It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Mary Ellen Hopkins. Tiny, feisty Mary Ellen was full of life and certainly marched to her own drummer when it came to quilting. In the AQS office, stories like “Her class was the first class in quilting I ever took,” or “It’s Okay if You Sit on My Quilt was the first quilting book I bought. I can remember sitting there with graph paper and colored pencils, imagining the possibilities.” Mary Ellen gifted the quilting world with a refreshing approach to patchwork and to life.
Mary Ellen opened the Crazy Ladies and Friends Quilt Shop in Santa Monica, California in 1977. She often recalled, “The customers came in more for the fabric than for the sewing and the classes were more lectures than hands-on. Students did the work at home. From that point on, I began receiving invitations to do lectures. Getting up on a stage and talking without interruptions was great.”
After 20 years, she sold the shop and devoted all her time to teaching and lectures. In 1982, she started her own publishing company with her first book, The It’s Okay If You Sit on My Quilt Book, which many quilters still have in their libraries. It was later revised. Mary Ellen was also the author of Baker’s Dozen Doubled, Connecting Up and its follow-up …Continuing On, Connector’s Collection 4 11/12, and A Log Cabin Notebook.
Mary Ellen is probably best known for creating the connector and perfect piecing triangles concepts and the PPM – Personal Private Measurement.
A memorial service is being planned for later this summer with the time and place to be announced. Thoughts and sympathy cards for Mary Ellen Hopkins can be sent to her son at this address:
946 Woodgrove Drive
Cardiff by the Sea, CA 92007
A Reflection by Kevin Britton, a friend of Mary Ellen and the designer of three of her books
“My memories of Mary Ellen Hopkins are of a small bundle of energy urging people to get over their hurdles, ¼” seam allowances for one, by kicking down those hurdles, ignoring the rules, and making up their own “Personal Private Measurements.” I worked with her on the design of her books. We took the messages she expressed in her entertaining lectures and translated them into fun books which gave a visual foundation to her lesson – even if the reader hadn’t seen the lecture. We did this over the phone and through the mail, so we hadn’t met when the first book had gone to the printer.
“Shortly after that, she gave a lecture at a local quilt shop, Quilt Quarters in Indianapolis. The shop owner and Mary Ellen’s friend Kaye England invited me to the class to surprise her. As Mary Ellen gave her comical presentation she would make suggestive comments about the tall man in the back, and Kaye would tell her, “that’s Kevin.” Mary Ellen would continue talking about the subject matter and throw out more comments about getting chocolates and wine, then mention the tall guy in the back again, Kaye would remind her it was “Kevin.”
“After the lecture was completed and people in class were asking their questions, Kaye brought me up to Mary Ellen, who stood about to my chest, and introduced me as “Kevin.” She said she remembered my name, and then Kaye said, “Kevin, the guy who worked on your book.” She looked up at me, then grabbed me, laughed and hugged me saying she thought I was just some man in class she was flirting with. Mary Ellen had given a hilariously motivating speech, made me feel part of her family, and had created a warm memory to remember her by with a smile.”