Celebrating Judy Hopkins: queen of quilting blocks

Posted by on June 28, 2012, in quilting & sewing, ,

Detail of "Crow's Foot" from The Big Book of Patchwork

Detail of “Crow’s Foot” from The Big Book of Patchwork by Judy Hopkins

It’s a story of numbers. Twenty-five years, fourteen books, 3 co-authored books, 600 quilt block patterns (each one in 6 sizes!), dozens of quilt designs, a whopping 551,058 (and counting) books sold. Untold thousands of quilters who’ve stitched up her patterns, read her magazine columns, and “solved” her mystery quilts.

One-of-a-Kind QuiltsAnd it’s a story of passion. A third-generation quilter, Judy Hopkins started pursuing a full-time career in quilting after being named Alaska state winner of the Great American Quilt Contest (the “Liberty Contest”) in 1986, and she never stopped. She published her first book with That Patchwork Place, One-of-a-Kind Quilts, in 1989, and was working on her 18th book when she passed away in early 2011. In the intervening years, she designed, stitched, wrote about, taught, judged, curated, and quite possibly breathed quilts.

Judy HopkinsTo celebrate that passion and to honor Judy’s commitment to quilters and quilting, we proudly present The Best of Judy Hopkins: 365 Quilt-Block Patterns Perpetual Calendar.

Judy was one of our earliest and most prolific authors. Her best-known work is her three-book Around the Block series, which some might argue made her the Queen of Quilting Blocks. With 200 blocks in each book and each block given in six sizes, these books provided a mind-boggling number of variations and offered quilters a lifetime of design options. We drew from these block collections to create the Perpetual Calendar, which features 366 blocks (can’t forget leap year) and cutting instructions in one size (sorry, but we couldn’t fit all six sizes). It’s a lovely way to enjoy a little bit of quilting every day, even when you can’t get near your fabric.

The Best of Judy Hopkins: 365 Quilt Block Patterns Perpetual Calendar

See sample pages from Judy’s calendar.

Judy’s path crossed many others during her years in quilting, and there are no doubt many people who could share anecdotes about her. Nancy J. Martin, founder of Martingale, shared this reminiscence: “I first met Judy Hopkins in 1988. She had sent a book proposal to That Patchwork Place, and I agreed to meet with her in Alaska to see her quilts and assess her potential as an author. We agreed to meet in the Delta Business Lounge at the Anchorage Airport, since I had flown there with my husband, Dan, before departing on a cruise. I can still picture this petite dynamo racing down the airport concourse, lugging three suitcases full of quilts. Needless to say, it was a long meeting!

To work with Judy Hopkins was a joy. She was fun loving and had a wicked sense of humor. I remember the mornings before trade shows that she ordered ice cream for breakfast, so she could get her dairy intake for the day. I always stocked my house with licorice tea before Judy came to visit.”

The Big Book of Patchwork 501 Rotary-Cut Quilt Blocks 101 Fabulous Rotary-Cut Quilts
Some of Judy’s bestselling books: The Big Book of Patchwork, 501 Rotary-Cut Quilt Blocks, and 101 Fabulous Rotary-Cut Quilts (with Nancy J. Martin).

Those of us who worked on her books knew her to be thorough, concise, and a stickler for detail. She could also be extremely funny. But she didn’t take her work lightly; she was, in her own words, “prepared to argue the editor down to the last semi-colon.” Fortunately, her editor is also a stickler for details, and the two of them got along so well they were collaborating on a new book when Judy’s brave battle against cancer finally ended.

The legacy of Judy Hopkins is one of creativity, generosity, practicality, and humor. Her contributions to the world of quilting are many and varied, and she is greatly missed. But Judy wasn’t one dimensional, and she had interests beyond fabric and thread. Among other things, she was an enthusiastic supporter of the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, the official arts agency of Juneau, Alaska. In her memory, we are committed to donating a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the 365 Quilt-Block Patterns Perpetual Calendar to this worthy organization. We think she’d be very pleased.

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