Hand-Stitching and Intuitive Quilting - Rancho La Puerta
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Hand-Stitching and Intuitive Quilting

Week of November 25, 2023

Throughout time, we have made quilts to warm our beds on cold winter nights, to preserve memories of loved ones, and as a way to share knowledge and good company in a communal setting.

Join us for some slow-stitching through the eyes of renowned painter Erin Lee Gafill and artist Emily Birmingham. Bring your own textiles (heirloom, personal and family fabric, scraps, old clothes) or dip into our communal scrap bag. Together, we will review basic methods and stitch our own individual mini-quilts.

Inspired by the “Outside-In Method” of design used in traditional Afro-Indian quilting (kawandi), Erin will guide you through an exploration of intuitive design and the pleasures of hand-stitching.

No experience or skill is required. As long as you can thread a needle or make one stitch, you know enough!

Why do we gather?
Erin’s mantra has long been “Start where you are, Use what you have!” No experience or skill is required. As long as you can thread a needle or make one stitch, you know enough. To find ways to actively rest, to create and communicate, to console and comfort. The very act of sitting down and threading a needle, or stitching into fabric, can bring a sense of comfort and joy. Those simplest of acts coupled with exploring color and pattern can evoke deep pleasure in the maker, cultivating a stronger understanding of one’s intuitive design abilities and sense of “voice”.

What will we be doing?
We will be working on small scale quilts, hand-stitching scraps of fabric to a batting and backing, with an outcome of a completely unique lap quilt only YOU could have made.

By giving each person guidance and support around juxtaposing fabrics that delight them, Erin invites each participant to explore the joyful world of color and pattern in textile making. This is a low to no technique class. Using a simple basting stitch or long stitch, we slow-stitch our way into mindfulness. There is no pattern to follow, no ironing or measuring, no right way. As we release expectations of outcomes centered on the work of others, we find our own personal and precious voice. Needle, thread and heart are the focus. A time for you to work quietly and contemplatively with an award-winning artist who delights in helping you discover your own inner artist. The ultimate “process over product” workshop.

Five sessions.
First day we work together on a communal project.  Free!
The rest of the week we work on our own projects.
All necessary materials provided for a $20 materials fee. 
Sign Up: Max 12 
Location: Art Studio, Library Lounge, or Lounge


An award-winning painter and author, Erin Gafill has inspired people around the world with her inspirational art, heartfelt stories, and uniquely engaging teaching methods.  Her work bridges art, craft, and community, weaving observation, intuition, and imagination into her painting, writing, teaching, and public speaking. A fifth-generation California artist, she was born in Big Sur, California in 1963, the daughter of a beatnik and a hippie and the great-great-granddaughter of Carmel’s first artist-in-residence. Growing up at her grandparents’ legendary restaurant, Nepenthe, a mecca for poets, bohemians and dreamers, she drew inspiration from its ever-changing cast of characters as well as the stunning and mystical beauty of the coast. Erin is the founder of the nonprofit Big Sur Arts Initiative, and founding member of the Monterey Bay Plein Air Painters Association. In 2001 Erin was honored to serve as the first American Artist-in-Residence at the Hamada International Children’s Museum, Hamada, Japan. In 2009, she and her husband Tom Birmingham were named Champions of the Arts by the Arts Council of Monterey County and were honored by the United States Congress for their service to the community through the arts.  Her exhibit Color Duets was the featured Spring/Summer show for the Monterey Museum of Art, Monterey, California, in 2022, and her solo exhibit California Atmsophere was featured this summer at the Morris Graves Museum of Art, Eureka, California. She is the author of a coffee table art book, Color Duets, with Kaffe Fassett, and a memoir about life/work balance, Drinking from a Cold Spring, a Little Book of Hope. Both books are available at www.colorduets.com.


Emily Birmingham is an artist living in her hometown of Big Sur, California. She works in a range of mediums, from fabric manipulation and assemblage to observational sketch and acrylic painting. Currently she is exploring group quilting and gathering together through this traditional practice. Born into a family of artists, she sees the world through a creative lens and is quick to incorporate and adapt new disciplines.  Her aim is to  share her expressions, through work that feels like play and interactive installation with a focus on connecting people through their creativity.