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2014 Quest Quilt- Lotus

Cairo tentmakersLast February I was asked to give a lecture at the AQS show in Phoenix. The quilt show was amazing and it was my first opportunity to see the Tentmakers of Cairo. The two men from Egypt were demonstrating the appliqué technique that they use for decorating tents.  I loved both the boldness and intricacies of their designs and thought that maybe it was time that I got back to appliqué. Inspired by what I saw, I have recently been working on quilt designs that contain both piecing and appliqué.

About a month ago, I shared with you a photo of a quilt on my blog that I was designing and making for our annual shop hop, Quilters’ Quest. At that point, I had the star made and was working on the appliqué which would be in the background squares and triangles.  With all the flight time on my recent trip to Japan, I was able to finish the background and I recently added the borders.

Lotus

If you are in the Washington D.C. area Nov. 7-16 this year or are in the mood for a road trip, you might enjoy taking part in the Quest. We are working very hard gearing up for it, making special projects, assembling kits, and preparing demonstrations.

Each shop has designed and made a quilt using our color-coordinated 2 ½” strips.  When you visit a shop, you will receive a free pattern for that shop’s quilt. The colors are jewel tones and blend well together. Our Quest quilt, Lotus, shown here, is made up of the strips that each shop will be distributing. There are ten shops and if you make it to all ten shops you will be eligible for some fantastic prizes.

We still have a few places on our two buses and would love to have you join us.

QQ staff image

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The design process behind my fabric

People often ask me where I get my inspiration for fabric design. I am inspired by nature, architecture, antique fabric and wallpaper, and so much more. But a lot of my design inspiration comes from other art. There are design archive companies which cater to fabric and wallpaper designers. They have thousands of pieces of art that they, themselves, have collected to show to designers.

At the Starbucks in Kyoto
At the Starbucks in Kyoto

I have just recently returned from a whirlwind trip to Japan where I met with the artists who work with me on my fabric collections. I also went to the printing facility that prints my fabrics. I try to go periodically to personally touch base with the people who work with me and to also look through their design archives.

On my most recent trip, I looked at more than 10,000 pieces of art in two days. I was getting bleary eyed! When looking at each, it is important to look beyond what is actually there. I look for interesting textures, motifs, backgrounds. Sometimes, something with really high contrast or bold electric colors catches my eye even though I would never use it as is. I look for parts of the design that I can manipulate to turn into something else.

Jinny with art2For instance, Chelsea, my most recent fabric collection, was inspired by designs that I selected on a previous trip to Japan. Let me show you an example of how this design worked for me.

Original floral design
Background design only

The first thing that caught my eye was the beautiful flowers on this more than 60-year-old piece of art. The second was the design in the background. Notice that there is too much separation between the flowers and the background making it a bit difficult to use in quilting. I also didn’t like the white dots on parts of the design.

Studying the design, I decided to make two fabrics from the one piece of art with  one being a separate fabric of just the background.  For the other, I eliminated the white dots and brought the value of the colors closer together.

I do most of this work in Photoshop and then send what I have done to the design studio. They make any corrections that I cannot do on my computer and send it back to me. Once I have the designs complete, I do the colors on my computer and send it back to Japan so they can prepare the art for printing.  Here are photos of three of the final fabrics in the collection

fabrics and backgroundsMost exciting for me is to finally have the designs the way I like them. I then work with the digital images to create a quilt using that collection. I will talk more about designing fabric in upcoming blogs.

Chelsea both colorways
Chelsea quilt in blue and pink granite

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Anatomy of a Border Print

Early quilt made with Indian fabrics & Indian border prints
Early quilt made with Indian fabrics & Indian border prints

Through social media such as Facebook and this blog, I have had the opportunity to be in touch with so many quilters around the world. Many of you have recently discovered our website and the techniques I’ve been teaching for years. I’m very excited that through this blog I’ve been able to share my methods of quiltmaking with you. This week, I would like to cover a basic topic, one which you will find in most of my quilts, namely, border prints.

I started quiltmaking when I lived in India and was using Indian fabrics exclusively. Most Indian fabrics have some type of border print and I loved using them. However, when I returned to the United States, few could be found. When I started designing fabrics, I made sure that each collection and my quilt designs incorporated these border prints.

What is a border print?

Bedfordshire border print
Bedfordshire border print

When you look at my border prints, each one has a wide and narrow stripe. To make the best use of each of these stripes, I put a one-half inch area between them. When you cut down the middle of this area, you will have a perfect one-quarter inch seam allowance on each side of your stripes.

Wide and narrow copy

All of my border prints also have at least four repeats of the stripes across the width of the fabric. This allows for at least one stripe to go around each side of your quilt. To estimate the yardage necessary for your quilt, just measure the longest side of your quilt and add 18” for mitering and centering the design.

Double mirror image copyThe designs also always mirror-image meaning that each side of the design is identical to the other but reversed as in looking in a mirror. Some are vertically imaged motifs (single) and some are both vertically and horizontally mirrored (double).

Mirror line for border print placemats
Using a template for mirror images

Of course, I don’t believe in limiting the use of these borders to simply framing a quilt. In future blogs, I hope to open your eyes to the endless possibilities I’ve discovered in using these wonderful designs. In the mean time, go to www.jinnybeyer.com and look at the images of the border prints themselves. When you click on each image, you will be given the number of repeats and the width of each stripe.

Border with measurementsAlso, you’ll find a lot of material on Working with Border Prints on my website.

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Teaching Children to Sew Part II

Passing along our love of quilting to future generations helps to mark our history and links us as families and communities. I am thrilled that my granddaughter, Polly, loves to sew and I see this sharing of our art form with my customers and staff.

Nancy and Kyra

Staff member Nancy discovered a willing helper while machine piecing one day. Whenever she hears the sewing machine running, granddaughter Kyra, 18 months, drops her toys and comes running. She loves to choose the fabric squares and sits on her Nana’s lap to sew. Nancy always keeps a stack of scrap squares by the machine for Kyra to help sew.

Andy quiltingStaff member Linda always brings a project with her when she visits her grandchildren. Grandson Andy was curious and wanting to copy what Oma was doing. He holds the needle and takes stitches now on the special projects that Linda brings him.

We don’t have to sit with needle and thread or sewing machine to share our love of quilting.

Children Angela V and daughter Erin Customer Angela V. and daughter Erin were in the Studio last month choosing border fabric for their quilt. Erin loves to help her mom design quilts and choose fabrics. She doesn’t do the sewing yet but you never know what the future will bring.

children ClJudy IJinny Beyer Club member Judy I. recently brought her granddaughter to a meeting. Caelyn, 5 ½, likes “blanquettes” as she calls them. She has not started sewing yet but loves to play with her grandmother’s fabrics.  She is always cutting out shapes and they glue them to paper making quilt designs. What a wonderful way Judy is instilling in her granddaughter an appreciation of quilts and maybe an understanding of why her grandmother loves to sew.

It is no secret to quilters that children can learn much from the process of quilting. We have heard of teachers incorporating the making of quilts into the curriculum to teach subjects such as math, social studies, reading and writing. I think we, however, just want to share what we love. The Sisters of the Cloth quilt guild in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, has a wonderful motto: Each one teach one. Maybe that’s what we should all aspire to do especially with children. Just imagine all of the new little sewers we can create.

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Teaching Children to Sew

I don’t remember learning to sew. It is something I have always done. I don’t remember learning to thread a needle or making a knot or taking a first stitch. I do remember sitting in a grocery store at age 5, waiting for my mother to shop and knitting. I only remember that because people were amazed that this small child was knitting. I don’t remember learning to knit either.

What children are exposed to at an early age, even if they are not adept, they still feel they “know how to do it.”

My granddaughter at age five likes to sew. She probably won’t remember learning because it is just something she knows. When she was just a baby she was fascinated watching me stitch. Then one day at age 10 months I saw her pick up two of my patches and rub them next to each other like she was sewing. A few months later crawling across the kitchen floor, she found a needle I had dropped. She held it carefully in her hand, crawled over to me and said “Here you go, Grandma”.

She was two when I had her “help me sew”. I would start a stitch and have her pull the needle through. I was using my tiny betweens 11 needle and a single thread and I showed her how to close her hand over the thread as she pulled so the needle wouldn’t come unthreaded.

Polly3 copyAt age three and a half she was cutting with small scissors. I remember one day the baby sitter came and saw her with the scissors and quickly took them away saying those were for grownups. She got huge crocodile tears and her feelings were so hurt. She said, “But I can sew. I’m a good sewer, and I can cut carefully with scissors”.

Every time I go to visit, I have a sewing project with me and Polly always asks if she can help. Mostly I’ve been working with diamonds and I give her some to sew together. The last time I went I had squares. She said, “But I like sewing with diamonds. They are easier to sew than squares.”

She has figured some things out on her own. For instance, she has a hard time putting the needle in and pulling it back out and she figured that if she pinched the fabric she could put the needle through and get her in-out stitch at one time.

September is National Sewing Month and it has had me thinking about what starts us sewing and what we can do to pass it on. In next week’s blog, I’ll share with you how those around me are helping spread their love of sewing. I’d love to hear from you about how you have sparked that interest in children: studio@jinnybeyer.com.

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It’s not always about quilting!

SourdoughWhen you put a lot of time and effort into a quilt, it would be a personal disaster to lose it. Well, other things are similar.

I almost had a disaster the other day. My cleaning lady was in the kitchen and I just caught her in time as she was about ready to rinse out a bowl that appeared to have nothing but a little white substance in the bottom. Mind you, the bowl was covered with a dish cloth, but when she looked underneath,  she didn’t see anything special and was ready to clean the bowl.

It was my 44 year old sourdough starter!!!!

Let me backtrack. My husband and I and our three children lived in India from 1970-1972. At that time, it was impossible to buy good bread and it was also difficult to find yeast that was reliable. So I did some research and decided to make a sourdough starter.

It was easy enough to make. You need raw milk (I used water buffalo milk), a cup of flour, a wooden spoon and a glass or pottery container (never use metal bowls or spoons).

I mixed the milk and flour together and covered it with a dishtowel and left it at room temperature for about five days. You want it to be about 80 degrees…..not too hot and not too cold. If it starts to dry out during that time, add a little lukewarm water. Once it has a good sour aroma and starts to bubble, it is ready to use.

I always keep about two cups in the refrigerator. Most recipes will call for a cup of starter. When I want to use it, I take it from the refrigerator, let it get to room temperature and after I take the cup for my recipe, I add a cup of flour and a cup of water. I let it sit overnight until it bubbles and then I have my two cups again to put in the refrigerator.

My most recent almost disaster occurred when I realized I had not used my starter for a while. When that happens, it is apt to get black on top…….not to worry. It has happened to me many times. I pour off the liquid that has formed on the top, then take a wooden spoon and scrape off all the black. I keep cleaning my spoon each time and scraping until I get down to the white dough. In this case, I was practically at the bottom of the crock when I got to the clean starter. In fact, I only had about two tablespoons.

But that is fine, I just mix it with two tablespoons of water and two tablespoons of flour and let it sit overnight until it bubbles. Then the next day, I add four tablespoons of flour and four of water and keep this up until I have my two cups once again.

My starter was at the two tablespoon stage when Maxi thought it was just something left over in a bowl. Thank goodness I caught her in time!

Sourdough starter can be used for any bread recipe. The night before, mix a cup of starter with about 2/3rds of the flour called for then, in the morning, proceed with the recipe. You can eliminate the yeast.

My Grandkids helping me make chocolate sourdough cake
My Grandkids helping me make chocolate sourdough cake

I use my starter for French bread, other breads, waffles, pancakes, English muffins and, our most favorite, Sourdough Chocolate cake.

I would be devastated if I lost my starter……it has been like an old friend all these years.

 

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Enjoying My Stolen Moments

It’s been quite busy here at the Studio. Even though two new lines of fabrics have just come out, I’ve been working on several new collections for the coming year. I’ve been designing new projects to go along with all of this fabric. I’ve been traveling. And, I’ve been sewing.

I’ve had a so much fun piecing my latest design, a quilt for our annual shop hop, Quilters’ Quest, coming in November. If you read our September newsletter, you saw a little peak at it. Here is a little bit more.  I should be able to show the quilt with some of the appliqué background in the next couple of weeks.

QQ Star

This Lone Star quilt will combine piecing and appliqué. I first started doing this about 20 years ago with soft-edge piecing.

Renaissance Garden
Renaissance Garden

For another Quest a few years ago, the Midnight Garden quilt and tote combined beautiful appliqué created by staff member Diane Kirkhart along with my central pieced design.

mid basket- finalThe introduction of new appliqué tools to the market inspired me to create another quilt combining piecing and appliqué. The color palette for this year’s Quest is made up of vibrant jewel tones and I’ve used these colors to create my Lone Star. In what is normally just empty background around the star, I’m adding elegant vines and flowers. I’ve had the most wonderful time working on this project, always looking forward to the opportunities when I could sit down and sew.

appliquick imageWe have recently started carrying Apliquick tools. I’ll admit that I tend to stick with methods I’ve used for years but I do find these products really do simplify the process, making it much easier to achieve success. We have an introduction to these tools under our “Tips and Lessons” tab.

The pattern for this quilt will be available during the Quest for free.  You get a free pattern from each participating shop during this 10-day period.

Maybe more than the design process, I’ve simply been enjoying the sewing. In my Quiltmaking by Hand book, I quote Rose Wider Lane from The Woman’s Day Book of American Needlework, 1964: “Then you thread a needle and settle comfortably in your chair. The needle runs easily back and forth through soft cloth while nerves relax and useless worries fade away.” So when life seems a little hectic, I’m just going to enjoy my stitching every chance I get.

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Out with the old and in with the new

When I first opened the Studio, I had the vision of a cozy quilt shop which would welcome my customers and not feel like a store even if that’s what it was. I never fail to feel that coziness each time I step inside. I suppose that’s why when the staff started telling me that we needed to do a bit of sprucing up, I put it off. As we often do at home, we don’t always notice when it’s time for a change.

With the busy fall season fast approaching, I finally realized, yes, it was time, especially with the long Labor Day weekend fast approaching. There is an awful lot of stuff which has to be moved around to paint a shop and unfortunately for the staff (and maybe lucky for me) I would not be around to help out. At close of business on Saturday, several of them moved fabric cases and bookshelves, removed quilts from walls, and so much more to get the shop ready.

shop staff cleaningThe first step was to remove the fabric which has covered the walls for 13 years.  Underneath, it was discovered that there was not one but two layers of wallpaper. Once that was all removed, painting the walls with a cheery white could begin.

shop redo 5

It’s only a start, but we love how it looks! Things have gone back in, been moved around, and quilts are being hung.  While we couldn’t do the whole shop at once (why, we’d have to close for DAYS to do that), it has started a bit of a “clean up and clean out” feeling among us all. Hmmm….now what should we do next?

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Fabric…It’s Not Just for Quilts

Jinny is quite busy with a top secret project this week (you’ll have to wait to hear what it is) so the staff is giving her a break and taking over the blog. Since there is no way we can impart quilting advice better than Jinny, we thought we’d show you something a little different—some alternate uses of Jinny’s fabulous fabric.

To be sure, nearly everyone who steps through the door of the Studio is here to buy something for their latest quilting project. Occasionally, a purchase is made for home decorating like curtains, napkins, tablecloths, and such. Large triangles from border prints make wonderful pillows. Why, we even have a border print running around the wall like a chair rail in our bathroom. One of the most fun “other” uses of Jinny’s fabric has to be when we see them in garments. Now we know you are thinking of those jackets we’ve all made which basically look like we’re wearing our quilts. While they are cute, what we’re talking about are garments which, at first glance, you would never think used quilting fabric.

Western shirtsLouanne G. from Taylor, Texas wrote to us a while back telling us how her husband loves Jinny’s border prints so Louanne uses them to make his Western shirts. Aussie quilter Esther A. used an Ambrosia fabric to make one of her fun Hawaiian-style shirts.

LorelaiSince fellow staffers spend many hours surrounded by fabric, they can come up with lots of unique ideas. Kristi has been making dresses for her granddaughter Lorelai since she was a baby. The dresses are precious but can’t outshine such a beautiful model.

Linda

When Linda’s grandson Andy was a baby, she made him this cute little jacket with Monochrome fabrics. Proving that her sewing skills were not just for the young, she made her very dapper dad (who’s in his 90’s), a shirt using the Pacific Rim line.

Dana
Fabrics used are from Corsica, Rajasthan, and Renaissance Garden collections

Some of the most amazing clothing, though, comes from our youngest staffer, Dana. Dana has a background in fashion design. A graduate from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, she originally learned to sew by quilting with her grandmother. She does make quilts but her real passion is clothing.  She has found a unique way to mix and match some of Jinny’s different collections to showcase her unique style. She says, “Cotton can be a really fun fabric to work with.  Although it is not ideal for pieces that need to breathe like pants, it works great for skirts and children’s clothing. It is easy to sew and the range of color and print possibilities is endless.”

So next time you stop by the Studio or your local quilt shop, we hope you’ll look at the fabric in a different light.

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Gardens Gone Wild

I swore I wasn’t going to dwell on my vegetable garden this year, but I just can help it. It is going crazy!

My corn is way taller than an elephant’s eye (I’m 5’6”).

I can’t reach the sunflowers.

corn and sunflowerszucchiniThe tomatoes, which were slow to ripen, have now all decided to turn ripe at the same time. I have to beg people to take zucchinis and cucumbers.

We are enjoying my favorite tomato salad every night. (See my recipe below). And then just this morning I saw some red ripe tomatoes way inside the plant. When I reached for the first one, I realized it wasn’t several but just a single gigantic one. It weighs 2.68 pounds! While I realize that is not the world’s largest tomato, I think it is pretty big and I wasn’t trying to grow a large tomato.

Jinny and tomato

I have used my Cuisinart so much that it died on me this morning while I was in the middle of making 10 quarts of tomato sauce.

Let’s get back to my sunflowers for a moment.

sunflower comboNotice in this close-up that the seeds form a pattern of two sets of spirals going in opposite directions. If you count the two sets and divide one number by the other, you will have either .618 or 1.618…….the golden ratio!  Also if you count the number of petals on a sunflower; it will almost always be one of the Fibonacci numbers.

Jinny’s Caprese Salad

salad

Slice as many tomatoes as you need and place a piece of fresh mozzarella cheese on top of each one. (Buffalo mozzarella is the best, if you can find it.) At this point, most recipes call for putting a basil leaf on each tomato slice and drizzling with olive oil. We like it better with some fresh pesto on top of the mozzarella. I make a larger batch than I need and keep the rest in the refrigerator for use the next time. It keeps well for at least a week.

Pesto for Caprese Salad

Two cups fresh basil leaves

Two cloves of garlic

¼ cup pine nuts, walnuts or pecans

About ¼ cup olive oil

Dash of salt

Pepper to taste

Chop nuts, garlic and basil in a food processor, while the processor is running add olive oil in a slow drizzle until pesto forms a soft paste.

Happy eating!