learning in la conner

learning in la conner

By Patricia Belyea

SEATTLE WA  Earlier this month I taught an Improv + Curves Workshop in magical La Conner. Just one hour north of Seattle, this historic town overlooks the Swinomish Channel—with the snow-capped Cascade mountains in the distance.


The Workroom in La Conner Country Inn was our choice location. Our group visited Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum for a field trip and local restaurants for dinners, all on foot.

This May’s Week-Long Workshop welcomed Okan Arts alumnae. These students have taken a Curves Workshop with me, either with Okan Arts in La Conner or Seattle, with their guild, or at a quilt shop. Because the alums already have an understanding of my curves technique, I can challenge them to take their skill set to a new level.

For their projects, students made curved blocks using two or three fabrics—without a plan. Then, improv-fashion, they composed their quilt top layouts.

The optional second project approached the Workshop theme of Improv + Curves in a reverse direction—creating improv fabric and then making a planned curved composition. Only one student progressed far with this assignment by staying up super late one night.


Amy Green, the Executive Director of the PNW QFA Museum, visited the Okan Arts Workshop for our Thursday afternoon Show ‘N Tell. Then Amy led us across the street to the Museum’s Education & Conservation Annex.

This newly opened facility offers space for workshops on the main floor, and houses the Museum’s permanent collection upstairs. Amy explained that a recent bequest from Norada Shanafelt, a passionate quilter, gave the Museum the funds to begin this important expansion. A micro exhibit of four quilts by Norada honors her support.


Some of my students found time to drop by Indigo Stitches on the waterfront. All the supplies and projects in the shop provide inspiration influenced by Sylvia Pippen’s years in Hawaii and the Northwest. Sylvia offers workshops in stitching and design in her shop classroom where a huge window looks onto the picturesque Channel.

A not-to-be missed destination for quilters living in the region or for visitors from afar, La Conner beckons as a vortex for Northwest quilting and stitching. It's a great place for a getaway and a re-charge with an educational experience!

To learn to add curved piecing to your quilt designs, Patricia Belyea, leads online Zoom workshops. For more info, +click here

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