New video: Sashiko thread vs. tangled knots

As promised, a short video on how to open a new skein of sashiko thread.

New video, upcoming shows, and classes for October

Finally got done editing part 2 of the Deconstructing Kimono videos. They were both long, I’m working on shorter videos but sometimes I have too much fun to keep things brief.

voodoo_kitty1Class space is available for the two Sashiko classes I’m offering this month: Voodoo Kitty Pincushions. These will be relaxed, all hand sewing using vintage kimono silk, and include a full kit except for scissors. Each 3 hour class offers the basics and some really fun fabrics to play with. Pick whichever date works for you, weekend or weekday. They are the same class.

Sunday, Oct. 18

Monday, Oct. 19

Originally these were scheduled to be basic sashiko classes, but I’m having so much fun with the kitties and they have been getting very happy feedback from friends who have seen and handled them. Fun for a Halloween project, but also nice for holiday gifting. The kit will include enough vintage kimono silk fabric to make two, but we’ll only be making one in class. A variety of fabric color choices will be available.

Upcoming show this weekend! I’ll be in Brentwood, CA for the Delta Quilters Guild Show Harvest on the Delta.


A Sunday Treat – Future Lace Makers of Cogne, Italy

Back from Grand Rapids, via Haiti

After returning from QuiltWeek in Grand Rapids, Michigan recently, a discussion I had on my last day there has stayed with me. It isn’t textile related, but please bear with me.

Grand Rapids isn’t a big city. At the airport you have the option of a taxi or limo sedan to get where you’re going, and to the hotel I usually stay at it’s almost the same price so I like to go with the limo. The drivers are friendly and often interesting to talk to, and almost always from someplace other than Michigan, or even the US. My grandfathers were immigrants and I was one myself 20 years ago when I moved to the UK, so I know how difficult it can be. I start the conversation with “Where are you from?” and go from there.

The driver I had that day was from Haiti. He told me about his journey, 23 years ago, when at the age of 16 his parents put him in a leaky boat with many other children and sent him away to an uncertain future that apparently was better than the one he would have had if he had stayed, despite the risk of drowning en route. Fortunately the US Coast Guard rescued him and the other children before their boat sank, and he was taken in by a Christian charitable organization that helped him get into a foster home and start the process of becoming a legal resident of the US.

From the back seat of the limo I watched this man, very close to my own age, who had risked his life at an age when I was learning to drive a car and trying to keep my grades up in high school. He was neatly dressed in a clean white shirt and black pants; the interior of his limo was immaculate.

We talked about immigration, and why people leave the countries they are from. We reflected on the violence going on in so many parts of the world today and asked ourselves how people could commit such atrocities. I think we in the US don’t understand it because so many of us have never wanted for anything. I mentioned my previous driver had been from Sudan and the man from Haiti said “Oh, Sudan, it’s really bad over there.”

Looking into the history of Haiti in the 1990s today I am reminded of what happened back then, how I had heard a bit about it on the TV news my parents watched. It didn’t mean much to me. I’d never been to Haiti, had no plans to ever go there. It was yet another armed conflict in a foreign country far away, and there were plenty of those to go around.

He told me that he knew how fortunate he was to be here, to have had the opportunities that were given to him, even with the enormous cost involved. He said a person’s success depended on his own decisions, and that some of the other children in that boat had made different decisions and their outcomes had not been so rosy. These days he can afford to travel back to Haiti and visit his mother every year. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for her to put him in that boat and say goodbye, but I’m sure she feels now it was the right decision.

When I checked out of the hotel that morning he was waiting for a fare to go to the airport, and I was it. He’d been waiting for four hours. He’s his own boss so it was his decision to wait. Being self-employed myself I understand how it feels to sacrifice hours of your day without the guarantee of payment. It sucks, but I love the freedom. I suspect he does, too.

As I exited the cab I asked if he would be going home to sleep, but he smiled said no, he’d be heading back to the hotel for another fare. Just another day in paradise.

If you’re ever in the Grand Rapids area and need a safe, clean, and timely limo driver, I highly recommend him. I’ll be calling him up next year when I’m back in town.

V’s Anytime Chauffeur Service

AQS QuiltWeek Grand Rapids Michigan & Japanese Textile Lecture

Helloooo, Grand Rapids! I’ll be heading your way August 11-16 for AQS QuiltWeek and I am very excited. I’ll hit up my two favorite haunts, Reserve and San Chez for fantastic food and drink, do a little shopping downtown, and check out the beautiful architecture of this little gem of a Midwestern city.

AQS QuiltWeek brings top-notch quilters and textile artists to the region for one of the best shows of the year, and while I will be there with my usual booth on the vendor floor, I’m also slated to do a lecture on Japanese textiles on Friday, August 14 at noon in Ballroom D. I’ll be showing select pieces from my private collection of 19th century indigo, sashiko, katazome, and boro pieces, plus other lovely silks and cottons not shown in my booth. There will also be a little bonus for lecture attendees, so I hope to see you there. Register now to reserve your seat!

In the meantime, you can watch part 1 of my video on Deconstructing Kimono. Why? Because if you have an old kimono or yukata hanging around at the back of your closet somewhere, you might want to take it out and give it new life. Part 1 runs 15 minutes (sorry about that, I’m working on making things quick and easy but actually doing it is neither quick nor easy) and part 2 will be shorter. PLUS, at the end of part 2 I’ll be introducing a pattern and kit that will be available at AQS QuiltWeek that I think you will enjoy.

Check it out and subscribe to my channel. My son has challenged me to produce as much content as he does on his channel, so we’ll see how that goes.


New organic cotton fabrics from Cloud9 and Monaluna, and our latest quilt show

Last year we quietly launched our new Etsy shop, Blue Star Organic Fabrics. We’re still building inventory slowly and collections we ordered last fall at Quilt Market are arriving a bit at a time. Last month we got Haiku from Monaluna, and this month Morning Song from Cloud9 arrived. Both collections are gorgeous, and more grown up than the usual juvenile organic cotton prints so widely popular in the market.


Cherry Blossoms from Monaluna Haiku Collection

Clover from Monaluna Haiku Collection

Clover from Monaluna Haiku Collection

There are six designs in the Haiku line, three with metallic accents. The colors are rich and bright, but also soft and subtle.

Cloud9’s Morning Song Collection features 14 (!!) different fabrics in muted, whisper soft tones from ice blue and smoke gray to bright popping orange and deep plum. I’ve put together a little sampler quilt, perfect for a new baby gift (I have a recipient in mind for this one and I hope she’s not too big for it already!).

Morning Song organic cotton fabrics from Cloud9

Morning Song organic cotton fabrics from Cloud9

We’ll be making a kit for this one, including bamboo batting, and listing it in the Blue Star shop when we get back from…

Eureka! We’ll be vending at the Heart of the Redwoods Quilt Show this weekend in Eureka, California. I hope you can join us! We’ll be scheduling late summer sewing classes when we get back, so if you missed the ones in May there will be more opportunities to try some fun sashiko projects and get you more comfortable with those huge needles, thick thread, and strange thimbles.

Silk Sashiko class registration almost open for Houston International Quilt Festival 2015

IMG_5222Class enrollment opens July 3 for the Houston International Quilt Festival! If you’d like to take my SILK SASHIKO class on Saturday, October 31, (#749 in the class catalog) be sure to sign up early as last year the class sold out by mid-August.

I’ve had all year to work on improving the class so it will be more organized and well-thought out (I didn’t have my templates printed on time last year), plus I’ve had an extra year to collect more beautiful fabrics to use in the class. The class supply kit include vintage Japanese tsumugi kimono silk, Fujix Soie et hand dyed silk thread, and my favorite Tulip sashiko needles. I’m still working on class details and planning out a great project for you to enjoy working on.


Bring is a pair of scissors and a willingness to learn something new. The point of this class is not to finish a copycat project of something I’ve already done; this is a skill building class, not a finished project class. Creativity is key. We’ll play with stitch length, design, and finding ways to feel comfortable with sashiko and sewing with silk.



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