Sunday, July 29, 2012

Old School Photo Booth

I spend the day in San Francisco, California recently and ran into an old school photo booth from 1947. 

We were at this lab called Rayko checking out their photo classes and darkroom rental facilities.  Such a cool place.  If I lived in the city, I would love to play in the darkroom there.

In their lobby they have a traditional photobooth from 1947 that goes through something like 14 different tanks of chemicals in order to give you a traditional wet-processed photo strip.  

If you are in the neighborhood, it's about as much fun as you could possible have for $3US.  Warning:  1 strip my not be enough for you!  We made three of them!!

Address and directions here.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Quilted Hexagons: English Paper Piecing

Tiny pieces of fabric: got it.

Teenie hexagon pieces of paper for the backing:  yup.

A thirst for sewing extremely small whip stiches on fabric pieces less than an inch tall:  yes!

Ah the joy of detailed hand work.   The hexagon pieces are 8mm or .31 inches on each of their 6 sides.  Is that possible?  I guess it is.  Gee this flower is pretty small.

I've been a fan of hexagons for many years.  Back in 2007 I made a small hex quilt out of batik fabrics.  Remember when those were so popular?

I will confess that I made an entire quilt out of batiks.  Such wild colors.  Hard to resist their charms. get it?  Har har...sorry, a little quilt humor. Moving on.

There are a lot of cute hex quilts out there.  I love this little butterfly one that I saw on flickr.   I'm not sure where I'm going with these, but probably not an queen sized quilt.  Just a little fun for now.  Maybe I'll applique it down on something.

I have one more wrap up shopping in Japan post to put together for you, but I think it's probably the final one.  

Meanwhile. anybody watching the Olympics out there?  What's your favorite sport?

Oh, and a quick note to those of you who are so kind to comment on my blog:

I was getting a lot of inappropriate/spam (not quilting related) comments before I turned on more heavy comment filtering.  If you comment, I will read it and approve/publish it usually within 24 hrs of when you leave it.  Thanks so much to all of you patient and generous folks out there.  If you have your email address connected to your profile, I try to write back as much as time allows.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Quilt Shopping in Tokyo: Quilt Party - Yoko Saito's Shop

Quilt Party is perhaps my favorite shopping stop of the trip.  This should not surprise you if you read my blog regularly, since I'm perhaps Yoko Saito's biggest fan.

Getting there is something like a 40 min train ride from Shinjuku station with a very short walk from where the train stops, only really a block or so.

There is a small sign in front of the shop that will guide you inside.  It looks like this:

It was a big thrill for me to finally see a Yoko Saito quilt in person.  I have seen this quilt in photos many times before but standing in front of it was so much more moving than I was expecting.

The ladies who work at the shop were extremely helpful and although their English was not completely fluent, they were excited that I was visiting there and they put 110% of their efforts into helping me and communicating with me.  It was very special.  I told them I felt like it was my birthday or something because visiting the shop was such a long-time dream of mine.

I was not there to pick up a lot of fabric, but I could not resist a few small pieces.  They have a big area of small cuts where pieces are slightly less than fat quarters in size, but they are arranged by color, and a lot of them I have never seen in the U.S. for sale. 

There was one very small item that caught my eye for several reasons.

It was a coin purse:

I could not figure out how you could cross stitch on top of quilt fabric.  The shop manager introduced me to some plastic cross stitch mesh that you lay over any quilting fabric, make your stitches, and then remove later with tweezers.  Brilliant!  This stuff allows you to basically cross stitch a small motif or an initial pretty much anywhere.  I used to love cross stitch, and doing a small bit of it to personalize something sounded like a lot of fun to me.

Here's a view of the inside.  There is a zipper that goes all the way around, and there are plastic 'button' pieces inside both of the clamshells.  I got supplies to make a couple.  

I have been collecting books of Yoko Saito's student works for years and was still missing several of them.  I found the ones I was missing while I was here, so that was a big treat.

You can see the latest released book third from the right in the book stacks on the shelf below:

More on the works of Yoko Saito in previous posts I have done here (including info on her books).  

If you end up in Tokyo, it won't be a waste of your time to visit her shop, that's for sure!

Contact info here.  

Address:  272-0034 Active Ichikawa 2F, 1-23-2 Ichikawa, Ichikawa City, Chiba Prefecture

Walking directions from Ichikawa Station in comments on Quincy's Big Adventure blog post here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Quilt Shopping in Tokyo: Blue and White

If you are in Tokyo, and you love textiles or quilting, you probably already have Blue and White on your short list of places to visit.  This is the first time I have been to this magical place, and I was over the moon for it.  

By the end of this post you might be green (or blue?) with envy that you weren't there with me.

The shop has been around for ages, and there is even a book about Japan and these colors written by owner Amy Katoh called Blue and White Japan.  It is located in the Roppongi area of Tokyo, official web site here includes address and hours.

I was inspired by several design elements found in the garments and bags for sale.  
My favorite technique was the running stitch in thick thread, sashiko weight, mostly using either white or indigo dyed hues.   

Below is the sleeve of a jacket that was completely covered in this stitch.  The designer used the thread to make 3D cone shapes coming out of the garment.  It was just incredible.

Here is a full view:  Amazing, right?

You can see this stitch in handles of bags and a vest in the photo below.  I loved the blue bag here.  Inside of it the lining was made of antique kimono fabric.  I have never seen handles like this for sale (natural twig, split in half with holes drilled for fabric handles).  I would love to make a bag like this:

Pockets were also embellished this way (below):

Just looking in the window is a beautiful sight:


I hesitate to put this last photo in of me standing in the middle of the shop complete with hairdo courtesy of 90% humidity and 85 degrees F, but still having a ball anyhow:

Blue and White is on the radar for my next trip.  It might be a while, so in the meantime, post some photos if you end up stopping by there!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Applique Party: this weekend - be there or be [ ]

Ok, so it isn't exactly an applique 'party', but I am teaching hand applique at A Verb for Keeping Warm on Sunday 7/22/12 at 2:30 pm in Oakland, California.

If you need an excuse to come and learn to be an expert at hand applique, or you just want to spend some relaxing time with inspiring people in a beautiful shop...come and join us.  Beginners, advanced folks, and all those in between are welcome.  Sign up's are a couple of mouse clicks away!  Do it...they will hardly notice you snuck out for a couple of hours.

The above photo is a teaser of our Modern Houses block this month (#11).  I love the way this one turned out, it's called the Heartwood Home.

I was initially not sure how easily it would translate from the real extreme 3D qualities of the house to a quilt block but I'm tickled pink (or tickled taupe?) with the final pattern and block. 

If you live on the other side of the globe or can't slip away to join us this month, I hope that somewhere this weekend there is a bit of hand work in store for you.  You deserve it, after all.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Kyoto Flea Market: Chionji Temple

Once a month, there is a flea market bazaar at the University of Kyoto, Chionji Temple.
You can find information on it here and here.

Wouldn't you know that I was there on the day that it was happening (15th of every month).  Lucky us that my DH discovered this gem.  

There are all sorts of goodies there that are hand made by local artists.  It is a craft extravaganza really.  My biggest issue was that most of the items for sale are tough to travel with.  

Some of the ceramics were incredible, but didn't look like I could make it home easily with them.  

My favorite storefront was Conasyuu & Ribbon where small sewing items along with decorative pin toppers were sold.  Soooo super cute!  "Kawaii" in Japanese.  Below:

There were hand spun yarn balls.  They all looked like single ply yarns, so I didn't pick up any but they were beautiful and the proprietor was spinning yarn there in the booth.  Below:

I could not visualize a way to fit one of these adorable chairs into my luggage, so I didn't purchase one, but there are many teddy bears in my home that would shed a tear over this.  Below:

After we left Kyoto, we took a bullet train to Tokyo and the rest of our adventure was there.  Many super cool quilty hang outs there as well.  I'll cover those in an upcoming post.  As I depart from the topic of Kyoto, all can really say is - how soon do I get to go back?

A parting snapshot my husband took of me in the gardens on Heian Shrine, Kyoto.  I think this was my favorite spot on the trip.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Japanese Sewing Box

Under the weather a small bit this week, fighting and winning finally.  Gathering energy now after lots of rest this weekend.

Should I confess that my new Japanese sewing box is more like sewing "boxes"?

Well...the little one really is little.  I will weight it to prove how little it is.

The medium one is also quite little, I swear.

When in Japan, picking up just one more teensie tiny sewing box to slip (read: cram) into the luggage...well, let's say it's the kind of small indiscretion that cannot be avoided.

The above box came from Misuyabari in Kyoto and is the 'large' size. 

I've been using it while working on finishing up my Modern House Block #11 inspired by Bev Thorne's Brubeck House in Oakland, CA.  I'm a little sad that this little quilt is soon drawing to a close from the design/blocks perspective, but I'm looking forward to design and creation of the border so I suppose I will hold back the tears for now.

A few more shopping posts coming up on both Kyoto and Tokyo later this week.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Quilt Shopping in Kyoto: Pins and Needles at Misuyabari

Misuyabari is the kind of tiny shop that you want to live in, if you're me.  It was a big highlight of my trip to Kyoto and I was thrilled to be there in person.  

The owner mentioned to me that he has a web site, but that they don't ship their products outside of Japan.  I told him I knew that already, and that is why I was standing in his store.  It was well worth the trip.

 It is not the easiest place to find, but I have some additional photos to guide you there if you like, let me know.  There is also a great post on the Just Hungry blog that will help you get there probably better than I could.  I cannot help but throw a few extra photos in for you of the shop, so enjoy.

The shop itself has existed since the time of the royal court, and has been making needles for over 350 years.  They don't sell any fabrics but specialize in needles, tools like thread clippers, and sewing boxes.   

Some of the tools they carry below:

The sewing boxes they sell are hand made and the lids only go on in one orientation.  There is a small mark on the side of both the top and bottom to help you get them back on.  They are made of kiri wood and although it feels a bit like balsa wood, it is a different wood.  The boxes close super tightly in order to keep air out and prevent rust on the needles.  

The pin cushions that come in the mini sewing boxes are stuffed with wool not cotton.  It feels really nice to put your needle in.  My days of making cotton-filled pin cushions are over!

Their selection of needles below:  each one is made by hand and has a circular shaped eye so you can thread it very easily.  If you explain what sort of sewing you want to do, they will guide you in finding the right needle.  I got the shortest quilting needles they had for hand quilting and hand piecing.  They also carry needles for sashiko and applique.

The small decorative pin toppers they have are basically worth the trip there just to see.  Each is hand made, unique, and they have a small magnifying glass you can use to take a better look.  Incredible.  Choosing which ones to purchase will be a good challenge for you.

They also offer fabric-covered thread holders and thread clipper keepers in all colors.  Again, how to choose?

You can tell I had fun at this shop and want to return someday.  I promise to photograph the sewing box I got in an upcoming post.  I am currently using it for my next applique house block!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Quilt Shopping in Kyoto: Aizenkobo

On my recent trip to Japan I visited Kyoto for the first time.

I have always wanted to go there, and was not disappointed once I finally arrived.

We stayed at the Three Sister's Inn Annex which is a traditional Japanese Inn where you sleep on futon-like mats on the floor.  Our toilet had a place above the tank where you could wash your hands in the water as it was filling the tank for the toilet.  Efficiency!  We could not have found a better place to stay and already we are wondering how soon we can stay there again.  Highly recommend this Inn if you are in Kyoto and want to stay where the staff speaks good English.

There were many highlights in Kyoto that had nothing to do with quilting, but my favorite shop for fabric there was an easy choice:


What:  Aizenkobo - traditional indigo dye workshop.  For sale are fabrics, indigo dyed garments, threads, and household goods

Where:  Nakasuji Omiya-nishi, Kamikyo-ku,
Kyoto 602-8449, Japan
Tel. 81(0) 785 441 0533

When:  Open weekdays 10am - 5:30 pm, (please telephone first for Saturday and Sunday visits), note I did not try to visit on a weekend.

How to get there:  We took a bus line from the Three Sister's Inn, and walked from the bus stop.  They have a really nice map on their web site.

Shopping:  I was after fabric by the yard, of course, to use in quilting projects. 

A lot of the fabric they have is available for sale by the entire bolt only, for the purpose of making a kimono.  

They will allow you to purchase yardage from a limited number of fabric bolts they have.  Minimum cut is 50cm and fabric is not very wide (14" or so).

The fabrics are something you'll have to save up for since they are around $85 USD / yd.  I got a couple of half yard pieces, because I could not resist their beauty.

I found their fabrics to be the highest quality indigo dyed fabrics that I have ever run into and cannot wait to do something special with them.

They also had some hand dyed indigo sashiko thread, so I picked up some of that.  It was pretty affordable.

If you go there, it is slightly cheaper if you can pay in cash (Japanese Yen of course).

A couple of other posts out there have more about the owners, history of the shop and the indigo dye process itself.  Read more here and here.   

A photo of the inside of the shop below as well as a snapshot of the outside along with the beautiful owner who allowed us to photograph her and was a very helpful and warm shop owner/hostess.

When in Kyoto, add Aizenkobo to your short list of places to stop.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

K-kinda Busy

I've been a bit of a jet setter lately, and I'll confess to have spent more time moving about the planet rather than hanging out in front of the quilt hoop.

I have made use of several very long flights to do a bit of sewing/hand piecing and also some knitting.

So many stories to tell you about the adventures.

For tonight, I'll leave you with the above photo.  You can probably guess where I went.