Top-notch designers take expertise to France

“The Tree of Life” quilt, made by Becky Goldsmith of Sherman, Texas, greets visitors at the entrance to the third exhibition of Pour l’Amour du Fil (For the Love of Thread Show) in the city of Nantes in Brittany, France.

Becky Goldsmith, left, and Linda Jenkins of Piece O’Cake Designs Inc., enjoy a recent trip to Paris, where the Seine River winds through the city’s streets. Jenkins is a Grand Junction resident.

Quilters turn to the masters — Linda Jenkins and Becky Goldsmith of Piece O’Cake Designs — when it comes to the highly skilled art of needleturn applique.

The pair have been creating whimsical floral patterns and fabrics, writing books and teaching their precise hand-stitching techniques to eager devotees for many years in the United States.

Now, demand for the duo has outgrown our national borders. Jenkins and Goldsmith recently accepted their first invitation to take their expertise to France.

Jenkins is a Grand Junction resident. Her partner, Goldsmith, lives in Sherman, Texas. They work long-distance, with much assistance from the Internet, but came together in late April for a trip to Paris.

From there, the business partners traveled to the city of Nantes in Brittany, France, for the third exhibition of Pour l’Amour du Fil (For the Love of Thread Show).

They displayed about 20 of their quilts inside a large booth with walls, which the French refer to as “little houses,” decorating each to complement the quilters’ themes.

Jenkins and Smith demonstrated their needleturn method for viewers and taught three days of classes with the help of a French interpreter.

With needleturn hand applique, you use the point of a needle to turn under the seam allowance of a fabric piece as you stitch it to the background fabric.

“The language barrier really wasn’t that much of a problem,” Jenkins says.

The students were from France and Britain, even some from Australia, and they were quick to catch onto their instructors’ specialty.

“Most were used to having a needle in hand,” she says, adding that many women carried small purses embellished with fine embroidery.

The show, as well as the Piece O’Cake designers’ trip, was sponsored by Quiltmania Patchwork and Quilting magazine. The magazine earlier had translated their book, “Applique Outside the Lines” into French.

During their stay, Jenkins and Goldsmith visited the fabric district in Nantes. Most of the cloth was not cotton, Jenkins said, and the cotton they found was a thinner weight than what is sold in the U.S. She noted, too, that most of the vendors at the exhibition hall were selling American fabrics.

Piece O’Cake’s newest fabric collection for manufacturer Robert Kaufman will be in U.S. shops in July, Jenkins says. It’s called “Treasures and Tidbits” and coordinates with their current line, “Daises and Dots.”

Their fabrics mimic material from the 1950s and ‘60s, with a bit “of a contemporary look.”

Their newest pattern packet in stores now is “Fresh Picked Posies,” and the quilted wall hanging itself is to be displayed later this summer at two Grand Junction shops, Jenkins says.

A new book by Jenkins and Goldsmith will be on the shelves next month — “Quilt A New Christmas” full of appliqued quilts, embellished stockings and “perky partridges for your tree.”

In the meantime, these two women are revising one of their previous popular books, “Appliqué Sampler.” And, in April of next year, watch for “Applique With Attitude,” showcasing their latest perle cotton applique technique.

In the future, expect a French influence in Piece O’Cake Designs. Huge, brightly painted doors against the stone architecture in Paris captivated Jenkins, exciting her acute color sensibilities.

“All shades of blue — and then a raspberry — that’s a combination I’ll be incorporating into a quilt,” she promises.

Vive la France!

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