Jun 16, 2018

one very special Japanese master quilter: Yoshiko Katagiri

May 2018: I made my annual pilgrimage to Japan and while in Tokyo, I visted a strange and lovely quilt exhibition. 

Hotel Gajoen Tokyo is a "museum hotel"... a very upscale and historic place.

The venue included seven large galleries, some with traditional tatami mats, and each gallery was a work of art on its own with inlaid tiles and very traditional Japanese art on the walls. The rooms were beautiful, but also had very strange lighting on the quilts. So my photos look a little odd....

Many of Japan's master quilters were represented. The exhibtion was juried / invitation only. It was fun to see many lesser known quilt artists too. One quilt in particular caught my eye: this one of the four seasons by Yoshiko Katagiri.

Yoshiko Katagiri has been making quilts for decades, and each year, her quilts get more and more original, more abstract, contemporary and interesting. I was fortunate to see two of her newest quilts during my trip.

Each of these sections represent a season - from the left: spring, then midnight in summer, then fall and winter.

The beautiful circle are hand applique and made from antique silk kimono fabric. And the quilt is hand quilted.

The second Yoshiko Katagiri quilt I saw was at the new festival in Yokohama - Quilt Time Festival.

This quilt is a beatuiful tour-de-force in hand applique. The background is her signature dusty black, all hand-dyed to her specification. The rest is all applique, mostly antique silk.

Yoshiko, and her daughter Masako, have become friends of mine over the years. I have visisted their home in Nara. And Masako is a quilt researcher, so we enjoy helping each other and exchanging notes. I feel so lucky to have met them and count them among my growing group of Japanese friends.

We met for lunch while I was in Yokohoma and snapped this photo after. Its an apt depiction of Yoshiko - she is ALWAYS smiling and laughing. And even though we do not speak the same language, we communicate easily through the language of quilting!

May 24, 2018

conquering the Kyoto flea market

See that red bag? Its filled with antique and vitntage Japanese cotton fabric... purchased today in Kyoto!

On the 25th day of every month, the Kitano Tengmangu temple in Kyoto hosts an open air market. Veterans arrive early for the best stuff!

I conquered my jet lag and bravely arrived at around 630 am. Long before the crowds showed up!

Look closely at everyone's hand in this photo....

They are waiting for the stall owner to lift the tarp and open for business!!! Their hands are holding the fabric they will grab when the tarp is lifted. I had my hand on quite a few amazing goodies as well. 

Here are a few highlights. Vintage Yukata...

And some very old antique Katazome and Kasuri. So lovely.

Beautiful start to the day.

May 18, 2018

tomorrow, tomorrow... off to Japan

Tomorrow, tomorrow... (in the words of "Annie")... I'll be heading back to Japan. This visit will be mostly vacation, versus most of my Japan travels which are filled with research and interviews. I am very excited

This quilt above is one of my favorites and I love to look at it as I head back to the place where all this vintage cotton fabric came from. I'm also about to take my 2nd tour of Mt. Fuji. I feel so blessed to be living this life!

Stay tuned for lots of travel blog posts on all the latest adventures in textiles and quilts from Japan.

1. I'll be attending the BRAND NEW Quilt Time Festival in Yokohama.

2. I am going to see an invitational quilt exhibit sponsored by Japan Handicraft Instructors Association (JHIA) - this will be a best-of-the-best display and I'm really looking forward to it.

3. Heading back to my favorite temple market in Kyoto and plan to purchase all the vintage textiles that I can afford (and carry)!

Timing for this trip is also perfect for me since I just finished a massive new book project (as you saw in my last post). Over the past year, I've been getting around 10 or so important emails every day in response to my research questions and I'd spend days and days incorporating this new information into the manuscript. Towards the end of this project, the emails were coming fast and furious and all day long I was culling the info and making the final edits.  A writer's work is very solitary and tedious, usually slow going, but it can also be stressful ... especially right before a deadline. So now that the deadline has been met, the emails have trickled to zero. Its so strange. The only people who are communicating with me are the click bait ones. So this is the perfect time to go on vacation!

Zero emails and time on my hands.

Teresa Duryea Wong. White Rain. Antique Japanese cotton. White cotton sashiko thread. Hand stitched. 2016.

May 14, 2018

finished a new quilt top - made with American cotton

Just finished this quilt top. Its an original design made with American Made Brand cotton solids.

I started experimenting and made one block. Then I made a very large Nine Patch.

And I liked that so much, I just kept going. Can't wait to start quilting this one... although I have 5 weeks of travel coming up, so it'll have to wait till later in the summer. Something to look forward to! I do love these fabrics - not just the colors - but the whole line of these solids are wonderful. Plus, they are 100% made in America.

May 8, 2018

a historic day - shipping a new manuscript off to the publisher!

Selfie with Karey Patterson Bresenhan and Nancy O'Bryant Puentes during our last interview for
a new book: "Magic & Memories: 45 Years of International Quilt Festival."
Today is a historic day. I am shipping off the final manuscript to Schiffer Publishing for a new book. This book has been in the works off and on for 4 years!

Schiffer advises against publicizing new books too early, because sending off the manuscript is only the first step in a very long process. It can take up to one year for the book to be completed! So consider this as informational, not promotional.

The new book is a history of the past 45 years of International Quilt Festival and the biography of the two Texas women who created Festival, International Quilt Market, 20 years of Quilt Expo in Europe and so much more: Karey Patterson Bresenhan and Nancy O'Bryant Puentes.

Festival has been an incredibly transformative experience for me. I have been attending almost 20 years and have never missed one. I hope I never do! When I had the chance to spend some time with Karey and Nancy, I began to think about all they had accomplished and I was fascinated by their story. I really wanted to capture all that they have done to change the course of quilt history and tell their story. Its a story about women who forged ahead - they were not afraid! Its a story about family - the two are cousins who were raised as sisters. And mostly this is a story about the willingness to do anything for quilts and quilters - and what more can you say than that!

I'm so proud to be at this point. We are not done with the book yet. There is much more to come. But I'm super excited about 2019 - the 45th anniversary of International Quilt Festival and the debut of this new book.

More than 100 quilts from years past and lots of wonderful historical photos --- all on one small USB included in that thin USPS envelope!

Apr 28, 2018

throwback quilt, made 15 years ago, I think

Teresa Duryea Wong. Brick Pattern Quilt. c. 2003. Hand quilted.
Way back when, I made this quilt from a pattern. I have very vivid memories of working on this quilt, except I can't remember what year it was. Funny... or sad! I think the pattern was one by Judy Rothermel and I adapted and changed the borders. Back then it never really occurred to me to design my own quilt. I was super busy as a wife and mom and working a big job, but I loved quilting. So this pattern intrigued me. I still love the quilt very much.

The fabrics are reproductions from the American Civil War era. I do love the soft colors and nostalgic motifs. 

I also hand quilted this one!

I did not label this quilt - so bad me. I'm going to label it now - circa 2003. I dug this quilt out for two reasons. One, I just wrote about it! I am nearly finished with a new manuscript on a book about the 45-year history of the International Quilt Festival and the story of the two women who founded Festival (and a whole lot more). The book will be published by Schiffer Publishing and will be available in 2019. Super excited!

As I was writing the book on the history of Festival, I reflected on my own experience attending over the past 20 years! Festival was a life changer for my quilting. I learned so much from shopping at booths with vendors from all over the world... and also from the hundreds of stunning exhibitions I've seen year after year.

Back when I started going to Festival, in 1999, there weren't any online fabric shops (at least none I shopped at). So if you wanted to collect special fabric, like the reproductions I used in this quilt, you had to buy them at a real store --- or if you are lucky like me, you could find everything your heart desires at Festival! But collecting took patience back then.

The second reason I dug this quilt out is because I decided to use it as a backdrop for my "author photo" for this new book. It seemed a fitting quilt since it all came about because of Festival.

My husband is a professional photographer, lucky me. So after he took the photo of me, I got out of the way and he took these photos of just the quilt. As for the portrait, he is a good photographer, maybe too good --- because his talent and the sharpness of these new cameras shows lots of lines and wrinkles! ugh. Oh well, they are the wrinkles of life and I'm so thankful that along the way I took the time to make a lot of great quilts.

Apr 20, 2018

sewing with American cotton. its luminous!

Original design. Quilt top made with American Made Brand cotton solids. Teresa Duryea Wong. 2018.
Every quilt has a story. Often times the most interesting part of that story is the fabric - whether its from a special collection, or vintage, or unusual, or foreign. We quilters love these stories and we hunt to find them.

I just made my first quilt top with AMB - American Made Brand cotton solids. This fabric definitely has a story! The cotton is grown in American soil, made into a textile at an American plant, dyed at another American plant, shipped to Seattle, and then shipped to quilt stores all over.

The fabric has a lovely hand and I truly enjoyed sewing with it.

For a million years, I used mostly Kona cotton, and also Moda solids. I prefer AMB. Of course I love that its American, but I think I like the way it feels and I am also very impressed with the deep, deep color. This color has a glow to it... not a sheen, (which would come from the top of the fabric), but something about the luminosity of the color is very special.

I think this will be the first of many quilts using these lovely solids. More stories in the waiting!

Apr 15, 2018

finally finished my Nancy Crow workshop quilt

Eighteen months ago, I took a workshop with Nancy Crow.

Here's my review of that class - from Oct. 2016.

At the end of the week-long class, we had a 'show and tell' type session. When we went around the room and looked at the work everyone had done, I decided I didn't like my quilt top.

I put that quilt top in a drawer and left it there. A week ago, I pulled it out and I finally finished quilting it.
Me at the Crow Barn, Ohio, 2016
When I was back at the "Crow Barn" (as Nancy's space is called), I wasn't having a pity party. In fact, I enjoyed the class and I enjoyed working there. I just didn't think what I had made was very good. It didn't feel like "art" ... whatever that means. Everyone seemed to working in very small sections, with the small blocks being carefully constructed. It seemed like they had a plan. I did not work small. In fact I made this entire quilt top - about 80 x 80 inches. There was no plan, I just sewed. Really fast.

After 18 months, I have totally changed my mind about that quilt top ... and big surprise, now I actually like it.

Funny, isn't it. What makes us feel one way at one point, then feel so completely different a year and a half later?

I can only offer a partial explanation. First, at the time I thought I would go to the workshop and make something awesome. Perhaps be a better art quilter. But when I actually finished my quilt, at the time it just didn't feel all that special. I was not confident. I was critical.

Now, the quilt looks so different. And I realize that it doesn't have to meet some ill-defined definition of art. It only has to be something that I like. And now that I look at this one, I like it. I love the impromptu piecing and the structures I put together... and I love the colors. I see circles and lines and I like the way they play off each other. Besides, this quilt is going on the couch. And when I'm reading a book, or my husband and I are watching a movie, we'll never question whether this quilt is art or not.

This quilt is so big that stretching it was a bit tricky. My home has all wood floors, no carpet. So the floor is not an option. I don't make that many large quilts, but for the past few years I have gone to my friend's house and used her carpeted floor and stretched the old fashioned way.

I heard about stretching quilts as you go --- on a table. So I did some You Tube searching and found this link... and I liked the technique a lot. So I tried it and it works great! Now I have a whole new system for stretching. No more crawling around on the floor.

Mar 27, 2018

quilting cotton made in America

Have you made a quilt with American Made Brand quilting cotton? If so, I'd love to hear from you. I'm researching a new book on American cotton and its connection to quilting.

American Made Brand (also called AMB) cotton solids are the real deal. They are made from cotton that is 100% grown in America. The base textile is made in America and dyed here as well. The company is based in Seattle (they're part of Clothworks). AMB is only available in solids.

I just purchased a large selection of colors. The hand of these fabrics is just lovely. It is a thin, slightly silk feel. I can't wait to make a couple quilts with these.

If you've made a quilt with AMB solids, or know someone who has... please let me know. I would like to hear about your experiences and why you chose this fabric, and of course I'd like to see your quilt! Please leave a comment here - or you can email me directly at  teresa at thirdfloorquilts dot com

Two weeks ago I visited the Texas Cotton Gin in Burton, Texas. One of the oldest working cotton gins in the U.S.

Please note, if you leave a comment, make sure you are not a "no reply" comment, otherwise I can't reply back to you.


Selvedge Magazine excerpt of "Cotton & Indigo from Japan"


The beautiful Selvedge Magazine has published an excerpt of "Cotton & Indigo from Japan" in their Japan Blue edition. I'm so proud that my book is included in this issue of this international publication.

Selvedge's Japan Blue issue features many stunning textiles being made in Japan.

The excerpt from my book covers the art of Chusen - a method used to dye cotton with steaming hot pour dyes.

Read more in their magazine, or order an autographed copy of "Cotton & Indigo from Japan" from my website:   teresaduryeawong.com

Mar 16, 2018

need a moose for your wall? the Bailey's do!

Teresa Duryea Wong. Moose Bailey. 38 x 31 inches. Cotton. Machine quilted. 2018.
Fourteen months ago, some friends of ours commissioned me to make an art quilt for them. Today I finally finished it!

Our friends had seen two quilts of mine (pictured below - the zebras and Holy Cow) in our home, and they looked at them closely and said they wanted something like this for their house. I didn't pay too much attention to the comment, I though they were just being nice.

Turns out, they really did want an original art quilt. So we talked about ideas and color schemes. We settled on a moose! I enlarged the image in black and white to the size I wanted the finished quilt to be. Next, I covered the image with tracing paper and used the photo as a guide and traced shapes that followed the contour of the moose. I ended up changing the image I traced to smooth out edges, etc. and make it work better for a textile.

The image below shows the photograph with tracing paper placed over it. Kind of hard to see, but the pencil marks are how I made the applique shapes.

Next I covered a natural colored cotton with Misty Fuse and got ready to applique. I pulled about two hundred fabrics in the colors I wanted. Then I used a light table to trace the shapes onto freezer paper. I ironed the freezer paper on the fabric and cut them out, then fused them to the cotton shape --- using the traced image as a guide for placement. This applique is raw edge.

It was quite fun to make this one. Our friends want to have it framed... so that is the next step.

I have only done one other commission, and it was a quilt for a kid's room. I really enjoyed making this moose. His name is: Moose Bailey.

Thanks Bailey's for your patience and more importantly, for your trust in me to make something for your beautiful home!

Feb 28, 2018

reflections on QuiltCon 2018: few words, many photos.

Reflections on QuiltCon 2018: few words, many photos

 Pasadena, California exhibit hall: Nice space!

 Day One: its cold in California?!? And I'm so lucky to have a lifelong quilt buddy, Amy G.

 "She Was Warned" by Liz Harvatine won Viewer's Choice. This was one of my favorites too!  

I gave 2 lectures! Whew, that was SO FUN!


"Black, Brown and White in Orange" by Karen Maple is a powerful statement, 
but also a very beautiful quilt.


Modern quilts are changing, but minimalism still reigns. "Mod Garden" by Jack Weise.

By god, there's hope for America! This quilt was in the YOUTH category.  
"Twitter Tantrum" by Cabrina Cabriales.

SAQA had a retrospective on the art quilt. This one is from 2009. Stunning. 
"Edge 6" by Marina Kamenskaya.


Lovely dinner with Etsuko san. She is wearing a top I made for her! 
Featuring fabric designed by Yoshiko Jinzenji, made in Japan by Yuwa.

"Women dress for other women" said Coco Chanel. And women stop other women and ask them about their clothes and shoes! My friend Amy G. makes a new friend... and maybe finds new shoes?

And these two young, beautiful women are friends of my daughter! They recently moved to LA (from New York). Who knows why they would give up part of their weekend to come meet their friend's mom. Lucky me!

Day four: a little warmer. My new handmade mariejay handbag was everything I hoped it would be!

Final thought: The Modern Quilt Guild is a vibrant community 
filled with really cool quilts and quilters. 
I hope I can be a part of Nashville in 2019!

thank you #quiltcon2018