Class with Gwen Marston in San Luis Obispo

NOTE: If you are looking for the Uppercase Magazine and fabric giveaway, it’s *here.*


Last weekend I had a chance to take a class from Gwen Marston, who is retiring this year.  I have several of her books, and have long been an admirer.  It was held in San Luis Obispo, so my husband brought his bike and came with me to help with the driving and so we could enjoy the town.  It was held at SLO Creative Studio, a place where they hold classes, teach long-arm quilting.  The place was filled with tables and long-arm machines, and touches of Gwen were everywhere, as in the quilt, above.  It was fun to see in person.

Wonky Baskets

Just to show you I’m a bonafide Gwen Fan, here’s the quilt I made, inspired by hers.Gwen_2

She started the class a bit early, telling about where she lived, giving us a couple of stories, then launched into the class, which was sewing traditional small quilts.  It was fun to hear her talk–she’s very entertaining–and of course, I loved all the small quilts.Gwen_3 Gwen_4 Gwen_5 Gwen_6

Here are some students trying to figure out the sizes of pieces.Gwen_6a Gwen_7 Gwen_8 Gwen_9 Gwen_students working

Our charge was to get cutting, get sewing.  She challenged us to use traditional methods, of cutting a bunch of squares, bunch of triangles, saying the new ways didn’t seem to cut much time from the construction.Gwen_student work Gwen_and me Gwen_stack of quilts

The quilts all stacked up.


A couple of her labels.  She used to roll the fabric down into a typewriter, type out her label, and then sew it on.  Well, they weren’t really labels–they were typing on the sleeve.  I enjoyed working in the traditional methods, but I must admit my eye was drawn to this series of baskets (below), made by a student in the previous day’s class.
Gwen_wonky baskets Gwen_eating lunch

I took my lunch outside to get a break from the classroom.  They had us order in from a local sandwich shop, Ben Franklin’s, which was great.  Then I went back in and I sewed and sewed and pressed and sewed the old fashioned way. Gwen_my little quilt

I can’t say it was any faster, but it didn’t seem to be slower, either.  But I’d have to say it was a more inaccurate to sew together a bunch of squares, than to make strip sets, and measure out my HSTs and know where I was going.  I didn’t true up any squares, but just threw it together, so it’s a bit wonky.  But I did get something done, which is not always possible when sewing away from my usual space. I seem to have patriotic on my mind, as it was Friday, of the 4th of July weekend.


My husband, after enjoying his bike ride, picked me up and we ran an errand to Betty’s Fabrics, a nice shop in town.Gwen_SLO mission

While in SLO (as they abbreviate their town’s name), we also went to their Thursday night Street Market (the night before class) and had barbecue.  After class we visited the San Luis Obispo Mission (above), and tucked into the museum to see their exhibit.  I loved the mixed media piece below.
Gwen_SLO exhibit2 Gwen_SLO exhibit1

And there was a quilt in the exhibit, too!

In the plaza in front of the Mission, a live band was playing (this town has all the fun!).  We were able to get a seat out on the patio at Luna Red next door, and ate our happy hour appetizers while enjoying the music. (Black Bean Hummus, above)Gwen_concert

After, we sat on the bench just outside the Mission, talked about the bikes in the “bike parking lot” out front, and enjoyed the evening.  My husband is most understanding about the quilt passion that seems to leak out of me all the time, as well as being very supportive, which I appreciate more than I can say.  Sitting there on the bench, watching the passers-by and just visiting about nothing much, was the perfect ending to a weekend away.

Sometimes it is the small things that matter most.

16 thoughts on “Class with Gwen Marston in San Luis Obispo

  1. Love this post!!! My favorite pics are those of you with Gwen, the quilting icon, and that of “Betty’s Fabric” (would love to put that in my studio aka “small fabric shop”). The museum seems like a delight and the food, gracious!!! Thanks for sharing this little getaway – sadly, I will not make it into a Gwen Marston class before she retires, but this gives me a great peek!

  2. This sounds like a perfect short vacation! The class interests me very much–I like Marston’s aesthetic and just saw a collection of her work at the Vermont Quilt Festival. You were smart to get this chance to learn from her before she retires!

  3. For me the best photo, after the one with you and Gwen, was the bikes! I didn’t realise your husband cycled! We have yet more in common. And how wonderful to combine the two pastimes. The perfect way to spend time together where you each get to share your passion!

  4. A basket quilt, such as those, are definitely noted on my “bucket list”!!!!!! I luv the SLO area……it just oozes creativity along with the ocean air. The Mission is gorgeous with that art! Sometimes those shorter get-away moments are the ones most packed with memory snippets (of course, Gwen’s class was the “cherry on top”!!!!! Yes… DH is quite understanding of my passion…, obsession, too!!!!!! Thanks so much for taking us along……………………..

  5. Our son lives in SLO……was actually married at that altar in the mission church….so I know of all the fun times you were enjoying there. It’s a great college town, isn’t it? Glad you two had such a relaxing and fun time there.

    The class with Gwen sounds like fun. I have loved seeing her minis at the quilt shows. They are tiny pieces. Those lime baskets are gorgeous.

  6. The whole experience sounds great. I’m so glad you got to participate in a class with one of your idols!

  7. What a great time! And wonderful chance to sew with a quilting hero! My very first quilts were Amish influenced. What a wonderful town. I just love a mission.

  8. Lucky you to get to take a class with Gwen before she retires. And double lucky to have an understanding husband. Mine is too and I really appreciate it. All in all it sounds like a lovely day of wonkyness.

  9. What do you mean by traditional ways? Just sewing squares together vs. strip piecing? Sounds like a wonderful time and beautiful city.

  10. So funny. I prefer sewing squares to strip as , for me, that is more accurate. Seems I can’t sew a long straight seam, no matter what guide I use. I’ve long said that there are no short cuts. What you save in one place you add in another. Loved the quilt show. 🙂

  11. Spending content time with your husband is no small thing. Jim and I had a lovely morning today, celebrating the anniversary of the day we met. We “hiked” (had a plan for hiking trail, but I was bit at least 8 times by mosquitoes in a few minutes, so we went to a flat, paved path instead.) We went for breakfast, and we ran several errands. It was the perfect way to celebrate. And then we came home to read last night’s horrifying news out of Dallas… Celebrate the small things, remember how big they are… Hugs…

  12. Thanks for the recap. Almost as good as being there for GM’s show and tell. You take such great photos. Just curious about something. You said you ran to Betty’s Fabrics to “do an errand?” Sounds suspicious.

  13. I love your basket quilt almost as much as my own. Almost……..
    You are so cute! Loving the row of baskets made during the class too . So fun

  14. So fun to read about this getaway! I have some of Gwen’s books too, and the 2 collaborative quilt books with F. Moran are 2 of my very favorites. Thank you for sharing the excitment!

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