Remembering  Penny Kimmel - 1/11/1950  to  4/20/2022

June 2017 - Penny Kimmel

November 18 - 20, 2022 (tentative) - Penny Kimmel's Sewing Room Sale  Like all avid sewists, Penny had a Fabric Stash!  But hers was even more because she had inherited from her mother Lorraine as well - both fabric and unfinished projects.  In the spirit of sharing with other sewists and friends, items from her sewing room will be made available to purchase, tentatively on the 3rd weekend of November.  For more information, contact
Click here to see photos of Penny's Sewing Room.

October 16, 2022 - Celebrating the Life of Penny Kimmel  Several Sewing Sisters gathered at Camp Burton for Penny's Celebration of Life party.  She didn't want a "Memorial,"  he wanted her family and friends to remember her with a party.  It was a lovely, warm afternoon full of many stories from family and friends, toasted with tea and pastries.
Click here to see photos and read Penny's Story below.

Click here to see Penny's Celebration Program pdf.

April 20, 2022:  This morning our dear friend, Penny Kimmel, passed peacefully at home.  She was surrounded by her close family, friends and her cat.  In her final days she battled cancer to the best of her ability with lots of help and tenderness from her family, her care team, Hospice and the love and support of her many friends.  She fought bravely and will be deeply missed.  There will be a celebration of her life at Camp Burton on Vashon Island, probably sometime in August or September.  We invite your loving thoughts, memories and photos in honor of Penny.  Send them to  We'll share them here & on our SGS Facebook page for you.

Click here to read a pdf of the postings from Facebook.

January 2022:  The Stitching Girls Society   Board proposed a Retirement Gift to commemorate all that Penny Kimmel had done for us over many years. Those of you who've been coming to SGS retreats know how heavily we all leaned on Penny as she directed amazing sewing retreats starting back at Camp Burton on Vashon Island and more recently expanding to St Andrews, Seabeck and Camp Huston. As many of you know, her health condition caused her to resign as President and she had been unable to attend retreats since the pandemic started. Unfortunately that means our newer members didn't have a chance to get to know this fantastic woman.

We started a fund to help pay for housekeeping services while Penny managed the fight for her life. Her Vashon Island community did a terrific job in providing her with meals on a regular basis and her significant other, Stuart Prado, helped her immensely. For us, this fund was a small way to honor Penny.  Sadly, this fund is no longer needed and is now closed.

April, 2021:  You may be aware that our one and only SGS President and Retreat Director, Penny Kimmel, has been dealing with health concerns for the past several months.  She has informed us that she needs to step down from her Stitching Girls responsibilities to focus on her health.  Since we couldn't get together to party with Penny, we posted our thoughts, memories, stories, photos and wishes here and on our SGS Facebook page.

Penny's central cutting table & 2 machines under the window Cutting table, thread wall, notions and quilt fabric neatly folded & color sorted Opposite corner of cutting table with storage cabinet, project planning wall & dressform Building the collection for the sale in the spacious garage

Building the collection for the sale in the spacious garage

Penny, from Celebration Program Cover An Amazing warm sunny day of celebration at Camp Burton A hand appliqued quilt from Penny's recent collection The Celebration Welcome Table

A celebration montage with quilt, photos & flowers The montage table setting Celebration table settings The Memories Table Quilts by Penny

Quilts by Penny Sewing Retreat Tshirt & Sweatshirt Collection Tea Service Table Pastries Table with Helpers

The Stitching Girls who gathered: Mary, Barbara, Cindy, Christine, Cathy, Cat, Harriott & Peggy

Stories and Memories Shared by Members & Friends 

These POSTs are arranged from Newest to Oldest - for the whole story.   START at the BOTTOM and work back to the top.

Emailed October 15, 2021 - from Cindy Dainard

So late in writing this but just wasn't sure how to verbalize. Since I joined Stitching Girls Penny was always there being the open person she was.

There was only once when she treated me like a newbie and only for a few "panicky minutes. It was at Camp Burton. My first time coming to camp after years of not sewing. Since I was very aware of my rusty skills I wanted to sit where I could hide out of the way. So I set up in the back right corner of the room. Penny came in, saw where I was and tried to politely and quickly as possible get me moved out of that spot. Kept apologizing and pointing out other great spots. Stumbling a bit (which I never saw her do since) but needing me to move before someone named Hannah arrived. I moved much to Penny's relief as Hannah walked in moments later. A sweet lady but Penny explained you didn't mess with her corner!

My other memory is staying at the end of each camp to help collect grocery bags. A funny thing to remember, but Penny truly appreciated any that could be salvaged for the next camp.

I sent her a note card with a photo of the Seabeck sewing building. Thanked her for getting us all there. Hope there is a sewing group for angels.

May 2008 - Lorraine & Penny Kimmel, known as Mother & Daughter Superior

POSTED  April 23, 2022 - by Peggy Garber

How can mere words convey how much we will miss our amazing Penny?

For me she was more than a friend.  She was more than a business partner.  She was my sole sister.  How we would laugh when you all would get our names mixed up.

I first met Penny when working with her mother Lorraine on retreat planning, before Penny was involved; before Jace was born.  I was part of the then Seattle chapter of the American Sewing Guild along with Lorraine and Cheryl Tolbert when we first proposed and started these sewing retreats in 1985.  It is so rewarding that others among us today were also there at that very first sewing retreat at Camp Burton on Vashon Island.

I got to know Penny as a friend when we roomed together on the “Sew Sew Good Girls” trip to Hong Kong in the mid-90s, put together by Marilee Cole.  Penny would go out in the mornings and get me coffee.  I don't remember ever asking her to do that.

We shared many interests in sewing, in computer video technology and in life in general.  So, we started a business together, calling it Pengy Productions (PennyPeggy).  Of the many projects we started, we seemed to complete few.  Our individual busy lives kept getting in the way.

Our only truly successful project was Stitching Girls.  As we filled out the 27 pages of the nonprofit exempt status application, we sweated over how to acknowledge to the IRS that we were also business partners, and yet had no conflict of interest.  But we did it, and Stitching Girls Society was approved in Dec. 2009.

Penny had been helping her mother Lorraine for several years, so when we suffered the loss of our Retreat Founder, Lorraine in 2008, Penny was ready to take over and keep us all going.  It was Camp Burton who got us to become a nonprofit organization, when their board decided they could no longer co-sponsor our retreats.

The rest is history.  Over the years Stitching Girls has become a true sewing sisterhood.  And you all are so right - Penny set the tone and led the way with her warm, welcoming personality.  Anyone who loved to sew instantly became another lifelong friend and part of the group.

It has been such a privilege to be part of this group, where everyone steps up to help everyone else.  I cherish the welcoming hugs when we are able to get together at retreats.  It is such a tribute to Penny’s giving nature that all of us are likewise so willing to step up when needed.  And without Penny, we will all need each other to keep going.

As we all cry together while saying Goodbye to our wonderful Penny, we can draw strength from the little bit of herself that she has left with each and every one of us.


Robbie Severson - Such a beautiful tribute to a beautiful soul  😢 🧡 💔

Marlys Powell - Indeed.

Laurie Lamb Wilkey - That was lovely and very touching.  I know that there is a hole left in your heart with Penny's passing.  I wish you lots of healing over these next few weeks.

I am sad that I can't be there in June when we all meet again and, invariably, everyone present will reminisce about Penny's dedication to our group and many more stories will be told.

I wasn't there at the beginning, but I was welcomed like at had been there forever. That was Penny's influence and you all followed suit.  I wish younger people understood the value of joining groups like ours and pray that we will be successful in "bringing them into the fold" like Penny did so our SGS survives well after we are gone.

Harriott Fix Balmer - Well said ... we will all miss you so very much ...

Leslie Gardiner - So eleoquent and heartfelt, Peggy.  We will all miss her so much.

Cat Shepherd - Thank you, Peggy, for such a beautiful, beautiful tribute!  💕

Penny Specht - You said it all so well Peggy.  You two made such an amazing team and inspired all the rest of us.  I know that Penny was glad you were still available to help keep Stitching Girls Society going when she had to step down to focus on her health.  We have so many wonderful memories and will miss Penny beyond what can be expressed with words.

Cindy Dainard - So very well said. It has been an honor and privilege to have known her.

Priscilla Schleigh - Thank you Peggy Garber that was so sweet.  I was so grateful when Lorraine and Penny welcomed me into the family and then when they asked me to be in older with the sewing retreat.  I felt like I found my tribe.  They both are missed terribly, but left a wonderful trail of stitches and stories.

We plan to have a celebration of life at Camp Burton in a couple of months for Penny. Love to you all. 🧡 🧡 🧡

Linda Vorenkamp - Beautiful photo.  So sad I missed a final goodbye just by a week.

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POSTED  January 8, 2022 - by Peggy Garber

At long last as promised, here are some more photos of Penny from over the years. It is hard to choose what to post here because I have so many great pics.
Many I have taken, but others have come from many of you. Click on one picuture below to expand it as a slide show where you can click forward or backward through all the pictures.

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2019 MOW - Penny & American Hero Quilt
1994 FALL - Penny's first Class as Teacher - Polar Fleece
1988 Clotilde at Fall Retreat
1994 FALL - Penny's first Class as Teacher - Polar Fleece
1992 &1993 Bring & Brag
1994 - Penny, Tauna, Sand, & Doris stuffing Goodie Bags

POSTED May 10, 2021 - by Peggy Garber

The first class Penny taught was Polar Fleece in 1994. The other photo is Penny working with Tauna, Sandy and Doris stuffing Retreat Goodie Bags, also from 1994.   Peggy

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Cheryl Scheeler - I took that class. Made a bunch of socks and hats and a jacket.

Sandy Hancock - That was me about 70 lbs ago. 😳😊

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POSTED May 6, 2021 - by Penny Kimmel

Happy Birthday Cat! Remember the mini when we celebrated yours and Marilee b-days with musical chairs and Mother Supreme cracked us all up by refusing to move. Have a great birthday, sorry there is no group sewing fun involved. Maybe next year!
Love you!  Penny


Sandy Hancock - Oh, I had forgotten about that! Thanks for the memory, and happy birthday to you, Cat!

Cat Shepherdk - Thanks Penny - I do remember that weekend and can’t wait for more group sewing times again - 🧵😘 Love you too 💕

Mary Hoagland-Scher - But who ended upwith the rubber chicken?

Leslie Gardner - Happy birthday, Cat!

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POSTED May 6, 2021 - by Marlys Powell

So, 19 years ago as I was aimlessly wandering through the aisles of the Expo Pavilion at the Western Washington Fairgrounds during Sew Expo, this lady pulled me out of the crowd and flashed a brochure in my face about the Camp Burton Sewing Retreat.  I had a little old lady friend whom I thought to be very intelligent and life-loving who was constantly running off to a rug hooking camp here or there around the country and I thought to myself, "I wonder if there's something like that for sewing, too?" Sure enough....

That was the day--six days after I'd gotten the call to go to Portland and meet my parents at the hospital because Mom had been diagnosed with cancer.  It was the start of a five-month hellish roller coaster toward my mother's demise.  I'd lived up in the Seattle region for four years and had managed to make only one friend--and she moved away six months later, but... I show up to this sewing camp at Burton and suddenly I have a whole cadre of like-minded, life-long friends who have shaped much of my happiness over these nearly two decades. We've raised our kids and lost our parents, spouses, and friends, but never each other.  Lorraine Kimmel made that happen for countless ladies over the years.  I'm so thankful that Penny Kimmel pulled me out of the crowd that day and gave me a whole new lease on life! I've looked forward to getting together with these ladies for camps, shop hops, field trips, vacations, Zoom chats, phone calls, overnighters, and drive-by drop offs, and my life has been enriched by their encouragement and camaraderie beyond measure!    Thanks Penn!


Penny Kimmel - Marlys, I just knew you were a garment sewer the first time I saw you. You were and are so stylist. And I am so glad you are a member of the Stitching Girls. You add a lot to the group. Yes my mom was pretty wonderful. Thanks for sharing that memory. Such good times we have had and will continue to have as we navigate through this covid time. Never fear the retreats will continue in one form or another.

Priscilla Schleigh - love that story. 20 years ago i went to the Sew Expo and it really changed the direction of my life. Moved to Vashon with a truck filled with my fabrics and sewing machine. the rest is history of meeting Jim and then Lorraine I do miss her. ❤️

Sandy Hancock - Marlys, I am so glad that Penny found you! I've enjoyed getting to know you and treasure our friendship.

Barb Renshaw - I sure wished that I could have known all of you more, but living in Missouri makes it a little more challenging. However, through my daughter Kristina, I have come to grow friendships with a few of you, and I am so grateful , and blessed for it!!!🥰

Sandy Hancock - I have to remind myself that I'm not the only Stitching Girl in Missouri!  I'm in O'Fallon MO. We should get together next time Kristina is in town!.

Linda Vorenkamp - I am truly amazed of the talent and imagination of all the sewing ladies. I have continued to be inspired by each sewing retreat and the comoradery of all of the wonderful women I have been so fortunate to meet along the years. Thank you Penny Kimmel for introducing me to this new adventure!

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1988 Penny's first Retreat
1988 - Penny as photographer at her 1st Retreat
1988 Penny & Lorraine with Clotilde
1988 - Penny & Lorraine with Clotilde
1988 Clotilde at Fall Retreat
1988 - Clotilde at Fall Retreat
1992 &1993 Bring & Brag
1992 & 1993 - Penny at Bring & Brag with Jace (on right)
1993  Muriel's So Special Class
1993 - Penny in Muriel's So Special Sewing Class

POSTED May 2, 2021 - by Peggy Garber

Penny just brought me the old Sewing Retreat photo albums and here is some of what I found!

The first Sewing Retreat Penny came to was the Fall 1988 Retreat at Camp Burton on Vashon Island, where she served as photographer - I'm sure she sewed a little too.  It was the year that our special guest speaker was Clotilde who had a nationwide notions business that featured sewing tips as well.  It was very exciting to have her visit.

I think Penny spent more time behind the camera in those days because there are very few photos of her, unlike these more recent days!

Here Penny is again at Bring and Brag in 1992 and in 1993 when she brought her son Jace with her. Jace became like the Retreat mascot.  He was so cute!

In 1993, I found this pic of Penny taking Muriel Sprague’s “So-Special Sewing” class which focused on: “learning how to master our sewing machines.”  This class featured many “how-to” tips on:
1. Machine hems and edge finishes.
2. Machine gathering.
3. Several elastic installations.
4. How to use attachments.
5. When to use which presser foot.
6. How to use extra stitch pattern built into your machine.
7. Several uses for twin needles and other specialty needles.
8. And several other techniques.
This class by Muriel was a huge favorite and was repeated several times.

There are lots more photos to share.  I’ll keep adding them bit by bit.  I hope others will find photos and stories about Penny to share too.


Kris Agostini - Great pictures and memories!

Pat Chubb - Peggy, these are amazing pictures, but your narrative really brings them to life!

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2019 MOW - Penny & American Hero Quilt
2019 MOW - Penny piecing her American Hero Quilt

POSTED April 27, 2021 - by Cathy Walker

If you were sitting across the room, you watched a few Stitchin’ Girls gather around a collection of quilting squares, appreciative of the history in what they were sorting through (created by our Mother Superior, treasured as our Reverend Mother), yet a bit reticent about the possibility here.  Know that they represent the pinnacle of quilting expertise; but from where I sat, their skepticism was palpable.

Penny smiled. She took a breath, in and out.  She giggled a bit nervously.  She announced to all the project as doable, no problem here; but perhaps not so confident within.  After all, tackling this project had been waiting for years.  Then she began.  And as she progressed, her confidence visibly began to coalesce.  She never expressed frustration (I’ve learned because, for her, real frustration just doesn’t exist).  She stepped away to assess what direction it was growing, taking on a life of its own.  She moved back in, repositioning maybe one square.  No false turns, each placement settling in as if it had always been exactly in this place.  And in the end, she took on a glow of expansive pride…a creation launched, independent.  A UFO resolved.

Later, at another gathering I did inquire if the topper made it to the final step, layered and stitched into a quilt.  Yes, she smiled.  I imagine her mother’s quilt now has a place of honor in her home, in her heart.

Just as it has been for the Stichin’ Girls Society “project”.  She assembled, she basted, she guided, she trimmed, she laughed, she listened, she proposed, she accepted, she celebrated, she stitched.  This is no UFO.  This is a creation launched, independent. Thank you, my lady.  You drew me from observing from the free room into the sisterhood center. Thank you!

Love, Cathy Walker, (The Former Costume Lady)

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2015 video of 30 years
2015 - Celebrating 30 Years of Sewing Retreats!

POSTED April 26, 2021 - by Peggy Garber

If you are interested in Stitching Girls history, here is the link to the 30th Anniversary video that Penny created.

30th Anniversary of Sewing Retreats - 2015

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POSTED April 25, 2021 - by Pat Chubb

Thank you Cheryl, Penny2, Mary, all the Board members and volunteers stepping up to pick up the torch(es) and carry on for Daughter Superior, Penny Kimmel.  There aren’t enough superlatives to lard this post with to commend Penny for all she has done for the SGS lo, these many years.  We will try to carry on that fine balance of stitchery, friendship and shenanigans that is the hallmark of SGS retreats, in honor of our Penny. ❤️


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2019 MOW Project Evaluation
2019 MOW - Peggy & Penny deciding what piece goes where
on joint American Hero Quilt - MOW 2019

POSTED April 25, 2021 - by Peggy Garber

Over the years people have always gotten our names mixed up Peggy, Penny / Penny, Peggy - even Penny's mother Lorraine!  We just laughed.


Penny Specht - I remember taking this photo of you two lovely ladies as you were designing that quilt! Such a team!!!

Harriott Balmer - Such a cute pic of two special ladies!

Peggy Garber - Thanks for taking this photo, Penny. I love it.

Jini Nastiuk - Truly an excellent photo!! 😊

Kris Agostinik - Very cute pic! Two beautiful ladies!💕

Penny Specht - Penny and I commiserated over how many people had mistakenly called each of us Peggy over the years then each of us called each other Peggy by mistake at least once and had to crack up about that!

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Hong Kong fabric shopping
Sew Sew Good Girls shopping for fabric -Hong Kong 1997
Hong Kong briefcase shopping
Peggy & Penny shopping for a briefcase - Hong Kong  1997
2019 MOW Quilt Project
Penny & Peggy celebrate finishing a co-pieced American Hero Quilt from collection of old blocks from her mother, Lorraine - MOW 2019

POSTED April 25, 2021 - by Peggy Garber

Many of you have heard already that our amazing fearless leader and Daughter Superior is stepping down from her SGS responsibilities to focus on her health.  We want all of you to help us celebrate all the years that she has been at our helm.  I know you are full of stories and photos.

We, your Board, hope you will share a whole bunch of them here.

Here's my story and I'm sticking to it - - -

I first met Penny through her mother, Lorraine, whom I was helping put on our very first Sewing Retreats way back.  But I really got to know Penny when she and I were roommates on the "Sew Sew Good Girls" Hong Kong Fabric Shopping excursion organized by Marilee Cole in 1997, the year before Hong Kong returned to Chinese control.  It was a great trip with lots of interesting excursions, shopping and dining.  As a divorcee, Penny even got proposals of marriage from men who wanted to get out of Hong Kong before China took it back.

Penny and I found we had so many interests in common that we even became business partners in a company we called Pengy LLC, where we managed to start way more projects than we ever finished.  But we worked well together and when she started taking on more and more tasks to run the Sewing Retreats, I was right there to help out, like I helped her mother. We had to write a special non-competition clause when we applied for the 501(c)(3) status starting the Stitching Girls Society in 2009 because of our business connections.

I’ve lots more stories to tell and pictures to show. But we want to hear from the rest of you too.

Best Wishes, Penny. We’re going to miss having you telling us what to do all the time!


Penny Specht - Penny Kimmel is such an inspiration to so many of us! I first met her at one of the sewing retreats at Camp Burton in 2009 and was delighted to share my name with such an amazing gal.  I remember wishing she could relax and enjoy the retreat like the rest of us because she was always taking care of any problem and focusing on making sure everything was running smoothly.  As we gradually got to know each other over many more retreats we kept finding odd things about ourselves that we had in common, some good and some sad but the # was downright eerie!  I truly admire her leadership, her commitment to service, her sense of humor, her strength against any adversity, her sewing talents, her thrifty ways and her sharp mind.  I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone with as many friends and we all love her and offer our support!  You are magnificent, Penny Kimmel and I thank you profusely for all you have done for me and all of our stitching sisters! 💜💜💜

Penny Specht - Wow , I’ve never seen Penny with long hair!!  (re: briefcase shopping)

Peggy Garber - Believe it or not, my hair was long then too, just pulled back and harder to see.

Mike McKay - You guys still look awesome!

Penny Specht - You two were so funny as you were putting this together!!!  (re: assembling quilt)

Pat Chubb - I think I contributed an orphan block to this ... or maybe a trim piece.

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Keep those Stories coming!

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