Beach Glass Quilt

By Penni Albarran

sea glass quilt design

I’ve been a crafter as long as I can remember, starting with decoupage as a young teenager, then sewing my own clothes in high school, and doing cross-stitch and tole painting as a young mom. After taking a quilting class with a friend, I found a good fit for me. As a mom, I could sew, and still put in laundry or pick up my kids or start dinner, and then go back to my project, without having to lose my place.

Piecing and Quilting

I love quilting for the fabric textures, colors, and, of course, the design. I started in the late 1980s and haven’t stopped. With my quilting I’ve found a wonderful community of women (and a few men) of all ages and lifestyles. Although she’s moved a few hours away, one of my dearest friends and mentors just turned 94 this year, and she is still quilting, making quilts for the children of servicemen and women.

I would call myself a “piecer,” as I prefer the designing and piecing of quilts rather than the quilting of top and back of the quilt. I have good friends that do the quilting part as a business, which frees me up for more designing.

I’ve been working and teaching at a quilt shop in Thousand Oaks, California for the past 13+ years. The shop is called Cotton and Chocolate Quilt Company and is owned by Marilyn and Jerry Petersen. Why the “chocolate” part of the name you wonder? Well, we quilters do love our chocolate!

sea glass quilt inspiration

Beach Glass Quilt

I love collecting beach glass, moonstones, and bits of shells. My “place of my heart” is Cambria, California, which I’ve visited with my husband since before we were married, almost 39 years ago. My best friend has joined me for the last 12 years on “girls’ weekends” and going to the Sea Glass Festival in Cayucos every year.

On the beach, I feel like I can sit and just breathe. We sit in the piles of rocks and “mine” for treasures and listen to the sea. Ahhhhh.

I had a vision of a quilt that expressed this piece of me. In my quilt, the pieces of sea glass are surrounded by a fabric that when looked at closeup, has a frosted look much like the moonstones. I surrounded them with a “sandy” looking fabric. I also had a specific picture in my mind of certain motifs I wanted to show up in the quilting. My good friend, Debbi Mercado, was able to help me find those images, and then she majestically quilted them throughout my quilt. I finished the quilt with a “wavy” border, rather than a straight edge, to symbolize the ocean. All in all, of all the quilts I’ve made, this is my most personal. The one that shows my soul.

I’ve taught other students to make this quilt over the past 10 years, and I always tell them the “what” and “why” of the quilt.

beach colors quilt

Sharing the Love

I love teaching and watching others create their own version of quilts that either I have designed, or that come from others’ book or patterns. I try to take them beyond what I’ve created to change or put my own spin on it.

I don’t usually sell my quilts, but instead give them to family and good friends. And, I love making baby quilts for new additions to our large extended family.

You can learn about Penni’s upcoming quilting classes and purchase her quilt patterns at

This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine May/June 2019 issue.

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