A Day at the Park

As we rocket towards October, I am pulling some marathon quilting days.  Last night I finished the binding on the last of my new quilts for Fall Market.  Major happy dance!

Today, I took the kiddos to the park to enjoy our gorgeous end-of-summer weather, and to photograph all the new quilts.  This has been my first real venture into large quilts.  Lugging those around and setting them up for pictures was a unique challenge.  Fortunately, the older two kiddos thought it was great fun to stand on benches and hold up the quilts.

I will have more on the new patterns next week, but here’s a preview picture of the Legacy quilt I showed in-progress a couple weeks back.  This fun bench begged for a picture.

Legacy

 

 

 

 

 

 

My apologies for brevity and late-posting this week.  I promise I’ll make up for it in the next couple of weeks.  I’ll have four new pattern releases (with special sale prices), and a book review for a truly unique gem of a machine quilting book that I recently discovered.

 

Happy Stitching!

emily

 

Posted in projects | 4 Comments

JQSG- Guest Post with Teresa Duryea Wong

Welcome to month 8 of the Japanese Quilting Study Group! You can see all posts in this series here.  Today I’m delighted to welcome Teresa Duryea Wong, who blogs at Third Floor Quilts.  She has some wonderful experiences with Japanese quilting to share, so grab a cup of coffee and enjoy!

One day, while surfing the blogo-sphere, I came across Emily’s lovely blog. Her Japanese Study Group caught my attention as I am intently interested in Japanese quilting. We’ve connected and shared many emails, and here I am – offering my first guest blog post.

Teresa Duryea Wong at the Tokyo Dome quilt show

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emily suggested I write about 3 things: First, my new book on Japanese quilts (being published by Schiffer Publishing – due out early next year); Second, the amazing quilt artists I met and interviewed for my book, including Yoko Saito; And third, my own journey making Japanese-inspired quilts.

So first… the BOOK! My book traces the 40+ year history of quilting in Japan. Most people may not realize that quilting was an idea that was imported from America. It’s a fascinating story of how eager and curious women took the idea of the traditional American quilt and eventually made it their own art form.

I spent more than a year full-time researching this book and I spent nearly a month in Japan in early 2014. I went to the homes and studios of about a dozen quilt artists including Keiko Goke, Noriko Endo and Yoko Saito. It was a truly special experience, and I have exclusive interviews and photos of all of them in my book.

And yes, I did meet Yoko Saito in person when I was in Japan. Lucky me! I interviewed her through a translator and she was just wonderful. Very gracious! We met in her studio and office, which is above her store, Quilt Party, on the outskirts of Tokyo. Her interesting background and story will be in my book… along with photos of her quilts.

Here's a sneak peek inside the Quilt Party store, the business Yoko Saito has built over the past 30 years. My visit was all too short it seems!

Here’s a sneak peek inside the Quilt Party store, the business Yoko Saito has built over the past 30 years. My visit was all too short it seems!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Along with the story of Japan’s quilting history, 8 extremely talented contemporary quilt artists are featured prominently in book (Yoko is one of them), along with over 200 stunning photos of their quilts. Each quilter has a special story of how she found quilting and what inspires her.

And now for a personal quilt note. People sometimes ask me how I got interested in Japanese quilts… and the short answer is, I started out as a “groupie” of many of the talented fabric designers. I’ve made several quilts inspired by their patterns or fabrics. I adapted a pattern from Yoko Saito into the small quilt pictured here. It is 100% hand appliqué and hand quilted. Yep, that one took more than a year to complete!

YokoSaitoStillLife-WEB-222008

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also made an original art quilt using Keiko Goke fabrics.

thirdfloor-stilllife-web1004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And…. I took a class from the very talented Noriko Endo years ago and made one quilt in her confetti naturescape style as well. No photos of that one – it’s stuck on a shelf somewhere not to be seen by the public, haha.

I do make other art quilts too, and I blog about them on thirdfloorquilts.com

If you want to buy these wonderful Japanese fabrics, its always a bit of a challenge to find them. For anyone interested, I highly recommend attending the Houston International Quilt Festival… lots of vendors there sell great Japanese fabrics. In years past, Yoko’s Quilt Party store has hosted a booth (but not every year). There are also several online sources that have great options:

http://www.contemporarycloth.com/index.htm

http://www.fabricworm.com/

https://www.etsy.com/shop/MissMatatabi

While I was in Japan, I attended the Tokyo Dome show, officially known as the Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival, held in January every year. If you go, you’ll love it, but be prepared – it’s packed! 230,000 people attend! (Whereas 70,000 attend the Houston show.) And it is a fairly small space, compared to Houston. Imagine standing on a small-ish baseball field versus a cavernous American-style convention center. Anyway, there are obviously fantastic quilts on view and a fair number of vendors selling fabric and all things quilt related.

Yoko Saito's Quilt Party booth at the Tokyo Dome show is crazy packed! Lots of fans collecting everything in sight, and lining up for autographs.

Yoko Saito’s Quilt Party booth at the Tokyo Dome show is crazy packed! Lots of fans collecting everything in sight, and lining up for autographs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outside, everyone lines up outside the Tokyo Dome waiting patiently for the doors to open.

Outside, everyone lines up outside the Tokyo Dome waiting patiently for the doors to open.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had a fantastic experience writing this book and living in Japan for a few short weeks. I can’t wait to go back in 2015. Maybe twice? And I can’t wait to see the book in print.

Writing this book has been a labor of love… and it feels surreal to have an actual publisher and a book coming out some time soon! I am the most impatient person ever, but they tell me it will be available sometime in early spring 2015. Seems like a long ways away… But I suppose time will fly.

Big thanks to Emily for inviting me to be a guest blogger. If you have any questions, or comments, please email me at Teresa (at) third floor quilts {dot} com.

And thank you for the beautiful post!  I can’t wait to see your book!

Happy Stitching!

emily

Posted in Japanese Quilting | 4 Comments

Downton Abbey Fabrics from Andover- the Downstairs Collection

As promised, today I’m excited to share another new quilt I’m working on for Andover Fabrics.  This one uses the Downton Abbey Downstairs collection and Lord and Lady collection, which will be available in November. (Andover Fabrics gave me permission to share the mood boards below with you.)

Downstairs-Mood-Board-1[1] Downstairs-Mood-Board-2[1]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These fabrics are not typical for me.  I’m drawn to bright colors, and bold prints.  But I love the fabrics for the same reason I love the characters they represent.  These soft prints are calming, steadfast, and fascinating when you delve into the details.  I chose the palette below, using all fourteen fabrics in the Downstairs collection, and pairing them with a handful of blues and reds from the Lord and Lady collection.

Downstairs fabrics

 

 

 

 

 

After much deliberation, I tossed the black fabric from the Lord and Lady in as well, and the black really gives definition to the quilt.

Lord-&-Lady-Mood-Board-2[1]

 

 

 

 

 

Lord-&-Lady-Mood-Board-1[1]

 

 

 

 

 

 

This quilt will fit a twin-sized bed.  The pattern will also include instructions for the Legacy quilt as originally seen in the Unnoficial Downton Abbey Sews, so I laid the baby quilt on top of the larger one in the photo below.  Mostly, I was curious to see if the fabrics would work together on the pattern cover.  I think they do.

Legacies progress

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m within a dozen triangles of finishing up the larger quilt.  Then I’ll take a break from the studio for a while, and enter into pattern editing and polishing mode.   I’ll be releasing this pattern, and the Egyptian one, in early October.

Happy Stitching!

emily

 

Posted in projects | 5 Comments

Fussy-Cut Like an Egyptian

About three weeks ago, I posted about the start of a new quilt with the Downton Abbey- The Egyptian Fabric collection from Andover.  That quilt is now finished, and on its way to my wonderful longarm quilter.

new Downton Abbey fabrics from Andover

 

 

 

 

 

Above are the fabrics I used in the quilt.  All the fussy-cutting was done with strips of the print fabric in the center of the picture.  It amazes me how many cool designs were tucked into one print!  The finished quilt has 84 blocks, and each one was like a little mystery quilt with the fussy-cutting.

fussy-cut block two

 

 

 

 

 

 

fussy-cut block three

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

fussy-cut block one

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t this fabric fun?  Even looking at it from the photograph gives a different perspective.  In person, the oranges really stand out.  On screen, however, the deep blue pops.

I hope your weekend includes time to sew.  I’ll be working on another new project to show next week (hint:  it’s all about the Downstairs Collection!), and enjoying one last quiet weekend with the family before my oldest son’s volleyball games start up.

Happy Stitching!

emily

 

Posted in projects | 9 Comments

Japanese Quilting Study Group- A Finish and Progress

Welcome back to this month’s edition of the Japanese Quilting Study Group!  If you’re just joining the series, you can see previous posts here.

Looking back over previous posts, I’m a little chagrined at how many more “progress” posts I have than “finish” posts.  Even though the forward to this book specifically states that these projects are time-consuming, I underestimated the complexity.  But I’m learning so much, and that’s truly the focus of this blog series, so we’re still on track!

First up today, some finished pictures of the Little Crosses project.  This mini-quilt has actually been done for a while, and is happily settled in to its new home at my sister’s house.  This quilt is totally her colors, and completely NOT mine, but I still kinda miss having the quilt around.

Little crosses finished!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bowl and whisk in the corner of the picture are souvenirs from my trip to Japan many years ago.  The cup was from my host family’s tea set, and the bamboo whisk is used for mixing powdered tea and boiling water in the cup.

little crosses detail

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve also been working on my Soda handbag, although slowly.  I’ve already made some pretty big mistakes on it.  Like quilting edge-to-edge on the gusset and back of the bag.  You’re supposed to trim the front and batting after sewing the seams, then fold the backing fabric over to encase the raw edges of the seams.  Quilting edge-to-edge means there’s no way I can trim that front smaller.  Oops.  I think I will create binding from the lining material and encase the seams that way.  It’s a few extra steps, but should work.

soda handbag

 

 

 

 

 

 

The top of the bag is finished with a facing.  Reading through the instructions, I think that’s like a binding that you just turn completely under instead of leaving half on either side of the bag, but it’s still confusing me mightily.  And I still need to find suede tape for the handles.  I was hoping to get it at JoAnn’s so I could match colors to my fabrics, but I couldn’t find it anywhere in the store.  Now I’m off to look for it online.

So, that’s how far I’ve gotten on this taupe journey.  Hopefully next month I’ll have a finished purse to show!  I’ll also have a guest post for you from a wonderful art quilter who has actually MET Yoko Saito.  I can’t wait to hear her stories!!

Happy Stitching!

emily

Posted in Japanese Quilting | 4 Comments

Jocelyn’s Japanese Garden

Earlier this week, I recieved the most delightful e-mail from Jocelyn in Perth, Australia.  She included (and gave me permission to share) this GORGEOUS quilt she made from my Japanese Garden pattern.

Japanese Garden by Jocelyn

 

 

 

 

 

 

How cool is that?!?  I’m mesmerized by her fabric choices, the purples really make the blocks in the middle stand out.  Best of luck with the quilt show in September, Jocelyn!!

Happy Stitching!

emily

Posted in Happy Mail | 6 Comments

New Downton Abbey Fabrics from Andover

So, last week I promised new and exciting stuff on the blog, and it doesn’t get too much more new and exciting than gorgeous upcoming fabric lines!!! Andover Fabrics is releasing five new collections inspired by Downton Abbey, and they asked me to create a couple of patterns using them.  Happiness.  For today, let’s play with the new Egyptian Collection, which will be available at quilt stores in February.  The following images are mood boards, provided by Andover.

Egyptian-Mood-Board-3

 

 

 

 

Egyptian-Mood-Board-2

 

 

 

 

Egyptian-Mood-Board-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyone else humming “Walk like an Egyptian” yet?  Oh, it’s just me? Moving on then. . .

Here’s the grouping of fabrics I’m using in my quilt.  The red and black on the left are from the Lord and Lady collection coming out this fall.  (Can I just add how happy I am that Cora finally got some fabric?)

new Downton Abbey fabrics from Andover

 

 

 

 

 

As you can tell from the photograph, that black and bright print just begs for fussy-cutting.  I LOVE all the bright colors and unusual designs. Here are some of my first blocks for the new quilt:

Downton Abbey from Andover- block one- Emily Breclaw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Downton Abbey from Andover- block two- Emily Breclaw

 

 

 

 

 

 

Downton Abbey from Andover- block three- Emily Breclaw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re thinking these blocks look familiar, you’re right. This pattern is going to be similar to my Japanese Garden  pattern, but bigger and simpler. The quilt will be twin-sized.  I’ll post more pictures and updates as the quilt progresses.  I can’t wait to see how this one turns out.

Now, I’m off to fussy-cut some more of those beautiful centers.  It’s so fun to see how each block comes together.  And I guess I should finish watching season four, too.  Much as I love that series, season four has just been more than I could handle.  What’s on your design wall, or movie list, this weekend?

Happy Stitching!

emily

 

 

 

Posted in projects | 9 Comments

Book Review- Forest Fairy Crafts

Not sure how summer zoomed by so quickly, but my kids go back to school in less than a week.  Between getting them ready, and some new quilts on tight turnarounds, I’m running a bit crazier than usual these days. So, if you will permit me, I’m pulling a post from my idea files for today.  If you follow the blog closely, you’ll see the kids’ ages are not current, as I wrote this last summer.  However, my kids pulled out the crafting boxes just today and made MORE gnomes and fairies, so the post is still absolutely relevant.  Enjoy, and I promise fresh, new, exciting content next week!

Forest Fairy Crafts cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Stash Books asked me to explore Forest Fairy Crafts with my kids, I jumped at the opportunity. Fairies are right up our alley, so to speak.  Our home is full of dragons, unicorns, and other mythical creatures, and not all of them belong to the kids!

As a disclosure, you should know I received a promotional copy of the book.  But I’m thinking about purchasing a second copy, as it became “well-loved” rather quickly with an adult and four kids trying to read it simultaneously! We made projects from every section of the book.  My older two children, aged 11 and 8, made all of their fairies and gnomes completely independently.  My younger two girls, aged 5 and 3, needed help, but were still able to actively participate.

I was especially impressed by how well this book “spoke” to my kids.  The analogies used to explain the hand stitches are fantastic! The directions cleverly illustrated felt amounts without measurements, so my children were able to figure out how much felt each fairy required.

I think the fairies themselves are the best testament to how much we enjoyed this book.  My oldest son at first remained aloof from the crafting, believing fairies and gnomes to be a bit “too girly”.  Then he discovered he could take the wooden pegs we bought for the gnomes and use the patterns to create dwarves instead.  He’s reading Tolkien right now, which explains the company of thirteen (but not the ninja dwarf in the foreground!)

dwarves

 

 

 

 

dwarves2

 

 

 

 

 

Not to be outdone, the girls made the Ninja fairies.

ninjas

 

 

 

 

 

Then they made Flower Fairies. My 8-year old daughter made these without help, and she was absolutely thrilled with the results. (I love the grin on the momma fairy’s face!)

mom and baby

 

 

 

 

 

While she was doing those, I made several with the younger girls (and the one on the far right is a “little sister” fairy of my very own!)

flower fairies

 

 

 

 

 

Eventually the girls wrangled wooden pegs away from their big brother, and made some Gnomes themselves (although he still helped some draw faces).

gnomes

 

 

 

 

 

We also made several Mermaids.  At the time of this post, the 3-year-old’s pink polka dotted mermaid is still missing in action, but you can see the “tricky” and “fancy” tail variations in her big sisters’ mermaids.

mermaids

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, we made a couple of the Treasure Keepers.  My 8-year old turned the Owl into a softie.  We modified the Unicorn instructions to make a giraffe for my 5-year old.

pouches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These projects were so simple and fun that I would lose my kids for hours at a time amidst piles of felt and silk flowers.  Often, the only time they’d surface would be to ask for more pegs and wooden beads (I underestimated their interest during the first two craft store trips.  Then I started buying the value packs of fairy heads and gnome bodies!)

Making the fairies was simply the start of the fun.  The kids have also played with them, packed them along on our summer road trip, and included them in all sorts of adventures.  The fairies have held up beautifully, and we haven’t had to make repairs yet, which is more than I can say for some of their store-bought toys.

Overall, this book is a lovely and satisfying adventure in fairy-crafting for children and adults alike. The projects are well-suited to young artists, and the fairies are perfectly sized for little hands and big imaginations.

Have you ever created a fairy?

Happy Stitching!

emily

Posted in Book Reviews | 3 Comments

Japanese Quilting Study Group- Sharing the Journey

Welcome to month six of my blog series, Japanese Quilting Study Group.  This post is part of a series chronicling my journey through Yoko Saito’s book, “Japanese Taupe Color Theory.”  For this post, I’ll be sharing excerpts from a wonderful letter Cathy Slovensky recently sent me. Her comments follow in italics, along with the gorgeous pictures she shared.  Please note: as per her e-mails, she started working on these less than two months ago!  I’m amazed at how many beautiful projects she has made.

First of all, I can’t believe how much I’ve learned in just a month of working on the various projects. The subtleties and variances of the fabrics and how they change depending on the surrounding colors have become very obvious to me in light of using the taupe color wheel. I will never look at fabric the same way again. I am so grateful that Yoko Saito has shared her creativity and wisdom with the world. I also love that she encourages us to go off the grid and do our own thing with the blocks. It is very freeing (and forgiving)!

The biggest obstacle I ran into at the beginning was finding fabric in my stash that would fall in line with the taupe color wheel. Most of my stash contains Kaffe Fassett (and friends) fabrics, so this was a challenge. Thankfully, I had some reproduction fabrics, some old Red Wagon homespun fabrics, and some Japanese taupe squares a friend had shared after making a Daiwabo quilt. I also tea-dyed some of my lighter fabrics. Before beginning each project, when choosing the fabrics (using the book to guide me), I cut small fabric swatches, double-taped them onto a half-page of cardstock, lettered them, and wrote the name of the project on it. I flipped the cardstock over and roughly sketched a diagram of each square, putting the fabric letter that should be used for each pattern piece. This really helped when piecing the squares, because I could just flip the cardstock over to see which fabric I had to cut and in what shape.

Cathy's blocks and tools

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspired by your Greek crosses from the blog, I decided to start with them as well (Spicy
Salt/Greek Cross). I enlarged the patterns by 20 percent  and made plastic templates for the pieces. I did the same with Aqua/Wheel, but by the time I embarked on my third lesson, Forest/House, I decided that I could save some time and effort by transforming some of the quilt patterns into foundation patterns. So with Café au lait/Quilt
in Light and Dark, Dark Cherry/Block in a Box, Green/Triangles, and Forest/House,
I created foundation patterns and printed them out on 100 percent cotton white
fabric.

Cathy Slovensky's projects

 

 

 

 

 

 

So that’s as far along as I am on the journey. I did one of the Pink/Capsule squares and wrote a note to myself on the cardstock (“Not for the faint of heart!”). HA. I’ll return to it, but I think my next endeavor will be the Nut Tart/Log Cabin. I’d like to play around with the log cabin quilt square (as Yoko Saito suggests); I followed her lead in the Forest/House squares too, changing up the shape and size of the doors and the tilt of the roofs. So far, this has been a wonderful learning process and a project that I look forward to working on every day, even if I just complete one square.

I had an unexpected, wonderful experience in terms of the hardwood wooden finger
press that appears in the picture below. I discovered a shop on Etsy called
“The Copper Finch” that makes very nice hardwood presses. I ordered one, but it
was much larger than what I wanted (the presser head was an inch across). I
wrote the shop owner, Carla, and asked if I could return it, and I explained
that I was working on very small quilt squares, as I was working through Yoko
Saito’s book, along with others in a group, via your blog. I told her that I
needed a wooden press that had a smaller head (about a half-inch wide). Within
a few days, her husband had finished a prototype that was one inch in
circumference on the top half but only a half-inch on the bottom angled half.
While it worked well, it still wasn’t quite what I wanted. I then explained
that I would prefer a press that I could hold in my hand like a pen that was
slender along the entire length . And within a few days—voilà! The press in the picture showed up inthe mail. It is made from Black Walnut and is only a half-inch wide and about 6¾ inches long). It works so well; it is lightweight (about 3/8 of an ounce),
the angle of the press is perfect, and—what I love best—it is also smooth and beautiful.

Wooden finger press from The Copper Finch

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many, many thanks to Cathy for sharing her beautiful projects!  I’m inspired, and I think I’ll head over to The Copper Finch for one of those lovely finger presses.

Happy Stitching!

emily

 

Posted in Japanese Quilting, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

My 2014 Hoffman Challenge Quilt

Today the winners and travelers for the Hoffman Challenge were posted.  I’m over the moon that my quilt will be travelling for the next year! Here are some photos of the overall quilt, and close-ups to show the quilting and blocks.

2014 Hoffman Challenge Emily Breclaw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I named it “Fiesta on the Riverwalk.”  I grew up in San Antonio, Texas, with all of the gorgeous Hispanic influences.  The fabric made me think of Folklorico dancers, embroidered Mexican dresses, the Battle of the Flowers parade, and all the posters my mom has collected from the Night in Old San Antonio festivals.

The challenge rules stipulate a “noticeable amount” of the challenge fabric, plus whatever other fabric you’d like.  I used the challenge fabric and one pastel stripe for the blocks, plus third fabric for the background.

Hoffman fabric and thread

 

 

 

 

 

I quilted concentric circles in the blocks, and the block intersections, using a wide variety of thread colors.

Quilting Hoffman Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

I quilted the borders in a variegated thread, with circles and spokes inspired by the motif in the fabric background.

close-up Hoffman Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

The blocks themselves are based on Lucy Boston’s Patchwork of the Crosses.  My hexagons are only 3/4″ on a side (the original quilt had 1″ sides).  I also really took liberties with the symmetry of the blocks.  Traditional POTC quilts are very symmetric, but in mine, I had fun making the designs swirl in unexpected ways.  I also left off the sashing hexagon rows.  However, I English paper pieced the entire quilt, just like Lucy Boston did hers.

center block Hoffman Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

The finished quilt is 31″ square.  I can’t even remember how many hundreds of EPP hexies and squares are in it, but it’s a bunch.  If you’re heading to Houston this fall for Market or Festival, you’ll be able to see this quilt in the Hoffman exhibit.  Happiness!  Also, be sure to check out the Hoffman Challenge website.  The winning quilts are incredibly amazing.

I’ve got several other exciting things to share with you over the next couple of weeks, so please stop by often!  This month’s Japanese Quilting Study Group is an extra-special one.  A reader sent me photographs of her taupe projects and they are incredible! I hope to have those posted for you by the end of the week.

Happy Stitching!

emily

Posted in Hoffman Challenge, projects | 10 Comments