Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sashiko teacup sampler

I take a sashiko class once a month at a fabulous shop called Blue and White.  Owner Amy Katoh is so open and welcoming, and she has created quite a gem in our neighborhood-y corner of Tokyo.  She has written several beautiful books as well.

Here is my small sampler, created from a kit designed by our teacher, Yoshiura-sensei:

I just love attending this class - a few Japanese ladies, and me, clustered around a small table in the back of the shop.  The ladies chat and laugh as they work on their individual projects, and I mostly don't understand a thing, but I love the exposure to the Japanese language.  There is a lot of show-and-tell which I enjoy immensely.

Most of all I love working with indigo and these striking stitches!  Yoshiura-sensei has been very patient with this American beginner:).

I keep my little basket next to my couch so I have some ready handwork to do while watching TV.(Downton Abbey, anyone?)

I am linking up to Quilt Story's Fabric Tuesday.  I really enjoy looking at the projects linked there!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What's for dinner?

Just for fun:

Sometimes this is me at about 5:00 pm, only I'm (not literally) slumped over the sewing machine:).  Sometimes all I can do is tell the kids that we're having "make-your-ownie":).

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Julie's Karl quilt finished...

I finished Julie's Karl quilt yesterday, washed it, and mailed it out this afternoon!

It was such a bittersweet experience, and a privilege, making this quilt from Karl's clothing (mostly shirts, but also a couple of pairs of shorts and pajama bottoms).

I spoke with Julie this morning - we laughed and cried, which is always the case when we talk, since Karl's passing almost two years ago.  I first wrote about this quilt here.  Since that post I've been going gangbusters, with a sense of urgency wanting to get it to Julie by Leap Day, which was totally Karl's thing!

Nitty Gritty:

  • I stabilized some fabrics first (silks, rayon, knit).  
  • Batting: Quilter's Dream "Request."  
  • For machine quilting: Presencia 60 wt cotton in the bobbin and 
  • Smoky nylon monofilament thread in the needle.  I love how this thread disappears leaving on ly the indentation of the quilting!
The quilt did shrink and pucker up quite a bit when I washed it, making me wish I'd quilted it more densely or done more than straight line quilting in the Snowball blocks.  The border is also a tad wavy (shoot, I know better!) but all in all I'm pleased with how it turned out.  It should be able to withstand lots of use and washing, and last forever.

Linking with Quilt Story's Fabric Tuesday - link on my sidebar!
faded, soft flannel from pajama bottoms

Julie loved that Karl would wear flowered shirts.  

Julie asked me to piece a couple of meaningful t-shirts into the backing - this one from their college days I think.

Love this t-shirt - and it inspired the choice of red for binding
Always label your quilts!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Kimono Friendship quilt blocks

On Sunday I handed in my Kimono Friendship blocks.  One of our group has generously volunteered to machine embroider our names to our blocks!  Next month we will meet to exchange blocks - can't wait!

I'm linking to Quilt Story's Fabric Tuesday - fun!  See sidebar for their link and consider joining in!

This was my first experience with paper piecing.  It was almost magical!  Thanks to Barbara, our group leader, for a great in-person tutorial!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Julie's Karl Quilt - advice needed

The most important quilt I'm working on is what I'm calling Julie's Karl quilt.  Julie's Karl is Karl Savage, who passed away almost two years ago, suddenly of a heart attack, at age 40, leaving three beautiful children and Julie, the love of his life.  Julie and Karl are dear old friends.  It was a crushing loss.

I am honored that Julie asked me to make a quilt from some of Karl's shirts.  It is an overwhelming proposition, because I just don't want to mess it up.  I want it to be special, but I don't want to overdo it. I want it to be about the shirts, just simply the shirts, and therefore about Karl - husband, Dad, teacher, disciple, youth leader, uncle, son in law, brother, friend, poet.

After obsessing for awhile about what to do, I decided on stars - simple stars in a field of blue.  Before we came to Japan, I found two woven blues that work very nicely with the shirt fabrics.  

I thought snowballing the alternate blocks would add a little oomph and visually link the stars. 

Before cutting the fabric, I had to stabilize some of it - there are a couple of silks, knits, and one shirt that is high tech  material - it feels just like cotton but it's plastic!  Julie also gave me two old (and precious) t-shirts to incorporate into the backing.  Because of these fabric challenges, and because I want the quilt to be really durable, and not to mention finished by summertime, I'm going to machine quilt it.  

I have been piecing the stars and I'm really pleased so far.  My dilemma though is... what about these big blue snowballs?  Don't they beg for... something?  

I've thought of Sashiko stitching (the outline of a star?)  in each block, but I'm not sure how that would look/work with the eventual machine quilting.  

Fabulous Sashiko thread from Blue and White. 

Or...  fancy-ish  machine quilting (risky - the dark solid will show every little error) in the alternate blocks?  

Or... would it be corny to "appliquilt" free-form hearts?  Yes, probably, and  busy too.  

Or... maybe nothing.  My kids and David say just leave it alone, just keep it simple, don't detract from the stars, and I'm inclined to agree.   

Any ideas?  I think if I put dark blue borders on, it will help to make the snowballs recede into the background, too, and bring up the lighter blue lattice with the stars, so that it looks like the stars and light lattice are sitting on top of the dark blue background.  Right now those dark snowballs just look so huge.

Quilters out in blogland, please advise!

And.... I am going to attempt to "link up" with Quilt Story's Fabric Tuesday.  See my sidebar for their link!

30's Repro 4-patch

This quilt is a companion to the butterfly quilt I recently finished.  This one is reminiscent of a 4-patch my great-grandmother "Two" made.  I'm not sure I love all the brown I included (in an attempt to make it a little less girly) but I think this is a quilt that will look softer and better with lots of use and washings.  

My original idea, years ago, was to make these two quilts to go in our "green room" back home (it's like a little parlor, and with a trundle bed it also serves as a guest room - the previous owner painted it a 30's apple/minty green, and we kept the color).  

However, as it turns out, the quilts will live in Miss K's room here in Tokyo - what a curve ball life has thrown us! 

chain piecing - and aren't those doggies adorable?  

I decided to piece the backing a little.  

pressing the top.... so tedious... but almost there!  

Pin basted and ready to roll.  The red print in the foreground is left over fabric from an apron my Grandma Mary Lou made me years ago. 

 Utilitarian machine quilting for a utilitarian quilt.  Nylon monofilament thread in the needle, Presencia 60 weight cotton in the bobbin.  Batting: Quilter's Dream Cotton (Request - thinnest loft).   

I do like the pieced backing... could have added another strip for balance... but... wanted to get it DONE
Sorry about the shadow from the table....