Making the Most of Half Square Triangles with Jennifer Hynes

Jennifer Hynes is a long-time student and host at the Folk School, and we’re excited to welcome her back as an instructor for the first time this summer during our Intergenerational Week from July 14-20, 2024. Jennifer’s quilts have been included in national and international shows, including the American Quilter’s Society, the International Quilt Association)Festival, and QuiltCon. 

Read more about Jennifer and her class in our interview below! Register today to secure your spot.

JCCFS: Tell us a little more about yourself and your background in quilting.

JH: I’ve been sewing for almost as long as I can remember, starting out with making my own clothing as a teenager. Then in graduate school I started quilting, and I’ve been trying out every new technique over the past 34 years of quilting. I’m addicted! I’ve learned handwork and machine quilting, applique and piecing, folk styles and modern quilting. Once I find a style I can stick with, I guess I’ll have to settle down with it, but for now I enjoy adding new skills to my toolbox.

Over the years I’ve gone from being a beginner quilter to getting pretty good at a lot of skills, so I know how scary it feels to just be starting out. I’ve had quilts juried into regional and national shows, including the American Quilters’ Society show in Paducah, KY; QuiltCon; and the International Quilt Festival in Houston. I’ve also won awards at regional and statewide shows. Along the way I have done all my own quilting, whether by hand or by machine, so I can truly say all my quilts are my own.

JCCFS: You’ll be teaching “Making the Most of Half-Square Triangles” during Intergenerational Week this summer from July 14-20, 2024. Can you tell us more about that class?

JH: We will explore using half-square triangles, a basic fabric element of quilts, as a design tool. To keep things fun, we will experiment with several method for making and cutting half-square triangles from cloth, then use them to create a quilt original to each student’s vision. Beginners and advanced quilters will have fun and learn new techniques. Even students with little or no sewing machine experience will feel accomplished by the end of the week. After learning the quilting skills from this class, students will be ready to sew various other projects, including clothing and home décor. Beginners will leave class with a quilt top or other quilted project like a tote bag or table mat ready to quilt or tie; more advanced quilters could have an entire quilt done. No matter what, we will all have a good time. During the week, we will talk about how modern fiction authors have found ways of putting the craft of quilting into stories and novels. This optional reading and discussion part of the class will give us something to talk about as we stitch.

JCCFS: What do you enjoy most about teaching?

JH: Playing with fabric is fun! After nearly three decades of teaching college English, I love the freedom and fun of teaching quilting. Students in my classes are eager to pick up new abilities – post-apocalyptic skills – they may have seen done only by grandparents. It’s not rocket science, and in my classes every student finds a path to success. Because of my students’ creativity, I always get new ideas from them!

JCCFS: What’s your favorite part about coming to the Folk School?

JH: Although this is my first experience teaching at the Folk School, I have spent lots of time here taking classes and serving as a student host. Of course, the amazing natural beauty of the North Carolina hills brings me peace whenever I visit. It’s also wonderful to see the creativity of people working in various crafts – metalwork, woodwork, spinning, painting – and to hear live music wafting through the trees as I walk across campus. After spending time over the years at the Folk School, I run into old friends on every visit. Now it’s like coming home.

JCCFS: Where do you draw inspiration from for your work?

JH: Looking at my quilts, it’s clear I love flowers! So I have to say that nature is my biggest inspiration. Anyone who has visited the Folk School in the spring or summer knows the gardens are amazing: full of flowers and produce for the dining hall. Every time I visit I come home with more photos of the mountains, the gardens, and all the natural scenes of the area.

JCCFS: What’s one quilt you’ve finished recently that you’re proud of?

JH: Last year I designed and made a quilt based on song lyrics by Elvis Costello: “What’s So Funny ‘bout Peace, Love, and Understanding?” Or course, the quilt has a huge peace sign and flower-power design. It was juried into the International Quilt Festival in Houston this fall, which was a great honor for me! I made sure to travel to the show to see my quilt hanging among works by more famous artists.

JCCFS: Where can folks find you online?

DD: I can be found as @hynes.jennifer on Instagram, my Etsy shop is Jenny’s Quilts & Crochet, and on Facebook I’m Jenny’s Quilts & Crochet.

Upcoming Class with Jennifer

Making the Most of Half-Square Triangles (Intergenerational Week)

July 14-20, 2024

Explore a quilt design using half-square (equilateral right angle) triangles. These simple units can be made large or small, using bright colors or muted shades. Designs can range from simple repeated patterns to pictorials. All skill levels can enjoy the process of planning, designing, and piecing a quilt top or two. Advanced students may have time to baste, quilt, and bind a smaller piece. Class enrichment will include reading a quilt-related, cozy mystery novel in preparation.

About Jennifer Hynes

Jennifer Hynes, a longtime student of the arts of sewing, quilting, crochet, and weaving, has been expanding her skills in the fiber and textile arts since around the U.S. Bicentennial celebration. She enjoys designing quilts and projects through her local quilt guild and seeing students’ ideas blossom into reality. Jennifer has had quilts juried into national and international shows, including AQS (American Quilter’s Society), IQA (International Quilt Association) Festival, and QuiltCon. Jennifer is also a longtime student and volunteer at John C. Campbell Folk School, having served as host and taken nearly two dozen classes in various studios. She is semi-retired from a career teaching college English and now focuses her reading time on quilt- and crochet-related mystery novels.

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