Monday, February 21, 2011

The quilting is done .or. many hands make light work!

Today the last stitches were put into the Auction quilt. Next week we will finish the binding and sleeve and hang it at the Early Learning Center so it can be enjoyed by all for a week before the "Gala" on March 12th.
Although many put their hands to the task of piecing and quilting, these smiling faces were on hand for the final stitches. They are also the reason I enjoy, so much, putting time and energy to this project each year. Each of the group has children in the school and is involved in many aspects of life in not only the school but the foreign community as a whole. This is the generation that will be running the world when I am too old and decrepit to make any difference at all. Rest assured, the world will be in good hands and I am very blessed to have known each and every one.
Soooo, stay tuned 'till next week for the last shot and guess what the final finish will be.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A trip back in time

When I began my quilt diary, the pages of a plain paper book were filled one by one with photographs of completed quilts. That was before the days of digital cameras and for most of my quilts those are the only pictures I have. Some of them left home without a picture and I have no record at all.
When the theme for this week's Quilting Gallery contest was given as two-color quilts I thought it a good opportunity to drag this relic to the park and get a picture. Other than the challenge of submitting a picture I have few expectations. Having looked at previous "winners" I suspect the contest has more to do with the number of friends one can rally to vote than either skill or creativity of the quilter.
If you are wondering about this quilt, it is made of Japanese yukata fabrics. (Except for center and sashings) I drafted the 12" blocks for a quilt-as-you-g0 class. The blocks are made and quilted one-by-one and joined at the sashing. Then the sashing is quilted. This is a good take-along project and ideal for someone without much space as it never has to be laid out for basting in this size. (227cm. square). For the backing it works best to use a non-directional busy print that will hide the seams. This quilt has had a lot of wear and held up quite well.
If you click on the Quilting Gallery logo, you can visit the site and see a lot of very nice two-color quilts. Some are really worth checking out.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A run on runners

Too many years ago to remember when, I was teaching a quilt-as you-go class at my church Women's Society and also at the Tokyo American Club. It was a series of nine or ten weekly classes and included selecting and purchasing fabrics and supplies, marking and cutting, piecing and applique, preparing for quilting, quilting blocks, joining blocks, borders, and binding.

The students were, for the most part, wives of ex-pats living in Japan for a few years and looking to make a quilt using Japanese fabrics and patterns. I had drafted patterns for making 12in. blocks that could be made into any size from lap quilts to bed covers. I encouraged those women to pick a realistic size so they could go through the steps and complete their project. I have many photos of finished quilts and their proud makers.

During this time I usually made a demonstration quilt. Most were single bed size. A few were double bed size and still being used on the "guestroom bed". Some were donated to the church for raffle and some are still hanging out in the closet.
The Ohio star runner was a small demonstration piece. My coffee table at that time was an irregular slice of redwood stump and did not lend itself to runners of any kind. Moving back to our smaller home, the stump was replaced with a real coffee table originally purchased for my Mother-in-law. Out of the box came the runner, a bit small for this table but happy to see the light of day.

Last year's Jan/Feb issue of McCalls Quilting Magazine had a pattern for the heart banner. Thinking that would make a nice table runner I dragged out my stash and changed the pattern around to be made by hand and use a pieced background. (didn't have enough of the fabric I liked) When I saw the Quilting Gallery's Weekly Theme was asking for Valentine quilts I decided to give this runner a bit of exposure. I have only won one contest in my entire life (not a quilt contest either) and don't expect this effort to get more than one vote but it is fun to see what others are making and check out the links to their blogs.

Looking around at all the neat runners you guys out there in blogland are making, I was forced (or shamed) to make a runner for Fall and also the Holidays. Now I have a bit of change on my coffee table and we have come full circle. I have discovered in this tiny house, the coffee table is a good place to put quilt projects. I like small take-along work and have lots of ideas running around kicking in my brain.

This final runner is one I made for Tanya who so kindly made one for me with the Chinese characters for Fukuda and the verse from Psalm 128.2 "..Your fields will produce, and you will be happy..." (I wanted to add a link but it is not working so check my blog list) Anyway, when I was putting my box of batiks away, I came across a long-lost tin of food prints and it seemed to me that, if not my fields, at least my closet had produced and Tanya should get a cut. Thus, a bit of food for her table and some cats to guard it. Not that she doesn't have plenty of real life cats. As an interesting aside, when my son set up my diary into a blog, he went somewhere on the Internet and put some links on the side to do with quilting. Tanya's was one of those so she has been on my blog as long as I have ... perhaps longer since I didn't get involved at all until I returned to Tokyo at the end of the summer.
I wonder if you quilters and bloggers out there have any idea of the part you play in not only my quilt life but my daily life too. Thanks for your in-put, your inspiration, and your encouragement.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Playing favorites

I frequently see bloggers claiming favorites. Favorite fabric lines, favorite colors, favorite patterns, favorite techniques many favorite things out there but not too much mention of needles.
My all time favorite needle is made by S.Thomas & Sons of Studley England. I used to buy them at a place called Quilt House Yama that has closed years ago. Before it closed I went out there and bought up the rest of their supply of my favorite "betweens" is whatever size they had left. Last year at the Tokyo Dome I found a booth carrying that brand and bought one pack. This year I looked and looked but it was just too crowded to see what brand of anything was in those stalls no matter how many times I roamed the aisles.
Yesterday our group met to work on the auction quilt. No pictures to share but being our first quilting day, everyone was dealing with fluffy batting and backing that shows every stitch. (or space where stitch does not go through) This is going to be a big challenge.
We had two packs of needles to select from. One of them broke too easily and the other bent.
Somewhere in that batting is the tip of a needle. My magnetic needle case contains those less favorite needles. The little fish is meant for soy sauce but I carry it in my sewing box to hold all those pieces of broken needles. I have been to a shrine in the Tokyo area where broken needles are brought to thank the Gods for their hard work and sacrifice. Now why would I thank that needle that didn't give me more than two hours work!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Last of the crests

The last three crests are done. My stubborn determination has paid off. These three are fuji or wisteria, fuji cho or a wisteria butterfly, and tomoe or a triple swirl. The swirl was quite easy to quilt. It is part of the Fukuda crest and I appliqued it twice on quilts in 1992 but found it a whole lot more friendly to quilt.

The wisteria was easier than I thought it would be. I had some issue with the butterfly. As a person who tends to straighten pictures on the wall or bulletin board, I was about to make the butterfly straighten up and fly right. When I went back to the source material, I found the tip was intended. It took more than a little strength to leave it that way. Now I am wondering how many people will complain that it is crooked.

Tomorrow I can take the work to school so the hands can get an early start on Tuesday. My next task will be all those triangles around the outer edge. I think we put bamboo leaves the last time we had triangles to fill. I am sure I did not save any pattern so that may end up as my Monday evening work drafting some patterns to choose from.
Certainly I have discovered that setting goals for myself works better than alowing others to set them for me. I have noticed that when I fall short, the most likely reason is that I didn't want it badly enough. Outside pressure and expectations are more likely to turn me off. My stubborn and contrary side is peaking through.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

six more done - three to go!

Some of these were easy to do but some were just plain fussy. Here are spatter dock with leaves and tendrils, Pines with snow ring,

wave - coin, waves,

Chinese bellflower, and cherry
Of the three left to do, one is quite easy, three whirls. The other two will have to be completely re-drawn. I think one is a wisteria and the other a wisteria butterfly.

I am beginning to hit my stride. Though I usually quilt about 8 to 9 stitches to the inch, that is not only impossible with this batting but would make the rest of the work to be done by our team look out of sinc. About 5 stitches to the inch is probably a better size and that is what I have been trying to attain although it is a bit harder in the fussy areas. Luckily the group will not use a hoop and will be stitching in-the-ditch for the most part. By the time we reach the border, everyone should be in stride.
I am hoping to finish the remaining blocks by Sunday night so I can take the quilt to school on Monday when I go to teach. That way, I can rest my fingers for Tuesday's meeting and can take a later (meaning less crowded) train.
There is a bit of a joke in finishing because everyone knows what a stubborn hard-headed type I am. When someone says I can't do something I work to prove them wrong. I had not thought about that until the end came in sight but one of the group said,"I'll bet you can never get those blocks quilted in a week", and laughed saying I just might get it done to prove her wrong.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Four more done

Plum, cherry, crane, and palonia are quilted in.
nine more blocks left to go!

This seems to be taking forever...
My fingers want to stop but I keep thinking how good it will feel to have this part completed.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Quilting begun

So, here is what is going into the rest of those blue squares. Each will have a different crest design. Some are fairly easy and a few are quite detailed making the quilting a bit difficult to do

These crests are intersecting cloves, maple leaf, rabbit in the moon, chrysanthemum , cloves of Japanese ginger, and ginkgo leaves. I am still fumbling a bit with stitch length because it is difficult to quilt through the rather thick batting and catch enough of the backing.
Some of the remaining crests are pretty fussy and a few will have to be redrawn.

My hope is to meet the expectations of the group and move the project to a point where we will not face panic at the eleventh hour.