Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Party runner is finished

The party runner is finished! Not in time to reach Marie on her birthday but in time to send her a picture. This is the last in the series of runners I made for my #2 daughter. The other four were seasonal runners for her small table but when she has guests she puts two cubes together to make the table bigger, thus, the longer runner. She, after some prodding, suggested Japanese indigo fabrics would be nice.

In the early '90s I had gone to the fabric outlet area of Tokyo looking for Japanese fabric and
stopped in a kimono shop to see if they had any sample books to sell cheaply. The books are made up of pieces of fabric from the end of the roll, the width of the fabric (about 13-14 inches) and about the same in length. They are sewed into a pile with one large stitch, maybe 20 or so in a "book".

The store did not have any for sale but took my name and address and telephone number and said they might let me know if they did.

Much much later, a package arrived in the post from that shop and in it were some assorted fabrics and fabric sample books. Now, on many of the samples, as you might see in a wall paper sample book, were scribbled notes with black marker. Many of the prettiest fabrics were so marked but I saved the lot and have found ways those fabrics can be cut around the ink and used in projects. These are what I dug out for this runner.

I drafted simple square in a square five inch blocks and arranged them light on dark and dark on light. After considerable trial and error I finally came up with an arrangement I liked. I had considered quilting this with sashiko stitches but was afraid that might detract from the fabrics but used a typical pattern of interlocking circles for the quilting. I like the result and am thinking some day I might make one for my own coffee table.

I am still reminded of the day Marie was born. It was the year of the "Fire Horse" which was considered the worst possible year for a girl baby to be born. Very few risked having a girl and the maternity wards were rather empty. I was near the window of a 6-bed ward and all the babies were kept down the hall in a nursery. At feeding time the infants were put on a cart and rolled into the ward to be handed out to the waiting mothers. BUT ... Ahead of the cart came a nurse carrying one screaming baby which she placed in my arms. Small but mighty, she was! And the nursing staff always "forgot" to pick her up at the end of the session (or maybe that was intended)

Marie liked to be held. Unlike the doll that closes it's eyes as you lay it down, her eyes would fly open no matter how gently you placed her and the screams would follow. Living in a neighborhood where houses are poorly insulated and only three or four feet apart, I spent the next year and a half carrying that fire-horse everywhere. I learned how to do every task with a babe in arms. I sang every lullaby I knew over and over. I'll bet I have the best repertoire of lullabies of anyone my age. Is it any wonder that that daughter turned out to be musically gifted!
Maybe she was making her own music in self defence. So... one more runner for the birthday girl.

Outside our front gate is this pineapple lily. We had a clump of them in our last house and they were frequently the victims of the plant vandal. Before we moved I separated the group into several bunches and placed them out of reach. I must have brought one tiny bulb with me because I notices the fleshy leaves last year among the agapanthus and gave the bulb a pot of its own. I noticed last week there was a small bud and took this first picture.

Today, when I went to the park to see if I could get a better picture of the runner, I noticed the lily had begun to bloom. I'm so happy to have this reminder of the years spent at the Suginami house. I also noticed when I was there a little more than a week ago, that the plants had buds that were not vandalized. Hooray for small blessings!


  1. Lovely table runner! They should see what you did with their marked up samples! What a story about your daughter! One of my son's stories is that he peed on the doctor as she lifted him out of me and then he bit her finger!


  2. The runner turned out so cute. Great job! What an interesting plant. I'd never heard of a pineapple lily.

  3. What a wonderful story. I think I have a daughter who must have been born in the year of the Fire Horse. I love following your blog and catching snippets of your "exotic" life. Your runner is gorgeous. So thoughtfully designed.

  4. I just love that runner and the fabrics. Hopefully when we get back to normal, I can get up to the stores that carry those types of fabrics and get some for myself.


  5. Your table runner turned out beautifully and I am sure your daighter will be very proud to show it off. I still can't beleive that you do everything by hand!

  6. I love the table runner. I can see why you're tempted to make one for yourself. Your daughter has a huge table for big dos. Lots of people gathering for parties I guess. That is an interesting lily. Is it a warm climate plant? It kind of looks like one.

  7. The table runner turned out beautifully. Your daughter will be thrilled.

  8. Julie this table runner is just so wonderful...I'm a sucker for that particular mix of blues so it really fits my taste buds. I love navy and lighter shades mixed and use it in several ways in my home. I have the old Japanese Blue Willow dishes (as well as a few that aren't Japanese that snuck in over the years) on the buffet in my dining area so I usually use navy placemats in there. If your daughter ever gets tired of this runner you can send it my way - it would fit in perfectly! :) blessings, marlene

  9. I just love the blues in the table runner. What an excellent job you have made of it!! I'm trying to get back into sewing after my operation but it's taking a little longer than I expected. I feel VERY tired which frustrates me.
    But keep up the good work. The runner really is beautiful.

  10. This is lovely--a very special, and sure to be treasured, heirloom. Lucky daughter!

  11. Julie, I stopped in to say hi, and I'm not sure if I just never noticed how far back your blog goes, but I noticed tonight and started looking through the years. ALL by hand? Its just amazing! I have to tell you that my absolute favorite is 'To Everything There is a Season'. Love it. The cathedral windows I have not even come close to considering making because it looks very complicated- and yours is beautiful, and huge! Thanks for the story about your daughter, it reminds me of mine. She would sleep two hours a night (not consecutively) for the first few months. She stopped taking naps at 18 months! Her nick-name is snugglet ;-). I bet your daughter loves the things you make for her, she is so lucky to have such a talented mom.

  12. Those blues are so lovely. You have a lucky daughter! Blues are not always easy to combine!
    regards Mary Quayquilter

  13. Hi Julie,

    The table runner is gorgeous. Such a lovely post too.

  14. Beautiful table runner! You gave me an idea for all the indigo fabrics that I picked up and the omiyage while living in Tokyo in from 1992-1996. I have a couple of indigo fabrics that are for the doorways that I have never used and now don't know what to do with them since I'm back in the US. I like this pattern for showing off the details in the print of the fabric. I found your blog through Cheryl's blog. I'm glad to have taken the time to take a peek at your blog, very nice a refreshing. Thanks!

  15. Are the fabrics cotton? A beautiful runner... lucky daughter.
    Interesting plant, the pineapple lily.