If you are looking for a get-a-way during the doldrums of winter, I have the perfect spot! Two years ago my husband and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. We decided it would be great to have a family gathering in a beautiful tropical place and we chose Costa Rica. I made two scouting trips to Costa Rica to find the perfect place and I did! We rented a house in a private 125 acre resort and had a wonderful time. I will be returning to this same resort in February for another tour with Jim West of Craftours/Sew Many Places.
We will cruise to a nature preserve to snorkel with coral, a ship wreck, and lots of tropical sea life; then we’ll raft through the jungle. Shopping is always a must and we will visit a local community known for their well-made crafts. This trip would make the perfect Christmas present. There are still a few places remaining.
I’m pleased that Jim West has asked me to be the guest quilter on a tour to Tuscany in April. Quilters are well acquainted with the beautiful floor tiles in the centuries old cathedrals and how they can inspire quilts such as my “Windows” quilt. We will visit ancient cathedrals and galleries housing the work of world-renowned artists in Florence and Siena, historic towns and quaint piazzas. Tuscany is also known for the rolling hills of the extraordinary countryside, its fabulous cuisine and its wonderful wines. I can’t wait to try them all! I’m looking forward to visiting these fabulous places and hoping some of you will join me. Maybe you’ll be inspired to make a quilt based on the designs we will see.
You can find more about these two trips on our website by clicking here.
For those of us here in the United States, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving this Thursday. On Thanksgiving, we take the opportunity to gather together to celebrate our blessings of the past year. It also involves food—a lot of food. Therefore, in honor of that aspect of the holiday, I would like to share with you some of my favorite sourdough recipes.
Back in September, I wrote about nearly losing my decades-old sourdough starter and many of you asked what I made from it besides bread. Here, then, are some of my recipes. I hope you enjoy them. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog with some pancake and waffle recipes that you can plan for your Holiday brunches. If you need to make the starter, you will find many recipes online. Whether you celebrate this holiday or not, let me take this opportunity to let you know that I consider you to be one of my blessings and I send thanks and gratitude out to you. Happy Thanksgiving to you all.
Sourdough French Bread
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 cup starter
4 cups unsifted bread flour or unbleaced flour
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon soda
The night before, combine water, starter, the four cups of flour, salt and sugar. Mix well and place in a glass or pottery bowl (no metal) and leave at room temperature about 18 hours until it has doubled in size.
The next day mix the soda with one cup of flour, then add this to the sourdough mixture. Knead at least 8 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Add more flour as needed. Shape into three oblong loaves or one large round loaf. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet, cover and place in a warm spot for 3 to 4 hours, or until nearly doubled. Just before baking, brush with water and make diagonal slashes in the top with a sharp knife. I use special French bread pans which results in a nicer looking baguette. Bake at 400 degrees until the crust is a medium dark brown. Ten minutes before bread is done, remove from the oven and brush with a mixture of one egg white and 1 tablespoon water. Total cooking time is 25 to 35 minutes.
2 cups flour (part whole wheat, if desired)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 cup butter
2 cups starter
The night before (if having for breakfast) or morning before (if having for dinner) take a cup of starter and add one cup water and one cup flour. Allow to sit 8-12 hours.
When ready to cook, sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Cut in butter. Pour over starter and gently mix together. Turn onto a lightly floured breadboard and knead very lightly. Roll dough 1⁄2” thick and cut into small rounds. Place them on a buttered cookie sheet and bake in a 425 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Watch closely as they burn quickly.
Sourdough Chocolate Cake
1/2 cup thick starter
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups flour
Mix and let ferment 2 to 3 hours in a warm place until bubbly.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons soda
3 squares melted unsweetened chocolate
Cream shortening, sugar, flavorings, salt and soda. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine creamed mixture and melted chocolate with sourdough mixture. Stir only enough to blend together. Beating the batter at this point or over stirring could cause the cake to fall. Pour into two layer pans and bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool and frost with chocolate cream cheese frosting.
Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese
4 squares melted chocolate
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 lb powdered sugar
Milk, as needed
Put the sugar, vanilla, butter and cream cheese into a food processor and process until blended. Add the chocolate and 1 tablespoon of milk. Blend again. Add enough milk to reach the desired consistency.
When I was a child, growing up and learning to sew, I was always taught to be sure that the fabric I was cutting was on the grain of the fabric. In sewing class in school, before we could make our dirndl skirt, we had to pull a thread across the width of the fabric and then cut along that pulled thread to make sure that the grain would be straight. This would be the top of the skirt that we gathered and would assure that the skirt would hang straight.
Later, when I learned to make draperies, we always pulled a thread across the width and then cut along that thread to make sure, as I did with my garments, that the draperies would hang straight.
I have transferred those lessons to quilting to insure that the quilts are straight, the patches not distorted, etc. The equivalent to pulling a thread is to tear the fabric. The tear is always along the grain line giving you the true crosswise grain of the fabric. I created this video to show the importance of fabric grain when cutting patches.
We start every bolt in the Studio with a tear strip to determine the crosswise grain. If you order a yard of fabric, we measure out one yard plus extra to account for the torn edges. That way you will have a full yard of on-grain fabric to use. You can straighten the grain by gently tugging the yardage diagonally until the torn edges and the selvage edges are squared.
When fabric is cut from a bolt with a rotary cutter, it is cut at a 90-degree angle to the fold. However, how do you know that the fold is lined up with the lengthwise grain? After the fabric is woven, it goes through several processes including printing, finishing, winding onto a huge roll and then being folded and wound onto the bolts shipped to fabric stores.
All that processing and winding can pull a fabric off-grain. At Jinny Beyer Studio, all our fabrics are manufactured by the same company but some bolts are almost perfectly on grain and a few are off by inches.
The pictures below show an example. The first picture is of the edge of the fabric as it came off the bolt, cut by the manufacturer. The second picture shows the true crosswise grain of that same bolt of fabric. It’s off by inches! This shows why we prefer to tear and find that grain line.
You’ve heard us talk about it for months and it’s finally here, our annual shop hop, Quilters’ Quest. Jinny is busy greeting all of our Questers and doesn’t have time to write this week’s blog. Here is a glimpse at what is going on here and at the other nine shops.
Jinny greets all who arrive, stamping passports and handing out finishers’ bags.
We have lots of items made just for the Quest with our gorgeous Quest batik fabrics.
Again this year we have two bus trips from the Studio traveling to all of the shops. Here are pictures from the first bus trip.
Our first stop on the bus trip was Material Girls in La Plata, MD. Sisters Wendy, Amy and mom Robin own this cheerful shop.
Here’s the new shop on the Quest, Crazy Cousin in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
In historic Warrenton, VA, you’ll find Kelly Ann’s Quilting located in an old carriage house.
Scrappy Apple in Winchester, Virginia, is owned by the ever cheerful Kelly.
Cottonseed Glory is located in quaint Annapolis, Maryland.
Bear’s Paw in Towson, Maryland is famous for their indoor gazebo.
Patches in Mt. Airy, Maryland is located in an old Victorian home.
In Hagerstown, MD, you’ll find Traditions at the White Swan, a wonderful family-run business where you are always greeted with a big smile.
Our final stop is always Capital Quilts in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Wow! I’ve just arrived back from another whirlwind tour of India with Sew Many Places. Jim West certainly knows how to put together an exciting and educational adventure.
We rode on bicycle rickshaws through Old Delhi and Jaipur, motor scooters, buses, camel carts and elephants. The dates of the trip were planned around the Festival of Diwali (known as the festival of lights) and the Pushkar camel fair.
I began quilting while living in India years ago and every time I go back I am inspired anew by the color and design that surrounds this incredible country.
Words cannot describe what all we did and saw, so I thought this blog should be more photos than words.
Meanwhile, I have three more exciting trips next year……..to Costa Rica, Tuscany and Bali. I would love to have you join me on another adventure.
Not long ago, I wrote a blog about how I get inspiration for fabric designs. At that time, I talked about looking at artwork from various design houses. This week I want to expand on that and talk about my border print designs which I do for each collection.
I create most of my border designs from different pieces of interesting art. For instance, this floral paisley design is part of my Chelsea fabric collection. There are so many interesting images to work with in this design.
To create a border, I select an area, copy it, and make a new file. Then I manipulate, mirror, stretch, compress, etc. I just literally play with the elements until I find something that I like.
All of my borders have a narrow stripe and a wide one with space in between large enough to allow for seam allowance. I create the wider stripe first, then the narrow.
This photo shows many of the designs I achieved by manipulating the image.
Once I have the two stripes that I’m pleased with I have to make sure that they fit within the “repeat” allowed for screen printing. I also have to be sure that the elements between the stripes line up just right, so sometimes one of the stripes has to be scaled differently or stretched or compressed.
Here is the final border print that I created from that floral image.
And that is just the design. Then it’s on to working on the different colors. My Chelsea collection has border prints in nine different colorways. Phew! How do you think they look?
Last 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.
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.
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.
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.
For 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.
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
Most 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.
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?
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.
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.
The 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).
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.
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.
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.
Staff 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.
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.
Jinny 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.