Posted on 30 Comments

Getting to Know Jinny Beyer

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!

 

Jinny’s first quilt made with Indian hand block printed cottons, Grandmother’s Flower Garden

 

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.

 

Ray of Light

 

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.”

30 thoughts on “Getting to Know Jinny Beyer

  1. That was a great story to tell, thank you. I remember those calico days!

  2. Looking forward to more of Jinny’s quilt stories. Thank you for letting me get to know you “better”.

  3. Thank you for the information. I have been admiring your work since I began my quilting life in the early 80’s and, of course, have your books!

  4. Thank you for sharing

  5. Ray of Light caught my attention … I’ve “followed” you for 40+ years.
    (Yes, my first quilt was made with a solid, a calico and muslin background)

  6. “Quilting had reached its peak” oh were they wrong! I’ve followed you for years and have several of your books. Thank you for sharing your beginning in the quilt world.

  7. I remember taking a workshop taught by you in the early 80’s . It was sponsored by the Northwest Suburban Quilters Guild.
    I was so in awe of you that I just kept staring and when I went home I had no idea what the class was about.

  8. Thank you for your story. It was on my bucket list to visit your store. Because I missed that opportunity I’m glad you will be sending these articles. I did get to meet you in 2004 in Tupelo, Mississippi. Even though you had a bad burn on your hand you graciously autographed some fabric for me and I treasure the picture of the two of us you allowed me to take. I fell in love with your fabrics and how well they blend. Your border prints are incredibly wonderful to work with; always in perfection with the grain of the fabric and cut so true. You are, and always will be my favorite fabric designer, quilt designer and teacher. Best of luck to you in the coming years.

  9. Jinny, I met you when you were at Chautauqua and have been a fan ever since. I’ve completed several of your quilts. You are such an inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing your unbelievable talents. Your styles and techniques are so unique. Forever a follower.

  10. Thank you for sharing your story … I remember those ‘calico’ days … and am grateful for the fabric designers of today

  11. I enjoy this story each time I hear it…so grateful for your contributions to the quilting universe!

  12. Thank you for all your pioneering to make quilting a piece of art. I remember my grandmother making quilts but seemed more for utility than for beauty. I sewed all my life but not until I retired from work to take care of my mother-in-law that I started watching quilt shows on TV and seeing quilts in beautiful colors and designs like yours and others that I was hooked on quilts. I m now in my 80’s so I’m seeing less but enjoying other artists. You are one of my favorites except I quit with a machine and not by hand. (To much arthritis). Keep quilting as long as you can!

  13. I studied the use of colour through Jinny Beyer books, starting with the first one and continuing through all the rest of them … thank you Jinny!

  14. I have always loved listening to Jinny’s stories about her life and her journey during club. I am thankful that the sharing is continuing even if it isn’t in person. Jinny is always so encouraging to those of us who are trying to improve our skills. Thank you Jinny for being so inspirational.

  15. I became a quilter after seeing your Ray of Light quilt. I had the joy of shopping in your store- it took me three hours!!

  16. I started quilting sometime in the ’90s , pre internet, google, Utube etc. As I was a latecomer to quilting, I went to quilt shows, took classes, joined guilds, formed Friendship groups, slowly discovering my aptitude and love of colour.
    By chance I came across Jinny and some years later, 2014, joined a group going with her to Gujarat in India. What a memorable experience that was.
    I have even made a Diamond quilt, entirely by hand; borders and all !
    Who ever would have thought !

  17. Your sense of colours and designing of quilts is just amazingly mind boggling. Am from India so it’s nice to know you have been here in our lovely country.
    Am just in awe … God bless you good health and may you inspire quilt world always

  18. I have admired your work and fabric line, which I have purchased several kits and fat quarter bundles. Several years ago a group of us made Galaxy of the Stars. My Mom hand pieced hers while the rest of us machine pieced ours. Thank you for your Inspiration

  19. Your ‘Ray Of Light’ was what really got me interested in quilting. Have now been quilting for over 40 years. Still have a few pieces of those early day prints when 100 percent cotton was so hard to find.
    Jinny Beyer, Darra Williamson and Judy Dales were the three quilters who most influenced me and I admired the most. Each for different reasons. I am now in my 80’s and still prefer hand quilting, just takes a little longer but has kept my fingers working. Now make mostly miniature or small wall hangings. Keep up the good work Jinny.

  20. Comunque sei entrata, io avrei voluto fare più o meno quello che fai tu e forse ho sbagliato a non cogliere le opportunità, ma mi piace comunque apprezzare le cose belle che fai.

    1. Translation: However you entered, I would have liked to do more or less what you do and maybe I was wrong not to take the opportunities, but I still like to appreciate the beautiful things you do.

  21. Jinny, my husband (now a quilter, too) and I first found out about you in an episode of Alex Anderson’s quilt program back in 1998. We have purchased some of your books (I love your color wheel concept and your “step-by-step” hand sewing illustrations) – which many times serve as a reference guide for specific projects- and, throughout the years we continue to purchase your fabrics. We had the privilege of visiting your shop twice & meeting you in person. I, too, love sewing and embroidery by hand but, because I work outside of the home I do machine piecing & quilting as well. We are so happy to know that you continue your business through the internet and, most of all, it’s great that you remain communicating & interacting within our quilting community. Your experiences , sewing/quilting techniques and beautiful fabric and pattern designs are an inspiration to all of us. Thank you!! for sharing with us your love and talents for sewing and quilting.

  22. I shared your recent blog posting with the Chagrin Falls Quilters. I still get together with them every Saturday night (on Facetime with Loanne Hamje, Janet Lewis, Teddy Rockwell, and Ellen Cieslak). We are spread out now from the Boston area to Michigan, but are all still quilting and able to share memories every week of over 25 years at Hilton Head. Bonds of love and memories of quilting sisterhood born at HH never die!

  23. Jinny,
    I will always have great memories how your staff helped me with fabric for my first major quilt using the Genesis quilt pattern from back in 2003? I didn’t know what I was doing but I got the fabric right because of you all. Thank you so much again. It is still my favorite.

  24. What a pleasure to read your article, I bought your fabrics years ago in Ontario. Still have a border print that I made mirror image blocks with in a workshop with Rosemary Makeham. Yes I am old and still have that quilt, thank you for your inspirational fabrics. Penny

  25. This blog brings back many memories: I started quilting over 30 years ago in The Netherlands and I bought your books. I learned so much from them, about designing blocks, four-patches, nine patches, medallion quilts and compasses, and of course later on Tessellations!! It’s knowledge I still use when I teach Electric Quilt software. It’s nice to get to know you better in this blog and how it all started. Greetings, Maria from The Netherlands

  26. When are you coming to the UK Jinny? We were very disappointed when your visit a while ago was cancelled.

  27. I first heard of you when your picture and a picture of your lovely Ray of Light quilt appeared in a copy of Mother Earth Magazine. I think it was in the early 1970’s. I had a trip planned to your studio last September but sadly that was not to be. I have two copies of your book, Quilt Making by Hand. One fir the coffee table and one that is highly used. Thank you for all you have done for the quilting world.

  28. You fabrics and your VHS videos awakened me to new possibilities in quilting. I will be forever grateful for the colors and designs you brought to life through your persistence and determination on behalf of quilters.

    1. You were a HUGE inspiration to me when I started quilting almost 30 years ago!!! I used your book on medallion quilts to help me design my second quilt and have been designing my own quilts ever since. I have many of your books and my quilts contain many of your fabrics. You really helped “launch” my own wonderful quilt making journey. Thank you so much!!!

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