Thursday, June 7, 2007

Mary Ellen Hopkins Lecture

Apparantly Holly is mad about being left at home instead of spending the day at Grandma's with Murphy. Today she went into my cute little Game bag that I made to hold my fabric coins for strip poker and moved 9 of them to the floor in the living room. I told Mike to just throw them back in but he left them out for me to see. I know which coins I threw in there last so I'll be curious to see if she picked off the top or rooted through the bag. That little dog just cracks me up some times. Maybe she's telling me she'd like me to make her something new.

The Mary Ellen Hopkins lecture last night was very interesting. She is not at all what I expected. It was mainly a follow up on what was discussed at Saturday's lecture that neither my mom or I were able to attend. I didn't take many pictures, and they didn't come out that great. You can see the rest of them HERE.

First she showed us the center of a quilt that was going to be set on point and then explained how to make 2 identical log cabin blocks. Instead of having a light side and a dark side you sew around all four sides in the same color and you keep going until you can fold it in half on the diagonal to make sure it's large enough for your corner. If it's not, you just keep going until it is. The key to this method is to make sure your center square starts off large enough. Once your log cabin squares are long enough you cut them diagonally and sew them on. I would have never thought of this on my own. It's a neat technique because you're really putting borders on the quilt at the same time and you don't have an open, blah setting triangle. For people like me that's perfect because I can stitch in the ditch, I can stipple but I can't quilt a motif to save my own a$$. I've never before been inclined to put a quilt on point and now I can't wait to give it a shot.

She also showed what's called a "Zipper" Border. You sew strips together and cut off the amount of pieces needed to make a "checkerboard" pattern. Then you sew one strip of each color to either size so that it appears "zipped" together. You can also use this across a backing to put two backing pieces of different colors together while making it look planned.

She showed two log cabin quilts that had the same fabrics. One of them had a bird fabric in it that really made the quilt pop even though that fabric had nothing to do with the rest. She also showed a Northwoods type fabric that when cut into 1-1/2" strips and made into a log cabin didn't look like it had bears and deer and fish on it…you just saw the great colors within the fabric.

Terri is holding the Log Cabin, Julie is holding the fabric. Julie is the owner of The Patched Works, Terri is her mother.

There was one other time that I wanted to write about Mary Ellen Hopkins on my blog and really couldn't find any other information about her online. If she has her own website, I sure can't find it. There's one listed with her speaking engagements but it's from 2001. Besides the "It's Ok To Sit on My Quilt" book I really wasn't aware that she had written anything else. Sure, it only makes sense that she had but I never gave it any thought. Now that I've seen some of her books at the lecture I'd be interested in looking further at them. I found a few online but they're all out of print. I must really be missing the boat here because I just don't get where these things can be purchased. Are they only available at her main lectures and no where else?

She suggested that everyone make their own business cards or have them made. Even if it just has your name and address on it. She said it's easier when you meet someone to grab their card and write on the back of it what you promised to send to them because the card fits with all the other cards. Odd shaped pieces of paper get lost. I was laughing because I made up my own cards months ago with my blog address so that I could hand them out whenever blogging came up at any quilt type functions. She said you're to think of it as the old time calling cards and never leave home without a few.

Some of her other points were:

  • Every quilt should have some black in it. While I like black, I really CANNOT see myself putting it in a baby quilt. I can't see where black would fit into quite a few of my quilts. I do see where black does make a difference, but I don't think it should be EVERYWHERE.
  • Everyone should own an entire bolt of black fabric. Now, this if it weren't for the expense is something that makes sense. When in doubt, buy long. She's very big on having a fabric stash. Which is funny when you hear how "tight" as she calls herself as she is in the rest of her life. While it's great to buy long, I have a hard time spending extra money to have a longer piece when the fabric is so expensive in quilt stores to begin with.
  • When asked how she stores her stash, she uses those large aluminum foil drip pans for the oven. She pushes them under different pieces of furniture through out the house.
  • She buys large coffee mugs from interesting places she's visited. She has many of these mugs throughout her house. They each hold pens, pencils, letter openers, white out, crochet hooks, scissors, a 7 inch ruler (which she was very specific on), scotch tape and I'm sure I'm missing a few items. Once she's sitting down she doesn't like to get up and go looking for something.
  • She feels quilt patterns are meant to be guidelines, not things that we're supposed to follow to a "T." I've probably only gotten as far away from following a pattern as choosing my own sizes of borders and such so I hope to take this as a challenge.
  • She crochets purses out of plastic Walmart Bags. My Aunt Eileen will love this. She's currently making a larger bag to put the vegetables that she picks in her garden in. I think she's also making a rug to brush the dirt off the bottom of her shoes.

Mary Ellen Hopkins is quite the excentric woman. I don't know if you'd call her frugal or cheap but she describes herself as tight so might as well go with that. She pays her grand kids to take old calendars and fold them into envelopes. She won't buy note pads, and thinks people who don't use the backs of old envelopes are just foolish. When she talked about all the odd things she saves, all I could picture was one of those people with that Hoarding Disorder that they show once in a while on TV. She showed us how to make our own homemade duvet. I don't think I'll ever collect enough batting scraps to make my own. She's hoping to fill one with yarn ends. She did share quite a few ways to give money as a gift that she uses for her grandchildren. I don't think there was ever more than a minute that she didn't have us laughing. She may be scatter brained but she's a fun speaker to see.

One of the coolest things of the evening was meeting Robin. Robin is a member of the Janome 6500/6600 Yahoo group that I belong to. I noticed a while back from her signature line that she's from my area. We corresponded back and forth a few times. She wrote about the lecture last Saturday and I mentioned how mom and I were bummed that we couldn't make it. When this additional lecture was announced she emailed me and told me I HAD to go. I'm so glad I did and so glad that I got to meet her in real life. I swear I've run across her at some point in my life. Whether it was at one of the quilt stores a class or really I don't know. She looked so familiar to me. Maybe it's because she reminded me so much of my friend Marylou. Maybe that's the correlation and I've really never seen Robin before in my life. I don't know. Either way, I was thrilled to meet someone I had run across online!

I'm sure I missed quite a few cool things about the lecture, hopefully my mom remembers what they are and will post them on her blog.

Thursday, June 7, 2007 - Untitled Comment
Posted by SewAndSnip (
Mary Ellens lecture was a hoot. She's just this little quirky little lady who has so much knowledge in her white haired head that it's just busting to get out. I saw her years ago on TV and instantly went out and bought her book " It's OK to Sit on My Quilt". Last night I got that book autographed by her.

Thursday, June 7, 2007 - Untitled Comment
Posted by CountryQuilter (
Wow, I wish that I had been there, it sounds like you guys had alot of fun. I loved the purse that she made. Someone made my mom something out of the bags, but I swear I can't remember what it was, maybe a doily or something like that.

Friday, June 8, 2007 - Untitled Comment
Posted by orchidlover (
I like the idea of the log cabin setting triangles/borders. I might have a go at that
I'm glad you got to the lecture and enjoyed it
love and hugs gina xxx

Friday, June 8, 2007 - Untitled Comment
Posted by Vesuviusmama (
That log cabin setting squares idea is great! I currently have a small quilt on point that I haven't been able to figure out how to make square. I think I'll give this a try.

Friday, June 8, 2007 - thanks for sharing
Posted by mamanance (
Thanks for sharing info about the lecture - it's almost as if we were there with you! Love the log cabin corners idea for blocks on point. Don't think I get the zipped thing, but I will read it again.

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