Welcome to a brand-new year of the Japanese Quilting Study Group! For those of you new to the blog, this is a post series focused on Japanese quilting. You can see all posts in the series by clicking on the tab above. In years past, we’ve discussed lots about Yoko Saito and other Japanese master quilters, and even tried our hand at making quilts from Japanese patterns. For those of you who have followed this group for years, my apologies for the lapse in posts. I knew I wanted to try a new direction with this blog series, and it has taken me a while to figure out that direction.
I’ve been to several quilt shows with examples of Japanese quilts, and they’re even more amazing in person than in pictures. What always impresses me most, though, is that they’re typically HAND PIECED. Seems crazy in today’s high tech world, doesn’t it? So my big question is, how do they hand-piece quilts so meticulously? And how do they consistently make dozens of quilts that way in a single year?
So, this year I’m working hard to improve my hand-piecing skills. One night while cruising on pinterest, I found an image of a Japanese quilt from the Tokyo show that captivated me. I don’t know the name of the pattern, but imagine a 12-pointed star with pentagons and triangles as filler. Or a completely pieced (no applique) dresden plate. That’s kind of the look of the block. I’ve found three different quilts made with this design, but so far I’ve had no luck in figuring out the name. You can check out my pinterest board devoted to the subject here.
Eventually, I drafted my own templates to emulate this design in Adobe Illustrator. Then I started cutting and marking fabric. (If you follow me on IG, you’ve already seen some of these). Here’s how far I’ve gotten on this little project.
So far, I’m loving it. I’m not too worried about the centers of the stars aligning, as they’ll be covered with little fabric circles. The units piece together quickly. I wish I could find a good tutorial for matching the centers with this much fabric, but I haven’t come across one yet.
Soon after I started this project, I discovered patterns by Karen Tripp. And I just HAD to make her Obsession quilt. Instead of doing it with EPP (too time-consuming for me, although she has lovely tutorials on EPP curves), I’m using her templates and hand-piecing. Again, my points aren’t perfect. But they’re improving with practice. Here’s an in-progress photo of my blocks so far. The tricky combination of curves and points is intriguing to me, and it’s fun to piece.
But that’s enough about me and my questions about Japanese quilting. What do you admire most about Japanese quilts? Are you trying out any new techniques this year? Please share in the comments below so we can all encourage each other along this journey!