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Hand vs. Machine – There’s Room for Both

titleCardWe are approaching the third month in the Craftsy 2015 Block of the Month. This is a project I have been working on for almost a year. It has been exciting to see the level of enthusiasm and how prolific the students are. I developed the design to cover a wide variety of quilting techniques. These include both hand and machine piecing, foundation piecing, two different methods of applique, working with border prints, mitering corners and so much more. It has been interesting to hear some of the comments.

Craftsy block 1 (1)In the first month, I introduced hand piecing. Some were confused, thinking the quilt is made all by hand. We just hadn’t gotten to some of the machine techniques. Those who gave hand piecing a try, though, seemed pleasantly surprised. One student, Tracy, seemed so thrilled with her completed block that she posted this photo of it on my Facebook page with the note, “My first ever hand pieced block; this is going to be a great challenge. Thanks Jinny!” You’re welcome, Tracy. This is just the reaction a teacher loves to see.

The second month, some people were surprised that I was introducing machine techniques. Since I do all my piecing by hand, some wondered if I have “sold out” to the machine sewers.  No, no, no. Not to worry. I still hand piece and hand quilt all of my quilts. That does not mean that I can’t sew by machine. I learned to sew on my mother’s treadle machine when I was five. I have pieced by machine but find that it takes a block of time at home to do that. I never seem to have that time. I have time when I am in a doctor’s office, on a plane, in a hotel room, on a long car ride…..or watching a baseball game with my family.

Jinny piecing1I have always found handwork relaxing, and that is why I love quilting by hand. I think my very first quilt is still the one I enjoyed making the most and it was all by hand.

flower garden quiltPeople have also wondered about the durability of machine piecing versus hand piecing. I personally think hand piecing can be more durable. Machine stitching is very “tight”. If the quilt gets stretched it is possible for a stitch to break and then several stitches either side of the break unravel as well. Hand stitching is a “softer” line and the thread is less apt to break when the fabric is stretched. Just look at all of the hand pieced antique quilts around us which have survived a few generations of use.

But you know, where quilting is concerned there is no “this” or “that”, but what each individual wants or likes to do. It is still nice to be introduced to different techniques because you never know if you might find something new that you will enjoy!

If you have not signed up for this free program you can still do so. Just follow this link from our home page. You can access all of the past lessons and replay them whenever you want. New lessons will come at the beginning of each month.

First 3 blocks

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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.

VQM

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2014 Quest Quilt- Lotus

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

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

Lotus

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

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

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

QQ staff image

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Teaching Children to Sew Part II

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

Nancy and Kyra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Teaching Children to Sew

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Enjoying My Stolen Moments

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

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

QQ Star

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

Renaissance Garden
Renaissance Garden

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

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

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

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

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

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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?

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The Best Birthday Gift a Teacher Could Receive

!_MAX7115For 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:photo 2

“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.”photo 1

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.

!_MAX7133

 

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Nothing Lasts Forever

Nothing lasts forever and no matter how carefully we plan, we eventually run out of a border print used in a favorite quilt design. When that happens, I am faced with the challenge of replacing it with a current fabric. When we update kits, we’ve already done the calculations for you. But what happens if you have an old pattern of mine, you want to use a new border print and you have to figure it out? Let’s take a look at how to replace one border print for another. Sometimes the switch is easy. Some quilts, however, require a little more consideration.

Summer Lily with the original border and the new border.
Summer Lily with the original border and the new border.

We recently used up the last bolt of one of our favorite border prints, a lovely teal and blue print that complimented several quilt designs. It was featured on two quilts, Shimmering Sea and Kinabalu in the Ocean colorway. The quilts are very similar in construction style but the symmetry and use of border print are very different. Planning the substitute border print for these two quilts shows just how easy or complex this process can be.

AshfordI selected the teal colorway of the Ashford border print. The color balance and flavor were very much the same; both teal and blue with curves and flourishes, but there are a few key differences that I had to take into account when making the switch.

  • Value: A darker or lighter background behind a print will change the overall value of the border print.
  • Repeat: The width of the border stripes and the distance between the mirrored elements can change the yardage required to piece the quilt.
  • Layout: Each of my border prints has a filler strip between the wide and narrow stripes to allow for a ¼ inch seam allowance for each strips. This section is either solid or filled with additional design.

Now, let’s take a look at the two quilts.

shimmering seaShimmering Sea, does not use the border print in the block. It simply frames the assembled blocks to highlight the rich, jewel tones. The Ashford Border Print is slightly lighter than the original fabric and is slightly narrower. The lighter border print changes the balance of the quilt but requires nothing more than swapping one for the other. The final quilt is slightly smaller and the overall effect is similar.

The Ocean colorway of Kinabalu is another story.  In addition to the framing stripes, the border print is used in the block design, fussy cut and filling the corner of each block to accentuate the curved illusion. The 36 blocks require 36 identical triangles cut from the wide section of the border print.  The design repeat in this print is 12” between identical images rather than the 9” in the previous border print and the stripe is not wide enough to cut two, point to point one above the other, from each repeat. I can only cut 3 of these identical triangles from each running yard of border stripe. Yikes! That is only 18 triangles per yard of fabric. That yardage adds up quickly and leaves excess waste behind.

SS Borders copyAshford Ocean Template A Guide 6By using both mirror images, I can eliminate a good portion of that waste and drop the yardage bock down to a reasonable amount.  The triangles from Position 1 will be used in the blocks where the triangles will touch and form a larger mirrored image (see diagram). Triangles cut using position 2 are for the remaining blocks where they will not touch those from Position 1. The variation in triangle design will add to the movement in the quilt design.

Here is what those changes look like in the finished quilt:

Kinabalu copyYou can use this approach in any of my quilt designs that use a border print.  Each of the border prints currently in stock has the width and repeat information available. Just click on the small fabric image on our website to view the enlarged fabric with the design information attached (see image below).  Calculate the amount you will need for the framing borders by following the pattern and then map out any additional border print you might need to include in the blocks.

border swatchIs there a pattern on our website where you would like to change the border or color?  This is your chance to play around, experiment and have fun!

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Pictures and Palettes and Pixels – Oh My!

Back in April, I wrote a blog post on the inspiration from all of the spring colors I found on my walk.  I also passed along a tip on how to create a beautiful palette from a photograph using Photoshop.  Here in the Studio, we’ve been playing around with some favorite photographs to see what we come up with.  We also got a “pingback” from another blog on how to take this a step further. Let’s take a look.

Nancy found this pile of shells on the beach after a storm. She was so taken by the many colors of the broken shells that she had to snap this photo. Never, though, would she have guessed that you could come up with 99 different colors!

Nancy photo

Studio manager Jane has always been taken with the brilliant colors of the early blooming flowering quince.  Yes, we all see the gorgeous apricot color of the flowers along with the green leaves and grayish-brown stems, but would you ever expect all of this?

Jane photo

I recently returned from visiting my younger son and his wife in their new home in California. The view from their house is amazing. One night, there was a spectacular sunset which just seemed to get better and better. Look at how the colors change.

sunsets copyWhy, you may wonder, are we revisiting this topic? A blogger for the group called, “Pixeladies” (I love the play on words) read my blog and took this a step further with instructions on how to change Photoshop’s default swatches with those you have created from your photograph.

Sunset color palette

Once your change to the swatches has been made, how do you take that palette and put it to good use? How about filling a quilt block with your new favorite colors?

Here’s how:
1. Open your unfilled quilt block in Photoshop.  This can be any quilt block line drawing- jpeg, png, tiff or pdf)
2. With the magic wand tool, click the area in which you would like to fill with your first color.  If you want to choose more than one area, hold the shift key and select as many areas as you would like.  The “dancing ants” will outline the area chosen.
3. Choose the color from your new palette that you would like to fill the area with in the block.
4. Next, select the paint bucket tool and drop the color into the selected areas.
5. Now, have fun filling and creating! You can always Edit-Undo if you don’t like your selection or fill over top with a different color.

Sunset filled blockTake that antique quilt from your grandmother that you love so much and recreate it with a new, fresher look or design a quilt from scratch like I did with my Argyll quilt.

Argyll1