We received an email from Jan about a postcard she bought on eBay from a woman in Latvia. Included was a photo of this card and she was wondering if we could tell her more about it. Shown here is that card. Yes, that is me from very long ago.
Many of you may know that, besides quilting, one of my other interests is amateur radio. When my father was a young boy he got his first ham radio license. To confirm a contact with another radio operator “hams” send out QSL cards. My father’s interest passed to me and I got my first license in 1957 (K6RQB) when I was in high school. I continued my ham radio activities until 1984.
I had quite some adventures along the way. Shortly after getting my license, Russia launched the first satellite to circle the earth. My father and I got up in the middle of the night so we could hear the first morse code signals the satellite emitted.
A few years after I was married, my husband, John, got a job in Nepal and right after that in India. My husband and I and our two young children went to live Nepal in 1968. I had been an active ham in the States and I got a license there.
Once in Nepal, I was one of only two hams in the country, and the only one who operated in both voice and morse code. I was able to talk with my father almost every day. One of my frequent contacts was with King Hussein of Jordon who was also a ham. The American ambassador to Nepal was married to the ambassador of Viet Nam and the only way they could contact each other was by radio and Madam Ambassador would come to my house once a week to talk with her husband by way of a ham in Viet Nam.
Just like quilting, there is a bond among hams around the world. When my sister died and I made arrangements to fly home, obviously anyone listening knew my plans. At every single stop on the way home, a ham radio operator was there to greet me and make sure I had no trouble with my connections…New Delhi, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Honolulu and Los Angeles.
These days we are very lucky to be able to easily communicate with almost anyone, anywhere, but back then, this was quite a handy hobby to have.
To read more about this, my story appeared here on the web page for ham enthusiasts and their history here.
I have been very lucky to have been quilting, teaching, writing books and designing fabrics for quilters for more than forty years. This past year, while there have been many things I haven’t been able to do, the Studio continues to operate, as an internet only business.
One positive we have found in the past several months is an influx of new quilters and others who have just “found” us. We welcome you all!
Since many of you are not familiar with me and my work, we have decided to add a feature to our newsletter called “Get to know Jinny Beyer” and each month I will answer a question you may have about me or my work.
One question I get asked all the time is “How did you get into fabric designing?” My answer has always been that I got in through the back door, not the front.
I have been sewing all my life and lived for several years in Malaysia, Nepal and India where I collected batiks and hand block printed fabrics. I began quilting while living in India and used scraps from all my sewing projects for quilts. Of course, I had to buy more specifically for quilts!
Upon returning to the States in the early 1970’s I was very disappointed in the fabrics that were available….mostly cutesy calico prints done in primary colors. After a few years of disappointment in what was available I decided that maybe I could tell fabric companies what kinds of fabrics quilters would like. I took it upon myself to put together a portfolio of prints and colors that I liked and how I would change them and made appointments with three different fabric companies. I took the train to New York full of optimism and came back home full of disappointment. At each place I got basically the same questions and the same treatment before they even looked at my portfolio. “Where did you go to design school?” “Were you a textile major in undergraduate school ?” “Have you studied color and color theory?” and on and on. I had never had that kind of an education. I had a master’s degree in special education. I felt like a little kid getting a pat on the top of my head as I left through the front door of each place.
I decided fabric designing was not in the cards for me.
Then out of the blue one day in the late 70’s, I received a phone call from Nancy Puentes and Karey Bresenhan, the founders of the International Quilt Market. By this time my quilt, Ray of Light, had won the Good Housekeeping Magazine’s “Great American Quilt Contest” and my name was becoming known by quilters outside my own area.
Nancy and Karey were concerned that independent quilt stores were struggling to stay in business because they were competing with large fabric chain stores who could buy the fabric in bulk for better prices and offer them at a discount.
They had approached VIP, a New York basked fabric manufacturer, and asked if they would be willing to create a line of fabric that would not be sold to chain stores and that was exclusive to independent fabric retailers. They felt a quilter’s name should be associated with the collection and thought of me. Thus, their phone call.
I worked with VIP for three years, but in the early 1980’s they decided that quilting had reached its peak and they were going to get out before the interest waned and they dropped my line. That is when RJR contacted me and the rest is history. I have been working with them ever since.
My textile education has been learned through being immersed in the actual designing and creating for more than 40 years. I have yet to take a design or color course. As I like to say, “I got in through the back door, not the front.”
People from all over the world are finding ways to say thank you to the healthcare workers, the first responders, people who are keeping the essential stores open. It’s one way they find that they can make even a small contribution to the pandemic that has hit our world. My daughter is an ER doctor. She had a malfunction of her protective gear while performing CPR on a COVID 19 patient. She is now in a 14 day quarantine and cannot leave her bedroom.
Friends came by and wrote this thank you on their sidewalk . She could see it from her window. Other friends brought cookies and left a thank you note. She’s receiving thanks in many ways. As quilters, we also look for a way we can do something and make a small contribution to what is happening all around us. There’s not one of us who hasn’t been touched in some way by COVID 19.
In the past when national disasters have occurred, we’ve gotten together at the Studio and had sew-ins making quilts for the victims of the disasters. We are not able to get together this time. We all have to stay home. We have been told that everyone should wear masks for protection when they are apt to encounter other people. Many of my extended family members do not sew and do not have access to purchased masks. So, I asked a simple question of my staff “is anybody making masks and if so what pattern are you using.” I received back a barrage of emails. They are ALL making masks…for friends, neighbors, family, health institutions, homeless shelters, nursing homes, etc. There is a wide variety of patterns that have been used and styles and techniques. If you feel inclined to make some masks (I know many of you already are) I hope you find this information helpful.
I can’t tell you the best mask pattern to use. It all depends on what the needs are, how much time you want to take, what supplies you have available, etc. But I can pass on to you some of the staff comments and tips.
There are basically two kinds of mask patterns available: ones that are molded to fit the face and ones that are pleated rectangles.
Securing the masks:
There are also different ways to secure the masks. Some have elastic bands that fit behind the ears. Others have ties that go around the head and neck. Ties can be made of bias binding, cording, ribbon, etc. My favorite (and easiest) is to cut ties from old t-shirts. Cut one-inch strips running parallel to the hem. Pull them and they curl into a cord. The stretchiness helps to make a more secure tie. I keep the tie all in one piece. The loop goes over the head and the ties are tied behind the neck.
Fabric to use:
Quilting fabric has been recommended by many experts because of the high thread count. Amongst quilting fabric, batiks are especially good because they are made with fabric with an even greater thread count. Either type will work very well.
Here’s what some members of my staff have been doing.
I’m using the pattern for the Olson mask. There is even a pattern for a child aged 2-5. The Olson mask is made up of 6 pieces. The insides should have two different colors to identify the place where you can insert a heppa filter.
So far, I have not gotten beyond making masks for family and friends. I’m using a combination of two patterns with pleats, primarily one from Erica Made Designs. So far, I have lined them with a lightweight interfacing and will be moving on to flannel lining next. I’m impressed with the studies which say that these masks made of quilting fabric have a 70 to 79% filtration rate.
Here is mine and my husband’s. I’m sure you can tell whose is whose.
I’ve made two styles of masks so far for friends and family. They’ve been shipped as far as Atlanta! Both of them have two layers of fabric (I’m using a batik and white sheeting, both of which are the higher thread count recommended and the inside/outside is obvious); both have nose wires (also recommended); one has a pocket for a filter. Both patterns call for elastic but I’ve been using WOF double-fold straps (cut on the straight- grain) which is apparently more comfortable and can allow for a better fit.
The first pattern is the fitted style; very comfortable. Takes a bit longer to make. Second is the pleated mask; I think this will be my go-to pattern as it is faster.
I have joined the mask making brigade also but am working on family and extended family (workers at our family’s restaurant) for now. Some of the ones I make are custom ordered like the Willie Nelson bandana and the wolf mask. Each family member is as unique as their mask.
One quick tip I found to make it easier is to zigzag stitch the wire or pipe cleaner in the seam allowance on the top of the mask BEFORE you turn the mask right side out….this makes the placement and guidance easier so as not to worry about hitting it with my needle. Doesn’t matter which pattern you are using.
I have used several different patterns and have modified most of them to reduce the cutting and numbers of seams to sew. The ties seem to be better for fitting.
I am using muslin or colored cotton for the inside lining. Most of them have the pocket to add some kind of additional filter if needed. My stash is finally serving a valiant purpose although it may not make a significant dent. Having fun and sewing with a purpose: the 2020 version of Rosie the Riveter with a sewing machine
I am using T-shirts for straps – really a time saver.
I have been making masks for Johns Hopkins Hospital (pattern here), where my son-in-law works, my allergist’s practice, as well as family, neighbors and friends. To date, I have made over 400!!
I did have to try one with border print fabric. I centered the mirror image motif of the fabric in the middle of the rectangle.
I have made some masks for my family and some friends who have asked. I tried to find some “manly” fabric scraps for the guys and fun fabrics for the girls! Although, I did have to make a mask for my husband and he wanted cats – go figure! I will probably be making more for him to go to work (he is a DC police detective) as they are not providing these essential things due to the lack of resources and will be sending along any extras for other people in his office as needed.
I used quilting cottons for the outside and a Jinny batik for the inside (coordinating of course)! I had read that using batiks was good as the weave is tighter than other fabrics. I also had some extra interfacing that I added to the inside as an extra layer of protection.
I tried a few patterns but found that I liked this one the best. It can be secured around the neck and head without having to take it off and constantly be setting it down or touching it.
I have been making masks for family. I am using the Olson Mask tutorial that Diane used. I have found the long loop is more comfortable than my ancient, scratchy elastic. I made my loop tie from cotton fabric cut at 3/4” then I fold it in half lengthwise, iron it flat, then run it through my serger. So far, it is working well. I use one layer of quilting fabric and the lining is from a sheet.
I am using the patterns from millionmaskchallenge.com, which was started by a group of women in our area. There are two kinds – one is a cover for an N95 mask, and the other is a basic mask for people in their daily lives. (How weird is it that this is part of our daily lives?!)
Two indispensable items: Wonder Clips and the ByAnnie stiletto!
I started by using some old bias and twill tapes I got from my mom, but have run out of those. After two painful evenings making bias tape, I read about the T-shirt strips. Genius!
Here is a photo of the masks I made for family in Colorado, a mix of the Olson Mask using ponytail holders for the ear elastic (more comfortable and readily available at my grocery store), and pleated masks with ties made of cross grain cut 2″ strips.
Yesterday, I received a phone call from my contact at Operation Homefront, a non-profit to which my quilt guild donates baby blankets for the baby bundles they give to new military moms. I was asked if I could ask my quilting friends to make masks (any kind, ties or elastic, formed or pleated) for distribution at Walter Reed Hospital.
Off to the loft to make more masks.
I’ve been making masks for my family and friends and both my sisters are doing the same. I have found doing the masks very calming and a way of thinking about each person as I sew for them. My son is a woodworker so he got hammer and nails, my husband sails so boats on his, my friend is a gardener, so gardening tools for her. My granddaughter, Ruthie, is learning how to ride her new bike so hers has bicycles! Here’s the pattern I’m using. I’m making version #2 in the video but not doing the pocket, just one whole piece replacing it.
Now for me…
I used the same video that Lura used above and also made #2. I have so far made the masks for family and friends. I used fusible interfacing inside for extra protection. I have a couple of tips.
Cut the interfacing about 3 inches shorter on one end then center it over the rectangle and iron it down. The extra bulk won’t be a factor in making and sewing the pleats and casing.
If you are going to make a casing to run your ties through, it can be difficult to get a safety pin through all those folds. I decided to use a medium-size metal crochet hook. It went through the casing easily and I hooked the t-shirt ties and pulled it right through.
I folded the pipe cleaners over about half an inch on each end so that the metal wouldn’t cut through the fabric with repeated washings.
When we first had the idea of showing you on the blog what the staffers are working on at home, we had no idea that it would be enough for several posts. Today, we continue on with our look into their sewing rooms.
Lura has been working on her lovely Rose Star quilt blocks for a while and now they are all done. She chose this gray-green background fabric of Jinny’s from her Coventry collection and is on the hunt for a little more to do the borders. She wonders if any Jinny Beyer fans can help?
In addition, she is another member of the staff to do the “Quarantine Quilt-along” by Gudrun Erla. Lura’s “Elvira” was done in done in Charley Harper fabrics.
Elaine finished the quilting on her husband Dan’s penguin quilt, made in commemoration of his trip to Antarctica last year. The design, “Penguin Party” is by Elizabeth Hartman. How adorable is that!
Nancy recently finished quilting this Feathered Star the night before it had to be photographed for a quilt show so the binding was only glued onto the back. This was quickly sewn down when the quarantine began. Jinny’s Aruba fabric is the background and the deep red Delhi fabric is the perfect border. The quilt was inspired by her favorite piece at the “Infinite Variety” quilt show in Manhattan in 2011.
This second quilt goes way back to the 2013 Quilters’ Quest. It was called “Potomac Charms” and the top was a sample for the Studio. Working on the hand quilting this winter with a “big stitch” it reminded her of an Alpine sunset seen while hiking this past summer and the quilt was renamed “Mont Blanc Sunset.”
And finally, the step-outs for Nancy’s “No Tear Paper Piecing” class were getting a little ratty so she just sewed them all together. The quilt is filled with Jinny’s fabric and Palette #122 makes the perfect background. She’s now working on a pieced border with 100+ flying geese.
We hope you’ve enjoyed looking into what the staff has been up to. At the rate they are sewing away, we will be back with more soon.
When bad weather forces us to close the Studio, we spend our day as many of you would—working on our quilting projects. Here’s a quick look at how many of we staffers spent our free day.
Jinny is currently in the middle of taping the lessons for her new block of the month, Stellaris, so that’s what she worked on all while watching the birds and snow outside her window.
Nancy finished up the machine quilting on one quilt and continued hand quilting with a “big stitch” on a Quest quilt from 2013.
J.J. visited her brother in Utah last fall and discovered a BOM called Sewology from American Quilting, a quilt shop in Orem. Here is a photo of the beginning of hers along with her cat, Buckeye. Can you guess that J.J. is from Ohio?
For Linda, it was a day of catching up with projects. Putting binding on a class sample, labels on recently finished quilts, the next block in the Moon Glow staff challenge (more on that in another blog) and continuing to hand piece 9-patches for Jack’s Chain quilt is how she spent her day. The lighting is perfect in the sunroom on a snow day!
Maria is at Bethany Beach with five quilting friends. (Aren’t we jealous!) With wonderful company and food, she is working on the appliqué part of her Jen Kingwell “Golden Days“ quilt.
With two new grandsons born 3 weeks apart, Lura is hard at work on baby quilts. On the left of each quilt are possible backings.
Julia quilted a baby quilt for an Operation Homefront baby shower.
Judy summed it up when she said, “So it’s amazing how much you can do without interruptions.” She worked on the Moon Glow blocks and put together the blocks for a charity quilt. She also finished up the machine appliqué on a BOM border and put on the last border so it’s ready for quilting. Wow, she did accomplish a lot.
And finally, Rebecca started the day with a little hand quilting on her Facets quilt then headed to the airport to catch a flight to Nashville and the QuiltCon quilt show. We know she made it as far as the gate and hope she got out.
Whether it is snowy like here in the DC area or warm and sunny where you are, everyone should take a “snow day” every now and then.
This is the time of year that I am working diligently on our quilt and pattern for our annual shop hop, Quilters’ Quest. The event is earlier this year (October 19-28), so I have to work even faster. As was the case last year, I want to share with you the planning and designing of the project.
The first step is to plan the color scheme. This year, since we selected the cruising theme “Anchors Aweigh,” we chose colors that are often reminiscent of warm tropical waters and sea glass found on the beach.
The next step was to decide on the size and amount of the fabric swatches each shop would have available for the customers to either purchase or receive for free, depending on the amount of their purchase. This year we selected six 2 ½” by the width of the fabric strips. Each shop selected six fabrics that would fit within the color palette shown here.
At our next meeting, everyone brought 10 sets of their chosen 2½” strips and we participated in a “swatch swap.” Each shop went away with 10 sets of fabrics, one set from each shop for a total of 60 different fabrics.
Now is when the fun begins. Each shop must make a quilt using as many of the swatches as they can. They can also add other fabrics if they wish. One of the perks of the Quest is that you receive a free pattern for a shop’s quilt when visiting during the Quest. Participants can collect all the swatches and decide which of the Quest quilts they like the best. Most shops have “finishing kits” available to make their version of the quilt.
Since the cruise destination for our shop is Hawaii, I wanted to design a quilt that would fit in with that theme, and thought the beach at Waikiki with its high rise hotels seemingly emerging from the sea would be a perfect inspiration.
Sixty-degree diamonds are one of my favorite shapes, and since they are very easy to cut from 2 ½” strips, a fragmented, shaded diamond design seemed a perfect choice for the Studio’s quilt. Value placement is so important in this type of design so I always do preliminary designing in black and white. I tried shading the diamonds in two ways, dark to light lengthwise and dark to light sideways. I played around with the configurations of these two block units until I arrived at a design I liked. It is actually a takeoff on one of my personal quilts from several years ago…I will share this with you when the finished quilt is revealed.
Stay tuned. Next week I will share with you how I sorted and shaded the fabrics.
It has been a year since the Garden Club of Virginia asked if we would be willing to have our house and gardens on the annual Historic Garden Week tour which takes place each year at this time. I have been working ever since getting the house and gardens in tip top shape.
With the tour taking place after a spell of unusual weather, I worried that there might not be any color, that it would be after the redbud and dogwood bloom and before many of the perennials, peonies and other flowering trees and shrubs were out. But we have had a late and cool spring and with the redbuds just starting to bloom, the dogwoods are beginning to open their flowers, late daffodils are still out and my ever-favorite spring perennial, the hellebores, are still in full glory.
I thought those of you who cannot come on the house and garden tour might like a little preview of some of what is blooming. Also, you can get a sneak peak at some parts of our house in this video clip that was filmed a couple of weeks ago. The shop owners who are all a part of our annual Quilters’ Quest Shop Hop met at my house for some of the planning for this year’s event.
I will be at the shop tomorrow from 10-4 on April 24th to greet people from the tour and others who would like to take a drive and enjoy our beautiful spring.
The new year has started off with a flurry of activity. After a great week over the holidays with the grandkids out west (Polly loves her Ever Sewn Sparrow 20 sewing machine and has already put it to a lot of work and Emmett loves his drum set…given after I checked with the parents first) and a week recovering from the bug everyone has, I dug in and started preparing for all that lay ahead this year.
First off, I’m putting the final touches on our 2018 Block of the Month program. Everyone loved the mystery quilt theme last year so we decided to do another this year. Several of you asked for the quilt to be a little larger so it could be used as a lap quilt or throw so we have made it both rectangular and larger. The size of the quilt is 58” x 63”.
Once again there are video lessons to go along with each clue and the pattern and lessons are free to subscribers of our newsletter. If you do not receive our free monthly newsletters, be sure to sign up on our homepage. The first clue will appear in the April newsletter.
I have designed this year’s quilt in four colorways and we will have kits available. Information on ordering the kits will be in our February newsletter.
On another note, we have already had our first meeting for the 2018 Quilters’ Quest, our annual shop hop. The most important thing for now is to mark the dates on your calendar. Because Quilt Market and Festival in Houston are a week later this year we didn’t want to push our dates any closer to Thanksgiving. Therefore, the 2018 Quest is scheduled for October 19th through 28th. The weather should be warmer, the fall colors beautiful for your drive, and we will not yet have set our clocks back so it will be lighter! All good and we look forward to another successful year.
This past Quest we had many people attend from out of the area. In fact, we had people from 32 of our states and four foreign countries. We hope to see even more of you this year. Each of the shops will be having at least one bus. So, leave the driving to us and sign up for one of the two-day bus tours. More information on the days of the buses will be available soon.
In this cold winter, at least here in the states, bundle up and have fun quilting!
This summer seems to have flown by and as usual I have been busy with garden, family and quilting. Sadness for all of the extended family was the passing of my sister, Linda. She had fought a long battle with cancer and finally lost. But her amazing spirit through it all was an inspiration to everyone who knew her. I feel so fortunate that I was able to fly to the west coast in June and spend a quality week with her. I returned in July for another week for the celebration of her life.
As usual in the summertime we start gearing up full tilt for the Shop Hop in November. This is our annual “Quilter’s Quest” which takes place for 10 days in November from the 9th to the 18th.
Each year we plan a color scheme and each shop selects a group of fabrics that fall within the range of those colors. As participants go to each shop they can purchase the swatches for $4.00 or if they spend $30 they can get them for free! This is our 2017 color palette.
This year the “Quest Cuts” are eight six inch squares. We all get together and trade our sets with each other so every shop ends up with a complete set of 80 swatches. Then comes the fun part. Each shop designs a quilt based on the Quest Cuts. As you go to the shops you will receive a free pattern for that shop’s quilt. Many of the shops offer “finishing kits” so that you can make a quilt from the pattern you like the best!
We have decided to have a “movie” theme this year and each shop has selected a movie and will enhance their shop according to the movie they select. We chose the movie Around the World in 80 Days.
It is a great event and all 10 shops have put together a fun video that tells you all about it.
In the past I have shared with you the progress of the quilt as I work on it over the summer. I wanted the design of our quilt to reflect on the movie theme. The 1956 film is about a Victorian Englishman who bets he can circumnavigate the globe in 80 days. Here is a little sneak peak of the progress.
You all know how much I love shading fabrics together, so that was my first task. I needed four groups with 12 values of colors in each one, going from light to dark.
While the pattern for the quilt will be foundation piecing, I worked with templates, because I needed to move pieces around as I created the design. The hardest part was drafting the pattern, from there the rest was easy. Here is just a small portion of some of the pieces arranged on a design wall. It took me more than a week to get the pieces the way I wanted them and then only about a week to hand piece.
The quilt is now in my quilting frame and I work on it as I watch the Washington Nationals’ baseball games. Here is a small portion of the quilting in progress. I will share the complete design when the quilt is finished.
This morning I was given the wonderful opportunity to visit the Sacred Threads exhibit as finishing touches were added. If you are not familiar with Sacred Threads, I would guess that you’ve probably never seen anything quite like it.
Back in 1999, fellow quilter, Vikki Pignatelli, gathered a small group of women to discuss their idea to present quilts with topics that you wouldn’t ordinarily see at quilt shows, giving quilters a venue to freely express themselves. Their idea was to create “a dignified exhibit of artwork that would touch all those who viewed it on both spiritual and personal levels.”
Since 2011, we have been fortunate enough to have this exhibit here in Northern Virginia. Four former members of the Studio and Seminar staffs are on the committee and they invited me to take a sneak peek.
This biennial exhibit is divided into the themes of Joy, Spirituality, Inspiration, Grief, Healing and Peace/Brotherhood and does not focus on any particular religion or faith.
As I first stepped in, my eye was caught by a quilt so obviously filled with joy.
Throughout the exhibit, the quilts told the stories and experiences of life but it was also fascinating, as a quilter, to see how these artists expressed themselves whether their work leaned towards the traditional or abstract. The workmanship of so many of these pieces amazed and impressed me.
There was even a special exhibit in honor of Yvonne Porcella who passed away last year. I was able to look through these quilts before they were hung and they certainly brought a smile to my face as they reminded me so of Yvonne.
The exhibit runs July 7th through July 23rd at the Floris United Methodist Church in Herndon, Virginia. Visit their website, www.sacredthreadsquilts.com, for hours and directions. You’ll also find information about “Meet the Artist Weekend” including dinners and more, plus location and dates for the traveling Sacred Threads exhibit. I encourage all who live in the area or who will be visiting during the time of the show to see the spectacular, inspirational exhibit.