Dec 14, 2018

the Japanese art of giving, I'm learning...

As I wrap presents and get ready for Christmas, I stop to think about the Japanese art of gift giving.

I feel so fortunate to have been given gifts all year long from my friends in Japan, and I treasure each and every one of these. This photo above is just a few of gifts that have made their way back to my Texas home this year. The Japanese tradition of gift giving is so rich, and something special.

While Westerners load up with presents during the holidays, the Japanese present special friends and guests with gifts every time they meet. And not just any gift! From my experience, the gifts that I have been so fortunate to receive are thoughtful and meaningful, both expensive and handmade, usually with a strong cultural connection to Japan.

I have been given gorgeous pottery and crystal made in Japan as well as handmade - incredibly crafted gifts. The workmanship is impeccable, of course, and I am astonished at the amount of time and money each person invested in these things and then had the selflessness to give them away - to me! 


In return for all of these amazing gifts, I have also tried to up my game in the art of gift giving. I don't always measure up, but I do try.

These two lovely ladies are colleagues who have become friends and I love hanging out with them in Osaka when I am there and in Houston when they are here for International Quilt Market. Hisako Fukui and Etsuko Shibayama both work for Yuwa fabrics, the manufacturer behind the stunning designs by Yoshiko Jinzenji, Keiko Goke and many other artists.

I made both of the tops they are wearing! The fabric is Yoshiko Jinzenji linen and cotton. When attended Quilt Market this year, I turned the corner to find their booth and I was so surprised and honored to see them both wearing my gifts!

The patterns for these tops are from Japanese sewing books, which are not in English I might add. Of course I cannot read Japanese, but I am good at following numbers and illustrations. I'm sure there are details lost in translation... haha... but I do love making (and wearing) these over-sized, hip designs.

Anyway, I have enormous respect for the Japanese art of gift giving. Over the years I have learned and grown in this tradition and its become a part of the experience I truly love.

Dec 12, 2018

waiting... waiting... why not make a quilt?

While I try to wait patiently for the arrival of my new book... I decided to make a new quilt. Of course, right? Like all good quilters, there are dozens of quilts in my head just waiting to come to life. For this one, I chose something I've never done before.

When I was in Lincoln in October giving a lecture on Yoshiko Jinzenji, the IQSCM had an exhibition of cheddar quilts. My first thought was that this exhibit would be a bit limiting, but I walked through it anyway, and I found myself riveted to the color palette and the beautiful quilts. Especially this one!

The exhibition is "Cheddar Quilts from the Joanna S. Rose Collection."

Pattern is Rising Sun or Circle Saw. Sadly, the maker's name is unknown. Made 1890-1900, probably in the Southern U.S. Hand pieced, hand quilted.

The museum article highlights this quote from Joanna - perhaps my favorite quote of the year!

"I am not a collector. I am a treasure hunter. A collector always wants to better a collection. I buy only what I like and for no other reason. Quilts look better when you have a lot of them."

So... I decided to recreate this incredibly original quilt from 1890! I have never done this before... but this awesome color palette and cool design just seems so modern. 

I am taking my time... why not? I decided to make the pieces in applique rather than trying to figure out all that intricate piecing. The applique also gives it an added dimension. 

Four blocks done so far...

For the "how to" part... First, all edges are turned under! I am using a combination of freezer paper or Templar templates, covering the seam allowance with a healthy swab of Magic sizing, then iron the edge over the template to make sharp points and perfectly round circles. 

After the shape is formed, I cut a matching piece of Misty Fuse and then fused the pieces to the foundation. Its a bit painstaking... and there is probably a better way... but in order to have the edge turned, this seemed the most logical technique.

The blocks will be 18 inches finished. Colors are a rich, deep red, charcoal and cheddar. Unlike the original quilter, I will machine quilt this one and I can't wait to get to it! More to come...

Nov 29, 2018

new book coming on American cotton and quilts

2018 was a busy year on the writing front. I actually finished two manuscripts --- and completed the design and self-publishing for one of them.

"American Cotton: Farm to Quilt" will be published by Third Floor Quilts and available in Feb!

This 156-page book is filled with beautiful images and quilts! It tells the story of the American cotton farmer and where all that cotton grown on American soil goes, plus the ins and outs of America's textile industry and quilting cotton.

Several companies and intrepid entrepreneurs who buy and are 'making' with American cotton are featured. And quilters will also learn the ways the quilters before us shopped for their beloved cotton fabric.

Tons of new and old gorgeous quilts featuring American cotton!

I'm so proud of this new book and I can't wait to share it.

More on the 2nd book later - it will be released in September or October of 2019 - and published by Schiffer Publishing.

"American Cotton: Farm to Quilt" will be available for pre-order here soon.

It will also be available in quilt stores and online.

Nov 24, 2018

mysterious internet: here's where to find the pattern for the elephant quilt

Hello mysterious internet. I posted this quilt back in 2015 {My friend Amy G. made this quilt and I quilted it for her}. For several weeks, I've been getting a bunch of page visits and emails asking about this quilt. So, somewhere, someone has reposted it... and linked it to my 2015 blog post.

Everyone is asking about this pattern!. The pattern is by Laura Heine, her company is Fiberworks. You can find her pattern here.  The fabric is a collage of mostly Kaffe Fasset fabrics.

You're welcome.   :)

Oct 23, 2018

days on the cotton farm

The days are crazy right now. I'm working night and day on a new book, so I haven't done much quilting or blogging. My new book has taken me all over the U.S. in the last 4 weeks - visited textile and printing mills in the Carolinas; toured a bunch of cotton farms in West Texas and several other cotton related stops; and I went to Seattle to visit the Warm Company which makes cotton batting (more on that later)! All this is for my new book - "American Cotton: Farm to Quilt" - due out in Feb. of 2019.

These farmers are studying an organic cotton field in West Texas... where the soil is dry and dusty.,, but this is soil cotton loves.


Quilters are passionate consumers of 100% cotton! So while in town, I visited the quilt shop, of course. I had great fun visiting a quilting group that meets at the Sewing Studio in Lubbock. Everyone was hard at work... and several of these ladies live on or near cotton farms in the region.

Met a peacock at an restaurant one evening!

Love these storm clouds over farmland. The force of nature.

Oct 10, 2018

a day in a quilt life in nebraska

Friday, Oct. 5, 2018 was a great day in my quilt life. I was invited to give a lecture at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum in Lincoln, AND I got to hang out with one of my artist heores, Yoshiko Jinzenji.

She made these gorgeous, subtle quilts and the matching kimono. She brought these 3 items from her Kyoto home and graciously donated the 2 quilts to Lincoln! Her construction process for these was quite amazing... she worked with organic cotton thread (grown in New Mexico!) and wove it herself into cloth. She then dyed these pieces with natural bamboo and mahogany dyes, pieced it and quilted it herself. They are stunning examples of her "engineered" process, and show her desire for minimalist shades and perfection in simplicity. 

These next two Yoshiko Jinzenji quilts have been part of the IQSCM collection for many years. I loved that they were hung in the lobby for this special event.

Nice crowd for the First Friday talk.

Me and Yoshiko Jinzenji, wearing a top I made using commercial fabric ( linen) designed by Yoshiko and manufactured in Japan. I sewed this using a Japanese pattern.

My lecture covered an introduction of Japanese quilt history, and the story of Yoshiko Jinzenji's quilting life. An unforgettable day.

Sep 16, 2018

upcoming lecture at the International Quilt Study Center - Oct. 5, 2018

I'm sharing a post from the International Quilt Study Center & Museum in Lincoln. I will be giving a lecture there on Oct. 5, 2018. I'm so honored to be participating in the Museum's focus on Japanese textiles. If you're in the area, please come. Museum admission is free that night.

First Friday: Japanese Textiles

Friday, October 5, 2018
Join the International Quilt Study Center & Museum for free admission to the galleries from 4-7 p.m. as part of Lincoln's First Friday Artwalk. Beginning at 5:30 p.m., we will offer lectures on Japanese textiles by Teresa Duryea Wong and Kenichi Kondo.
Teresa Duryea Wong is the author of four books on quilt history, Japanese quilts and American cotton. "American Cotton: Farm to Quilt" will be published in 2019. She travles to Japan often for research and has published two books on Japanese textiles. She travels the U.S. to lecture and has been a guest speaker nationwide. She will present on Japanese maker Yoshiko Jinzenji, a subject of her book "Japanese Contemporary Quilts and Quilters." Her book tells the history of 40 years of quilt making in Japan and how the idea of the quilt was originally imported from America. The book also introduces dozens of talented quilt artists—former painters, graphic artists, seamstresses and homemakers who have made professional careers in quilting—along with antique American quilts and early Japanese quilts.
More than 50 years ago, Kenichi Kondo joined Kurashiki Textile Mill (Kura-bo) where he grew to be a textile engineer with a vision. An encounter with Dacca muslin cotton textile in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London inspired him to dream of someday re-creating the gossamer cotton with automated industrial machines instead of highly skilled Indian artisans who no longer exist. For 22 years he built mills and trained locals in countries where cotton grows, including Brazil, Thailand, and Indonesia. In 1994, he was asked to head the Tokyo Office and Marketing at Taisho Textile Mill (Taisho-bo), thus becoming a creator of organic cotton textiles in Japan where “manufacturing” was losing ground. His dream of developing organic cotton fiber in Japan became a reality since he first learned in 1989 about Sally Fox , the entomologist who developed a more responsible alternative  to the chemical-laden cotton-growing industry by inventing Foxfibre Colored Cotton. He believes that fibers grown organically, not only cotton but also other fibers such as cashmere and sheep’s wool, managed in tune with the local ecology, would benefit, not only consumers but also the land, the environment, and the people working in production. Such small scale well engineered industries can create what the hands of skilled artisans once produced — breathable, gentle, practical, and beautiful fiber and textile. 

Sep 12, 2018

the lanterns of Kanazawa: a photo essay

This is a travel post that may interest only me. But here it goes...

Japan 2018: In a country with a beautiful park on just about every corner, I visited one of the most serene and gorgeous parks I've ever seen. The Kenrokuen Garden, in Kanazawa, on the east coast. This two-legged stone lantern shown above, is a toro, (more specifically a Yukimi-doro) or snow lantern as they are also called, and this particular one is the symbol of Kanazawa. It drew me in and I fell in love with these lanterns, and this park. One can just picture the snow piled up on these umbrella shaped tops and a warm light burning underneath. Here's my photo essay of one day I wish I could relive.


This last image is inside the stunning tea house which has a priceless view of this beautiful garden.

Mon and son. Kanazawa, 2018.

Aug 8, 2018

my surprise discovery of a new Japanese quilter

Life is full of surprises, and the best surprise of all is when we get to discover a new quilter whose work we can love and dream about.

On my last visit to Japan, I met one of those quilters. Her name is Miwako Watanabe and I met her for the first time at the Quilt Time Festival in Yokohama (May 2018).

It was such a thrill to see all her quilts on display at her booth. The closer I got to these quilts, the more I loved them. I saw genius in her whimsy and colors --- as if drawings from her mind had come to life in these perfectly executed quilts. I will let these photos tell the rest of the story.

Aug 5, 2018

American made cotton - squares, strips and rectangles

Teresa Duryea Wong. 2018.

This one is finally finished and I'm thrilled! This is an original design, made with American Made Brand - AMB cotton. I love this line of solids and I love the fact that the cotton for this fabric is grown in America and the fabric is manufactured here as well.

This photo shows how big this quilt actually is... I started with just a 4 patch of these blocks... and I liked it so I kept going.

The entire thing is covered in quilting, except for the improv strips of sashing.

I think my photos are a little dark... it was hard to capture this color just right.

I haven't quilted anything this large in a long time. I spent about 40 hours or so at the machine. And I was able to match the fabric colors perfectly with my huge collection of Aurifil cotton thread.

Jul 18, 2018

sewing... when I should be working

I really do have a million things I should be doing... I need to catch up on work for my current research project (new book), I have a deadline for an article that is looming, I need to go to the hair salon (yes, this is on the list!)... and on and on. But all I want to do is sew.

When I was in Japan in May I bought 3 meters of this lovely blue fabric with metallic white does. The designer is "nani iro" - under the Kokka brand. Its is incredibly soft, organic cotton gauze. I bought the book too, the Nani Iro Atelier. Everything is in Japanese, but I can follow the pictures. I love the Japanese fashion style and this one is nice because it had sizes, most styles just have one giant size.

If you'd like to make something with this fabric, you can find it here - at Miss Matatabi online shop. This shop has an amazing collection of Japanese fabric. They have the book too! Although unless you read Japanese, you may find this hard to use.

I just can't stop sewing. Can you?

Jul 17, 2018

how to baste a quilt in 22 seconds...

My house does not have any carpet, so I use the dining room table to baste my large quilts. I actually like it better than crawling around on the floor. Want to know how I do it? Watch this 22 second video. Its not very educational, haha, but its kind of fun to see it all come together so fast.

This quilt is made entirely with AMB - American Made Brand cotton.

I've already started quilting it. I expect it will take quite a while.... the plan is to cover the entire surface with quilting!

Jul 11, 2018

conquering fear to create something special

Teresa Duryea Wong. Quilt top made with antique Japanese fabric. 2018. 70 x 70 inches. All cotton.
Just finished this quilt top. I conquered my fears about cutting into this very special, and very old fabric. All of the fabric in this quilt top came from Japan. The majority of it is antique, 100+ years old. Some of it is vintage, couple decades old. And a few pieces are new fabric. I've been collecting all this fabric for years during my many visits. I purchased some of it at quilt festivals, some directly from dealers, a few pieces were gifts, and I bought a lot of it at temple markets.

For me, every piece of fabric is a very special part of my quilt journey.

I haven't made a traditional style quilt in a long time, but I am very happy with the way this turned out. Before I started cutting, I drew out my pattern. I wanted to make sure I was showcasing these beautiful fabrics, and didn't want to cut them too small. 

Most importantly, I'm thrilled these gorgeous fabrics are no longer sitting in a box... it took a lot of courage to cut them. But I think it was worth it... now they will live on in this new shape.

Next I will start on the quilting. Thinking of hand-quilting it with hand-dyed indigo sashiko thread.