A trip to Kalispell, Montana has been an annual tradition for several years now. Joan Hodgeboom first invited me to teach at her shop, the Quilt Gallery, way back in—I believe—2013 (you’d think I’d have better records). I do know I was there that year since I came home with a very small, unanticipated, squirmy and adorable souvenir—our mini schnauzer, Kali, sister to Joan’s new puppy, Sally—both of which have now celebrated their fourth birthdays. The Quilt Gallery has recently changed ownership, but Joan remained my host (it’s kinda like we’re dog in-laws now) and also attended both of the week-long classes I taught this year.

Me with new owner Marianne Buller (left) and former owner Joan Hodgeboom (right) at entrance to the Quilt Gallery, an exceptionally fine fabric store (and I’ve seen quite a few). Best of luck, Marianne!

Kalispell is Big Sky Country—in the northwest corner of Montana, not too far from Canada, and just 45 minutes west of Glacier National Park, another beautiful part of the country. I couldn’t resist taking photos from my passenger seat as Joan and I commuted from her home to the shop. One particular day the colors and clouds were especially inviting.

Speaking of Joan, she proved herself very lucky, and quite tough, when earlier this year she fell nine feet off a woodland rock cliff and onto a log—breaking her scapula, several ribs and vertebrae, multiple times each. Yet, she still attended both weeks of my classes and made the best of her accident by her choice of subject matter.

In-progress buzzard quilt by Joan Hodgeboom

I talk to my students about using the idea of telling a story with their quilt to help with the choice of subject matter, colors, fabric, backgrounds, even quilting and binding. Joan did this in spades with her buzzard (a.k.a. vulture) quilt. Why a buzzard? She and her family were on a hike to see buzzard nests in the cliffs. Colors? All the colors her body turned as she was recovering from her fall: black and blue, purple, red, green, yellow… Fabric? Prints with curves, contours, and lines that represent feathers and rock formations. Background? Woods in early Spring, with cliff face and leaf strewn ground—complete with the log she landed on. The completed quilt will certainly tell the story!

Pictured left to right: back row—Jan Sadowsky, Julie Sherrick, Jo Malmberg, Carol Sadowsky, Penny Woodward, Mary Olson, Sunne Brandmeyer, Sherry Glaspie, Janet Brand, Merrie Jo Schroeder, Diana Barteling; front row—Amanda Robinette, Susan Sterner-Howe, Joan Hodgeboom, and me. (not pictured: Kathy Graytak)

Check out all the great creations from this class in the slide show below. For the sake of continuity, I have included both week’s of Joan’s buzzard quilt progress in this first week’s collection.

Student Work Slideshow

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Click here to see last year’s Quilt Gallery blog post and what those students accomplished!

As the class was dispersing at the end of the five days, we had a special visit from two small 5-week old people who’s itty-bitty feet were very familiar to both their mom Amanda Robinette, and now myself. Amanda’s mom and two aunts also took the class, enjoying a visit with the new family members during off-hours! All are pictured below with their projects and, of course, the twins.

And now for a special addition of a time-lapse feature to this post. I had this “great idea” in the middle of the two classes: keep all the intermediary photos I take of the class works-in-progress in order to string them together in a time-lapse progression video. I take many photos as instructional tools, usually keeping only the basic beginning, middle, and end shots and discarding the rest. Now, someone else besides me may have had some better ideas of how to format, crop, and enhance all 97 of the original photos (and that’s just class #1), but it took me a few hours plus another one or so for Tom get the images from photos to movie . Granted, the effect is pretty cool and a step up from something like the student slide show above. I’ll do it one more time for next week’s class #2 post (don’t want to discriminate between my MT students), but I don’t think it’ll be a regular feature yet!

So, sit back and enjoy this week’s mini-matinee.

Time Lapse Movie of Student Work

I leave you with a few parting photos of Joan’s home and acreage—the enchanted woods above left was the view from my bedroom window. I had two days off between classes, getting my pup-fix with Sally and Harley (below), and doing a little sight-seeing with Joan. Tune in to next week’s Part 2 of my On the Road: Kalispell, MT 2017 blog post. Until then!


  • Another talented group of ladies; beauty-FULL work/art. Wish I had known of Joan’s shop when I was in Kalispell several years ago. A beautiful part of the country…one could not miss with a scenic, quilting vacation-very near heaven!

  • I really enjoy these slide shows! You know how to bring out the creativity in your students. Thank you so much for sharing! Please come to South Carolina!

  • Susan,
    What a great idea. I always take tons of shots of my work in progress so it’s
    a pleasure to see other works of art in stages and to see the end results. Also, it
    gives you ideas on how someone fixes or sets the stage on their project and helps you on your own
    work, I’m always saying,” why didn’t I think of that”.
    You have one of the best blogs. One of my goals is to see our wonderful United States and these
    places are now on my list to visit so appreciate when you show the landscape of where you
    are visiting.

  • Love the time lapse showing of the students work. Please do it again. It is amazing to see the change over time. Lovely work by the students.

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  • Susan – Thank you for the wonderful blog post (as always) – it was so fun seeing me, my mom, my aunts aunts, AND my boys making the blog!! 🙂 Thank you for a wonderful class and I look forward to hopefully taking class again in the future from you – I learned so much in 5 days. I have the twins feet finished up and now I am going to attempt to start another project — which is a scary thought without having you over my shoulder. 🙂

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