Thursday, 3 June 2021

What's In A Quilt - 3

 I recently finished my crazy quilt project Crazy for Crazy, and now want to write its story.

The third block I made was the one in red and gold, on the right side of the quilt.

It is made up of fabric from party dresses and 'second wedding dresses'. Now what is a 'second wedding dress' you might wonder. Right so. 

In Japan weddings are usually very extravagant and formal. The wedding ceremony might be attended by the closer circle of family and friends, but to the reception it is not uncommon that 100 people or more have been invited, relatives, friends from school and university, colleagues, the couple's bosses, former teachers and other important people. Also some dignitary, a politician for example, often an acquaintance of the parents, have been invited as an honorary guest.

So it is a lavish event with gourmet food and drinks, flower arrangements, music, speeches, a towering wedding cake to cut - and a change of dress for the bride and groom.

At the wedding ceremony the couple would wear either traditional kimonos, if the knot is tied in a Shinto shrine, or a white wedding gown/white tuxedo, if it is in a chapel.

During the banquet that follows,  the couple will leave and change into something different, and often more colourful. 
This is where the 'second wedding dress' comes in. 
You can read more about Japanese weddings here.

So how come I have 'second wedding dress' fabric in my crazy quilt octagon block? 
Well, I am lucky enough to know a seamstress who makes such dresses. Especially at Christmas gowns in red and gold seem to be very popular.
She gave me a bag-full of remnants. In this block there is velvet, lace, silk and gold lace trimmings.

Then there is a piece of dark red (wool?) with floral machine embroidery, that another kind lady gave me. 
This piece was in a set of sample swatches used by the lady's grandfather. He was a travelling salesman from Switzerland who did his trade in Africa, Senegal if I remember correctly. 
The swatches that remained then ended up in his granddaughter's attic in Sweden before they were given to me, who took them to Japan. Well travelled fabric, wouldn't you say?

Yet another piece of fabric that holds memories is a scrap of red canvas. 
On a quilters' dinner cruise on The Avon I made friends with a lady from Scotland who dyed her own fabric. She later sent a few pieces to me, and this one was just the perfect size for a crazy quilt block. On the canvas I made some hearts in Cross Stitch.

This red octagon block has a kumihimo braid that I made out of left over strands of thread of various weights.

Here is also my first Dorset button. I found the instructions in Elizabeth Healey's book, and used Japanese silk thread to make it. 

Red silk ribbon has been ruched into 'carnations', and there is a star made up of Detached Twisted Chain Stitch. Two clever ladies in Australia gave me the ideas and instructions.

At the time I made this block I got a question,  'How do you know when you've added enough'? My answer was: 'Ha, ha, I don't! I guess I either run out of space or run out of steam! I sure have not run out of stash!!!' 
This is still true, my stash does not  seem to dwindle - instead, by magic it re-fills itself!

Without the following people I would not have managed to make this block. 
Many Thank Yous go to: Mrs Iwama, Verena, Maureen, another Maureen, Jacquie, Sharon, Elizabeth and Auntie. They all who supplied material or instructions. 
Encouragement and comments from my blog readers were, and still are, most appreciated.

I made this block between 5 - 25 April, 2018.


  1. This piece has quite a history! Good that you are documenting it.

  2. You are a fabric collector extrodinaire! Such travels and fancy situations make for a good story. Thanks for sharing the story and your CC blocks.

  3. Another wonderful story - it adds so much more to the embroidery and fabrics. I'm looking forward to more details of the others. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Another very special block in a very special quilt. I think it's sweet you used your first Dorset button. I learned about them from you. You have such a wide range of skill and knowledge! It is so interesting to read about Japanese weddings.

  5. How wonderful to be able to include so many well travelled fabrics!

  6. They say, every quilt has a story. Well, your quilts have much fancier stories than mine but part is the same ... where fabric multiplies in dark places. So nice to look back on the process.

  7. I love all the stories attached to this block!

  8. Did you have your own second wedding dress? I guess I have to say I didn't... I wore a wedding dress, a kimono and then a suit to make our getaway...

    How wonderful to have a seamstress friend that can give you a grab bag of goodies!


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