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.

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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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Hyakka Ryoran Neko Collection

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Like cats? So do we! Our cranky, flighty Miss Lily sheds, scratches, and bites, but we love her anyway.

Like cat fabrics for quilts? We have ’em! This collection from Quilt Gate is playful and yummy, filled with cats, flowers, and fun. It comes in five different prints and five different colorways. The fabric is a high quality quilt-weight cotton with tasteful metallic gold highlights. Check it out in the Kimonomomo Etsy shop.

We’ve listed these fabrics by the half yard and fat quarter bundles, but you can request any size you like while these fabrics are still in stock. We expect this collection to move fast.
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News for June 2015

Shop news for June and beyond…

More videos! This one is about KARISMA erasable & washable pencils (available in the notions section of my Etsy shop). I’ll be talking about tools for the next few episodes, so let me know what you’d like me to cover.

 

Our next show is the Seven Sisters quilt show hosted by the Associated Quilt Guilds of the Central Coast in San Luis Obispo, California. Leah and I did this show last year and were amazed by the quality of the quilts on display. Thomas will be joining me this year, and we’re looking forward to the road trip.

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Coming to AQS QuiltWeek in Grand Rapids, Michigan in August? I am! Catch up with the latest Japanese import fabrics and notions on the vendor floor, or come see vintage textiles from my personal collection. Register for my lecture From Country Cottons to City Silks – Vintage Japanese Textiles here.

Oh, and by the way, Thomas and I got married a few days ago, right here in the shop! It was the only place in the house where we could fit everyone.

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See that baby? That’s Callan, my great-nephew. His mama, my niece Martha, is on the far right. The goofy (and somewhat adorable/weird/wild) child holding him is my daughter Mickey.

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Thursday was the last day of school for Thomas (he teaches grade school), so he’s all mine for the summer. :-D

Show your work!

I love seeing what my customers do with the fabrics I sell. Some turn them into personal diversions, while others use them in their own craft businesses. Here are a few that have been shared with me.

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Happi Babies

Fun bibs, happi coats, and accessories for babies, made using yukata and organic cotton fabrics.

 

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Queen Bee Essentials – Handbags and accessories made from vibrant fabrics.

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Diane S. shared her quilt from a pattern in Quilter’s Newsletter magazine from February/March 2014 using Kona Bay’s Tomorrow Morning Collection in blue.

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Linda R. shared a gorgeous kimono made from Kona Bay’s Lair of the Dragon Collection.

Do you have something to share? Let me know and I’ll post it here.

Sashiko Classes for May

When I posted the May 18 class I mentioned there would also be a May 24 class… then I forgot to make an event listing for it. And then I made the listing but forgot to mention it here. I suspect the 20 hours I spent driving from Alameda, CA to Portland, OR last week for the SAQA Fiberlandia conference melted my brain just a little bit. Now I’m sitting in a hotel in Denver, CO, on a trip to make something fun and fantastic that I’ll be sharing with you later this year. And yes, my brain is still quite melted.

IMG_6606What will we be doing in these sashiko classes? Working with fun Japanese fabrics, getting a feel for sashiko needles and thread, and (I hope) having a good time. This is not serious art, this is mingei, folkcraft. Consider the groups of women who over centuries have sat together and sewn beautiful things for their families. Life was hard, not frivolous, and warm clothing meant survival, but I still believe they laughed together, even as they also cried together. Sashiko today may not carry the same weight, but we can get a feel for the sense of community and joy, right?

Here are links to my May 18 class and May 24 class. The May 18 class is filling up, but there are several spots available for the May 24 class. I hope you’ll join us, and please bring your sense of adventure! (If you’re not feeling adventurous enough to pay by credit card on the Eventbrite site, I am also accepting checks. Email me for the mailing address or call me at 925-360-3375).

New look for the Kimonomomo Studio

Kimonomomo is an online Etsy shop and we also sell at several quilt shows throughout the year, mostly in California. For years my kids endured having all that inventory in the living room as we endured tiny apartments and cramped living conditions for the first few years of my business. When I moved in with Thomas in 2011 he wasn’t really prepared for the craziness that is my creative and entrepreneurial life, but he has adapted. In 2013 he built shelving in a spare bedroom to store my growing inventory of quilt fabrics, but by late last year we could see that I had already outgrown that space and my work was spilling into every other room in the house.

Imagine my shock when he offered to convert the living room into my new studio space.

A man of his word,Thomas removed the worn-out carpet, painted the walls and ceiling, and installed even more new shelves. All of this was done on his spring vacation time and on weekends. He’s a grade school teacher, but also spent 10+ years working for a large home improvement store so he’s handy with tools and lumber.

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The last time he built me shelves they were built from scratch, but this time we went with IKEA shelving and I think it looks pretty good. Nothing fancy, just functional, modular, and light.

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The above photos are from Sunday night. I started filling the new shelves Monday morning.

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So many of these bolts had been sitting in boxes for the past month! Many of them haven’t been photographed for my Etsy shop yet.

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The living room is full of natural light most of the day, whereas the old studio space (in a spare bedroom) was quite dark.

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I’m excited about the new space! We’d crammed so much inventory into the old studio space that there wasn’t enough room for creativity. Now I feel like I can breathe deep again.

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Sashiko Needles – Which to buy?

In Japan one may have an abundance of sashiko needles to choose from, but outside of Japan our choices tend to be more limited. For the past decade or so we were really limited, generally to whatever Olympus had to offer, and that was about it. Times have changed, much to our benefit.

Which brand to start with?

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Olympus 2 needle pack, one long and one short

Olympus, the company providing non-Japanese stitchers with sashiko supplies for a very long time (decades? I really have no idea) offers a wide variety of thread, needles, thimbles, and kits and has continued to add to their catalog of creative notions over the years. If you’re starting out with one of their pre-printed kits, you may find Olympus sashiko needles to be just the thing to help you get a feel for sashiko. The needles are large and easy to hold with big, easy to thread eyes. Drop one on the floor and you’ll be sure to find it long before someone accidentally steps on it.

While a good place to start, how do these hold up to more advanced sashiko? Not very well. The thicker needles are unwieldy when it comes to quilting through more than one layer of fabric, never mind batting. On to other options.

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Clover Basic assortment (8 needles)

 

One step up the scale is another familiar brand: Clover. With an ever-expanding catalog of sewing supplies and notions, Clover is always looking to tap into the latest creative trend. They offer two types of sashiko (or as they spell it, sashico) needles; a basic assortment and a set of three long needles. Finer than Olympus needles, I’ve tested these out and found them to be very good for sashiko work in general, but they are still a step below my all-time favorites.

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Tulip Long assortment and Short assortment, 6 needles per pack

 

Tulip. Top of the line in my experience (and I’ve heard there are still better needles in Japan, I just need to find the small shops where they are sold), these are manufactured to exacting standards. Smoother, more flexible, and less brittle than most needles, Tulip sashiko needles can sew through just about anything, including quilt batting. Some people have expressed concern the eyes are too small to thread with thick sashiko thread, but I prefer the smaller eyes as I’m less likely to drop my thread by accident and lose my needle in the process. The medium needle with the smallest eye is my preferred needle for silk sashiko using Fujix Soie et silk thread.

Both the Tulip Sashiko Long Assortment and Short Assortment are worth having in your sewing tool kit.

Please avoid using a needle threader with these as they tend to break the eye.

Long or short?

Why do sashiko needles come in such a variety of sizes? If you’re familiar with how to sew sashiko using a palm thimble, then you can see how a longer needle is easier to make a long, straight line. However, that same long needle would be too much to handle when it comes to making curvy lines where you can only pick up one or two stitches at a time.

Basic rule: Long needles are for long lines and short needles are for curves.

Doing a variety of lines and curves? Get the widest assortment you can and work with, or just try a pack of every type and see how they work for you. The Clover basic assortment and Tulip Long assortment are both good variety packs.

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