Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Thank You Ms. Beyer

One of the current discussion threads on the Pickle Road yahoo group I belong to is about books for hand quilters. I mentioned my two favorites, "The Perfect Stitch" by Roxanne...something, and "Quiltmaking By Hand" by Jinny Beyer. My apologies to Roxanne, but I'm too lazy to go upstairs to look at her last name on the book. The Perfect Stitch book is great for technique and the Quiltmaking By Hand book is inspirational to me on a deeper level.

I found the book at Jinny Beyer's store in Virginia during the shop hop out there. I was a pretty discouraged hand quilter at the time. None of the magazines or books widely available addressed hand quilting. I couldn't find tools or support. The books I had focused most of their pages on machine quilting and just a few on hand work. Nothing I could really use. I thought maybe people didn't do handwork and I should just give up and start using the machine. I was sad about it because the only machine I had at the time was an old Singer and it was packed in a box somewhere, plus I really liked hand sewing. And then I shop hopped my little butt into Jinny Beyer's store. The book had just been released and the quilt that's on the cover (I forget the name and I'm too lazy to go upstairs and look at the book) was hanging in the store. She made it in commemoration of 9/11. It's huge and it's gorgeous and it is entirely hand pieced and quilted. I bought an autographed copy of the book and it totally restored my faith in hand work. It reaffirmed my opinion that hand work is easier and faster in some cases than machine work. And there is something about working with a needle and thread. That book made me want to be a hand quilter. And even though I do work by machine, I consider myself a hand quilter.

I think the point is that you get what you need when you need it. You can never see the big picture. You just have to have faith that things will work out the way they are supposed to work out. When I design a quilt, I don't expect the final product to look exactly like the sketch. I start working and I change my mind, things go wrong, I forget what I was supposed to do and do something else. I once had a piece of fabric facing the wrong way when I started cutting. You know what? It's cool, man. It's just a quilt. It's going to be what it wants to be. That's life.

So here are two quilts I've made entirely from Jinny Beyer fabrics. They are hand pieced and quilted. The first is called Blue and Gold Mills quilt and it was made on the occasion of my 10 year college reunion. Jinny Beyer actually helped me pick out the fabric for this quilt. It doesn't look anything like my original design even though it is a one block quilt. The second is called Ms. Beyer's Garden Maze. It is a traditional pattern. It looks exactly like the original design. I like both of these quilts because you can't really tell where the blocks begin and end. I know what the blocks look like, but I can kind of let that go and find other patterns. I like quilts where you can squint and turn your head and see different things. That's life too.


Wendy said...

Wow -- your blog is making me realize how long it's been since I've made a quilt. I love Jinny Beyer's quilts and books and fabrics. I'm about to make a very simple around the world quilt for W's new big boy bed so it's helpful to see all the beautiful quilts you are making to get me all inspired.

City Girl Quilter said...

I think you were first person I knew who quilted. I think I may have gotten the idea to start quilting from you. Post some pictures of his quilt when you get started so I can see.