Tahoe Quilt Chicks

Beautiful Lake Tahoe is a one-of-a-kind backdrop for a week of sewing with friends!

Who could resist such natural beauty?  Four years ago, Mary Lou was looking for a place to hold a small quilt retreat…  Zephyr Point Conference Grounds became available in October and the rest is history!

Morning Star Meeting Room to the left. This is the classroom, right off the lake. To the right is the dining hall.

Fall is the quintessential time for Tahoe (others may argue that winter and snow is better, or even summertime is BEST!)  Every year I love coming back for the color.  You won’t believe it, but the best changing leaves are found on the maple trees in the Safeway supermarket parking lot, at Zephyr Cove.

Fall color changes daily in Tahoe. This tree is located in the Safeway supermarket parking lot.


Coveting anothers' stash... this is Deb's and she has a fabulous eye for color.

Above is only a portion of Debbie’s awesome collection of cotton prints and solids.  Deb works magic with solids, especially the shot cottons from Kaffe Fassett.  She’s an interpretative quilter; she doesn’t even need a pattern as she designs as she goes.  Deb did a demo for all of us showing how to make a pointed border using two different prints.

One of a thousand pics from Deb's demo. She's a patient teacher with a gift of clarity.

Making Deb’s pointy border is a multi-step process.  In the photo above, she is adding a second dot yellow fabric for pop & intensity against the black.  You’ll see the extraordinary results in another photo.

De in front of the quilt she made for a friend with Mary Englebright fabric.

De and Sue had to miss last year’s retreat due to an untimely car accident.  We were enriched, having them with us this time as they showered us with fairy gifts (little daily reminders of how wonderful they are!)  De admitted they didn’t want to waste the gifts they bought for last year’s event, so they treated us twice, or was it quadruple?

Candy in front of just one of the many quilts and projects she created.

Candy could take the award for most projects completed.  This quilt was made for her granddaughter’s boyfriend.  Does he know how lucky he is?  She always arrives with a cool demo.  Have you seen the quilt squares pieced of graphic selvage strips?  Candy turned a simple square into a charming pot holder, for her fairy contribution.

Candy working with donated blocks for a project she spear-headed this year.

Candy made the most of some blocks she was given by anteing up the Southwest factor and Day of the Dead themed fabrics.  She made a masterpiece from not-so-perfect components, adding tons of ric-rac and moles.

Friends taking a break for old fashioned good food at The Red Hut.

We were all introduced to The Red Hut through our friend and local resident, Cherise.  No trip to Tahoe would be complete with out a meal here – good food & good friends discussing what makes them happy (hint, it usually has to do with fabric and creating!)  Knowing Cherise had naturally led us to the Gardner family & their good graces.  Cherise does double duty in the offices and maintains a life-long friendship.

Linzee, head bent in sewing seriousness - out of view is a giant cup of Starbucks, fueling her drive!

In between sewing projects, Linzee is a writer by profession, contributing to many magazines, and blog writing for Etsy, Moda fabric & her own blog, Pearl the Squirrel.  On this day she is making quilted table runners for her local library fundraiser.  For the past two years, I have made these quilt-as-you-go Christmas & Halloween runners, but took a break this time.  It’s pure sewing joy to coach another sewist in a project you love and want to see continued.

Linzee at work, with the pattern nearby. It helps to get distance between you and your project, for the best perspective.

Sometimes you just have to get down on the floor, to make your design click into place.  Other times, you need to get distance or perspective between your work and your vision.  Here, Linzee lays it all out, then steps back to view the color-blocking.  The black really is dominant.

Completely laid out & ready to join seams, Linzee's hexagon quilt.

I’m sure I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating, not only does meeting in groups like this give you space to layout your designs, but you can get invaluable advice from the best of the best!  While Linzee had her quilt top out for auditioning block spacing, others would gather and offer a change or two.  The final positioning is that much better, with everyone’s creative input.  She took out the black prints that were distracting and distributed the others, creating a very pleasing composition.

A rare photo of Molly making a cosmetic case and employing clear vinyl pieces.

Another great thing happens while quilters are gathered… help is always at your fingertips.  I’ve noticed cutting layouts and technical instructions that come with patterns are often lacking clarity.  My method is to read & re-read, then take yourself through the construction steps, working with the cut pieces.  Molly wanted to make many of these clever makeup cases, but the sewing order was difficult to understand.  Together we could figure it out and that leads to success and ultimately, happiness (sewing joy!!)

Kathy S. in action, studying & assorting her pre-cut border strips.

We have had two Kathies in Tahoe at the same time, but this year, Kathy C. from Atlanta was sorely missed.  She is such an adventurer, she solely boarded the paddle wheel boat (with a special boating outfit, too) across the lake last year.  I’m a horribly seasick boat rider, but envious nonetheless.   Kathy S. is making a new quilt for her master bedroom.  She excels at seeking & finding the most obscure colorations and print combinations, collecting from several road trip quilt shop excursions.

Nearly complete, Kathy's quilt top, with linen background. One block is smaller than the next (because it has that carefully planned print border) requiring mental math and concentration.

You can see the intent in Kathy’s face above.  She really works at assorting the prints and yet making it look unplanned and effortless.

Two friends hamming it up with outdoor playtime break from sewing.

What makes creative time even better and more productive?  Break time, of course!  It’s incredibly difficult to get creative people to take breaks from their work.  Even in such a gorgeous environment, with the best nature has to offer right outside our window, when you’re on a roll (& especially when you’re not) taking a break can be the best medicine to getting back on track, stitch-wise.  During my years of teaching college fashion students, I often pushed work stoppage, because of diminishing returns.  You can’t get more work done, if you are feeling depleted and drained.

Andrea King and Mary Lou, bonding over custom, blown-glass jewelry.

One break we can all agree on taking, when Andrea King comes with her gorgeous glass jewelry she customs designs.  Most years, we buy her out & still have extra pieces made and sent to our home addresses.  It’s a win-win for all.  I bought many of the black leather and silver bead combinations (Andrea is wearing on her right wrist) for my nieces.  Mary Lou has her pocketbook in hand, so serious about buying.

Chock-full of creativity: Mary Lou's Asilomar quilt.

All of us met in one Mary Lou lead class or another & many at the famed Asilomar, in Pacific Grove, at Empty Spools Quilt workshops.  Here she’s not only making memories, but what a treasure-trove of happy and fun… all the goodness of a town that fully supports the arts with one visual treat after another.

Another winner from Mary Lou, her first for granddaughter quilt of all bugs.

Funny thing about Mary Lou… she has three grandsons & three granddaughters.  All of the guys have original quilts made about them, but none of the girls do!  This is her first female attempt – all dots and all creepy bugs, for Mary, the youngest girl.

Celebrating every little victory... Linda and Sue made the same handbag and the handle was especially a trouble.

Our newest recruit: Linda proudly showing her new quilt top.

Sue brought along her sewing niece, Linda to help with driving duties.  Good thing she can really run a machine, too.  She had the top-of-the-line Bernina 830 & it hardly ever stopped running.  Look at this precision piecing, for her new bed quilt.

Sue's strengths: combining kitted pieces with custom work.

Somehow, a photo of Sue escaped me, but here is one of her projects in design mode.  Sue makes amazing, award-winning applique quilts, taking the best from a kit and combining her own ideas.  Here she works our previous witches’ blocks into a center medallion of pumpkins on a fence with cat and moon details.

Not nearly finished, Deb's grand quilt top (originally for her sister) now, after much persuasion, for her.

Here’s Deb and her quilt top, with double pointed border from her demo.  She has much more to do… and it grows by the minute.

A lake view that Cherise sent much later in the year while walking her dog, Max.

This is the look that most comes to mind, when thinking of Tahoe: snow capped mountains surrounding a white-rimmed lake – nothing more beautiful than that northern view.  Anytime of year, winter, spring, summer or fall is a great time for Tahoe (especially if you bring your sewing machine!)  Nancy, Kathy C and Carol, (who had a terrible flu & suffered from a mound of work) we missed you, along with our beloved Lynne, who sadly lost the fight to ovarian cancer this year.  There’s a special place in heaven for you.  xoxo, your sewing friends.