JQSG 2016- Where Shall We Journey Next?

It’s hard to believe we’re starting year three of the Japanese Quilting Study Group.  I have learned so much through researching these posts, and “met” some of the most amazing quilters ever!  Certainly Japanese quilting styles continue to grow in popularity– did you notice that Teresa Duryea Wong’s book was mentioned in the March/April issue of Quiltmaker?  So fun!!

But with the new year wide open before us, I must admit, I’m a little baffled at where to go from here.  As you can see from my bookshelf, there are plenty of Japanese authors and designers left to explore. .. .



So we can continue merrily along, sharing information as we discover new things, but I’m considering shaking things up a bit. Less me talking, more your input. Would you be interested in a Quilt Along? Sort of a practicum year for the study group if you will.  I’ll set up the website for link parties, and we’ll check in with one another monthly to see what books you’re reading, what patterns you’re trying out, what Japanese fabrics you’re stitching with. Maybe there will be some sponsors, discounts, and prizes along the way.

I’m thinking about starting the party in May, which gives you plenty of time to pick out a project, or search your stash.  And it gives me time to finish a rather massive project that is due at the end of April :-)

So what do you say?  Are you in?  If not, where would you like to see the Japanese Quilting Study Group go this year?

Happy Stitching!



New Pattern: Zippy

This fun little quilt has been waiting patiently for a pattern for far too long!!  I designed Zippy last spring, and had so much fun making it that I immediately made a second one for a friend.  And then we moved, so the pattern writing waited for a little while.

I can very safely say that it will take you less time to make this quilt than it took me to publish it!! :-)

zippy purpleweb

My favorite aspect about this quilt is that you can make it in any color scheme.  Better yet, pick your most overflowing scrap bin, and make the background in that color.  These shapes are big, so they really put a dent in your scraps.

Did I mention that the quilt is all straight seams?  Super, super easy.  And I’ve got step-by-step piecing diagrams, so if you’re new to the angled edges of these shapes, you’ll still be sewing away in no time. Speaking of the shapes, I used Fons and Porter rulers (the pyramid, diamond and hexagon) for this quilt.  The pattern includes template pieces you can trace onto template plastic, but the rulers definitely make it easier!!



Patriotic Zippy cover web

Zippy finishes at 55 by 66 inches, perfect for snuggling, or draping on a twin-sized bed.

Zippy is available for immediate download in my Craftsy shop.

If you make your own Zippy, please send me pictures!!  I’d love to see the quilt in all sorts of fun color schemes.  Wouldn’t it be fun in reds and pinks? Or black prints with a white/bright accent strip?




Happy Stitching!!



Working with the Ruler Foot for the Janome Artistic SD

Happy New Year, Y’all!  This was supposed to be a Christmasy post, but I kinda got swept up in all the craziness with the holidays, and suddenly we’re over a week into January.

One of my diversions over the break was an overwhelming urge to make a Christmas tree skirt.  I used a quilt around the tree this year, but I’m ready for something round.  I found this cute tutorial, and plowed through my stash of favorite Christmas prints.  The tutorial was straightforward, and had good explanations of cutting pieces longer than a 24” ruler.  My skirt came out a little shy of a full circle, though.  I added an extra strip, and probably should have added two.


Then, I started quilting.  I FINALLY got a ruler foot for the Janome Artistic SD. Amy Johnson came to my rescue and special ordered it for me (you can find the listing in her shop).  I also had a wonderful hexagon star ruler from Top Anchor Quilting tools that I have been wanting to play with for over a year.

I was very worried about visibility with the ruler foot, because it’s made for the regular Artistic machines.  (Simply put, that means the little notch cut out of the foot for better visibility is on the left-hand side of the foot when you’re quilting on the SD, and it does not help much). However, even with the limited visibility, I was able to quilt inside my stars without too much trouble.








What really makes this foot worthwhile is the amount of space it provides to the right and behind the needle.  I could not get my ruler in those spaces with the regular foot, it just comes down too low, as you can see in this comparison picture.  The normal open-toe foot is on the right, the ruler foot is on the left.

foot comparison







Also over the break, I treated myself to Amy’s ruler work class on Craftsy.  I’ve been following her blog for over a year now, and learned so much from that.  But seeing her demonstrate the rulers in the videos really helped me get the hang of where to place my hands, and how to line up the rulers.  And it also made me realize how many more rulers I would like to add to my collection someday. . .If you’re interested in learning how to use longarm rulers with your domestic sewing machine, this class is well-worth your time.

Amy’s having a ruler work blog party in the next couple of weeks, which is motivating me to keep working on this project.  I’m baffled about what to quilt around the stars.  I really want them to stand out, but need more quilting to hold it all together.  Any suggestions?

Happy Stitching!


JQSG- A Chat with Patricia Belyea of Okan Arts

Welcome to the Japanese Quilting Study Group, a monthly blog series devoted to exploring all the wondrous aspects of Japanese Quilting!!  You can check out all the posts in this series here.

Today, I am simply delighted to welcome Patricia Belyea to the blog.  I discovered her wonderful store through Teresa Duryea Wong of Third Floor Quilts, and became an instant fan of yukata cottons. Yukata cottons are used in Japan to make summer kimonos. How does this relate to quilting?  I’ll let Patricia explain all that. . . grab a cup of coffee, because this post is chock-full of wonderful pictures!!  Enjoy!


Patricia Belyea, a Seattle-based artisan quilter, has been importing vintage Japanese textiles since 2009. Her cottage business, Okan Arts, stocks the largest collection of yukata cottons outside of Japan. She also imports kimono wools and vintage yukatas.
How did you become interested in Japanese fabrics?

Since I was a little girl, I’ve had a fascination with Japan. Finally, when I turned 50, I made my dream of visiting Japan a reality. I visited Kyoto with my husband for one short week and was smitten. In the last decade, we have traveled to Japan eight times and will return to Tokyo in January 2016.
When I started quilting eight years ago, I used old clothes from Goodwill and hand-me-down fabrics from newly made quilting friends. My found treasures included vintage, global and hand-dyed fabrics.

Once I discovered vintage yukata cotton, I started using this remarkable fabric in my quilt projects—combining my passion for quilting with my love of all things Japanese. I have, through more than 30 sources, imported over 2000 bolts of yukata cotton. I now share my stash through my home-based business, Okan Arts (see okanarts.com).

For quilters around the world, I have an online shop. For visitors to Seattle, my brick-and-mortar shop is open by appointment.

IMG_8848What are the most striking Japanese motifs, historically and in modern textiles, in your collection?

 Traditionally yukata were made with white cotton, hand dyed with patterns in indigo. For men, geometric patterns were typical. For women, it got much more diverse: plants and flowers; animals, birds and insects; everyday objects; natural features; and more.
In my collection, plants and flowers abound: iris, chrysanthemum, morning glories, cherry and plum blossoms, lotus, bamboo, peonies and on and on. Insects sound buggy but they really include butterflies, a symbol of joy and longevity, and dragonflies, a symbol of marital success.
NewFabricsThe newest cottons are multi-colored and some are wildly abstract. Because the vintage yukata cottons I import span from the 1960s to the 1990s, I’ve collected a full array of traditional and modern yukata bolts. (See https://okanarts.com/shop)
How are these cottons dyed?
The yukata cottons I import are resist-dyed using the chuzen process.
The fabric for one bolt or tan is folded back and forth into a one-meter-wide pile on a vacuum table. An intricate cut-paper “screen” is placed on top. Barriers are made by squeezing out dams of rice paste around the pattern shapes. Dye is poured through the screen using a teapot-like container with a super-long spout.
The strong vacuum pulls the dye through all the layers. A wonderful feature of this method is that both sides of the fabric are dyed completely and the colors are lush.
Please describe your collection of yukata cottons and other textiles
At first I bought many wonderful Japanese fabrics—obis, woven cottons, noren, silks for kimono and haori as well as hand-dyed yukata cotton—they are all so irresistible. Ultimately I decided to focus on yukata cotton as it’s perfect for quilting.
Yukata cotton is a narrow-width fabric, just over 14 inches wide. One bolt measures about 12 meters (just over 12 yards)—enough to make one unlined summer kimono. Typically the cotton is rolled onto cores of bamboo or cardboard, making cylindrical bolts.
Recently I’ve also imported kimono wools, both printed and woven. The wools have been purchased for quilting, clothing and home decor projects.
Vintage yukatas
IMG_3923Can yukata cotton we used just like quilting cotton? Any special washing requirements?
Yukata cotton is the perfect weight for quilting. Quilters are often challenged, though, by the large-scale patterns.
I pre-wash all my yukata cottons before I use them as they are older fabrics and may be dusty. I used warm water for washing with a gentle liquid detergent and cold water for rinse. I like the Hand Washing setting on my washer so the cotton doesn’t come out all tied up on itself. I hang the fabric up to dry as my dryer cooks in creases that take forever to press out.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Making quilts with yukata cottons is not a common practice. Many of today’s quilters who want a Japanese look favor kimono silks where they take apart old kimonos and use the fabrics.
For me, working with yukata cottons inspires my quilt designs. I chose the fabrics first and then work out the compositions. This approach moves me to create unexpected combinations with both the piecing and the stitching.
Here are some of Patricia’s quilt projects using yukata cottons:
Belyea_Patricia 01_2

Peony Samurai

Healing Garden

Floating World



Tangled Garden

 To check out Patricia’s blog where she features quilting leaders, Japanese stories and monthly giveaways, visit https://okanarts.com/blogs
Thank you so much, Patricia!!  Now I’m off to my studio, where my yukata cottons are patiently waiting for me to take the plunge and start sewing!
Happy Stitching!

New Pattern: Heart of the Prairie

You’ve seen hints of this quilt on Instagram and on a couple of previous blog posts, but I’m delighted to officially introduce you to “Heart of the Prairie.”

hotp cover 2

This is the second quilt I made for Andover using their sweet “Little House on the Prairie” fabrics.  The inspiration for this design came from my Journey quilt.  While working on the tiny rail fence center, three of the blocks fell off my design wall, leaving a perfect little white heart amid the blocks. It seemed like a lovely way to take a simple, traditional quilt pattern and give it a little modern flair. Heart of the Prairie is lap-sized, 57” by 70”, perfect for snuggling (or perhaps making ahead for picnics next spring!)


The design is also fun in other colorways.  Here’s a version I made in Christmas colors.  I kept it scrappy by mixing batiks and traditional Christmas prints.

HOTP Christmas


Quilting this design was too fun!  I used paisleys for the hearts and setting triangles, and a meandering loopy design for the rail fence blocks.  From the back, the rail fence blocks almost give a lattice effect.


quilting detail

You can find the pattern for Heart of the Prairie in my Craftsy shop.  Starting in January, this quilt and Wanderings will be traveling to a quilt store near you with the Andover trunk shows. If you make your own Heart of the Prairie, please share on Instagram so we can all see, #heartoftheprairiequilt, and please tag me @thecaffeinatedquilter.

Happy Stitching!


American Quilter Magazine January/February 2016

A while back, I mentioned that I *might* have another kaleidoscope design in the works.  Today, I get to share it with you, and I am just thrilled and honored about where this little quilt wound up.

Fractured kaleidoscopeHere’s my “Fractured Kaleidoscope”, a foundation paper pieced design intended to give all the lovely swirly effects of a traditional kaleidoscope block, without having to contend with eight fabric points converging in the block center.  The fabrics are all luscious Laurel Burch basics from Clothworks.





If you’d like the pattern, or a kit to make one just like this one, you can find both in the current issue of American Quilter magazine.


Once I got over the initial amazement of seeing my quilt on the cover, I read through the entire magazine, and loved every article.  There’s a design by Jackie Robinson, one of my all-time favorite designers.  Six years ago, she hosted a block design contest.  Even though my entries didn’t win, the experience was fantastic, and motivated me to start my own business.

There’s an article called Angel Babies that made me cry–in a good way.  It’s part of a series about charity quilts that talks about several organizations that make handmade items for families whose babies die before birth. As a mom who has gone through two miscarriages, I know those tiny gifts mean the world to the families who receive them.

One of the things I love best about American Quilter is that they feature more complex patterns than you can find elsewhere.  There’s a STUNNING quilt in this issue, all blue-and-white, combining the idea of a mariner’s compass with storm at sea blocks, by Judit Hajdu.

fc detail (1)I’m thrilled beyond words to be included in such a gorgeous publication. I had a ball making my quilt, and even tried a new-to-me technique of quilting with TWO glide colors in the needle simultaneously.  The overall effect was that the quilting showed up everywhere in the large swirls.


Fractured Kaleidescope purpleHere’s a mock-up of the quilt in a more subdued color scheme of purple, black and white.  I also used Laurel Burch basics for this color option.

If you make your own Fractured Kaleidoscope, I’d LOVE to see it! Use the hashtag #fracturedkaleidoscope in instagram, and be sure to tag me, @thecaffeinatedquilter!






Happy Stitching, and Happy Thanksgiving!!!



New Pattern: Wanderings


I’m so wanderings coverexcited to share a new pattern with you today! I designed Wanderings for Andover Fabrics and their winsome Little House on the Prairie fabric line (now available in stores!!)

This quilt was inspired by a quilt I saw on my friend Karen’s blog when she toured the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum.




wanderings outtakeI love the blues and creams together in this quilt, it makes me think of a prairie skyline.  And the name of the pattern was inspired by Pa and Laura’s pioneering spirit, always wondering what was beyond the horizon.



close-upFor the quilting, I tried a new-to-me motif of wandering curliques.  By the end of it, my ability to backtrack along quilting lines had improved tremendously!!

This quilt uses strip piecing techniques and large blocks, so it goes together pretty quickly. It finishes at 60” by 74”, perfect for snuggling up on the couch, or tent-building.

The pattern is available digitally in my Craftsy store, and will be available to your local quilt store through Brewer soon. If you make a Wanderings quilt of your own, please share on Instagram with the hashtag #wanderingsquilt.  I can’t wait to see what you create!!

Happy Stitching!


JQSG-Reflections on Japanese Contemporary Quilts and Quilters

Welcome to the Japanese Quilting Study group, a monthly blog series dedicated to learning more about the wonderful world of Japanese quilting.  You can see all previous posts in this series by clicking on the link in the header, or here.

book cover

Teresa Duryea Wong’s book finally arrived on my doorstep just after I wrapped up several huge deadlines.  So I was able to spend a long morning with a good cup of coffee, perusing the book slowly and taking it all in.  The photographs are gorgeous, and the information presented is fascinating. The differences between Japanese and American quilting classes are incredible. For example, Teresa talks about one teacher (in the traditional teaching curriculum), where the students in the basic class make 48 hand-pieced quilts in 2-4 years.  I would love to learn how to hand piece that efficiently. Making ONE small hand-pieced quilt took me the better part of six months!

My favorite section of the book is the artist profiles.  Here, we get a very up-close and personal glimpse into the lives of famous Japanese quilters, including images and descriptions of their studios. I find it very encouraging that some of them do not have immaculately organized work spaces, and store things in plastic tubs just like I do!

The diversity of quilting styles presented in this book is inspiring, and makes it a story not only relevant to American quilters who love all things Japanese (like me), but also to American quilters who think outside the box, and push the limits of what defines a quilt. So many American quilt books focus on “the basics”, and simplifying the quiltmaking process to something you can complete in a weekend.  The quilts shown in this book highlight the other end of the quilting spectrum- the magic that happens when you meticulously, painstakingly pour your heart and soul into creating a work of art in fabric.

Happy Stitching!



How to Fix Puckers While Free-Motion Quilting

While working on my Little House on the Prairie quilts for Market, I accidentally messed up the quilting.  Badly. You know how they always say to work from the center of your quilt outwards while machine quilting? I missed a spot.  Literally one little 4 1/2” block smack in the center of the quilt.  And when I went to fill it in, it created a huge pucker as I moved toward a densely quilted area.


The seam ripper is pointing at the impending pucker.  The two-dimensional photograph does not do it justice, this was turning into a huge ridge.  And you can see how wonky my stitching was leading up to it as I noticed the problem.  So I took the quilt off the machine, and ripped out that ugly stitching.  Then the block was completely unquilted.





pucker2Then I pinned that block down with straight pins (not the curved safety pins I usually use for basting).  I tried to mitigate the puckering by spacing it out between each of the pins. Then I put it back on the machine, and quilted SUPER SLOWLY.  I was terrified of running over those pins.  I also started on the side of the block where the pucker was worst (on the right hand side, instead of on the left where I started the first time).




pucker3When it was finished, it still didn’t lay perfectly flat.  But it was hardly noticeable when I stepped back from the quilt.  Whew!!

Do you ever get puckers when free-motion quilting?  How do you avoid them in the first place, or fix them once they’re inevitable?




Happy Stitching!



Fall 2015 Market Projects

These past two weeks have been bonkers! Between Quilt Market deadlines, my oldest kiddo’s volleyball tournament, and a family wedding this weekend, our world has been chaotic.

Next week I’ll be sharing two new patterns with you.  For today, though, I wanted to share some quick pictures of market projects.  I’m so bummed to be missing Market this year.  If you’re going, be sure to check out Andover’s Premiere Schoolhouse Friday morning for Little House on the Prairie.  I hear they’re giving away some wonderful goodie bags.  And if you send me a picture of yourself with one of my quilts there, I’ll send you a  free TCQ pattern, your choice!

Here’s a preview of one of those quilts, called Wanderings:

Wanderings outtake








A couple of weeks ago, RJR contacted me about making some samples in their wonderful Basically Patrick lines.  Bright colored hexagon fabric?!?  You bet I’m in!!  Even if I do stay up most of the night hand stitching. . . . And MACHINE FINISH my Delectable Watermelon table runner with less than an hour to go before the last UPS pick-up of the day. . .. Hey, we do our best work under pressure right?

Here’s the little watermelon, from my Delectable Watermelon pattern.  (This time I hand-pieced it instead of EPP.  It went together SOOO much faster!)

Delectable watermelon RJR




And a version of my Frosted Hexagon table topper, all in yummy blues and turquoises:

Frosted hexagon RJR







Now I’m off to pack for said wedding.  And drool over all the fun Quilt Market pictures in my Instagram feed.  What did we ever do before social media?

Happy Stitching!