The Tokyo Quilt Festival

This week I visited the Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival. If you tell me something will be great, I am instantly skeptical. But this was great, at least for the few short hours I was able to withstand old ladies and their elbows. Don’t let those canes fool you, they are swift and deadly.Entering the Dome

Thank goodness I was at least a head taller than everyone, so getting a peep at the quilts was no problem. My view for most of the morning was something like this:

View from the top

In all earnestness, I had a lovely time with the old gals. My Japanese sewing vocabulary is well rounded, as is my ability to exclaim simultaneous astonishment and compliment with only mouth sounds (eeehhhhhHHHHH?!), so we got along quite nicely.

crazy triangle quilt

Occasionally someone would look over their shoulder to check for the Quilt Police and then gently lift the quilt to sneek a peek at the backside, and I’d crane my neck to catch a glimpse, too. We’d nod in understanding. You can always spot a fellow quilter or embroiderer, someone who is just as interested in the back as they are in the front.

tiny hand pieced

While most people were fawning over the traditional quilts, I really enjoyed the “wa” quilts category (和のキルト部門), described as quilts with a unique Japanese quality to them. Many were constructed from Japanese kimono silk and were quite vibrant, but I prefered the naturally-dyed blues and grays of old ikat cottons.

not so sexy hexy

My favorite was this double wedding ring quilt. I was lucky to catch a moment with no one between it and me and I snapped a photo — I’m standing straight in front, but notice how the rings are different sizes. I wish I could have taken this one home with me.

wonky double wedding

Another favorite of the day was the pudding quilt. Obviously.


You can see more photos of my favorites here on Flickr. This was my first quilt festival — has anyone else attended one? How do you think it compares? I’d love to hear!

English Craft Club, Sunday December 9th

The last of the year, friends!

English Craft Club Christmas Quilting

English Craft Club will meet near Sangenjaya on Sunday, December 9th. We’ll be making the Ohio Star quilt block , the last in our quilting series. We’ll learn basic hand-sewing methods, and I’ll also review how to finish a quilt and binding techniques. Your quilt blocks can be saved for a larger quilt project, or made into a Christmas star placemat!

This English Craft Club will have a special holiday theme! While sewing, we’ll enjoy lots of  Christmas music, cookies, and cocoa for some fun holiday cheer.

In the spirit of the holiday season, the class fee is discounted to 3000 yen per person! I hope you’ll join us!



  • クラフトに使用する材料(型紙、布、針、糸、その他道具)
  • 英語の教材(ペーパー)、クラフトの単語集など。
  • コーヒー、ココア、紅茶、クッキーやケーキ

The English Craft Club に参加をご希望の方は、sakepuppets@gmail.comでご連絡下さい。ご質問もお気軽にどうぞ(英語・日本語どちらでも結構です)

参加費 : ¥3000 –> クリスマスの割引があります!

Class Details

  • Class time is 13:00-14:30, though you are welcome to stay until 15:00 to finish projects or just chat for fun!
  • All craft materials and snacks are provided. No quilting experience is necessary!
  • Native English speakers and English students are all welcome. Vocabulary notes are provided for students if necessary.

Other questions? Email me at Thanks!

ps. If this Japanese is atrocious, please forgive me.

Mosquitos Don’t Scare Us

They tried — those little blood-sucking devils! — but craft prevailed, and we had a lovely time sewing in the park.

Sunday’s session of the English Craft Club was the nine-patch quilting class. We started on some fluffy grass under a tree in Shinjuku Gyoen, and after valiant battle with some mosquitos we retreated found a better spot in a nearby picnic pavilion. The mosquitos may have bullied us, but they couldn’t damper our craft spirits.

My favorite part of these quilting classes is watching everyone choose their fabrics. For each class I bring pre-cut fabric squares so we can get right to work designing our quilt blocks. I’ve been collecting this fabric for the past two years, and some I brought with me from the US, so it is always interesting to see the fabric find a new life in someone’s quilt. Here is Thewallinna making her first quilt block. So sweet!

The next quilting class will be held on Sunday, September 23rd, and a special Saké Puppets sashiko workshop is scheduled for August 25th at the Etsy Craft Party in Shibuya. Stay tuned for more details!

A Lovely Crafternoon

I wanted to share a few photos from our Craft Club in Shinjuku Gyoen this past weekend.

This is what a craft class looks like before students arrive:

And this is shortly after:

I love it. It’s chaos, but the best kind. Here everyone is choosing fabrics for their quilt blocks from the pile of pre-cut squares I brought. Honestly, I think this is the hardest part. Sometimes I spend hours just staring at fabric, getting those color combos just right, and then sometimes I just grab randomly. I’m still not sure which method works better. (And yes, that is pudding on my pin case.)

For those who are curious (and I know you are!), in a rare tell-all moment, the inner workings of a quilt class are finally revealed. She’s lifting up her skirt and showing you everything, that dirty little quilt class.

The true secret to a great quilt? Ice coffee. Always coffee.

The Flying Geese start to take shape…

Everyone in class was planning to do something different with their quilt blocks: some were keeping them for a larger quilt, another was making a pillowcase, and one person decided maybe she’d like a coaster-sized quilt block rather than a placemat. 🙂 I attached mine to a tote bag.

I decided this Flying Geese pinwheel looks like the geese are stuck in a tornado.

Thanks again to everyone who joined us on Sunday! The next class in the quilting series will be held Sunday August 12th, and we’re decorating iPhone cases on July 22nd! Hope you’ll join us. (For class info, check this link. Thanks!)

English Craft Club 7月8日: Flying Geese Quilts

The next English Craft Club class meets Sunday July 8th in Shinjuku Gyoen! This upcoming class is part of the American Quilt Series, and up this week is the Flying Geese block.

This block was fun to put together, and can be arranged in a variety of ways to create some interesting patterns. Come try it for yourself!

Finished quilt blocks can be used to create a placemat, 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 and get a discount! The English Craft Club is open to everyone — men, women, both native speakers and those learning English. If you are interested in joining the class, please send an email to to register. Hope to see you there!

You can find more information about upcoming classes by clicking the links below. Thanks!

Sunday July 8th: Schedule
12:55  Meet at the Okido Gate at Shinjuku Gyoen
13:00  Class begins! Choose fabric and begin project
14:00  Break for snacks and refreshments
14:30  Class instruction ends, but feel free to stay until 15:00 to finish your project and chat with instructors and new friends

* * *


12:55 新宿御苑の大木戸門で集合
13:00 レッスンを始めしょう! 単語集を習ったり、ご自身で布を選んで頂きます。
14:00 休憩
14:30 ワークショップ終了。15:00までは講師が残っています。


『The English Craft Club』は楽しく英語を勉強するクラブです。毎回のクラスごとに、皆さまに各自で作品を作って頂きます。クラフトをしながら、様々な表現や英単語を楽しく勉強していきます。

『The English Craft Club』に参加をご希望の方は、以下のアドレスまでご連絡下さい。ご質問もお気軽にどうぞ。(英語・日本語どちらでも結構です)

The English Craft Club 6月10日: Log Cabin Quilts


12:55 新宿御苑の大木戸門で集合
13:00 レッスンを始めしょう! 単語集を習ったり、ご自身で布を選んで頂きます。
14:00 休憩
14:10 レッスン再開
14:30 ワークショップ終了。15:00までは講師が残っています。

場所:新宿御苑 (12:55大木戸門に会いましょう。)

 * Update: I’ve got a doozy of a cold, so have decided to reschedule this class for another day. Sorry! かぜをひきますから、ワークショップを中止しています。ごめん!

Please join us for the next English Craft Club class, this Sunday June 10th in Shinjuku Gyoen! This week’s craft project is a mini Log Cabin quilt, which you can use as a placemat, decorate a tote bag, or save to add to a larger quilt. Cost is 5000 yen per person, and snacks and all project materials are included.  If you are interested in joining the class, please send an email to to register, or meet us at the Okido Gate at 12:55 pm on Sunday (a map to the class location can be found here). Hope to see you there!

You can find more information about upcoming classes and Facebook photos by clicking the links below. Thanks!

Sunday June 10th: Schedule
12:55  Meet at the Okido Gate at Shinjuku Gyoen
13:00  Class begins! Learn new vocabulary, choose fabric, and begin project
14:00  Break for snacks and refreshments
14:10  Continue working on projects
14:30  Class instruction ends, but feel free to stay until 15:00 to finish your project and chat with instructors