Monday, October 29, 2012


I babysat some adorable kiddos the other day... in a high rise apartment building... with an incredible view!

I felt like I was seeing a totally different Tokyo - totally different perspective. 

Three different commuting perspectives:

They represent the "Salarymen", "Office Ladies", and adorable uniformed school children I see each time I commute to work.

Even very young school children commute independently, usually in pairs or threesomes, but sometimes alone, with complete confidence and security.  Safety - it's all a matter of perspective.

Not a lot of quilting this week, but... I love using spare moments (even on the train, when it stops at stations and there's wifi for a moment - gotta love my iphone!) for checking out quilt blogs... and the different perspectives of quilters all around the world!

But there is no substitute for in-person visiting and it's always fun to introduce one good friend to another good friend.  Conversation, show and tell, tips, laughter, empathy, sharing of different perspectives.

That's Julie (of My Quilt Diary), on the right!  She is so wise and interesting.

And finally, from the perspective of my rock-solid apartment in Japan, Hurricane Sandy seems far far away and it is... but I am so mindful of my daughters - N in Boston (hunkered down in her dorm room), K in NYC (actually riding out the storm with family friends in Connecticut, thank goodness!)...

We've had many texts, emails and calls in the past two days making sure they are all set - cash, water, food, flashlights, "go" bag at the ready, cell phones and computers charged, etc.

Also... feeling grateful for good house sitters, who will take good care of our dear old place...

and hopefully the old place will be good to them in return, and they will not lose power or have any problems with this storm!  

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sweet 4-patch baby quilt

Aren't all baby quilts sweet?  Years ago I was a baby-quilt-making-machine (simple quilts, mind you)... but fell away from that when I started teaching.  Here in Japan I'm back to very part-time teaching, and so I do have that luxury of time for whipping up something cute like this for a gift.

In our church the women are organized as "visiting teachers" to help each other.  We each have a partner, and several ladies to visit monthly with a message and generally keep on our radar.  And we each have visiting teachers.  The beauty of this system is that ideally, no one slips through the cracks in terms of needs.  It's a great program in a setting like Tokyo, where there are expats coming and going all the time, with all kinds of needs - practical and emotional.  Almost all of us are living far away from family.

One of my own visiting teachers, a young Japanese woman married to an American and attending our English-speaking congregation,  is having a baby soon... hence.... my focus on whipping up a shower gift for her.

I brought out a handy UFO:

It was practically finished - just two rows left to piece.  Mostly 30's repros with a few batiks and one Japanese print (from before my Japan days, believe it or not) thrown in for fun.

Machine quilting went fast... first in the ditch between the blocks, and then some free motion.  While free-motion quilting I traveled straight through the four patches in the ditch to get to the white patches - easy and fast.  I meant for this large stippling to resemble puzzle pieces.

I tend to use monofilament thread in the needle - so that the quilting indentations show, but the thread itself doesn't show - it takes on the color of the fabric.  I just prefer a not-so-thready look.

The backing is a cute print I found in Nippori (fabric town) last year... originally to make an apron... but said apron never got made:)...

It's hard to see but I free-motioned some words in the border: "Lead me, Guide me, Walk beside me"... some of you will recognize these words from a favorite children's hymn. :).

Feels good to be back in baby-quilt mode, however briefly!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Avoiding borders with other fun stuff...

When faced with a quilt top that will be finished just as soon as I measure, cut, and attach borders...

I will instead do all sorts of other things... such as:

Work on my sashiko table runner..... 


Begin, and abandon, a random hexie project....

Go on a field trip... 

 (After which I can't resist snapping a photo of this gentleman, surely Sumo!  One of those occasional dramatic reminders that I live in Japan!)

Dig out an unfinished 4-patch baby quilt.... 

And my friend Tammy of Hikari Handcrafts, who spent many years in Japan and is now creating beauty back in her native Australia, has opened up her online shop here.  Check it out!  Beautiful handmade goods with a Japanese flair.  I'm thinking that her kimekomi fabric Christmas balls are calling my name!

And now.... looking out at the dining/sewing table from my kitchen sink, I think to myself ... must... sew... those dang borders!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Quilts for Japan

Beth from LoveLaughQuilt has organized a blog specifically for quilters to share quilts they are making to give away.  It's called Quilts are For Giving.  Check it out - there is some wonderful giving going on!  What a great idea, Beth!


A group of ladies - quilters and non-quilters - from my church here in Tokyo put together many, many of these simple tied quilts for a kindergarten in Tohoku, the region devastated last March 11 by the earthquake and tsunami.

I had minimal involvement myself but sometimes it's just satisfying to whip up a little project like this....

To add to a small but growing pile of hugs for these little ones who have experienced such trauma.  The pile grew to 100 - some women worked like gangbusters and made many!

I'm also excited about a quilting project a small group of us are launching - our aim is to involve ex-pat and Japanese ladies from church in providing quilts for the "graduates" of a couple of orphanages here in Tokyo.   That is next on my list and I will blog about it as our project unfolds...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Another Millie quilt

Believe it or not, I'm making another Millie quilt, this time for my brother D (well, let's face it,  mostly for my sister in law J)....

At first I thought this would be a good color scheme.....

But quickly felt it really needed some pops of red....

Easy piecing (messy, thready):  
8" base squares in mediums and darks.  
Raw edge machine applique - first 5" squares, then 3 1/2" squares, then 1 3/4" black flannel squares.  

The blue ticking is old - it was my Mom's.... and the dragonflies are Japanese.  

Lots of texture - linen polkadots and vintage kimono silk: 

Rows are all pieced, pressed and numbered: 

And I'm getting there: 

J asked for a quilt like this a few years ago.  She is one of those rare non-quilters who really loves and "gets" quilts.  My brother is a fine carpenter and appreciates hand made items.  At that time I was just about to start teaching fourth grade full time, and there was just no way (do you ever get asked to make a quilt, and you think, you guys have no idea how much time and expense goes into making a quilt!)... but now I finally do have the breathing space to make her one and I'm glad to.  I'm less good at making quilts on demand.  

Here in Japan I work just two mornings a week, and do some volunteer work, but I really am enjoying lots of time for creativity!  It helps that we live in a very small apartment with none of the home-maintenance chores we deal with back home in Massachusetts!  As quilting goes, I am living by "make hay while the sun shines" because when we return to the U.S., it's back to real life... and surely less time for quilting!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Kimono Friendship Quilt, finished!

Here they are, the lovely kimonoed ladies all corralled up and quilted: 

These paper-pieced blocks were made and exchanged by ladies from two of our local church congregations here in Tokyo.  I blogged about it herehere and again here.  A fun collaborative project - and what a good feeling to have another finish!

I machine quilted it very minimally - straight lines using walking foot - in the ditch along the sashing and within the blocks wherever it made sense, extending the lines across the length and width of the quilt.

I do think I might add some hand quilting... but then again... will I really?  Mmmm.... realistically, no, this quilt is "done."

I pieced the backing - I know it lacks something design-wise with that big piece especially (something appliqued there would be pretty cool) ... but I feel good about it because I truly used what I already had on hand - in mottainai ("waste nothing") style. 

I'm not sure how long we will be in Japan, but I know already that this little quilt will remind me of some special friendships and connections and of beautiful Japan. 

Here's another example from our group - just beautiful, don't you agree?  Luscious!
Lesa S's Kimono Friendship Quilt
And for more kimono friendship quilt examples, as well as lots of Japan-inspired creativity, click over to Tammy's Kimonos Everywhere! post at Hikari Handcrafts.