- Heart Quilts
- Creating Beauty
- Using Interesting Techniques
- Loving Care
- Caring for your Quilt
- Recipe to make your own acid-free fabric
- Bags of Love
- Outreach – The Dorkas Project
- The South African Quilter’s Guild
- From Art to Heart
The latest and accomplished quilter, Jenny Hermans, is my 4th Star of the Sew.
I have called this post Heart Quilts instead of Art Quilts, you will see why later in this post.
It was an honor to meet and spend time with Jenny as she is an extremely busy lady. Her warmth and friendliness shine through and I felt immediately at home with her.
Jenny’s love of sewing was ignited when she watched her German Grandmother making beautiful hand-embroidered cloths and other items for the Rand Easter Show which is an annual event held in Johannesburg.
Usually, her Gran came home with prizes.
The Rand Easter Show is a huge affair and goes on for three out four days over Easter each year.
It is thrilling to go there to see all the wonderful new things on the show. Household goods, (sewing machines!) animals being judged… So many things happening at once.
One is spoiled for choice.
Oh, it is such an exciting event and is usually crowded, which adds to the excitement.
Jenny’s Mother, Roma Bishop, also sewed but not to the same extent as her Grandmother.
Jenny was one of three children and as her father was an Anglican Minister they moved about the country quite a lot, sometimes they moved every 18 months or so.
Not easy with a growing family.
The moves were between the Transvaal (Gauteng) and Natal (Kwa Zulu Natal) and finally Cape Town. This meant changing schools with the different curriculum – the joys of being PKs (preacher’s kids).
Jenny recalls that everywhere they went to live, her Mother made a garden.
What a wonderful legacy to leave behind for the next Minister and his family to enjoy.
Money was tight, which is usually the case in the Ministry, so it was not easy to get hold of extra things that were deemed unnecessary.
Birthday gifts were usually things that were needed, like new shoes, etc.
However, when Jenny turned 10 she was given by her Mother a piece of fabric, a pattern and a pair of scissors. She made herself a skirt.
One of the many moves was to a very small country parish in Melmoth. Situated between Melmoth and Eshowe there is a General Dealer Store, where Mr. Louw, the owner used to measure goods by the thumb.
If one bought a plug of tobacco, he would measure off a piece using his thumb to measure the 1inch.
It was from this store that Jenny used to buy her Shwe Shwe fabric to make her first quilts.
As you enter the Herman’s home, one is immediately struck by the beautiful, colorful quilts which are hung up amongst the lovely artwork.
This warm and charming home is filled with interesting items.
It is hard to concentrate as all your wants to do is look, long and hard, at all the beauty surrounding you.
Everything is displayed with elegance so although there is a lot to see, it doesn’t appear cluttered in any way.
The Old and the New
One of Jenny’s interests is collecting old and antique sewing machines that are on display as you go into the house.
Jenny inherited her Grandmother’s old Treadle Singer sewing machine with which she sewed her wedding dress.
This was the beginning of the collection of this fascinating group of machines.
She also has two small, portable, Elna machines which she takes along with her when going to workshops. The bigger and heavier machine, her Bernina, is safely ensconced in the sewing room.
The Hermans family moved to Pinelands 38 years ago. At that time, the late Shirley Wittridge gave quilting lessons that Jenny attended.
She enjoyed it so much and joined Pineneedles run by Hazelmay Duncan, my 2nd Star of the Sew.
This passion for sewing, hand sewing and quilting lead her to teach quilting from home. She keeps extremely busy quilting but as her eyesight is rather poor she prefers to crochet in the evenings.
Using Interesting Techniques
What astounded me was the variety of different techniques used in the making of these works of “Heart”.
When most people think of quilts some of the more well-known patterns spring to mind, for instance, the log cabin or flying geese which are lovely but what I am talking about here is vastly different.
Besides the piecing of the quilt, it is also the hand embellishments that go into making these quilts so special.
Each quilt Jenny makes is labeled and if a quilt is given as a gift a note goes with it with instructions on the care that went into the making of it and the care that should be given to it.
Here are some of her tips for caring for quilts:
Caring for your Quilt
- Wash by hand with warm soapy water.
- Rinse well, squeeze out excess water.
- Dry flat or pegged to the wash-line.
- Do not use bleach or colorants
- Do not rub or wring the quilt.
- Do not tumble dry.
- Never iron the quilt.
- Harsh sunlight can fade the colors.
- Store in a dry place.
- When not in use – open up and air the quilt regularly – then fold on the diagonal – this helps to displace the creases caused when storing.
Recipe to make your own acid-free fabric
Boil 1-2m of 100% cotton fabric (calico works well) in a large pot of water for 5 -7 minutes.
Throw the water out and fill the pot again with fresh water – repeat the boiling process 2 more times.
Rinse and hang the fabric out to dry.
Press when the fabric is still damp with a dry iron.
The cloth is now free from any chemicals, stabilizers acids, and dye.
Use the cloth as a wrapping sheet or make up storage bags for your quilts. Heirlooms like christening robes, embroidered cloths, and lace will benefit from being stored in this way.
Note: You can wash the fabric in a washing machine at 50 degrees but often there is soap or detergent residue that is not ideal to make it acid-free.
Tip – look out for and buy used bed sheets in cotton or linen at fetes or second-hand shops. They are usually well washed and can be the perfect acid-free fabric covering for your quilts.
If anyone who gets a quilt knew of the hours of loving work, from the careful choice of the fabrics, threads, batting, design, color, they would cherish it with care. These are truly a labor of love.
Bags of Love
These bags are so beautiful and perfectly made, I felt I just could not leave them out. Am sure you will all enjoy seeing them and perhaps even get inspired to try to make your own.
Outreach – The Dorkas Project
In 1997, Jenny and a friend started an outreach group called The Dorkas Project teaching others in less privileged areas to teach quilting. There are still two of these Dorkas Groups going after all this time.
The South African Quilter’s Guild
At present Jenny is the President of the South African Quilters’ Guild.
She is one of a team of tutors involved in the Quilt Teacher Accreditation Course for quilters to study to be quilt teachers.
The course runs over a year.
The SAQG also offers a course for training Quilt Judges, which is a further two years.
The Guild has many accredited and recommended teachers in SA and beyond our borders and a pool of 32 accredited quilt judges.
From Art to Heart
Jenny has 5 quilts on display in an exhibition called Inspiration in Bloemfontein in May 2018.
Click here to see Jenny’s Quilts for the Inspiration Exhibition
1. Guiding Light – a tribute to Leah and Desmond Tutu – for his 80th birthday
2. Icon – Nelson Mandela – To celebrate this great man’s life
3. One flag, many Fans – South African Flag – made for the World Cup
4. Hahlala eAfrica
5. Koi Pond
The reason I changed the name of this post from Art Quilts to Heart Quilts is that all Jenny’s quilts epitomize either a person who has touched her in some way or inspired her, and the things in nature which resonate with her soul.
I was very moved to see all the lovely work she has done. I obviously didn’t have nearly enough time to see it all which I would have loved to do.
What moved me most of all was a quilt she had made for her beloved mother, who was a poet.
This quilt was inspired by the poem her mother wrote which is written on the back of the quilt.
Imagine by Roma Bishop
Imagine, There’s no colour, not even
black or white,
Imagine, there’s no Xenophobia,
Famine or reason to fight,
Imagine tone is hope
light is love and peace is shade
Imagine All of this
and a rainbow could be made.
Imagine all colours mix and blend
Imagine balance, unity, joy
freedom and harmony in the end
Imagine, dream, believe
Words by Roma Bishop
Jenny’s Sewing Room Essentials
These are the things Jenny can’t do without in her sewing room:
1. Bernina sewing machine
2. Needle and thread
3. Her readers (this work is very taxing on the eyes)
4. Cotton and Silk fabrics
5. Sharp, good scissors and a rotary cutter and mat
6. Loomtex or cotton batting
I wish you were able to pop round to Jenny’s home like I did and see her heartfelt work first hand. It is a sight to behold. I hope our pictures have done her work justice.
Please leave a comment below.
This is a really nice story about Jenny and her work. I believe it was difficult at first, but with great desire and effort, everything can be achieved. Great tips how to Caring for our Quilts. I did not know I could make my own acid-free fabric. Thanks for the recipe. Excellent and inspiring post.
Hi Maja. Thank you so much for reading and commenting on the post. Jennys work is absolutely amazing.
This was a really great read. Jenny sounds like a very interesting woman with some incredible work, and I really loved the ‘Bags of Love’. I’m sure the ‘Acid Free Fabric’ recipe will come in handy for me one day 🙂
Hi Alece, Thank you for reading and the lovely comments. Jenny is a true artist in what she does. I do hope you will try some quilting if you don’t already do some. It is lovely to do.
I am at awe when I read the rich history behind creating quilts. It seems to be a story behind each creation. The idea of making quilts for specific reasons is a stimulus for being grateful nd charitable. Not to mention the beautiful designs that the end product produces.
Hi Maurice, Thank you for reading and commenting. Jenny’s quilts are a sight to behold. I am in awe of her work. Glad you enjoyed them too.
Oh my goodness! This is breathtaking. I particularly like the quilt she made for her sweet mother, which was inspired by the poem her mother wrote at the back of the quilt. Amazing!
Hi Dorothy, It is such a pleasure sharing these talented people and the amazing work they do.
Thank you for this fascinating post on Jenny’s quilts; they are truly masterpieces. She is a wonderful artist who chooses to use fabric as her medium rather than paint, and in many ways this makes her art seem, to me, easier to “connect with.” I don’t think I have ever seen such lovely quilts! How long could they be expected to last if stored properly? Also, is there any way to help preserve them longer if they are left out on display?
Hi Abbee, The fun one has choosing the fabrics is just part of the pleasure in designing and making a quilt. They can be kept for generations.
Beautiful article. I admire those who can quilt so much. I enjoy the gorgeous olor and patterns in quilts. Also, the patience and skill that is needed to plan and complete one of these lovely quilts.
Hi shirley, Thank you for the lovely comments you left. It is fabulous to quilt. Very satisfying.
Wow, those quilts certainly are a work of art! And the stories that seem to be behind each and every one of them… Sounds very therapeutic when you can work some of your life’s experiences into one of the pieces. Thank you for sharing those, I really enjoyed this.
Hi Petra, Thank you for reading my post and the lovely comments. It is a wonderful thing to make a quilt.
Wow! her story is inspiring, and what she does is truly a piece of art, really beautiful! my mom used to sew when she was younger but somehow she stopped and have not been sweing since her childre grew up. Now i see these beautiful pieces and think of my mom. I’ll show this to her, i hope this inspires her to start sewing again! this is beautiful!
Hi ileana, Thank you so much for reading and the comments you left for me. Jenny is amazing , I do hope your Mom is inspired to sew again.
Oh, how I wish I could sew! Jenny’s story is so interesting, and one can see how she has weaved it into her beautiful quilts. On a personal note, I was lucky enough to receive a handmade quilt as a wedding gift, and was so pleased to see some care instructions in your post, as I haven’t washed it yet. Thanks for a great read!
Hi Chrissy, That is awesome to receive a quilt for your wedding. So glad to be able to help with care instructions. Jenny was so good about helping with that. Her talents are amazing.
Wow, I loved the read! It’s so in depth.. And the pictures were beautiful! It takes true craftsmanship to be able to make something that beautiful.
Thanks Kayley, You are so right. They are so beautiful. Jenny is a true artist.
amazing story! I love how each of her pieces tells a story. They are incredibly beautiful. I always wanted to learn how to quilt. My grandmother does, and it has always interested me. This was a very nice read and very inspirational!
Thanks for sharing!
Hi Sarae, Thank you for these comments. Why don’t you ask you grandmother to teach you. It would be such a rewarding time for you both. It is a wonderfully creative pass-time as you can see from these beautiful quilts by Jenny and also by Hazelmay.
These quilts are absolutely beautiful! I love the one with the wine bottles and the rose sticking out of one. I never thought of quilting as a true art form, but this post has shown me otherwise.
It just goes to show we all have something unique to us that we need to tap into and share with the world!
Hi Christina, That is the reason I decided to interview all these amazing people who create such beauty. It is meant to be shared. Thank you for lovely comments.
I really like your website and the content! The pictures are really neat too!
Thank you Julie for reading and commenting on my post. Glad you enjoyed it.
Wow some of her work is fantastic, I adore the bags of love, I’ve been looking at getting into a new hobby, something creative, I think I’ve found it! Going to try and make one of them fabrics when I get the chance thanks!
Hi Kourtney, Thanks for reading and commenting on my post. Glad you enjoyed it.
Hi Jill, I always love visiting your site. I really appreciate the time and effort that goes into a quilt. I find myself quite mesmerised by them as I’m imagining all of the work over such a long time. And all the love that goes in to the. The outcomes are so delightfully beautiful. Thanks again for sharing and for highlighting another Star of the Sew!
Hi Melissa, It was such a pleasure for me to bring this amazing woman’s work to the attention of as many people as I could. I thought it so beautiful it needed to be shared. Thanks for the great comments.
Wow Jill, great site, very inspirational and please send congratulations to Jenny on her quilts. I love the words to her Imagine and the pictures look great, very colourful.
Hi Norman, Thank you for reading the post and for the lovely comments.
Jenny’s work is amazing, and your take on her really did her justice! I love doing crafts and took up loom-knitting and crochet a few years ago. I am ready to “branch” out and after reading this article I am thinking that quilting may just be the next step! Gosh, the quilts are gorgeous! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe for making your own acid-free material! I’m sure it’ll come in useful 🙂
Hi, Am so pleased you read the post I wrote about Jenny and her wonderful quilts. Thanks for the lovely comments. I do hope you will learn to quilt. It is great to be able to use something so beautiful that you have created yourself.
Hi Jill! Thanks for researching and sharing Jenny’s story with us!!! Wow, what a family legacy. Somehow that part with the garden Jenny’s mom created whenever they moved somewhere new resonated with me. I love that idea! Just like the quilts Jenny makes, that creates a very “individual” and unique kind of family legacy.
Thank you so much for your inspiring blog post! I love it!!!
Hi Chris, I am so touched that so many men find this post so interesting. I think that it is the quality of Jenny’s work and her true spirit coming through all she does that people are drawn to. Many thanks for the lovely comments.
This is a beautiful article about a beautiful person who puts her heart on display with every quilt she makes. She has come a long way from her challenging background, but was still able to pursue her dream.
Quilting has become big here in the USA over the last few years and I see it as a forgotten art form.
Thanks for the tips on how to care for the quilts. I will pass this along to my quilting friends.
Hi Don, Thank you so much for reading my post and for the lovely comments. Quilting is big here in South Africa too.
Awesome! So creative, thanks for the inspiration! 🙂
Hi Reina, So glad you enjoyed. Inspiring people was my aim when I decided on my Niche.
Thanks so much for this beautiful post. Jenny’s designs are incredible. Your posts always inspire me to do more sewing. I haven’t done much quilting yet, but have all the supplies to get going, haha. I just have to find the time between my business any my grandbabies!
Hi Suzanne, Thanks so much for the lovely comments. They really are beautiful quilts. I love interviewing these amazing talented women and will be writing another one soon. Am interviewing a dear friend this weekend.
I know how you feel about finding the time.
Blessings to you too.
These are lovely stories and gifts from the heart. Great job showing these lovely quilts. Looks like a really big event in South Africa..Congratulations!
Hi Monique, Thank you so much for reading my post and commenting. Jenny Is a wonderful quilter and a lovely person. Quilting is really quite popular here, I am happy to say.