Guest: Reed Johnson of Blue Bear Quilts!

Hello.  I am Reed Johnson, owner of Blue Bear Quilts,, a Friend of QT Fabrics, a quilt pattern designer and an educator. I have the pleasure of writing a guest blog post for QT Fabrics regarding my trip to the AccuQuilt headquarters in Omaha for their 10th Anniversary Celebration and for my winning of the runner up prize in their 2018 Quilt Block Design Contest.

I decided to make the trip a mini vacation and so, when I got to Omaha, I traveled north to Sioux Falls, SD and saw the falls, and signs of fall with the leaves turning yellow. I proceeded westward to Mitchell, SD and saw the world-famous Corn Palace. On my way to the Badlands National Park, I discovered the Dignity Statue in Chamberlain SD.


The Dignity sculpture is a 50-foot-tall statue; designed by sculptor Dale Lamphere to honor the cultures of the Lakota and Dakota people. During the day, her star quilt– a representation of respect, honor and admiration in Native American culture – glitters in the sun with color-changing pieces that move with the wind, and at night, lights cause the diamond shapes to glow. (This was the largest quilt I saw on the trip.) I also visited The Quilt Shop and met owner, Sonya Kroupa. Many fabulous native & western themed fabrics. Find online at The Quilt Shop.


Traveling through the Badlands is an out of this world experience. Vast valleys and golden prairies; cute little prairie dogs popping up everywhere. Badlands form when soft sedimentary rock is eroded in a dry climate. The park’s scenery is made up of sharp spires, gullies, and ridges. At sunset, the color variations in the ridges intensifies. The colors in nature can inspire many quilts. After the Badlands, I had to stop and see Wall Drug and ride the jackalope.




I took a detour to the north to see Deadwood, where Wild Bill Hickok, was shot to death in a bar, (if I made a quilt from here, I would have to use the Drunkard’s Path) and Sturgis, home of famous motorcycle rally.


Next stop was Mount Rushmore in Keystone, SD. It was so amazing to see the heads of Presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln carved right into the mountain. I can’t even imagine how this was possible. It is a place filled with patriotism and makes one proud to be an American. As I look at this picture, I can’t help but think that the colors of white, grey, forest green and sky blue would make an excellent palette for a quilt.

Heading back to Nebraska, you travel through Custer State Park. Hundreds of buffalo crossed the road right in front of the car. It was an eerie and amazing sight. There were serene lakes, surrounded by gentle rolling hills and many deer grazing by the road. The Needles Highway had dazzling peaks, spires, fall colors, and tunnels carved right into the mountain side.


I made a stop in Kearney, Nebraska. I had to visit the Bricks; named for the bricked streets in the quaint downtown, which had lots of painted murals on the sides of the buildings. I went to The Quilter’s Cottage and met the owner, Phyllis Hamaker. There were gorgeous QT Fabrics and fun panels. Check out her shop at Quilters Cottage. The Archway is a museum that crosses over I-80 and tells the story of the Great Platte River Road.


Could not miss a chance to stop in at the International Quilt Reedimage9Study Center and Museum (International Quilt Museum) at the
University of Nebraska in Lincoln. They currently had an exhibit of quilts owned by Mark Dunn, President and Owner of Moda Fabrics. There also was an exhibit of Marti Michells and the business of quilts. No trip to Lincoln is complete without a stop at the Baker’s Candies Company.



On to the main event in Omaha. I stopped at AccuQuilt the night before the award ceremony to take one last look at my block that was up on the 17-foot billboard, outside their headquarters, from having been the Grand Champion in 2017.


The next day, as part of the 10th Anniversary Celebration, we were treated to a trunk show of quilts that were made from the free patterns that can be downloaded from their
website, including Elephant Cuddle Parade, which was designed and made by me. We toured an exhibit of quilts that were designed and made by Kaye England.

As the runner up in the 2018 Block Design Contest, my block will be displayed inside the corporate headquarters for the next year. We also got a tour of the AccuQuilt Quilter’s
Dream Studio.


We proceeded outside to the tents. Kaye England gave an awesome presentation talking about life and presented a trunk show of her quilts that could be made using AccuQuilt Qubes.



The Grand Champion this year was Candace Door and her winning block was revealed on the billboard. (below left/middle)  (Read the AccuQuilt blog about Candace here)


We headed back to the tents and had a wonderful Panera lunch where door prizes were given away. Candace and I were awarded our prizes. Photo (above right) shows me with the CEO of AccuQuilt, Steve Nabity and the President, Greg Gaggini.

AccuQuilt is such a generous company that all of this was not enough. For their 10th Anniversary Celebration, they gave everyone there a Go! Baby Cutter, a tote, the 3 anniversary dies and an anniversary edition storage box. Getting ready to leave Omaha, we were greeted with the most intense and beautiful rainbow.

A great time was had by all.




Hey there!   Tiffany, Creative Manager for QT here:

We congratulate Reed, and thank him for sharing news of this wonderful event.  Isn’t that the best part of the quilting world?  Sharing experiences, knowledge and the camaraderie?   We are so thankful to collaborate with Reed.  His quilt designs are fantastic and working with him is a great pleasure!  Look for his patterns in your favorite quilt shop!   His Kaleidoscope pattern looks awesome in our Harmony Collection.  Within the next month or so, we’ll have 3 of our newest collections featured in Reed’s patterns… stay tuned!

We hope you enjoyed this guest blog and look forward to more in the future!


One thought on “Guest: Reed Johnson of Blue Bear Quilts!

  1. The rainbow picture would make a fabulous simple quilt. Thanks for the inspiration. And the travel log. Been to Mount Rushmore plus traveled the Badlands with my folks as a child. Unforgettable! I enjoyed the blog. And the pictures


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