Posted on 5 Comments

Back at the Beyer Homestead and Those Mysterious Bones

IMG_5177So, I guess I left some of you in the dark after my post about my recent Australia trip. Jet lag had taken over and I was up at 3 am when I received an email message from a neighbor hoping all was okay at our house because she saw three police cars going onto our property. Being halfway around the world, that is a little disconcerting. Knowing my husband never checks email, I sent a message to the shop and asked if they could find out what was going on.

We have some outside landscaping projects going on and the contractor was digging a hole for a footer when he dug up some bones. By law they have to contact the police whenever bones are found.

We live in a 275-year-old farm house and we have never definitively pinpointed where the old family graveyard is. We have a couple of tombstones that were preserved over the years in one of our chimneys. When one end of the house was added onto, that chimney now became part of the master bedroom.  (Yes, I have tombstones in my bedroom!) My first thought was that the bones might be part of the cemetery.

FullSizeRenderBottom line, after five more police cars came (they were all interested in seeing the old house that they didn’t even know was here) along with a forensic pathologist, the determination was that the bones belonged to a horse or cow.

Mayflower inspiration_edited-1
The flowers in my garden that inspired my quilt “Mayflowers.”

A short time after returning from Australia, I was off to Quilt Market in Minneapolis and am now back home for a while. It is a glorious spring day with my vegetable garden thriving and already producing onions, a variety of greens, peas, rhubarb and strawberries. The tomato plants are flourishing and the potatoes, as always this time of the year, look healthy and make quite a splash in the garden. This is also the time when so many spring flowers are blooming. Last spring, I was consumed with designing the Block of the Month for Craftsy and preparing for the taping. I felt as though I missed the entire gardening season. I was determined that this year I would take the time to literally “stop and smell the roses.” Sometimes you just have to take time off from quilting to enjoy the beauty of the seasons.

Greens, peas and onions and rhubarb and potatoes

Posted on 18 Comments

Simple Stitches, Exquisite Quilts

WindowsIt was with a little bit of trepidation that I waved goodbye to the majority of my personal quilts I have made.  They were loaded into an SUV to be taken to the Virginia Quilt Museum in Harrisonburg for their three month exhibit “Simple Stitches, Exquisite Quilts.” I told my friend, Bunnie Jordon, the exhibit’s curator who was driving them down, “There goes my life’s work.”  No pressure there!

Many of my longtime friends helped to hang the quilts. Since this experience has been something akin to handing over my children, this calmed me…somewhat.

VQM InstallAs you know, I make all of my quilts by hand. People think I am crazy to do everything by hand and they marvel that I do it but wonder why.

Ray of Light
Ray of Light

But to me handwork is a solace. Sitting and stitching by hand and thinking about what is going on in my life spins the events of everyday life into the quilts. It is sort of a meditation – you don’t have to rush, finish, get it done. I can just relax and enjoy the moment. That is what hand stitching is to me.

I can look at each of those quilts and know where I was when I was making it, what was happening in my life at that time and each one brings back memories.

The exhibit will have 18 of my personal quilts including “Ray of Light” and “Windows” as well as 21 quilts from my charm quilt collection.

3 Quilts
Sundance, Day Lilies, and Ode to Vasarely

A quilt where every piece is cut from a different fabric is called a charm quilt.  Charm quilts are usually made with pieces cut from a single shape such as a square, diamond, triangle or hexagon. Tumbling Blocks is one of my favorite designs for a charm quilt and is a great hand-piecing project.  I love these unique quilts and often use their many fabrics as inspiration for my fabric designs.

My exhibit at the museum runs through April 25.  I will be giving a lecture, to be followed by a reception, on February 22.  I would love to have you join me.  For more information, please visit the Virginia Quilt Museum website.


Posted on 2 Comments

Travel to Costa-Rica & Australia

One of the benefits of being in the quilt profession is the wonderful places I get to travel to.  Next up for me is a trip with Jim West and Sew Many Places to Costa Rica. While I’ve visited there a couple of times for pure relaxation, I have not seen a lot of the country. I’m particularly excited to go with the group to the village of Sarchi.

Sarchi is a key artisan town in Costa Rica best known for its vibrant and lavishly decorated oxcarts. These oxcarts were first used in the mid-nineteenth century to transport coffee and other goods to port cities for export overseas. The addition of painting and carving to what had begun as simply utilitarian transportation started in the early twentieth century. Don’t you just love the many compass designs?

The colors and designs are so great to look at!
The colors and designs are so great to look at!

I’ve always loved  mariners compass-type designs and when I look at these amazing oxcart wheels I see endless quilt inspiration. What a design eye opener for all of us. We’ll definitely be talking about quilt possibilities!

Compass copyThe trip had been sold out but we have just had two last minute cancellations. Are you looking for reprieve from this winter? Why not come join me and my small band of fellow travelers in visiting Sarchi plus the jungle and gorgeous tropical waters? If you are interested, simply contact Sew Many Places for the details.



If Costa Rica is a little too soon for you, Jim has also just announced our last minute decision to go on an Austrailian expedition in April.


I’ve been to Australia so many times and am really looking forward to sharing my love of the country with participants on the tour. We’ll be visiting the Australian Quilt Convention, Sydney and the countryside. There is also an optional tour of New Zealand. The Australian trip is limited to only 16 people so it should be a wonderful opportunity to get to know each other. Because while one benefit of my quilting life may be the travel, the best benefit truly is the wonderful people I meet along the way.

Posted on 3 Comments

Fun With Puzzle Balls

Boxes!Wow! We’ve really started the New Year off with a bang here at the Studio.  It’s been incredibly busy!  I suppose with all of the nasty weather across the US, many of you are staying in your cozy homes and quilting.  If you’ve ordered from us, it may take us just a little longer to get your orders out so thank you in advance for your patience.

Thank you also for the fabulous response to my project with Craftsy.  We’ve been getting lots of calls here at the Studio about Craftsy’s BOM program. While my customer service staffers can answer lots of questions, the BOM program is Craftsy’s so it is Craftsy who can best answer the questions.  Here is their Help Center link where you can get answers to frequently asked questions.  They will continue to add FAQs to this button

Now for a fun project and a great idea…..

Puzzle ball bookWhen I first designed my Puzzle Balls many years ago, I thought of them as a great take-along hand project and as a wonderful project when teaching children to hand piece.  What never occurred to me was how popular they would be with animal lovers and their pets.

Many a customer has come into the Studio or written to tell us how much their pets enjoy batting them around.  They seem to be most appealing to cats and many of their owners will insert little noisemakers, like bells or even catnip inside which make them even more fun.

I recently received a letter from Amy L. from Lowell, MA.  Amy is a member of the Chelmsford Quilters’ Guild.  She started making a few puzzle balls for her family and friends. Most ended up as pin cushions, but one she made specifically as a cat toy for a cat belonging to friends.

Since Amy is fond of Siamese cats, friends suggested she adopt a cat through Siamese Cat Rescue Center.  The Siamese Cat Rescue Center has a circle of volunteers who can transport cats all up and down the coast.  Little Rumi made the 9-hour trip from Virginia to Massachusetts.

The aforementioned Rumi, he is a little camera shy.
The aforementioned Rumi, he is a little camera shy.

Trying to find a quilting project to work on, Amy remembered the puzzle balls and how her friends’ cats enjoyed them. She began the Meezer Teaser project as a fund-raising project for the Siamese Cat Rescue Center who gave her Rumi.  This organization works to rescue Siamese before they are euthanized at shelters and to offer a variety of information and resources related to the Siamese cat.

MT LogoUsing scraps from wherever she can get them along with polyester fiberfill (and later catnip) , Amy makes up little baggies with the parts for the puzzle balls so she can just grab them and her sewing case to work on them wherever she goes. The Siamese Cat Rescue Center will be selling them through their fundraising storefront called “The Siamese Store.” (Note: They are not yet on their website.)

Miko, the "action cat" playing with the puzzle balls.
Miko, the “action cat” playing with the puzzle balls.

What a wonderful idea Amy has had. We wish you luck, Amy, with this wonderful fundraising effort. When events in the world get a little scary, it is nice be reminded of these small acts of caring and the contributions each of us can make.

Posted on 15 Comments

So now the best kept secret is out!

Craftsy BOM final quilt
Craftsy 2015 BOM Quilt

So now the best kept secret is out. Craftsy, RJR Fabrics and I have just announced our partnership in presenting the 2015 Craftsy Block of the month. During all my blogs these last eight months it was very difficult for me not to mention this project that was consuming a major amount of my time.

We worked very hard to present a program that covered a wide variety of quilting skills and each month students learn a different technique. We will cover hand and machine piecing, paper piecing, two methods of applique, mitering, working with border prints and more.

All of my summer and the better part of three more months was spent on developing this Craftsy 2015 Block of the Month. We began with preparing the outline and what would happen each month. Then there was the task of making the quilt, making all the stepouts, writing the pattern.

And finally, the production. I spent a week at the Craftsy studios in Denver and was extremely impressed with every aspect of the production and the professional way everything was handled. There were long days filming, refilming, dealing with a power outage, thunderstorms that pelted the roof so we had to stop filming because it interfered with the sound and lots more!

It was an exhilarating week and now that I see the final product I’m even more impressed.

Craftsy workshop1I’ve had so many requests the past few years to do online classes for those of you who can’t travel to the Studio here in Virginia. I’m so happy to be able to present this for you. The class is free so I encourage all of you to sign up for it through this link.

Blog image1Craftsy is the exclusive source for the kit. You can find all the information you need by visiting our site by clicking here. They have been overwhelmed by the response to the class and kit and sold out of their first order of kits within two days of announcing the class. If you receive that notice, keep checking this link periodically to see when they have restocked.

I hope you enjoy the class and I want to see photos of your quilt in progress!

Now about my sewing room situation which I shared with you last week. I’ve made a bit of progress……..I cleaned out one drawer. Hey, you have to start somewhere.

We love the “before” photos we’ve gotten from you on Facebook and the blog. Keep them coming. Staffer Diane shared her sewing room pics, and I realized now why I like her so much. Here are a couple of photos.

Diane's Workroom

Posted on 3 Comments

Quilters’ Quest 2014

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 Beyer1 copy

Jinny greets all who arrive, stamping passports and handing out finishers’ bags.

jinny greeter

We have lots of items made just for the Quest with our gorgeous Quest batik fabrics.

Jinny Beyer2 copy

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.

Material girls 1

Here’s the new shop on the Quest, Crazy Cousin in Fredericksburg, Virginia.Crazy Cousin

In historic Warrenton, VA, you’ll find Kelly Ann’s Quilting located in an old carriage house.

Kelly Ann copy

Scrappy Apple in Winchester, Virginia, is owned by the ever cheerful Kelly.

Scrappy AppleCottonseed Glory is located in quaint Annapolis, Maryland.

Cottonseed GloryBear’s Paw in Towson, Maryland is famous for their indoor gazebo.

Bear's Paw1

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.

Capital Quilts1

Posted on 18 Comments

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.


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

Posted on 7 Comments

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.

Posted on 4 Comments

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?

Posted on 5 Comments

Shop Hop Fun!

Every year, along with nine others shops in the area, we hold a shop hop known as Quilter’s Quest. Held each November, the planning starts months earlier. At one of our meetings this spring, we discussed another type of shop hop held during the summer known as the Row by Row Experience. Started in upstate New York just four years ago, participation is spreading across the country and we all decided to join in. We didn’t know what to expect but we have all been thrilled with the fun which has ensued.

We often get quilters from all over but this summer the quilters who have stopped by have been telling us of shops they have visited across the country and it seems that my staff, too, has caught the Row by Row bug. Here, then, are some of the places they have visited and the experiences they’ve had.

That's Sew Debbie! in Groton, Connecticut
That’s Sew Debbie! in Groton, Connecticut

Nancy accompanied her husband on a business trip to Groton, Connecticut. Visiting “That’s Sew Debbie!” she was warmly greeted by Alberta H. and delighted to find that the Row by Row patterns were on a table covered with one of my palette fabrics. She was then introduced to one of the instructors, Charlie M. Charlie is currently working on his second Moon Glow quilt (wow!) and is a great “collector” of my fabrics. I love the quilt he’s holding in the picture here and I recognize almost all of those fabrics, Charlie.

Shops in the Pennsylvania area
Shops in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area

Diane went to seven shops in two days while visiting Lancaster County, PA. Even though she has visited the area often, she discovered quilt shops there she never knew existed. One store looked so tiny from the front she normally wouldn’t have bothered to stop but upon entering was thrilled to discover it just went on and on, filled with wonderful fabric. Now it will be a regular stop on her visits there.

Kristi regularly travels between here and Greensboro, NC, and just last week decided to break up the driving with five stops at participating shops. She hadn’t been to some of the shops in years and really enjoyed seeing all the new and different fabrics they held.

Kristi with Joanne Jones, the shop owner
Kristi at Ye Olde Forest, with Joanne Jones, the shop owner

Over the weekend, one of our staff, Sharon, while visiting family in Tacoma, Washington, stopped by Calico Threads. Here she is standing with Sandy Pickering and Donna Denman who opened the shop 2 years ago.  Having lived in Tacoma in her high school years, Sharon recognized the bridge in the store’s pattern – the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

Sharon with Sandy Pickering and Donna Denman of Calico Threads in Tacoma, Washington
Sharon with Sandy Pickering and Donna Denman of Calico Threads in Tacoma, Washington

Barb stopped in at “Running Stitches” in Kent, Washington to pick-up a Row by Row pattern. She had a lovely chat with the staff and found a few fat quarters that had to come home with her (“As if I didn’t already have enough” she said). On her way out, she saw a gentleman on an adult tricycle with a basket mounted between the rear wheels. In that basket ? You guessed it, his sewing machine safely buttoned down inside its case. Too bad you didn’t get a picture of that, Barb.

As my staff visited other shops they asked themselves why they don’t do this more. Every shop carries different fabrics and has a different “feel” to it to inspire and spark your creativity. Row By Row continues through September 2nd. After that, why don’t you consider joining us in November for our Quilter’s Quest?