Jun 30, 2018

would you cut up 100-year old Japanese fabric? I did...

When I give lectures to quilt guilds, I always share that quilters should not fear cutting up their favorite fabrics.

The Japanese believe that inanimate objects, such as fabric, have a spirit... and by cutting up these old pieces of cloth, you are giving new life to that spirit.

I've been collecting antique Japanese cotton for years, and they have been sitting in a box... waiting for me. I have to admit, I have been afraid to cut them up!

Teresa Duryea Wong. Work in Progress --- Center Block. Made using very old Japanese cotton. 2018
But I finally decided to practice what I preach! haha... I fearlessly started cutting into these very, very old gorgeous cotton fabrics.

But first I needed a plan. I know many quilters have a plan before they start making a quilt... and I used to fall into that category. But over the last several years, as I have experimented with improv techniques, I've been making quilt tops as I go, improvising, with no plan for how they would finish.

With these fabrics, I needed to plan carefully. Most importantly, I wanted an original design that would showcase the imagery of the fabrics in my collection... meaning I did not want to cut them so small that you could not see the beautiful artistry of the designs.

So I sketched out a pattern and measured each element.

This lovely Katazome indigo print will be the centerpiece. I had one long piece with these intricate turtles and flower motifs, so I designed the center to fit the 6 turtles.

The next 2 images are Kasuri textiles, thread-dyed woven cottons. Old, but not 100 years...

I figure it'll take quite a while to piece this one together. Its an exciting venture... I feel I am creating something very spiritual with fabric that has been passed down and touched by many hands.


  1. I am glad you are cutting into these even though I know it is hard. I can't wait to see what you end up with.

    1. Thanks Kris! Its crazy to be afraid to cut fabric... but I am doing it and making good progress! Stay tuned, and many thanks for your comment!!!