt piece rather than admit I can’t draw worth a you-know-what… Despite the fact this is far from a masterpiece, the class was a lot of fun, Lindsey was bitten by the quilting bug, and I learned some processes that I have since used in other works.

Several years later I took a class with Rosalie Dace of South Africa. I had admired her art quilts for a number of years, and she was a wonderful, inspiring, and very patient teacher. I loved just listening to her in her beautiful, melodic South African accent talk about her design process. I also bought a quilt from her, and to this day it’s one of my very favorites. It’s called “Beach Walk” and I am sure you can figure out why:

Take Our Online Education Survey–It’s Quick, I Promise!

What quilt classes do you dream of taking? We have posted an online survey for quilt classes and would love to know what you would love to take so we can provide those classes for you at International Quilt Festival. We are hoping for thousands and thousands of responses, so please take it, and it would be very much appreciated if you could help us spread the word about this survey (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, or posting on your blog).

Thanks so much!

Quilt-i-fying a Home & My 1st Fabric Giveaway!

I’ve been off the grid for several months as I settle into my new digs in Houston, Texas, and my new job at Quilts, Inc., as Chief Creative Officer. Meet my new colleagues!

I drove to the Lone Star state from Boston around Thanksgiving, traversing across New England, snaking my way through the Great Smoky Mountains, and dropping down the state of Mississippi until I hit I-10 West in a car containing a dog, a cat, a slew of sewing machines, jars of fabric paints, suitcases of clothes and threads, heaps of books, an embarrassing amount of fat quarters stuffed into every spare nook and cranny of my car, and a big bag of corn nuts tucked at my side–my sustenance of choice for road trips. And once I arrived in Houston (in a t-shirt and a pair of shorts…in November), I just tried to do something I don’t do very well: I put myself in park.

A quilter’s instinct is to nest, and the first order of business in Houston was, of course, to make my house a home. It’s a work in progress, and will take me a long while to finish and that’s fine because I am reveling in the process.

Last Fall at Quilt Market, after much cajoling, whining, and prodding, I convinced fabric designer Marcia Derse into selling me this adorable fabric bench upholstered in her fabrics that she had displayed in her booth for Troy Fabrics. Do you see why I wanted it for my living room?

I also bought some fabric stools from a hotel consignment warehouse, paying as little as $25 each for these guys.

With a little TLC and some graphic, bright fabrics, they now look like this:

At that same warehouse I also bought four arm chairs. They looked a little dingy in orange in comparison to my Marcia Derse piece behind them:

So I decided to make them a little more cheerful to play off of her whimsical color scheme:

There is other evidence in my house that a quilter lives here, like the screen-printed hand towels on my oven:

Or Lynn Krawczyk’s adorable fabric owls that we had featured in the latest edition of International Quilt Festival:Quilt Scene. I bought a vintage birdcage and thought this would be a cute way to showcase them at the bottom of my stairs.

In addition to warming up my home with textiles, I decided to cheer it up in other ways, so I adopted a yellow dog.

And I bought a pink bike.

I am back in business. I’m getting settled in my new home and my new job. I am readying for my first International Quilt Festival in Cincinnati next month, and learning how a handful of hardworking and dedicated people put on these wonderful quilt festivals.

Introducing…Maudlin-Free Monday!

I’m launching a way to stave off those Monday blues, quite simply by giving away free stuff. All you have to do is answer a question I pose on Monday and I’ll select a random winner on the Friday afternoon of the same week. So what’s the first batch of goods you could win? How about a few of these Marcia Derse fabrics I recently purchased?

So here’s my first Maudlin-Free Monday question (and I know today is not Monday but I’m doing a giveaway anyway!): What makes you happy when you create? Is it gazing at your inspiration board, solving a design conundrum, finishing a quilt, or looking through your fabric stash?

For me it is the very first moment I walk into my studio and my eyes simply drink in the textures and colors of everything. I think about the possibilities, and just look forward to the creative session I’ll have in there–whether it is just 30 minutes on a week night or a three-hour session on a Sunday morning.