Route 66-themed quilts featured at California conference

Via Ron over at Route 66 News come these marvellous quilts with a Mother Road theme!

Meramec Caverns quilt, Pat Masterson

“Roadside Rhymes” by Pat Masterson of California. “As children, long hours in a car were passed by reading Burma Shave signs and writing on barns, travelling to visit grandparents. The back- ground fabric, signs and buildings were hand painted, trees and tractor done with thread painting.”

The quilts will be part of a special exhibit at the Road To California Quilter’s Conference and Showcase next week in Ontario, California, with a special preview Wednesday night. 50 Route 66-themed quilts will be displayed alongside a quilted and airbrushed map of the Mother Road.


“Burroville, Arizona, Route 66” by Vinda Robinson of Colorado, depicting the town of Oatman. “…I depicted the Route 66 Highway winding through the Arizona landscape near Oatman, Arizona where Burros wander the streets and Havasu Falls is off a side road nearby. The piece is whole cloth painted with Tsukineko Inks and Fab-rico Markers. I have wanted to paint water so the waterfall seemed like a good choice.”

These fabric and thread wonders came about due to a themed quilt challenge put forth by Kelly Gallagher, owner of Jukebox Quilts, and teacher & art quilter Patt Blair.  The challenge was issued to US quilters in 2011; the entries were curated and have been touring the States since August of 2012. If you’ve the resources to host the exhibit, you can even request that the exhibit come to you via the Jukebox Quilts website!

The above quilt is Robin Grube’s take on the famed Round Barn of Arcadia, Oklahoma. Her rendition of the barn is lovely, but what really caught my attention was her inclusion of the structure’s beautiful ceiling, and the pretty splashes turquoise she chose to add to the curving boards. The

"Fine Finish". Round Barn of Arcadia, Oklahoma, Route 66 USA. Copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved.

Inside the Round Barn of Arcadia on 66. My ceiling shot isn’t so great—I looked up, was amazed, and then slammed with vertigo!

California resident chose the Round Barn in part because  “the boards forming the interior of the dome roof of the barn looked interesting.” She also noted that her Russian great-grandfather lived not far from here, and she wanted to pick a Route 66 landmark near his homestead. She did a lovely job, didn’t she?

Other quilts and quilt panels feature Route 66 favourites like the Ariston Cafe, Roy’s in Amboy, the Luna Cafe, St. Louis’ famed arch, Cadillac Ranch (not really ON 66, but when going through Amarillo, it would almost be a crime to miss it!), and the Wigwam Motel in Arizona. Natural and nature-themed, manmade features of the road are included as well—from the painted desert to the orange groves of California.

Though I’ve never been big on quilts, my experience has been with the old-fashioned kind, crafted from dozens of different prints arranged in lively patterns. Quilts of this sort, though, are certainly not the type for throwing on the bed or snuggling under while reading a book, are they? I sew some of my apparel but cannot imagine putting together a quilt or even panel like the ones submitted for this Route 66 exhibition; they are more like paintings made of fabric. There’s a lot of not just technical excellence but joy for the eye in these quilts.

If you’re in the area, the show might be worth visiting for this


“Taming The Open Range” by Nancy Dickey of Texas, representing her home state. The Devil’s Rope Museum in McLean is home to every barbed wire-related piece you can imagine (and some you can’t). “The development of barbed wire (or “devil’s rope”) in the 1800s signaled the end of the open range, including free grazing and cattle drives in the Texas Panhandle. This barrier, consisting of barbs secured by double twisted wire strands, successfully restrained the hardy Longhorn cattle which finally gave agriculture a firm foothold.”

exhibit alone. Be sure to pop over to Route 66 News to see the work he liked, and to the Route 66 quilt challenge’s official website to see the rest!

One thought on “Route 66-themed quilts featured at California conference

  1. Wow, I’ve never seen anything like it. Those look like labours of love for sure. I didn’t know there was an Ontario, California…well I learned something new…as always! Thanks Jen

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