Jinny Beyer Seminar: The end of an institution

It’s ironic that this blog begins with an ending. In 1998 I attended my first Jinny Beyer Hilton Head Seminar. In 2009 I attended my 12th and last seminar.  After 29 years, the Jinny Beyer Hilton Head seminar is no more. 2009 was the final seminar. Last year Jinny said she was too old to train new seminar staff.

I took Jinny’s color class at G Street Fabrics in the summer of 1997. I was interested in attending the seminar but I thought everyone who attended made quilts like Jinny’s. I told Jinny I was intimidated by the seminar quilts in her books. She told me that all levels of quilters attended and encouraged me to come. I’m glad I worked up the nerve to ask her about it because I had a great time and attended every year since then. Here’s what I wrote about my first seminar experience back in 1998:

                                                               Hilton Head Diary

 

Sun, Jan 25

The cats are in storage (boarding at the vet), the bags are packed – time to hit the road. First stop – Mary Jo’s Cloth Store in Gastonia, NC.

 

Mon, Jan 26

Spent 3 hours at Mary Jo’s. What a place! A fabric store the size of Wal-Mart. And all of it 1/3 to ½ less than here. Fortunately I had a plan, so I wasn’t overwhelmed. I wished I’d had a couple more hours, though. Good thing my birthday is next week ‘cause I spent my birthday money twice over.

 

Arrived at Hilton Head about 6 p.m. Glad I got here before full dark. It’s a very confusing place. Finally saw a sign for the hotel and turned into a lane. Wound around for a while and came to a guard kiosk. He gave me a pink card and told me to keep going. Wound around a while longer and finally found the hotel.

 

My roommate is PN from New Hampshire. She doesn’t get in until tomorrow afternoon. The room has 2 queen size beds, 2 occasional chairs, a dining table with 4 chairs and a kitchenette with a microwave, refrigerator, toaster, coffee maker and garbage disposal. We have a lovely view of the parking lot although we also get a peek at the ocean.

 

Tues, Jan 27

No morning session for me so I got up late, had a leisurely breakfast at the table in our room. The rain stopped for awhile so I went for a walk on the beach. I registered for the seminar at noon since I had an afternoon session. The seminar theme this year is Innovative Charms. A charm quilt is a one-patch quilt where every patch is a different fabric, no repeats.

 

We got a large zip-top canvas tote bag with the seminar logo on it. In the bag were a Mountain Mist batt for miniature quilts, a Fairfield batt with a vest pattern, a charm quilt pattern designed by Jinny (Palette Charm which is on her web site) as well as precut pieces of all the palette fabrics needed to make the quilt. We only need to supply some background and border fabrics. The center of the quilt is about 26″ square. There was also a book of charm quilt worksheets by Cindi Edgerton (donated by Cindi). Wouldn’t you know I just bought this book a couple of weeks ago because it fit in with the seminar theme? Now I can have one at home and one at work. There were also quilt labels from Mountain Mist and Jinny Beyer and some other miscellaneous stuff including 2 paper piecing papers from McCall’s. I also got a handwritten welcome note from Jinny.

 

My afternoon session was Computer Magic with Jinny Beyer. It was a demonstration rather than hands on. She showed us how she drafts block on the computer, designs the quilts on her web site and the illustrations for her books as well as how she designs her fabrics. She recommended the new book Quilter’s Computer Companion I can’t wait to buy a good drawing program and for my wrist to heal so I can use it.

 

At 4:30 the quilt show and quilt shop opened. I went to the quilt show first to avoid the feeding frenzy at the shop. The quilt show has quilts from Jinny’s collection of antique charm quilts, quilts made by Jinny and her staff, some of which are in various stages of completion, including pieces pinned to design walls. Some of Deirdre Amsden’s colourwash quilts are there also. Deirdre is the featured guest speaker this year.

 

The shop contains all the stuff Jinny sells through her mail order business. All her fabrics that she still has any of were there as well as all the supplies anyone could need for the seminar. She’s designed 2000 fabrics in the last 10-15 years. It was an astounding sight. I’m trying not to get carried away by all the beautiful fabrics since I already spent my wad at Mary Jo’s.

 

Tonight the first-timers met with Jinny for orientation.

 

Wed, Jan 28

This morning my session is Patchwork Pattern Drafting with Jinny. They recommend that anyone who hasn’t had this class take it. It was fast-paced and fun. Even though geometry was not my best subject in school, I enjoy drafting patterns.

 

During lunch I went for a walk on the beach. The sun was shining and the wind was blowing. It blew my name tag out of its holder so I had to get a new one when I got back to the hotel. Carole Nicholas, the seminar manager, wrote out a new one for me, including all of the information on the back about which sessions I was in on what day.

 

The first seminar session started at 2 p.m. We were warned that Jinny starts on time. Jinny lectures to the entire group of 250 or so. We are divided into groups and assigned to a breakout leader. The breakout leader keeps us on track during the exercises and leads the breakout sessions. There are 9 or 10 of us at each table. We have a program booklet that tells us what happens when and which supplies we need for each session.

 

Jinny moves quickly. For the design exercises they gave us worksheets which contained a variety of shaded units made from the shape we chose last August after signing up for the seminar. Jinny demonstrated with a square. I thought a square was kind of boring till I saw some of the designs she came up with by playing with different shaded units. When I played with my shape before the seminar I could only come up with 2 units. My worksheet has a bunch of different units I would never have thought of. For each exercise we cut out the paper units and played with them to see what designs we came up with. My shape is curvy and the pieces on my worksheet small so I couldn’t keep up. The afternoon was over before I knew it. The breakout leader said Jinny timed them doing the same exercises so she would know how long to spend on each exercise. I was afraid I’d be intimidated by the design exercises but the worksheets made it easy.

During the exercises Jinny didn’t have anything to do so she drew names for door prizes. The most coveted door prize was a complete set of Omnigrid rulers and a mat. I won it! I was so busy with the exercise I did hear my name but had no idea what I’d won till the folks at the other tables told me. Each doorprize comes with a thank you card with the seminar logo, the envelope is addressed to the vendor who donated the prize and stamped. All I have to do is write the note and drop it in the mail.

On the way out of the seminar I meet another woman from Columbia and encouraged her to come to Faithful Circle (my guild). I did a little more shopping at the store but couldn’t get the full packet of worksheets for all 15 shapes because they sold out in a flash. They’re getting more made up and took names to make sure everyone who asks gets one. As one participant said, “this seminar is a class act”. While standing in the checkout line I saw someone from Charleston, IL. This town is 10 miles from my parents. We got to talking and it turns out that her husband was my high school zoology lab partner. Her roommate’s sister lives down the street from my parents. It’s a small world, isn’t it?

 

Tonight we had a reception and banquet. Gourmet food at both. I was stuffed. Deirdre Amsden gave a talk and slide show about her quilting history and how her colourwash quilts have evolved over the last 25 years – she made her first one in 1974 or so.

 

Jinny said there were 237 of us from 6 countries and 37 states plus the Virgin Islands. One woman from North Carolina couldn’t come because she was snowed in by that bad storm. The countries were Canada, England, Switzerland, Netherlands, France and New Zealand. Ohio had the largest number of participants with a contest between Chagrin Falls and Cleveland or Cinncinati (I forget which). Chagrin Falls won. Mabeth Oxenrider won her seminar trip but I didn’t catch which contest it was. She’s from the town in Iowa where the septuplets live. Banquet didn’t end until 10 p.m. I’m beat.

 

Thurs, Jan 29

Had another small world experience at breakfast this morning. As I was waiting to go in a couple came up behind me and the woman said “Good morning, Barbara”. I wasn’t wearing my name tag and I didn’t recognize her so I asked how she knew my name. Her name didn’t ring any bells for me. Turns out she retired from Social Security 3 years ago and we both worked in systems, although we never worked together. Was I embarrassed! I should have know who she was. She knows BR and AD.

 

This morning Jinny talked about her color system. Then the group leaders handed out swatch packets of her palette fabrics for us to keep. We used some of them for the color shading exercises. I went for a walk on the beach at lunch. The afternoon was breakout sessions to work on our designs. The shape I chose is called an axehead (it’s not the apple core which is also called axehead). It makes some wonderful designs but they don’t work with my cat fabrics. I didn’t want to be burdened with feeling like I had to make a knockout design so I decided to go funky and use all cat fabrics. Because most of them are multi-colored busy prints, I can’t go for a complicated design because it just wouldn’t show up. I’ll just have to go with the simple 3 piece unit of light, medium and dark values. These simple units fit together to make other larger units with kind of a circle design.

 

For the non-banquet meals we have tickets that we can use in either restaurant or we can just pick stuff up in the deli. In the restaurants we sit wherever there’s an empty seat, whether we know the people or not. After dinner we had show & tell. My favorite was a broken star done with soft-edge piecing. Some of the women bring their husbands to Hilton Head with them. They had a session this morning for the non-participants where they made a block. 10 of the men showed off the block they made. They were pretty good. Jinny gave each of the men a piece of fabric for their own collections and said they didn’t have to share it with their wives. Some of the men have done this enough times to have enough blocks for a quilt. Jinny and Deirdre signed books. Jinny noticed my name tag and asked what had happened that it was handwritten.

 

I spent the rest of the evening in the delegate room. It was like being at a guild meeting. This room has Berninas for anyone to use. They sell the machines at the end of the seminar but you can get a new machine at home for what they sell these for.

 

Fri, Jan 30

Had breakfast with a couple from Virginia. The man is also a quilter. They each have their own sewing rooms in different buildings and each has a separate stash (they prefer to call it a fabric resource center). He’s been sewing since he was 7. She has a featherweight with an adapter for the car so she can machine piece while they’re traveling in their van. She puts the machine on a TV tray. She said if we ever read about a woman impaled on a sewing machine in a car accident, it’s probably her.

 

This morning’s session with Jinny covered more about color and she talked about the quilt pattern and fabrics in our goody bags. She also showed slides of the quilts in the show and discussed how they were designed, what the unit was and how they were assembled. One of the women at my table won 5 yards of fabric. The rule with the fabric prizes was you had to share some of it with your table. She shared evenly so I got 1/9 of it. The afternoon was optional sessions. I had hand piecing. We made a block of 4 squares and a tumbling block star. At 4:30 we had the beach walk/run. About 125 of us participated. The weather was beautiful. Afterwards I went to the quilt show and took pictures. After dinner was stitch and share. Jinny demonstrated how she hand-pieces. The mermaid dolls from the doll class were on display. They were a hoot.

 

Sat, Jan 31

This morning was the final session with Jinny where she showed antique charm quilts from her collection. She also gave away the rest of the door prizes. Since we weren’t at tables, the fabric winners didn’t have to share. Jinny announced that next year’s guest speaker is Margaret Miller (Strips that Sizzle and Blockbender Quilts). Possible themes for next year are optical illusion, 2 block quilts, millennium quilts. After the break we had breakout sessions to work on our projects. The afternoon was elective workshops. I had Back to the Future with Bunnie Jordan. Several of us brought old tops or blocks and Bunnie talked about what to do with them, when they were made and so forth. Unfortunately, there were a couple of women in this class that were more interested in hearing themselves talk than in hearing what Bunnie had to say and talked to each other almost the whole afternoon. It was very annoying but I didn’t have the nerve to tell them to shut up. Tonight was another reception and banquet. Jinny had all of us helping her get her seminar shop manager by asking for non-existent items and so forth. He caught on but tonight was confession and pay back. I won’t bore you with the details because it’s a long story and you had to be part of it to enjoy it. They had a band playing Johnny Mercer music. I went back to the room and packed everything up.

 

Sun, Jan 31

Turn right on I95 and head for home. Left Hilton Head around 7 a.m. and got home to Columbia around 6 p.m. This is the first time I’ve ever been to a seminar like this. I can’t imagine one that runs more smoothly than this one. The attention to detail is phenomenal.

 

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