Thursday, November 12, 2020

New appliqué project, and fabric shopping again at last

I've decided to embark on an ambitious long term appliqué project, which is a free BOM pattern provided by Gay at Sentimental Stitches.   It's called Poppy's Polka Dot Garden.   I've heard of these wonderful BOMs from Gay but I've never done one before.   She is so generous to provide these pattern downloads.  

My first two blocks: 

I print out my patterns at the 7-11 (easy walking distance).  That was a process and David helped me the first time.  The proportions might be slightly off because I'm printing on A4.  

In my 25+ years of quilting, I've started something similar to this at least three times, all gung ho, and never finished.  

So, here are my laid-back intentions for my Garden quilt: 
  • End result - a soft pretty quilt to actually be used and enjoyed 
  • Very scrappy - all the greens, all the reds, etc.  Bright, dull, muddy, clear, just scrappy.    
  • I will machine quilt it very simply (hanging diamond maybe) 
  • Don't re-do any of the blocks
My background fabric is Kona Snow, which I ordered when I was in Texas and carried back here in my suitcase.  I have the hardest time finding a "good white" here in Japan.  

I wanted to get a few pieces of brighter fabrics to round out my stash for this project, so on Tuesday I ventured out to the fabric district (Nippori) for the first time in a very long time.   Destination: Tomato.  

I managed to get from my apartment, to Tomato, without touching a single thing.  The train was pretty empty.  I mean, not empty, but no one was standing, and I always had an empty seat next to me.  Masks, no one talking, the usual.  

The fifth floor of Tomato has a lot of precuts and yardage for quilting:  

They have these green carts you can use - very handy.  There were maybe five or six other shoppers there on that floor.  I brought my notebook with my swatches.   Precuts and yardage of American and Japanese fabric.  There's a 1 meter minimum for yardage.  I did get a meter each of one of these reds, that green, and a nice handful of precuts.  

And on the fourth floor, if I really wanted to go all-in with the Polka Dot theme, I could, (but I don't): 

I'm always conscious of the 1 meter minimum on yardage, for two reasons:  the amount of walking involved in this outing, and my lack of storage space in the apartment.  So, I choose carefully but I did get the green polkadot!  

In a different store, I picked up a few Tilda precuts, along with a couple small cuts of Liberty (minimum cut 10 cm) so that I can finish cutting out for my Hexie quilt. 

Then the somewhat ugly drab walk back to the train station, so happy with my purchases!   I really should be good to go, for a long time.  Listening to my music, one foot in front of the other.  

About a two hour round trip, not including shopping time.  Lots of walking.  Here's my view a block away from our apartment... almost home, almost home: 

By contrast... if you think I miss New England at this time of year (and driving along winding country roads to any of three wonderful quilt stores)  you are correct.  A photo from years ago of our front yard in Massachusetts: 

But, every day I count the blessings of living in Tokyo, which are many.  

A friend posted one of her favorite Lowell C. Bennion quotes on Facebook this week: 

"Learn to like what doesn't cost much.

Learn to like reading, conversation, music.

Learn to like plain food, plain service, plain cooking.

Learn to like fields, trees, brooks, hiking, rowing, climbing hills.

Learn to like people, even though some of them may be different...different from you.

Learn to like to work and enjoy the satisfaction of doing your job as well as it can be done.

Learn to like the song of birds, the companionship of dogs.

Learn to like gardening, puttering around the house, and fixing things.

Learn to like the sunrise and sunset, the beating of rain on the roof and windows, and the gentle fall of snow on a winter day.

Learn to keep your wants simple and refuse to be controlled by the likes and dislikes of others.”

― Lowell C. Bennion (1908-1996) 

This has really stuck with me.  So gentle, mindful, wise.  I am contemplating my own "Learn to like.... in Japan" list.   Things I already appreciate (the food, simple apartment living) and things I can learn to like better (getting out for walks).  

I'd love to know what is on your "Learn to like" list.  I know something we all have in common is our love of creating quilts!  I am so grateful for my connection to fellow quilters, across the miles! 

Thanks for reading, and happy quilting - 




  1. what an experience living in another country for awhile - the stores look very interesting and different from here

  2. Your first blocks are just lovely--looks like a great fabric store...lots of nice choices in your fabric colorways...
    Lovely thoughts...hugs, Julierose

  3. Great post!! Your new appliqué project is going to be lovely! I considered doing it, but just have too many other projects going right now. The fabric shop looks so enticing and that fall photo is amazing. I especially enjoyed your "learn to like" quote - very wise! I'll be thinking about my own list - thank you.

    1. Gladi your profile doesn't include an email address, and for some reason I'm not seeing some comments in my email inbox anymore, so I'm sorry I can't reply. I know what you mean - it's a balance of doing our own original projects, and joining in the camaraderie of group projects.

  4. How interesting to see the fabric shop pictures. All those polka dots! I can understand why you have to be selective in what you purchase. Not only the carrying of the purchase and storage but also having to buy possibly more than you would need to have it cut by their requirements.

    I will save the patterns from Sentimental Stitches as I have with her other patterns. I hope you enjoy the process in stitching your blocks and I look forward to seeing each one.

    I would be missing New England at this time of year too. How long will you be living in Japan?

  5. I love hearing about your fabric and quilting adventures. I just saw today that Gay will be doing another sampler, more contemporary, next year. That one appealed to me. We'll see what happens. :0) I like your "learn to like" quote as well. I guess I've learned to like more solitude, but could quickly change that!

  6. I love the quote. I would add: learn to love solitude. Easy for me as I seem to crave it. Then again I’m usually either reading or listening to music :-) How fun to go fabric shopping! Always nice to add some new, pretty selections to the stash. Your appliqué project looks relaxing and meditative. And it will be beautiful!

  7. A beautiful challenge quilt project---I saw it but knew it was beyond my skills and attentions span. It is however perfect for you, far from home during this pandemic. The fabric stores trip was a delight to share---the selection looked amazing but you were wonderfully restrained. I'll so enjoy watching your progress.

    The quote really resonated with me. I copied it for my journal and perhaps you would be okay with my sharing it further on my blog. [if not, that's fine too.]
    btw I adored the subway kiosk sign you posted on IG. The Rat with his face in the closing doors---the lighthearted pink and cheddar colors--I loved the soft sell of yet another rule or warning. Ours often starkly say, "La via del train es peligrossa" or "Watch the gap!"



  8. Tomato looks like a fabulous quilter's mecca. Is there special significance in that name? Your new applique project looks wonderful, have fun with all the lovely applique. I'll be looking on from the sidelines as my eyesight doesn't allow much hand applique anymore.

  9. So happy you decided to play along with Polka Dot Garden! The selection of polka dot fabrics looks wonderful - I can never have enough of them.
    I am trying to imagine traveling to my LQS by bus; the trip itself would take at least an hour one way, plus walking several blocks to the shop. The walking would certainly be a plus, but we are so spoiled here by being able to jump in our cars and travel with ease and speed!
    Thank you for the wonderful mediation by Mr. Bennion. I have always liked many of his reminders, but there's always room for more!

  10. I enjoyed going on the train ride and shopping trip with you. I've ventured out to some quilt stores only twice since March. It's just not the same - I'm so anxious the whole time I'm in the store. But, I have shopped in my own stash and have made a good dent. The polka-dot quilt will be lovely and it is tempting. I've done two of Gaye's SAL and loved them both. I like to sit in the room that the bright morning sun shines into and do my applique. It's so easy to see to thread the needle. I also love when the geese fly overhead and listen to all that honking.

  11. Loved getting to get a glimpse of your fabric shopping trip! Your new project looks very sweet. I have a hard time finishing up something with that many applique blocks, but then once in awhile really surprise myself!

  12. I'm so glad you are going to make that lovely quilt. I thought about it but there's just too much going on at the moment. What a fun shopping trip! Enjoy seeing the sights as you venture out and about. Enjoyed the Bennion quote. For me it's all about living the simple life :)

  13. very interesting post....i too miss new england in autumn...actually all year...but close enough to visit now and then which is a blessing...

  14. I love your quotation. I may try to get that down in my bullet journal. Such a wonderful thought for content living!

    How nice to have all that fabric and a place to buy some! I am rather disappointed that any quilt shops that I used to visit have gone out of business here in my town and I can only find bits and pieces at the local notions shop. Not that I really need any more fabric though!

  15. Your first two blocks look great, Cynthia. I thought about doing this quilt for about a second -- too many blocks in too short a time. I know I couldn't keep up. I like your list of sensible intentions. You'll finish it for sure!
    Thanks for taking us on your fabric-purchasing trip. I wish I could visit Tomato in person. That fifth floor looks enchanting. Of course, there is always the need for restraint (and for me, talking myself out of buying too much). You did well on that front.
    Thanks for sharing Brother Bennion's insightful and encouraging words of wisdom. I'm grateful for this worldwide, online community of blogging quilters. You expand my knowledge of the world in general and the quilting world in particular with your posts. Thank you.

  16. A beautiful post that I enjoyed reading very much. Love how you took us to the shop with you and we got to see those wonderful fabrics. I also loved that piece...the words resonate with us especially during these strange unsettling times. You take care now and enjoy playing with your new fabrics.

  17. We visited Tokyo three years ago (next February) and had an absolute wonderful time! I think I managed to visit the very same Tomato fabric store that you show pictures of in this post. It was a piece of heaven for a quilter - and I still have a little (lot...) fabric that I bought there, but still haven't had the heart to use yet.

    Thank you for bringing the memories back with your wonderful post!

  18. What a great fabric shop! I know what you mean about small Japanese apartments. I do have one good size closet. I don’t feel comfortable using the trains yet, and recently, the number of new infections in Shizuoka has been rising, so I’m only walking. I look forward to seeing what you do with your new purchases.

  19. I love your polka dot blocks. I did the first 2 blocks, collecting the patterns of the other blocks until after the holidays. take care, Hugs


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