Japanese Beauty Quilt

Once upon a time...That's how all the good stories start, right? Well, I'm not sure how great of a story this is, but it has a great ending. 

My senior year in high school my friend Joanne and I took a quilting class together with her mom, grandma and another friend of our's. The class was through The Quilting Corner in Concord, MA. It was a block-of-the-month club where we would go each month and get the fabric and pattern for a new quilt block. If we came back the next month with our block finished, then we got all the stuff for the next block. It was a fabulous class and I really enjoyed it. They have a theme each year and the year we did it the theme was "Road Trip" and the colorways were inspired by a trip to different countries. At the beginning you picked what country theme you wanted: Tahitian, African or Japanese. Joanne and I both chose Japanese. 

I finished all my block and then for a long time they just sat. And sat. And sat in a bag in my room. Eventually I decided I was going to finish this quilt before I headed out on my mission so I figured out a setting for my blocks and bought all the fabric and batting I needed to finish it. I got the quilt top together and then it sat. And sat. And sat for another few years. 

Well, after graduating college I decided that finishing projects that I had all the materials for was a worthy goal so this quilt was on the list. I got It basted and did some straight quilting alongside my sashing strips, but then I hit another rut. My quilting lines were rather far apart and I was worried they wouldn't hold the quilt together right. I wanted to do something in each block but I didn't want to detract from the patchwork. 

Intermediate story: When my sister Christina got married she had a Chinese wedding. I made her dress. As a thank you, she gave me a book about Japanese quilting. (I know, different countries, but we didn't mind.) I have had this book for many years but never really used it even though I wanted to. I just needed the right project. End of intermediate story.

And then I found it! In the book, there were many patterns for sashiko, a traditional Japanese stitching technique that is both functional and beautiful. So I decided that I would stitch a Japanese family crest onto each of the quilt blocks in a somewhat sashiko style. I tried to match each crest with either the block's pattern or the fabrics in it. And of course, in my traditional "this has to be a lot harder than it ought to be so it turns out really cool" fashion, I hand quilted each crest. I had a hard time figuring out how to mark the designs and I ultimately found water-soluble interfacing that I could trace the designs on and then baste it to the block and stitch right through it. After I finished the quilt I gave it a good rinse and the interfacing washed away leaving my stitches behind.

The moral of the story is, this quilt it finally finished! Pieced, quilted, bound. Done.

And here it is (with my husband's slipper poking out from the bottom)

It's kind of a long story to tell, just to show pictures of the finished quilt. But I feel like you need to know how long this quilt has been waiting around half finished to appreciate the fact the it is now, indeed, finished.


Cynthia@aquilterbynight said...

Stephanie, this is a beauty for sure! Some of the best quilts evolve over a long time. And you know I love the fact that you used sashiko stitching!

Mommy said...

It is AMAZING! I never would have pictured how it would turn out. Well worth the wait.

Harriet Toothfighter said...

Good job, Snoozie! It came out really nice! (And I'm really proud of you for hand-quilting. I've decided I like hand-quilting. It's soothing.)

Biz said...

Very nice Steffy! Well done.