May 20, 2016

hand-stitching antique Japanese cotton

In the background of life, I've been slowly working on hand-stitching patches of antique Japanese cotton that I've collected during my many trips to Japan. Most of them are indigo dyed. All of them are lovely, worn pieces of cotton that have passed through many hands.

Some of these patches are older than me! A few are more than 100 years old.

They are patches of katazome (which is cloth decorated with paste resist and stencils), kasuri (a woven textile decorated with two-tone thread), or hand woven cottons and other folk textiles. There's even a couple remnants of vintage advertising banners.

I'm hand stitching these using 100% cotton Japanese sashiko thread. My running stitch is improvisational... a folk art approach. I learned this type of stitching in Japan and it is sometimes called 'chiku-chiku', an ancient term that was made up to describe the sound the needle and thread make as they whip through fabric. This type of improv running stitch is very much a derivative of formal sashiko.

I love the look of these white stitches as they run down the textiles... they look like a gentle, falling rain. This photo shows only part of the progress, eventually I will cover the entire piece with these stitches.

Many of these patches can be considered boro, which means tattered rags or patched pieces.

I did not cut any of them. I just laid them out on a backing made from large pieces of antique cotton kimono (which I pieced on the machine). There is no batting or layer in between, just the cotton patches and the backing. Since these are so old, some of them are thick... so the hand stitching is slow going. I have to stop and rest my hands after a while.

But I am thrilled with the result. Just gotta keep going. The finished piece will be about 60 inches wide by about 45 inches.

Linking up with Off the Wall Friday

May 16, 2016

so, just how sharp are those Kai scissors?

Kai makes a mean pair of scissors. Like 'Kill Bill' Samurai sharp scissors.

So sharp that I sliced open my finger today.

It was actually much worse than this little band aid makes it out to be! It was so alarming that the dog was quite concerned... the husband not so much.

I was using these little beauties to cut a simple piece of ultra firm stabilizer. I had drawn a line on the stablizer with a marker that evaporates (you know, the famous purple one). The marker left some residue on the blades... and we don't want that on our beautiful scissors! That is not cool. So I used a scrap piece of ultra firm stablizer to wipe it off. I swear my finger was no where near that blade. Did I mention that the stablizer was ultra firm?

Visions of rushing to the ER where Dr. McDreamy might stitch me up floated through my head. But alas, the drama subsided and I live another day.

Gotta love scissors so sharp they cut when you least expect it. 

Kai. Made in Japan. Need I say more?

May 8, 2016

DIY design wall and drapery rod: perfect design, display combo

Finally made a proper design wall! And with the husband's help, we (really he!) hung a drapery rod above the design wall to hang my finished quilts. The rod is long enough that I can hang 2 quilts - and one can hang in front of the design wall when I'm not using it.

The design wall is 60 x 80 inches. I searched several blogs and watched a couple DIY YouTube videos... then went my own route.

I purchased 2 large pieces of foam core (40 x 60 inches) from my local art supply store and taped them together. Then I purchased 6 yards of white flannel from JoAnn's (used my 40% off coupon). I really only needed 5 1/2 yards of flannel. Also, they do make a flannel that's 60 inches wide, but that would not have been wide enough to stretch over the back of the boards, so I purchased the regular width and pieced it. Then I stretched the flannel over the back of the foam core and taped it. Nailed the covered foam core directly to the wall. Very happy with how it turned out.

Above is the beginnings of an improv quilt. Below is step two... still a work in progress.

One more thing... I purchased these clips for the drapery rod, so I don't need sleeves on every quilt.