Staff Profile – Elaine Kelly

It is once again time to focus on one of the amazing staff members who helps me in so many ways behind the scenes here at the Studio. Today, I’d like you to meet Elaine Kelly.



Elaine in Tel Aviv earlier this year at the start of her family’s visit with her daughter Allison.


I first met Elaine when she came to my Hilton Head Seminar back in 2005. She made quite an impression on me and after Seminar ended that year, I asked her if she would like to be on the staff the following year. Elaine’s insight was invaluable in many ways and when I called a halt to those yearly events and focused on the Studio itself, she was right there helping me totally change the way we do our marketing. Now, Elaine has moved on to being the writer of my many patterns, taking the designs and presenting them to you with easy-to-follow directions.



This is a quilt that Elaine did for Jinny’s last seminar. She says about this quilt, “I tried to incorporate a large number of Jinny’s techniques (shading, fracturing) and raided my stash of Japanese taupe fabrics.”


Elaine was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, and began sewing, as many of you did, in home ec class in seventh grade. In one of her first sewing projects, a blue corduroy jumper with ruffles on the straps, the teacher told her she put enough pins in that if they were melted down they would provide enough metal for all the ammunition needed in World War II. Elaine is still a confirmed pinner to this day.

Her interest in quilting started when she attended Waterloo College in Ontario where she found nearby a large Mennonite community and their beautiful quilts. Determined to give quilting a try herself, she bought a book and, with no rulers or rotary cutters, she machine pieced and hand quilted her very first quilt.



Hillside is an original design based on an unattributed photograph from Pinterest.


Elaine is particularly drawn to antique quilts. She loves to figure out how they are made, what values to use and the best way to simply “make it work.” As another confirmed baseball fan, each year she starts a baseball quilt to work on by hand during the season while she watches our beloved Washington Nationals.


Baseball quilt-w

Baseball Quilt was Elaine’s hand-sewing project from last year. The center motif is from Ann Orr’s 1930′s Autumn Leaves design; the rest is original. She used vintage leaves, yo-yos and 9 patches from the 1930′s and 40′s, purchased on eBay.


This year, she has also been trying her hand at natural dyeing with products such as avocado skins, Queen Anne’s lace and goldenrod (which, unfortunately, turned her hands yellow this morning). She hopes to soon have enough hand-dyed fabrics to start a quilt.

Besides all of her work for the Studio and her time set aside for quilting, Elaine has a wonderful husband and two busy children both in college, plus, they are building a vacation home in rural Pennsylvania.


Buttons Valentine

Buttons’ Valentine is only about 6″ x 8″. It’s a thread painting of one of Elaine’s son’s stuffed “friends” from childhood, sent to him when he was away one Valentine’s Day.


Elaine is an amazingly talented woman and her expertise has been invaluable to me in so many ways. Most importantly, I am happy to have her as a friend………AND she is always willing to come pick excess veggies when my garden is overflowing. An excellent cook, she finds ways to use zucchini and cucumbers that you would never imagine.