Monday, 30 November 2009

Christmas is Coming

This is my Christmas Wreath which I finished this afternoon and have just hung on my front door.  It's the first day of Advent tomorrow so we will start burning the Advent candle, a little every evening until Christmas Eve.  I received my first Christmas card this morning, along with a lovely festive block from Katrina in NZ.

The wreath was quite straightforward:  English paper-piecing, six diamonds to make a star, backed with another star and stuffed.  Then my beloved made a wire frame for me to sew the stars on, with vintage buttons in the centres, little swags of beads, I added a bow and the Father Christmas figure and that's it, done.  I hope you like it.  I notice a lot of bloggers are posting pictures of their decorations and Christmas trees.  I haven't got as far as putting the tree up yet, maybe next weekend.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Eye Candy and More

A lovely new book arrived with the postman this morning and so my day is sorted out - do the chores and then settle in front of the fire to enjoy Kitty Pippen's "Quilting with Japanese Fabrics".  The book has lots of photos of Kitty's wonderful work, plenty of background, patterns and templates and is going to be such an inspiration.  Her work is what I am hoping to achieve - a combination of traditional fabrics, techniques and stitchery, with a modern, and possibly more Western, overall design.  I want to use sashiko stitching with oriental fabrics, indigo and taupe with scarlet....

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Christmas Decoration Tutorial

I often pop one of these Christmas decorations in with cards to people I know will like them and they're quick and easy to make for craft sales too.  Several friends have asked me how to make them so here goes with my second tutorial (the first one was on wavy seams).

You need to make an equilateral triangle template first - that's the one with equal sides and equal angles if I can just take you back to school maths lessons!  I make the sides 6" this includes a 1/4" seam allowance.

Cut out two triangles in different Christmas fabrics and stitch them right sides together, leaving a short gap.

Turn the right sides to the outside, slip stitch the gap closed and then press the whole piece.

Now the fun bit:

Take the three points of the triangle to the middle (or thereabouts, so it looks even) and put a few stitches in to hold the points in place.

Now turn the decoration over and take the centre of each edge of the triangle to the middle (or thereabouts) and stitch them in place.

Press so that the folded points are open and even.

Add a bead or sequin to the middle on each side of the decoration and sew a ribbon loop to one point.

Hang your decoration on your tree, cupboard knobs, cabinet key.... and admire.

Happy Christmas.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Who's a lucky girl?

When I got home this afternoon I found a parcel behind the green bin (thank you postman for not making me fetch it from the sorting office). What a lovely surprise when I opened it and found this Amy Butler pattern and all this lovely material. I won the prize, sponsored by Doughty's, in the October Giveaways in British Patchwork & Quilting magazine, aren't I a lucky girl?

Friday, 13 November 2009

Christmas Block Swap

I've finished my foundation-pieced blocks for the Christmas Block Swap that developed from my pairing with Sal in the Great Global Christmas Swap.  There are now six of us, three in USA, one in New Zealand, Sal in Australia and me in England.  We're trying to think up a name for ourselves... Never having done a block swap before I'm worrying about the quality of my work and I managed to misunderstand the measurements and had to add a sashing strip, hope there are no Quiltzillas around!  It was great fun and that's the main thing.  When the blocks arrive here I'll decide how I'm going to join then and what I'll make and post a picture.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Last Cuddle Quilt

This is this month's challenge with British Quilt List.  I decided to handquilt it and give it to Norfolk Quilters for their Last Cuddle Quilt project and every stitch contains a prayer.  When I read about this project I cried but if anything I can do can help parents in that awful situation to feel a bit better later on then I want to do it.  I made the challenge in blue for a boy with the project in mind, thinking that more people might choose traditionally girlie colours.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Shopping Guide

An online guide to shopping in Tokyo has been written by "Asking for Trouble" and is one I am going to print out and read at leisure and probably take with me :)

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Hari-kuyo and Respect for Selvedges

I have found out some wonderful cultural traditions related to sewing in Japan.
The first relates to making kimono and is known as  "respect for the selvedges".  No material is cut away when making garments, the lengths of fabric are therefore kept intact and the item can more easily be remade for another person.
If any tacking is needed when making a garment it will be left in place in the finished item - if it is needed to make the garment it must be a valuable part of the garment. 
When kimono are laundered they are taken apart.  When clean they are remade, using the same thread through the same holes. 
Finally, I have just read about Hari-kuyo.  This is a festival which takes place in at shrines in Japan on
8th February annually and translates as the "festival of broken needles".  Women would take a break from their daily work to show their gratitude and respect to old, broken and rusty needles, usually by putting them to rest in a bed of tofu.  Ladies are also able to "bury" their secrets with their needles.  Some photographs and more details can be found here and here.

Japan Folk Crafts Museum

Some of the examples of sashiko we saw in York last week were from the Japan Mingekan -  Folk Craft Museum in Tokyo so that is going on my list of places to visit.  The website (where this photograph and the following details are taken from) has some fantastic textiles in its gallery photographs.  The museum is at
  • 4-3-33 Komaba, Meguro-ku, Tokyo, 153-0041
  • TEL: 03-3467-4527
    Take the Inokashira Line from Shibuya Station (make sure not to get on an express) and get off at the second stop, Komaba-Todaimae Station. Walk out of the station and under the tracks and turn left. Follow that road until it curves to the right, about a seven-minute walk. The Mingeikan will be on your right.

    Inside the main Museum is the Museum Shop, where visitors can purchase a wide variety of mingei products.

Monday, 2 November 2009

A Quilty Gift

This sashiko kit was in my post this morning, sent to me by lovely Roslyn Atwood who read about my interest in sashiko in this blog and had this little kit which she said she would not now make and would I like it?  Aren't quilters the loveliest people?

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Quilty Day Out in York

I have posted a short post about the wonderful sashiko exhibition I visited in York on my new blog: lisisturningjapanese

I also took the opportunity of a day in York to visit the Quilt Museum which is on Aldwark in the stunning  medieval guildhall of St Anthony and now enjoys the benefit of a lovely deli opposite and a beautifully developed courtyard garden.  Admission to the museum for Quilters' Guild members is £3.

The current exhibition (until 23 December 2009) is on Turkey Red Dye and there is also a smaller exhibition of contemporary work from Edge - Textile Artists of Scotland.  The development of the red dye, from madder, made it possible to create quilts in red and white - as the red dye was colourfast and the whole lot wasn't at risk of ending up pink!  The dye was big business in Scotland with the Dalmonach factory running 28 print machines in 1898, producing 25 million yards of fabric in addition to one million tons of dyed yarn per year.  Designs included paisleys, florals and peacocks and were often gold and dark green on red.  The Turkey red dye was most often used for everyday items - tablecloths and household linens, underwear and swimming costumes, shawls, coverlets, bandanas and kerchiefs and also for workers' clothing on the plantations of the West Indies.  There were two quilted petticoats on display, which were warm and also supported the skirts of the day with their dome shape.

A great day out, completed with a little retail therapy at The Viking Loom on High Petergate which caters for many crafts, including a great selection for beaders.

Japanese Sashiko Textiles at York Art Gallery

There is a fantastic exhibition, curated by Michele Walker, of Japanese Sashiko at the Art Gallery in York until January 2010 and I visited last week and cannot commend it to you enough.  Al came with me and he too was fascinated by the textiles and the sashiko process and particularly that the garments were "real" - fishermen's jackets, fireman's clothes, coats made at home, worn, repaired and valued.  Photography was not allowed but a pdf copy of  the detailed information on display with the items can be downloaded  here and the exhibits seen online here .  There is also an article, "Function and Beauty of Kogin" by the curator of the International Christian University Hachiro Yuasa Memorial Museum, Reiko Hara.  At  you can find details of where the exhibition will move to after it leaves York in January. Admission to the York Art Gallery is free and there is a lovely cafe in the foyer where we enjoyed pumpkin soup!

Jacquie Harvey Workshop

I attended a workshop at Dayspring Quilters on Friday with tutor Jacquie Harvey who has done some wonderful work and won lots of prizes.  It was a bit of a coup to get her as she isn't tutoring anymore (she's writing a book with an Australian publisher) but as she lives in Norfolk she was more than happy to come to us and she was a very generous tutor - the kind who gives out her phone number and says "contact me if you need help once you are doing this on your own".  She does wholecloth, handquilting, in colour and brought lots of examples with her including some amazing miniature quilts and a gorgeous quiltlet that she gave to the Norfolk Quilters' "Last Cuddle" quilt project (for stillborn babies).  She uses an embroidery needle rather than a quilting needle, does tiny running and backstitches and uses stranded embroidery threads, King Tut variegated thread and Mettler polysheen.  She uses wax crayons to add colour - ordinary ones, not the special fabric ones - she colours the fabric, covers it with greaseproof paper and irons it with a burst of steam!!  I didn't get my sample piece finished (so no photo) but did pick up some great tips for handquilting.  As Jacquie said, her workshop ought to come at the end of every other workshop, it's the bit usually covered in three little words, "quilt as desired".