Last night I heard that Mary Ellen Hopkins has died. She was a popularizer and teacher of quilting, probably best known for her “It’s OK If You Sit On My Quilt” book, though there were numerous subsequent books. I never had the chance to take one of her workshops, but her personality came through loud and clear in her books. Her author photo showed her perched on a motorcycle.
For me, she was the cheerleader for “it’s your quilt so make it to suit yourself, don’t worry about rules.” Her Personal Private Measurement (PPM) made a lot more sense to me than agonizing over quarter inch seams – as long as you were consistent. She publicized many quilt construction shortcuts that eliminated extra seams without compromising the design.
And her approach to quilt designs and layouts you designed yourself was liberating. All you needed were graph paper and colored pencils. Here’s what Wanda Hanson did with the Kansas Dugout layout.
Back in the 1990s much of the quilting world was stuck in country themes and dusty pink and blue prints. Mary Ellen encouraged you to be your own designer and combine fabrics in unexpected ways. Her books weren’t pattern books – you had to figure out your own yardages, numbers of triangles/squares, etc., to cut, and all the rest of the details – but they did start you on an adventure. And you often found you could design your own quilts, as I did with Chex.
Purple Gold, below, uses triangles sewn on opposite sides of a square (like the Kansas Dugout above) to form the inner diamonds and the links between blocks. Wow, I hadn’t looked at these quilts for a long time. Thanks, Mary Ellen.