English Craft Club, this Sunday!

The next English Craft Club class meets this Sunday September 23rd in Shinjuku Gyoen! This upcoming class is part of the American Quilt Series, and up this week is the Churn Dash.

Finished quilt blocks can be used to create a table mat, decorate a tote bag or cushion cover, or save to add to a larger quilt. All project materials and light snacks are included. Cost is 5000 yen per person, or bring a friend for a discount of just 3500 yen per person. The English Craft Club is open to everyone — men, women, both native speakers and those learning English. Special English language vocabulary and lesson notes are provided. If you are interested in joining the class, please send an email to sakepuppets@gmail.com to reserve a spot. More info can be found here. Hope to see you there!

Log Cabins and Coffee

I spent the morning preparing for our next English Craft Club by sewing up some log cabin quilt blocks.

By looking at my stash of fabrics, you’d never guess that my wardrobe is 95% grey.

Though, the last 5% is neon yellow.

I brought my new coffee mat with me to a study date at a cafe this afternoon. Be careful when you tell me to make myself at home, because I will.

Polka Dot Picnic Quilt

This past weekend I attacked the picnic quilt. I sat and sewed with wild abandon, if wild abandon means straight lines.

Most people probably iron things before they take photos of them for the Internet. Not this girl. While piecing I didn’t use any pins, either. I feel like a rebel.

I made this quilt using fabric I already had in my apartment, piecing as I pleased until it was big enough to sit on. I bought the toile-ish fabric (300 yen per meter) and the neon orange cotton (210 yen per meter) in Nippori, and used an old cotton sheet as batting. I didn’t want it to be too thick — since it’s a picnic blanket, I want it to roll up to carry easily, but it needed something in the middle. Also, with every quilt I make I try to use some fabric that is reused or recycled. It reminds me of a quilt’s origins, of stitching together bits of old clothes until you had something big enough to keep you warm during the winter.

I chose the toile mostly because I liked the way it contrasts with the polka dots but still follows the blue color theme (it’s a very dark navy). Also, its heavier weight and dark color will hold up well to being thrown on the grass. And, it was really cheap.

I’ve been drawn to the neon colors popping up in fashion recently. If something has neon yellow and gray on it, I will buy it. It’s a bit weird when suddenly your pot holders and shoes and throw pillows all match. When I saw this neon fabric, I thought it would be a fun to way to make the polka-dot quilt look a bit edgy, and worthy of a Tokyo-style picnic. Even in the fading afternoon light of my apartment, the orange is bright. I love it.

OK darling, now I’m ready to picnic.

Works in Progress: Picnic Quilt

Many of you guessed it…

I spent a rainy afternoon piecing together a picnic quilt. Again, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit I had so many blue polk dots stashed away in my fabric closet — I had no idea I had such a polk dot problem. On the other hand, it was fun to simply decide to make something, have the materials at-the-ready, and sew it up in just a few hours. One rainy afternoon later, and the top is pieced and ready for quilting. Huzzah!

This quilt is too late for hanami season, but just in time for my summer English craft class series, 英語でCRAFT: The English Craft Club. More details on that coming very, very soon!

p.s. Thanks again to everyone for the kind comments re: my little write-up at BAB — it was a fun experience, and really encouraging to receive so much positive feedback. どうも!

Action Craft, Thoughts

Hello all!  I’m expecting another box of blankets, so while I was hoping to wow you with another batch of photos today, it looks like I’ll have to keep you in suspense a bit longer.

I want to tell everyone again how delighted I am by the response to this little Call-to-Acton-Craft.  I’m overwhelmed (in the good way) by the generosity of everyone who participated. Together, we’ve created 32 new handmade blankets for tsunami and earthquake survivors here in Japan.  That is, 32 and counting…

As to where they are headed — it’s still in the works.  I’ve got a few leads and we’re ironing out the details.  More info on that to come, I promise.

I had a great time making my quilt for this project.  It felt good to make something for someone else, not knowing who might receive it.  I thought a lot about who might need a small quilt and how they might use it — for a baby, or picnics, or folded up as a pillow or floor cushion.  It feels good to work hard on something then send it off into the world, its future unknown.

I also enjoyed making a quilt with such strict rules.  I told myself not to buy anything new, to use only supplies I already had at home.  This really limited my choices and as a result my quilt came together quickly, which was really satisfying.  (And now I can buy more fabric under the pretense that I’ll do it again someday!)  I enjoyed the process so much, I might actually make another.

Thanks again to everyone who sent blankets — good work, team!

Psst — find a Flickr photo gallery of all the blankets here, and more Action Craft info here.

Another Round of Action Craft

From Cheri and Laura in Minnesota, USA

This was Cheri’s first quilt.  Splendid!

From Jamie and her mother in Minnesota, USA

This quilt was painted and pieced years ago by Jamie’s mother, then folded up and left forgotten.  It was resurrected by Jamie and finished by my mom — truly a community effort.  I love how Alaska has its own block amidst all the other countries (top center).  🙂

Per usual, you can find a Flickr photo gallery of all the blankets here, and more Action Craft info here.  Thanks!

Action Craft, All in the Family

If you’ve ever wondered where I got my crafty genes, well —

From my mom, in Minnesota

From my aunt Missy, in Minnesota

They made these together and — get this — they’re both first-time quilters.  Beginner’s luck?  I think not.  Those are skillz, ladies.  Better yet — it was Missy’s first time using a sewing machine.  What?!

From Lynn in Minnesota

Lynn is like a second Mom, and has showered me with handmade gifts my entire life.  Maybe some of that talent wore off on me?  I’m quite proud to admit I got her hooked on Etsy — check out her shop.  The-beer-and-peanut-proof baseball game gear is the best.

More Action Craft love from Minnesota tomorrow.

Psst — photo gallery here, and more Action Craft info here.  Thanks!

More Action Crafts

From (my aunt!) Mickey in Minnesota, USA

I’ve never seen a quilt like this before!  It looks like Mickey made circle “blocks” then stitched them together, flattened the flaps, and tacked the flaps down using a fancy blanket stitch. (The reverse side of this quilt is all the same blue as the flaps.)

Mickey, am I right?  Does this design have a name?  Do tell!

From Susan in Minnesota, USA

Susan embroidered sweet messages in the corners.  Lovely!

Again, check out photos of all the Action Craft quilt and blanket donations here, and for more info on the project, try the link here.

Special thanks to my handsome model husband — handsome model, or model husband?  You decide.  (Hint, it’s both.)

More quilts tomorrow!

Action Crafts, cont.

I’m racing off to sashiko class this morning, but before I go:

From Lisa in Queensland, Australia

How cute are those little bunnies!  I really wanted to take everything out of their bags to admire her handiwork, but Lisa packaged them up so nicely I decided to keep it all intact.  Instead, I just peered through the plastic.

You can check out Lisa’s blog here.

Two more boxes of quilts arrived yesterday!  More to come…