Wednesday, January 22, 2020

tree blocks for Australia

I was inspired by Barb (Fun with Barb) and Wendy (The Constant Quilter) who have each made blocks for the Wollongong Modern Quilt Guild in Australia.  The blocks will be pieced into quilts for people who have lost everything in the devastating bushfires.

They've asked for generous 12.5 inch blocks - any type of tree block welcome.  Deadline is end of February and if you are interested, click here for the details. 

I love doing improvisational appliqué using freezer paper to cut out and prepare my shapes:

"Invisible" machine appliqué: 

I used monofilament in the needle and my usual cotton in the bobbin.  The back looks like this:

I love trees.  They provide solace.  They are life giving and each is unique.  I've almost always lived in homes with a lot of trees all around.  

In other news... thrilled to see my little needlebooks in the window at Blue and White.  They are starting to sell, so that's good news;).  

The ladies at Blue and White took such care to create these hand written tags:

And.... it is winter strawberry season... just the best:

AND, tomorrow is opening day of the Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival (I always have to pause to get the order of those words right, ha ha).  Woo hoo!


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Making needle books for Blue and White - bliss!

In the past few months I've been working on a special project, designing and making little needle books.  It is so fun and satisfying.

Amy Katoh, owner of the iconic Blue and White shop in Azabu Juban, liked my samples and we made a plan.  She asked to specify the fabric, giving me a bag of vintage indigo scraps to sort through, as well as beautiful washi buttons to use.  You KNOW this made my heart go pitter patter.  I liked the challenge of working with the quirky and limited palette she gave me.

So, I set out to work, washing the fabric, sorting it into usable/not usable (stained).... and made more samples to show Amy...

Then upon approval, piecing piecing piecing, in full production mode the past couple weeks:

The pages are woolen and felt, and the ties vary from French ribbon to organic Japanese cording, to flax.

When I brought them in to Blue and White, Yoshiura-sensei patiently taught me how to finger knit my own cording...... which could be a great possibility for future books (time allowing).

The theme is mottainai - nothing wasted.  For me, nothing could be better than playing with fabric, piecing and creating one little panel after another, and sew them into something practical, and pretty.   I'm pleased as punch that they will be offered at Blue and White, a shop I admire so much. 

And speaking of shops, my buddy Kazuko K (she blogs at cocolog-nifty here) took me to the cutest embroidery/fabric shop, in Jiyugaoka.  She's a delight to spend time with - a really remarkable person.  Anyway the shop is called Hobbyra Hobbyre and there are branches here and there - so special. 

Kazuko also showed me to a little indoor mall also near the train station - a very eclectic mix of specialty shops all lined up.  Tiny shops - stalls really.  You name it - clothing, birds (!), bags, kimonos, office supplies, a deli....

and yes, a little fabric shop called Pico.  Only in Japan!

That's all for now.... looking forward to the Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival next week.  Bracing myself for the crowds, and anticipating lots of inspiration. 


Friday, January 10, 2020

fabric shopping in Tokyo - Yuzawaya

Happy New Year!  We are back in Tokyo after a couple of family weeks in the U.S. - a wonderful time - and over jet lag now. 

I've been to Yuzawaya in Nishikamata, Ota City (suburb of Tokyo)  a few times recently and thought I'd record some notes, for my future reference and maybe yours.

Use Google Maps to train to KAMATA station.  For me it takes about 45 minutes, walking and two trains, from my apartment to the store. 

Exit the station via the SOUTH exit.  (There is some good shopping attached to the Kamata station).

Exit the station and you see:

Walk just a couple minutes, past the McDonalds, and you will see the three Yuzawaya buildings with their vertical red signs. 

Here are my rough notes:

Building Five:

Floor 1-2 - random silks, costuming materials, big bolts
Floor 3 - notions, threads, kimono silk, a pop up shop, bag making materials, leather - and a cut through to Building Six. 

Building Six:
Floor 1 - baby stuff, popular fabric, cute stuff, yarn, notions, washi tape, games, little chirimen fabric swatches, a bit of everything.  Can be long lines for cutting fabric.
Floor 2 - fancy trims and ribbons, knits, Liberty, special Japanese fabrics, woolens, "taupes", solids
Floor 3 - rulers, books, threads galore, buttons too.  Trims, batting
Floor 4 - sashiko stuff, embroidery, yarn and knitting
Floor 5 - floral, felt, washi paper
Floor 6 - men's ware fabrics, curtains

Building Seven:
Floor 1 - jewelry making
Floor 2 - puzzles, calendars, stamps, notebooks, stationery, copy paper, etc.

I usually take the elevator to floor 4 or 5 in Building Six... and work my way down the stairs of Building Six, with a detour to Building Five floor 3.  Bathrooms are clearly marked, basic, clean.

Washi paper!  Expensive but so special:

 Felt -

You might consider getting a Yuzawaya point card - there are different tiers and this time I've sprung for the "Special Member's Card" which costs 5000 yen per year but gives you 40% off fabric and most notions.   It sort of looks like a cartoon princess credit card, ha ha.

I'll admit I also sometimes appreciate the McDonald's next door for a quick, predictable bite to eat... although I've never tried the "Shaka Shaka Potato Teriyaki McBurger flavor" fries seasoning packet - ha ha! 

On a more serious food note, is anyone else following the New York Times Sugar Challenge?   I'm making a valiant attempt.

And, finally in quilting news, over the past few months I've designed and made a batch of needle books for Amy Katoh, owner of the iconic Blue and White shop, using vintage indigo she supplied for me.  Completely thrilled that they will be offered at her shop soon and I've been very busy sewing - more on that later!