Japanese Quilting Study Group- A Yoko Saito Purse Finish!

Welcome to month 9 of the Japanese Quilting Study Group! You can see all posts in this series here

What a momentous occasion.  I have finally finished my Soda handbag.  If you’re new to this series, the pattern for this bag is featured in Yoko Saito’s Japanese Taupe Color Theory, and I’ve blogged about progress on my version throughout the year.

Soda handbag







Isn’t it cute? The front is hand pieced and hand quilted.  The sides, back and handles are machine quilted.  Besides learning about taupe color combinations, I learned how to face a bag, sew encased metal snaps and a clever way to encase the raw ends of the handles.  All from a pattern that fit- no joke- on a single page of the book. And there are 36 other projects in this book.  Some with zippers, some with curved edges, all sorts of techniques to learn.

Soda handbag gusset







Now that this purse is finished, my mind is moving on to new project possibilities.  I’m thinking of starting the hexagon bag from Yoko Saito’s Japanese Quilting Piece by Piece.  I’m also thinking about purchasing her Bags for Everyday Use book.  At market last week, I saw the CUTEST bag in the Stitch publications booth.  It was from this book, and incorporated Rose Star blocks that would fit in the palm of your hand.  (If you’re not familiar with the rose star block, most people make it with kites that measure 3″ through the center, so the completed block typically measures 17″ through the center.)

How about you?  Have you made a project of Yoko Saito’s yet?  If so, I’d love to feature it in one of my final posts for this year’s Japanese Quilting Study Group.  Next year, I’m planning to feature several other prominent Japanese quilters in this blog series, but I suspect more Yoko Saito books and projects will be covered as well!

Happy Stitching!


Posted in Japanese Quilting | 5 Comments

2014 Fall Quilt Market Impressions

Fall Quilt Market was fantastic.  I’m still mentally processing everything, and taking notes about conversations I want to remember. Today I wanted to share some of my personal favorite Market moments, and I’ll post more in a couple of days on specific topics (like my hands-on research of various mid-arm quilt machines, and detailed information about new products.)

First up, some fun pictures.  I made a beeline for the Clothworks booth, and finally got to meet the lovely Candice Hoffman in person.  She’s just as exuberant in person as she is over e-mail.  Here’s the American Made Brand display:

AMB booth Fall 2014 Quilt Market

AMB booth Fall 2014 Quilt Market







Yes, that’s Pinwheel Jam on the right-hand wall.  So fun!!!  And they’re introducing 12 new solids next year.

In other American Made Brand news, I got a picture with the license plate quilt from last summer’s blog tour.  It was so incredible to see all the blocks up close, especially after reading about each participant’s inspiration and design process during the blog tour.

AMB blog tour quilt

AMB blog tour quilt









One of the delightful things about Market is getting to wander the quilt exhibits in relative calm and quiet.  During Festival, there are so many people admiring the quilts that it’s hard to just experience the displays.

Here’s my Hoffman Challenge quilt.  I still can’t believe I actually have a quilt on display at International Quilt Festival.

Emily Breclaw Hoffman Challenge Quilt 2014

Emily Breclaw Hoffman Challenge Quilt 2014








I also got to meet up with Teresa Wong and see her ah-maz-ing hand appliqued quilt in the “It’s Raining Cats and Dogs” exhibit.  Pictures fail to convey the intricacy of this gorgeous quilt.  For more about the exhibit and her design inspiration, check out her blog post here.  Getting to meet Teresa in person and visit for a while was one of the absolute highlights of the weekend.

Teresa Wong with her quilt, "Wanna Cookie?" in the "It's Raining Cats and Dogs" exhibit

Teresa Wong with her quilt, “Wanna Cookie?” in the “It’s Raining Cats and Dogs” exhibit







And last, but not least, a sneak preview of the stuff that came home with me from Market. I picked up the book from Quilt Mania, and plan to include some extensive reviews of it for next year’s Japanese Quilting Study Group posts.  The thread came from Colonial Needle.  I had a chance to visit with the fabulous owners of that company while also meeting up with Anne Beier of Hudson Valley Quilts.  (Again, so wonderful to meet up with a friend from the online world!)

Fall 2014 Market goodies







On the left. . . yes, those little templates are getting their own blog post.  Soon.  Marti Michell made hexagon kites and thirds!!!I am over-the-moon about these templates.  Now you can make Doodlebug Garden entirely with acrylic templates!! (Before, you had to use my paper templates for the crowns to make the ladybugs.)  So very, very, very exciting!!  My mind is spinning on all sorts of new design possibilities with these shapes.

So, that’s my *brief* recap of Market experiences.  More soon.  But for now, I have a bit of hand-sewing left to do for this month’s Japanese Quilting Study Group.  Post by Friday, I promise :-)

Happy Stitching!



Posted in Great products, Hexagons, Hoffman Challenge | 4 Comments

New Pattern: Peppermints and Snowflakes

I don’t know about you, but I get a little cranky when stores are putting out Halloween candy and Christmas decorations at the same time.  However, I’m talking Christmas on the blog today, so you can make this fun quilt and have plenty of time to enjoy it for the holidays!

Here’s my final fall release, Peppermints and Snowflakes:

Peppermints and Snowflakes quilt pattern by Emily Breclaw

Peppermints and Snowflakes quilt pattern by Emily Breclaw










If you’re a confident quilter looking to expand your skills, you’re going to love this pattern. I know some people are intimidated by pieced hexagons, so I included tons of diagrams with pressing instructions and stitch sequences to help you make this quilt easily.  In case you’re wondering, no, those tiny red and white diamonds are NOT individually pieced!  I made them with a fabulous strip cutting method that goes together easier than you might expect. And, of course, this pattern works with the From Marti Michell Hexagon Template Set H.  (I think those are my favorite templates EVER.)

Fabric in this quilt is 25th and Pine by Basic Grey for Moda, and it’s fantastic fabric.  I love the navy blue and hints of pink and lime green in the prints.  They’re just, well, happy fabrics!

I’m sewing on the binding on a second, non-Christmasy version of this quilt that I’ll show you next week.  For now, though, it’s off to last minute Market preparations.

Peppermints and Snowflakes is coming soon to a quilt store near you, and available now in my Craftsy shop.

Happy Stitching!



Posted in Hexagons | 6 Comments

New Pattern: Pinwheel Jam

You know I’ve been having fun with traditional patterns in my two new Downton Abbey quilts.  But I’ve also been playing with more modern designs, and today’s new pattern is my first “all solids” nod to the modern quilt movement.  May I introduce you to Pinwheel Jam?

Pinwheel Jam quilt pattern by Emily Breclaw

Pinwheel Jam quilt pattern by Emily Breclaw










This is a seriously FUN quilt to piece!  I’ll walk you through piecing half-square triangles with loads of diagrams. The rest of the quilt is simple assembly, allowing your color choices to make the quilt spin and dance.

Check out the fun quilting by my awesome machine quilter, Amy Jameson:

detail of quilting on Pinwheel Jam by Emily Breclaw

detail of quilting on Pinwheel Jam by Emily Breclaw







I made this quilt with all American Made Brand solids.  If you’d like to make one just like it, the pattern materials list includes references to each AMB solid by name and number.  If you want to use different colors, the diagrams throughout the pattern use grayscale patterns so you can substitute any color without getting confused.  I’m working on another version of this quilt using batiks and tonal fabrics, and should have that ready to show you next week.  I’m pleasantly surprised that the patterned fabrics are working just as well as the solids.

I also want to make a version of this quilt in fall colors.  Wouldn’t the pinwheels make fun leaves?

Pinwheel Jam is available for immediate download in my Craftsy store, or ask for it at your favorite local quilt store.

Next week, I’ll have my fourth and final new fall pattern ready to share with you.  Hope your weekend includes some time to sew!

Happy Stitching!



Posted in Great products | 5 Comments

Book Review: Free-Motion Machine Quilting by Don Linn


Mr. Quilt book








C&T Publishing kindly provided me with a copy of this book for the review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Lately, I’ve been doing some research on mid-arm quilting machines.  Internet searches led to a review on Mr. Quilt’s website, and I was immediately impressed with his knowledge and practical reasoning in a well-articulated explanation of why quilters should consider mid-arm quilting machines over long-arm machines.  After poking around his website a bit more, I found out he’s written several machine quilting books, and I obtained a copy of Free-Motion Machine Quilting.

I’ve read (and reviewed) several books on free-motion quilting.  They each have incredible insights to share, and I’ve learned so much from them.  But “Mr. Quilt” presents an explanation of machine quilting unlike any other book on the market.  The book is a bit gritty, very humorous at times, and truly makes you feel as if you’re sitting in a class with an excellent teacher. The information presented is down-to-earth and practical.

Some of the best features of the books are his photographs of quilting problems.  Using his years of teaching as a reference, he illustrates just about every issue a person could encounter while free-motion quilting (except running over your finger with the needle.  He does reference it, but left out the picture for that one, thankfully!) He also has good explanations of WHY problems- like bad tension only on curves- occur. And each problem has a well-articulated explanation of how to correct it.

Another feature of this book that I appreciated was his attention to detail.  I’ve read so many books that explain starting and stopping a line of stitching.  They all say that professional quilters don’t backstitch, or stitch in place to secure their seams. But this book is the first one I’ve encountered that actually illustrates HOW to start and stop without backstitching or stitching in one place. Other well-explained details include a section on how to make sure your chair is adjusted to the right height for stitching, and a brilliant tip for maximizing your sewing time before stopping to reposition your hands.

I learned so much from this book. Mr. Quilt’s personable writing style makes even the driest topics interesting, and his sense of humor provides a good balance to the information. Regardless of whether you’re new to machine quilting, or have been working at it for years, this book is full of excellent information.

I’ve already started applying some of the tips I’ve learned from Mr. Quilt, and will have more to show you on that next week!

Happy Stitching!


Posted in Book Reviews | 2 Comments

New Pattern: Legacy

Remember the quilt I’ve been posting about with the Downton Abbey Downstairs collection?  (Previous posts here and here.) Today it’s all ready to rock and roll; my latest pattern, Legacy!

This pattern is actually a two-for-one deal.  It includes complete instructions for the Legacy baby quilt that originally appeared in the Unnoficial Downton Abbey Sews by Stitch magazine, affectionately nicknamed “George.”

Legacy baby quilt pattern by Emily Breclaw

Legacy baby quilt pattern by Emily Breclaw









If you need a larger, bed sized quilt, you’ll also find complete instructions for “Anna”, a striking modern quilt.  The cover quilt features fabrics from the Lord and Lady and Downstairs collections from Andover Fabrics.

Legacy bed-sized quilt pattern by Emily Breclaw

Legacy bed-sized quilt pattern by Emily Breclaw









The “Anna” quilt will be on display in the Andover booth at Quilt Market, and will be traveling to a quilt store near you with the Downton Abbey collections.

Both quilts are surprisingly quick to assemble.  As always, the patterns include step-by-step instructions with plenty of diagrams.  You can see other color options for the baby quilt from this post.  I’m tempted to try the Anna quilt in a bold palette of black, fuscia, orange and purple too.

One of my favorite aspects of these designs is that, depending upon your color choices, you can tailor them for a guy or gal recipient.

The Legacy pattern is available for immediate download in my Craftsy store (and at a special introductory sale price too!), and will be in quilt stores soon.  If you’re a shop owner, you can order patterns through Brewer (and be sure to check with your Andover representative about the Downton Abbey trunk shows!).

Happy Stitching!


Posted in Great products | 4 Comments

New Pattern: Elegant Garden

So, you’ve seen the teaser posts here and here. Today I’m so excited to finally post my new Elegant Garden pattern.  It’s available for you immediate enjoyment in my Craftsy shop.  If you’re headed to Quilt Market, you can see this quilt in person at the Andover Fabrics booth.  After market, it will be traveling with the Downton Abbey trunk show to a quilt store near you! Very exciting times!!

Elegant Garden pattern by Emily Breclaw

Elegant Garden pattern by Emily Breclaw










As you well know by now, I use From Marti Michell templates whenever I can, because they’re awesome.  This pattern uses her 8 1/2″ Winding Ways set. This quilt finishes at a generous size, 78″ by 101″.  It fits a twin size bed with a long drape.  On a queen-size bed, that fun turquoise border runs right along the edge of the bed.

Elegant Garden close-up






If you’re new to piecing curves, have no fear!  In this pattern, I’ll walk you through every single step of the way with detailed diagrams, helpful tips, and layout diagrams galore.

Take advantage of a special sale price for Elegant Garden’s debut, and get started on your own Elegant Garden.  Oh, and send me pictures, please!  I’d love to feature your quilt on the blog!

Happy Stitching!



Posted in Great products | 4 Comments

Fun with Stitch magazine!

On Friday, I saw an e-mail announcing the release of Stitch Winter 2014.  If you click on the images tab on that page, you can see the table of contents spread, with my Tangled up in Blue quilt featured on the bottom corner!  Too fun!  Here’s a close-up of the quilt I took before shipping it off earlier this spring.

Tangled up in Blue






And I completely forgot to post when Stitch Fall 2014 hit the newsstands, but that issue included my Biscornu Juggling Ball project.  My kiddos can’t wait for those samples to come back .  Believe me, the juggling balls were playtested thoroughly before they left home!  I think the kids liked the noise of the jingle bells nestled inside the balls.

Biscornu Juggling Balls






I hope you’re enjoying some fun time to sew today.  I wish I was!!!  But we’re in the home stretch of edits and tweaks on the new patterns, which I will be posting on Craftsy by the end of the week.  Stay tuned!


Happy Stitching!


Posted in Great products | 3 Comments

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.








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!



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!








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









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:




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!


Posted in Japanese Quilting | 5 Comments