Thursday, 30 September 2021

What's In A Quilt - 20

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

The 20th, and last block, is in shocking magenta, with ornamentation in grey.

In the centre is a piece of sari silk, bought in an Oxfam shop in the UK. 
There is a piece of marbled batik, a gift from a friend who went on holiday to the US. 
The coarse weave is linen from Obuse in Japan. 
On the very right a glimpse can be had of a quilter's cotton, with a print of meandering lines. 
To echo those lines I added grey gimp in a meandering way on top of the electric magenta ball room dress fabric at the top of the block. 
Finally there is a piece of craft felt, to the left. On top of that I added a few floral sequins.

I added a short length of simple lace, the grey is rather beige, a bit off colour from the other grey tones. The lace was anchored with Stem Stitch.
A row of Detached Chain Stitch alternated with God's Eye Stitch landed on top of the linen. 
The linen is also host to an arch of Split Ring tatting. I placed a cut crystal bead in the centre of each ring.
Along the edge of the felt I stitched two Buttonhole lines, back to back, each with different number of 'legs'. They were then whipped together with grey pearls.

If you look closely you can also see a length of ric-rac, it is so close in colour it is like camouflage! This pic-rac is a gift from a UK friend. If I remember correctly it was used to tie the gift wrapping, a fat quarter, together over the gift itself. I just love the way quilters create new ways of using fabric and ribbons!

Back to the ric-rac, look closely and you can see it has white dots. To calm down the striking effect of the white against the pink, and to keep to the colour scheme, I placed French Knots in grey on top of each dot.
Adding embroidery onto a piece of fabric is a good way to change the value of a shade, to dull a too vivid fabric, to liven upp a dull one, also to  straighten a curvy pattern, or add movements to a grid. There is so much we can do to 'alter' fabric. I just LOVE the power of surface embroidery.
There is one last piece to mention - the Buttonhole Stitched Ring, which I learned how to do from Elizabeth Healey's book Stitch, Fabric & Thread. The large ring I used to stitch over had the perfect space for one of Auntie's 'gems', a relic from her accessory making days.

As I mentioned in my last What's In A Quilt post, I made this # 20 magenta block at the same time as I made the #19 brown and silver/light blue block. It took me six weeks to complete both, between Feb 10th and March 24th, 2021. I was relieved when I had my full collection of completed blocks and could start assembling them. This took about a month and on 19th of May the quilt was ready to hang on the wall.

All in all Crazy for Crazy took 3 1/2 years to make.
It was nice to write these articles about each block and recollect my memories of what's in a quilt. 

I am so grateful to all who have helped me make this quilt and recall its history.
THANK YOU Sharon Boggon, Elizabeth Healey, my collection of stitch dictionaries, Mum, Grandmother, Honey, Auntie, Jacquie, Sylvia, Kathleen, Sue, Helen, Hilary, Maureen, Maureen, Kaoru, Mrs I, Mrs S, Frances, Catherine... and all my readers.

This has been so much fun I might write a bit about another of my quilts...

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

WIPW - Squares and Triangles

 Work In Progress Wednesday features two geometric stitches this week. 

Sunday Stitch School Stitch Sampler

I selected to work with #6 Four Sided Stitch and #12 Lace Stitch. The first is a square stitch and the second a triangular one.

Last week I complained about how difficult it is to take pictures of this wool fabric. I got the advice from Rachel of VirtuoSew Adventures to place stronger coloured fabric around the motif, take a picture and then cut out those areas while editing the picture. It worked wonders! Thank you Rachel. THIS is just the right shade of greyish teal that I can see with my naked eye. For some reason the camera lens is always modifying the colour into silver grey, dark granit or blue.
Blue, yes that is what the fabric looks like when I took this photo. You can see there is still a lot of space to stitch - lovely!

Log Cabin Challenge

20 Log Cabin blocks were quilted. They are marked in red on the graph. I am pleased with the steady progress, and had to get another reel of quilting thread.

Monday, 27 September 2021

May I Suggest ... Monday?

Every Monday I want to promote blog reading. The names of blogs I like have been written on pieces of paper, and today I picked two slips at random from my box.

Here is a beautiful blog where Nicola has a list of embroidery stitch tutorials, samplers, SAL (stitch alongs), a shop, and a Mystery Advent Calendar 2021.
There is also a list of nice stitch rooms to inspire those of you who have the space to turn a corner or a whole room into a creative stitch studio.

You will be met by the most beautiful hand stitching by Japanese embroidery artist Yumiko Higuchi. Using very simple stitches (Stem, Satin, French Knots...) but with a steady hand her stitches are neat and even. The spacing and colour choice make the designs exquisite. 
The photo quality is also great so you can enjoy the eye candy even if you can't read the text.

Sunday, 26 September 2021

Sunday Stitch School - Lesson 186: Stick People Stitch

I found this fun stitch at badasscrossstitch. Click on the link to see Shannon's instructions.

She has made her little stick figures on Aida, which I think is the easiest fabric to use, but I will challenge the design on plain weave, too.

Here is how to stitch it: 

Make a long and narrow Cross Stitch,

for the body,

4 holes across and 13 down

Make a smaller, rectangular
Cross Stitch for the head

Make Straight Stitch x 7
across the body

Why not change the clothes? Fewer lines, different colour. You could even make a bikini!

Have fun populate the three samplers.

Friday, 24 September 2021

Friday Revision Homework - Stitches 181 - 185

Oh, sometimes Sue is such a 'Barbie doll', elegant, feminine, in high heels, colour coordinated and accessorised. Look at that handbag, more stylish than any brand I've ever seen. 

Here Sue is returning from a shopping spree. I wonder what she bought, what's in the shopping bag? Maybe she is a quilter and she's got a stock of new fat quarters!

Thursday, 23 September 2021

What's In A Quilt -19

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

There are only two blocks left that I have not written about. When I had completed block number 18, the white and orange one (shown last week), I felt impatient to finish the two remaining blocks, and so at last be able to complete the quilt. 

Therefore I worked block #19 and #20 side by side, and completed them more or less at the same time, but will tell you about one today and the last one next week.

So here is block #19,  in brown with details in light blue and silver.

In the centre I placed a piece of craft felt - this quilt will never be washed, so why not? It is flanked by a piece of cocoa coloured linen from Obuse (I wrote about Obuse here), and on the other side is a William Morris pattern from a quilter's charm pack, and on the left is a piece of silk, probably the lining of a kimono jacket. 

To the right you can see a piece of lawn (I think it is a Liberty of London lawn, but have not been able to confirm this). Anyway, it originally had a purple and pink floral print. I filled in the print with light blue silk embroidery, simply to make the fabric fit the colour scheme I had selected - I didn't have a lot of brown in my stash and had to 'stretch' it. 

Finally at the top of the block is a brick pattern quilter's cotton, the source is unknown. It was in a fat quarter,  I guess I bought it to use for something special, then changed my mind. Oh, isn't it frustrating when the memory fails?

By the time I made block #19 I had made many Dorset Buttons, so whipping up this one was fast. 
Tatting, however, was something I had just started practising, and I had reached the level where I added beads. It was just a trial bit, but I liked the arch and added it to the block.

There are two ribbons. The one of woven strips of silver foil is from a wrapped gift. I have a LOT of small pieces of ribbon. Why? There are two reasons. 1) I am a stingy, thrifty ribbon collector! 2) I have been able to hoard this collection because gift wrapping is VERY important in Japan. Even the smallest present is wrapped up. 
It is seen as impolite to hand over a 'naked' item, even cash is often offered in an envelope. The wrapping is an extension of the gift itself, so many gifts are exquisitely packaged. 

Chocolates are popular to give for birthdays, Christmas and THE thing to give on St Valentine's Day. Manufacturers of chocolate sell their pralines in pretty boxes. A paper wrapped over the box is then not needed, but a ribbon will indicate the season - red and green for Christmas, pink in spring when the cherry trees are in bloom, yellow or light green for Easter, orange for Halloween, red for St Valentine and white, light blue or silver for White Day. 

White Day? What on earth is White Day? It is a clever marketing ploy to sell more chocolates! On February 14th girls (of all ages) give Valentine chocolates to boys (of all ages). A month later, on March 14th those boys should give a return gift to the girls, the day has been named White Day. 
Here are some interesting articles to read: Gift Wrapping, St Valentine's DayWhite Day

So my ribbon is silver, it must have been from a return gift on White Day from my hubby!

The other ribbon on the crazy quilt block is light blue velvet with silver edges. I remember buying a whole reel of it at Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival one year. There used to be many traders at the show and one area was for wholesale where you could buy buttons, ribbons and ric rac in bulk. This ribbon was too pretty to pass.

On the block are also some dangling ornaments. They are a pair of earrings, bought on impulse in a shop of Indian imports. They were great fun for a casual summer look, but actually to heavy for comfort. That is why they ended up here, where I think they are just perfect.

I made this block between 10th February and 24th March, 2021 (St Valentine and White Day time!)

Many thanks to: Honey, Grandmother, Jacquie, Catherine, Sylvia, Kathleen, Kaoru, Auntie, Indiska, Obuse, and all you readers, who have supported me through this project.

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

WIPW - Fillers

I am still working on just two things, so my Work In Progress report is on the same projects as last week. What progress have I made?

Log Cabin Challenge

I am now coming closer to the edges of the quilt so the quilting is easier to manage than the blocks in the middle.

18 blocks were quilts as can be seen in blue on the left of the graph. The thread is running low in the bobbin!

Sunday Stitch School Stitch Sampler

What I had intend to do last week, but had no time to do, I did this week. I added fillers to the paisley designs.

Inside the light purple paisleys on the right of the design are #157 Invented Stitch (Cross).

The paisleys in blue toned purple were filled with #4 Danish Knot Stitch.

All colours are so OFF, I wonder why. Is it the graphite grey wool I am stitching on that confuses the camera so?

Monday, 20 September 2021

May I Suggest ... Monday?

Every Monday I want to promote blog reading. The names of blogs I like have been written on pieces of paper, and today I picked two slips at random from my box.

Karen Barbé

shows you how to use embroidery in a new way. Make Christmas ornaments, stitch on paper, play with tassels....

Lilipopo Embroidery

Kate Popovski makes charming designs for hand embroidery. Her stitch tutorials are very clear and she has many sound ideas about embroidery. Read this article about Stitching with Children.

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Sunday Stitch School - Revision: Stitches 181 - 185

Are you ready to look at the last five stitches one more time?

Click on the title for each stitch to link to the instructions.

181 Woven Stitch

This canvas stitch is easy and fast, and it really does give the impression that the threads have been woven.

182 Snail Trail Stitch

If you have done the Coral Stitch, you can easily do the Snail Trail. Just take a bigger bite of fabric, and at an angle.

This is an impressive stitch. It looks complicated, and the grid in the instructions may make you shun away. Don't. Once you have marked out the shape and got started, it is easy and fun, trust me!

184 Herringbone Ladder Stitch
You need two threads for this stitch. It also gives you the chance of using one of the difficult threads for the lacing part. First make the staggered Back Stitch foundation, then start lacing.

185 Otomi Stitch

This Mexican version of our good old friend Herringbone Stitch is not hard, you just needs some time and patience to cover the foundation fabric. It is an economical stitch that uses only minimum thread on the back.


Use these stitches for a Sunbonnet Sue portrait - yes, make a portrait this time, not another hat!

Friday, 17 September 2021

Friday Homework for Lesson 185: Otomi Stitch

This is not really a new stitch, Herringbone Stitch is Herringbone Stitch. It is just the extremely narrow spacing that is new and unusual. It took time to fill the shapes, but not as long as I first feared.

With double thread there was better coverage.

Aida Sampler

Sunday Stitch School Reference Chart

Teal Wool Tailoring Scribble Cloth

Thursday, 16 September 2021

What's In A Quilt - 18

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

I have had so much to say about most of the other blocks. This one holds very few memories, and little of importance.
First of all, I got it in my head to make a white block. 
There were two problems: 1) I have very little white fabric. 2) What I had is too stark and puts the other blocks off balance, especially as this white block is placed in the top left corner, where it is an eye sore.

Anyway, I needed some colour for the stitches, and settled for orange.

Fabric? Well,  there is white chirimen silk on the right, in the corner on the left is a piece of quilter's cotton. The rest of the pieces come from a 'patchworker's pot luck pack'.
The central piece is lace from one of Mrs I's wedding dresses.
There is a lace ornament, in the form of a daisy, a gift from Australia. The cotton machine lace comes from Mum's sewing basket, underneath is a length of an orange satin ribbon from a box of chocolates. There are three white buttons salvaged from a shirt.
I stitched Buttonhole stitches around a ring, then attached the ring to the block and filled the void in the middle with white pearls from Auntie's collection, the orange beads used to belong to her, too.

I think it is a boring block, wish I had more to say. Never mind, maybe block 19 will entertain...?

This white block was made during the Covid19 'stay at home' drive. Started on Jan 6 and completed a month later, Mar 3, 2021.

Thank you to Auntie, Maureen, Mrs I, Mum's sewing basket, whoever gave me the charm pack of whites, and the person who gave me the box of chocolates, and of course, I have to apologise to my readers for such a boring block, and write-up.

Wednesday, 15 September 2021


 What is there to report on Work In Progress Wednesday this week?

Well, there is

Log Cabin Challenge

where I quilted another 18 blocks (grey on the grid).

and then of course the

Sunday Stitch School Stitch Sampler

on which I used #13 Mountmellick Stitch to make a double paisley shape on the left, and a similar one on the right, using #149 German Knotted Braid Stitch.

I hade intended to fill the paisleys with stitches, and had selected two types, but there was no time, I'm afraid. It's been a busy week...

Monday, 13 September 2021

May I Suggest ... Monday?

Every Monday I want to promote blog reading. The names of blogs I like have been written on pieces of paper, and today I picked two slips at random from my box.

Here you will enter the enchanted world of felt creations. Salley Mavor is an American textil artist, dollmaker and book illustrator.
Her charming characters will spellbind you with their unique personality and it is easy to let the mind wander into their world.

Salley Mavor has written some tutorial books, and here on her blog she generously shows the techniques she uses. Her husband's professional photography and carpentry add to the enjoyment.

On the blog you will also find an online shop where you can buy posters and greeting card, signed books and sometimes dolls and supplies.

There is also much information about the events and galleries where, in the USA, you can see displays of her Wee Folk creations.

Wabi-Sabi Quilts

This is my friend Cynthia's blog, full of wabi-sabi charm. This Japanese term is difficult to explain, but these words are taken from her blog: In quilting terms, think hand made... faded with age and use... vintage... soft, simple, humble, authentic, unique, showing the maker's hand. 

Quilts befitting this description are just what you will find here, but also paired with confident colour choices and mix of fabrics. For example, Cynthia has the talent for adding just the right amount of stray red pieces to a blue quilt.

Here you will also see beautiful sashiko (Japanese running stitch embroidery/quilting with traditional designs) stitched with even, neat stitches, as shown in the header of the blog. 

There are fantastic American quilts, too, and MANY.  Just look at the tab Finished Quilts.

Apart from items of textile you will find photographs of nature, blue skies, white snow, green leaves, colourful flowers...

It is work that has brought Cynthia's family, from the States to Japan, several times. I have the impression that she sees Japan as much as a home as New England, but I am convinced that she can make 'a home' wherever she goes.

Cynthia's family mean the world to her and you can see how she celebrates each member with kind words, beautiful photographs and cosy quilts. You leave Cynthia's blog with a warm heart.

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Sunday Stitch School - Lesson 185: Otomi Stitch

Let's go to central Mexico and learn some Tenago embroidery. Otomi Stitch is in fact a very narrow Herringbone Stitch that is used to fill in blocks of colour, almost like using crayons in a children's colouring book.

The original Otomi embroidery is very colourful with motifs of flowers and animals, as well as folklore, but why not use this elegant filling stitch for other styles, too.

I found today's embroidery at For further reading check out this article.

They have a video here.

My photos are easy to follow, I hope.

First I tried with one strand of DCM embroidery floss.

I stitched a very narrow Herringbone Stitch.

You can see how economical this stitch it - almost nothing on the back.

Hm, with only one strand it seems difficult to cover all the background,

much better result with two strands!

Fill something in on the samplers. I don't suppose the 
stitch will look good on the Aida sampler, but give it a try!

Friday, 10 September 2021

Friday Homework for Lesson 184: Herringbone Ladder Stitch

On even weave and Aida fabric it is easy to space the basic Back Stitch correctly. Without staggering them properly the 'ladder' lacing does not look good.

Apart from that this is an easy and enjoyable stitch.

Aida Sampler

Sunday Stitch School Reference Chart

Teal Wool Tailoring Scribble Cloth

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

What's In A Quilt - 17

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

Anyone who has seen my other quilts, Trinity Green, Log Cabin Challenge, Mola, Cathedral Windows and so on, would know that I have a liking for teal. I am drawn to any shade with a blue tint in it, but especially the greens, like teal, aqua, turquoise, Tiffany blue, azure, cyan, emerald, aquamarine...

You can understand that block #17 is one of my favourites.
I paired teal with gold which makes it even more beautiful!
Now what fabric treasures do we have here? 
On the right there is a piece of patterned kimono LINEN, stiff and cool, used for summer. 
A small strip of chirimen crepe will show you the beautiful wavy pattern of the weave. 
The gold brocade is from a ball gown, the light blue is a remnant from a pyjamas my husband's aunt made me. 
Then comes the reverse side of the Teal Wool Tailoring Scribble Cloth I am stitching my Sunday Stitch School sample stitches on, my followers see the front every week on Friday Homework.

There are two pieces left. Let's begin with the piece at the top. It is obviously a piece with two Japanese prints, but what is the fabric? 
It is a part of a handkerchief I salvaged after it was stained with soy sauce. Soy sauce? What has a hanky to do with soy sauce?

When I was still in primary school in Sweden I often carried a handkerchief to school, or anywhere I went when dressed up. It might have been a plain square, sometimes there was an edge of lace and an embroidered initial. As Kleenex tissues and disposable handkerchiefs were not yet available in Sweden at that time, a handkerchief was used to dry your tears or blow your nose. It was laundered daily, pressed and sometimes even starched.

My father had a handkerchief in the breast pocket of his suit, my mother had one in her handbag.
Then came the new fashion, white shirts and ties were replaced with polo necked sweaters, the handbag became a practical shoulder bag slung across the body to prevent it being snatched, and for children... well the hanky just disappeared as people started using packs of tissues instead.

Both Mum and I kept the handkerchieves as they were so beautiful, but I don't think we used them any more. One day in the 90s I went shopping with my Dad, he had to attend a funeral and needed a white handkerchief for his suit pocket. I can't remember how many shops we visited before at last we found a plain white handkerchief. In your country, can you easily buy a handkerchief these days?

Well in Japan you can! Even in 7-Eleven and kiosks at the train station you can buy a proper cloth hanky! Of course clothing stores and department stores have sections where they sell handkerchieves along with fans and scarves.

Now these handkerchieves are not used to blow your nose. Heaven forbid! That's what Kleenex tissues are for! You use a handkerchief to dry your tears, to wipe the sweat off your brow in summer (you can see the hanky in the pictures, one side is towel the other gauze, it looks almost like a face flannel), to cough or sneeze in elegantly (or use in lieu of a mask in Corona times!), but most of all they are for wiping your hands when using a public restroom. More often than not there are no paper towels, even in hotels and fine restaurants.

So where does the soy sauce come in? Well, the other job of a handkerchief is that of a serviette. In a French restaurant in Japan you might be given a napkin to put on your lap, but in most other eateries there are only small and thin paper serviettes, totally useless for protecting your clothing. That is why everyone carries a handkerchief to catch drops of soy sauce and other spills, (eating with chopsticks can be difficult even for the native).

We talked about funerals, and I am afraid that the final piece of fabric on the octagon block, the piece in the middle, is connected to funeral rites.

The parish church of my childhood has some beautiful ecclesiastical textiles, one of them is a pall. For those who do not know, a pall is a cloth that you cover the coffin with. 

At many funerals the casket is of beautiful wood so it can be shown, and there is an arrangement of flowers on top. In some cases, though, the coffin may be of simpler wood or there are no flowers. Instead a pall is draped over the casket to lessen the severity of the funeral act.

Unfortunately the parish got a new catafalque (the wooden stand the casket is placed upon) which was too high for the pall to cover both the casket and the legs of the catafalque. It was an eyesore.

After the funeral of a family member I decided to make a larger pall and donate it to the parish. It is of teal tweed with a cross in light teal and blue tones and copper.  I used silk and the Flying Geese pattern.

The pall can be viewed here (scroll down to the bottom).

Now back to the octagon block. It has a length of gold lace and gold net. There are light blue beads and gold sequins. I made a David star Shirtwaist button, a Whipped Half Wheel and a circle of beautiful Indian Chermanthy Stitch. I also used Indian Herringbone Stitch, Indian Edging Stitch, German Knotted Braid Stitch and Knotted Running Stitch.

I worked this block between 21st Oct and 16th Dec 2020.

Thank you to Mrs I, Frances, Auntie, Kaoru, Jacquie, Elizabeth, Deepa, Nacka Parish, Titti and my supportive blog readers.