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.
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.
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.
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.
At 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Louanne 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.
Since 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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
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.
Notice 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
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.
Four hours north of Melbourne, Australia, heading towards the outback, lies the farming town of Swan Hill. Drive another half hour or more along a small road and in the middle of nowhere you will come to an old church which now serves as the patchwork shop “Miss Sampson’s Drapery”.
The church and a train crossing are basically all that is left of the town of Waitchie. But if you are in the vicinity, be sure to stop by this charming shop. I love the message about shop hours on the website. http://www.misssampsonsdrapery.com.au
Shop Hours :
Tuesday – Friday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. unless we are at a show so check the calendar and/or ring before coming!
If I’m home on Saturdays, I’m more than happy to open up as long as I know you’re coming! The same arrangement for Sundays.
We welcome very small, small and large groups for coffee and cake on their first visit, but please let me know in time so I can bake!!
The proprietor, Sue Bennett, has organized many of my teaching trips to Australia and we have become good friends over the years. Sue and her husband Malcolm and a few dogs and other animals live just down the road from the shop and always welcome visitors. If you are in the neighborhood, be sure to stop by.
Last night Sue sent me this photo of the vista she is seeing right now out her back door. Can you guess what it is? I use it for cooking almost every day but never saw it growing.
Sue, here are the colors. Now I’m waiting for the canola quilt!
For three years in a row I taught classes in Ukraine. The students were so diligent and were like sponges for the information I had to give them. The best part was that I was teaching them design ideas and not a specific project.
Recently I celebrated my birthday and two of my Ukranian students, Lena Koroleva and Miri Tsoi gathered together several of their quilts and took these wonderful photographs and sent then to me along with birthday wishes. I remember with joy each of the classes I taught in Ukraine and it makes me so proud to see that they have taken the design ideas and turned them into their own quilts.
It is also wonderful to see that they are passing those skills on. A few days earlier, Lena also sent me photographs of students in classes they are teaching. This was the message she attached with the photos:
“Ukraine is experiencing hard times, but people rallied around our common disaster, all helping each other, to help the army and refugees from areas captured. In occupied by terrorists city of Donetsk live almost all my relatives (Donetsk is a city in which I was born and lived for more than 30 years). I am very worried about them.
Yesterday I and Miri Tsoi organized for refugee children from the Donetsk region free master classes on patchwork.”
With all the strife going on in that country right now it is great to see that Patchwork is still going on and brings some measure of joy to the people.
Many of you may not know that in the early years of our married life my husband, John, and I spent several years living outside the United States. First it was Sarawak (a part of the Federation of Malaysia) on the island of Borneo, then Colombia in South America, next Nepal and finally India.
When we left India to return back to the U.S., we decided to take a side trip to Kenya to see some of the game reserves and visit that beautiful country. By then we had three children, ages 8, 6 and 2. This was in 1972 and there were not a lot of restrictions when traveling to the game parks. Back then we rented a Volkswagen Beetle, loaded it with our family of five, and toured the game parks on our own. We saw incredible wildlife, were chased by a rogue elephant, stayed in humble accommodations, and had quite some adventures.
I’m so excited that I will return to Kenya in February for the first time since 1972. I will be going on another Sew Many Places Adventure with Jim West. This time there will be luxury accommodations along with trips to the parks very well supervised by an expert guide for every four-person safari vehicle. In addition to all the wildlife we will see, other highlights of the trip include a visit to the Kazuri Bead factory, Karen Blixen’s home from Out of Africa fame, an elephant orphanage, a Samburu village and a giraffe sanctuary. It will be fun to revisit my first trip and share new experiences with people on the tour.
One of my favorite YouTube videos is this one. Watch the whole thing…..it is pretty amazing and has a surprise (and happy) ending. We may not quite experience this kind of sight……but you never know.
There are still a few places left on the expedition. Jim West always does a wonderful job with his tours and I feel comfortable knowing I am safe with everything is taken care of from start to finish. I hope some of you will be inspired to join me and Jim on this once in a lifetime experience (fortunately for me, I get two chances.)
Thank you to Jim West for allowing us to use his beautiful photographs.