Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Trimming the kimonos

Today was a sunny and beautiful first day of spring!  It was a regular school day for the kids but a vacation day for Japanese companies.  David went fly fishing, and I had a quiet morning recovering from a non-stop day yesterday - I got some housework - and quilting - done.

I decided to take a closer look at the kimono blocks.  As with any project involving more than one sewer, there was some variation in block size and shape to contend with.  First, I trimmed them just barely, to square them up.  
 The blocks varied up to 3/4 inch in width and length, but most were easily trimmed to about 10" wide by 11" long.  The smaller ones will benefit from a little extra room in the blue borders.  With the addition of 2 1/2 inch borders, I am leaving room for trimming some blocks more than others, to make them all the same size.  So far, so good!

David got home from fishing and I met him in the neighborhood for a pizza lunch.  There is a new-ish brick oven pizza place a short walk from our apartment, and we've become regulars there (locals - it's called Pizza Strada, in the Juban).  They make just a few simple pizzas, so fresh and wonderful.  Today being a holiday the neighborhood was really hopping with people, walking, on bikes, with children, pets, friends, couples - it felt so festive.  We took a little walk around and then headed home.  More sewing, trimming.  A nice beginning to spring, and even if I do miss my trees back home, there are aspects to this home away from home that I really love too:).  Time to quilt, a small apartment to tend, rather than a house... walking distance to fabulous food... these are things I truly appreciate!  Today was one of those days when you really could feel spring in the air!

Linking up as usual  to Quilt Story Fabric Tuesday (link on my sidebar)... you will find many creative projects there!


Friday, March 16, 2012

Kimono Friendship loot

This morning the Kimono Friendship Quilt group met to exchange our paper-pieced kimono blocks (first blogged about here).  This hasn't been a group that's actually met together to quilt - it's been more like a co-op.  I think we've all looked forward to this day, when we could meet and socialize a bit, in some cases for the first time, and exchange our blocks!

I don't know the origin of this Friendship Quilt but I know it's been happening for years and years among the church ladies here in Tokyo.  One of my friends declined to join in this time since she's already participated three times over the course of a number of years!

Anyway... today:

First.... yummy pot-luck food - gyoza, rice, many colorful salads, homemade rolls - all delicious.

Second... we cleared the table and put our blocks in stacks in front of us in eager anticipation.

The only "rule" for this swap was to use an off-white or cream background, and I think there was an unspoken rule to use Japanese-style fabrics.

Barbara, our group leader, leaves Japan in two weeks.  We will miss her!

 Next... we circled around the table plucking one block from each stack, for a total of 12 including our own.

A little show-and-tell to give us ideas about how we might set our blocks:

Then... dessert... :)   

And finally... home to really take a good look at my kimono loot:).  

I'm not sure how I'm going to set these blocks, but I know I'm going to keep things very simple.  There's a lot going on already within each block.  Laying them out on the carpet like this makes me honestly think I might set them within a neutral taupy color - linen maybe even?  First I'll frame each block with a thin, solid border - black, teal?  I need to first consider how I will quilt it.  It may want to be hand quilted.

Sooo... for now... I'll enjoy really looking at each block as I tear the paper away.  Aren't they lovely?  Like colorful dolls:).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Furin quilt

This morning the ASIJ Gala quilting group enjoyed the satisfying task of tacking back the binding on our  "Summer Breezes" quilt.  

The design was inspired by a Suzuko Koseki quilt that knocked the socks off one of our group leaders last year.  Suzuko is the force behind La Clochette, and is an influential quilter and teacher here in Japan whose books look wonderful.

The quilt features hand-appliqued "furin" -  Japanese wind chimes -  in a variety of cottons and silks.  Boy were those silks tough to applique, but the result is both soft and stunning.  The quilting design is meant to evoke the raked gravel in a traditional Japanese rock garden.

The quilt will be auctioned off at a benefit Gala dinner next week.  I can't wait to hear how it goes!

I had to leave for something else just as the hanging sleeve was being attached to the back of the quilt, and so I missed getting a good photo of the finished quilt - but please check out Tokyo Jinja's excellent post about the quilt and its creation.

I feel lucky to have so immediately stumbled upon a quilting group after moving to Tokyo - and it meets just a short walk from my apartment - what were the chances of that in a city this big?

Several women (including Jacqueline of Tokyo Jinja, and Julie of My Quilt Diary) spearheaded the project and did lots of work behind the scenes between group sessions - from design decisions, organizing the group, selecting fabric, making borders and binding.  It felt like a luxury to be among those who just showed up on Tuesdays with needle in hand, to sew and chat for a few hours.  Many people popped in and out of the group off and on through the months - many hands making light work.  It was a thrill to see it come together and I hope it's well received at the auction!

I wish I'd taken more photos along the way, but here are a few:

Pieced - entirely by hand, by many hands - and ready for the border

Hand quilting... almost there!

The rock garden quilting design was so interesting. 
I am linking up with QuiltStory's Fabric Tuesday - see the link on my sidebar, and check out the many creative projects there!