Crazy Quilters
in Sendai, Japan

Hideko Ishida © 2008

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I feel very honored to be asked to introduce my small CQ group in Sendai, Japan which started three years ago. Now there are four members who regularly come to my home every two weeks, one is taking a break because of her teaching job, and two other ladies join from far via the Internet. We can’t say crazy quilting is very popular in Japan. There is a CQ lesson in some traditional patchwork classes, but yet you can’t be satisfied with them. There is very little Japanese information about CQ. We have many good books of patchwork, embroidery and embellishment, but none are specific to CQ. The language barrier is the biggest problem for Japanese people interested in CQ, because all of the information is from overseas.

At first, my group was formed as a class and I taught the members everything that I had learned on my own. I explained them some basic piecing methods, basic stitches for seams, and how to use embellishments. I think the ladies have developed into independent CQ'ers. When we get together, my main job now is not teaching, but making tea!

from left: Ikuko, Kiyomi, Hideko, Kayoko Yoko and her works

The four regular members are Kiyomi, Kayoko, Yoko and Ikuko. As stitchers, Kiyomi and Kayoko were beginners. Yoko was an experienced stitcher, but I felt she had a problem with color/whole balance. Ikuko was both an experienced and excellent stitcher, so there was nothing for me to teach her. Instead, I shared my information and everyone is enjoying crazy quilting. They say it makes their hearts sing.

What I said to them at the beginning may be interesting for you.

1.  Textbooks

I ordered three books for each of them.  An Encyclopedia of Crazy Quilt Stitches and Motifs, by Linda Causee.
I chose this book because it’s very handy and not expensive. Good for beginner.

Kiyomi’s first work using the book.

Marsha Michler's The Magic of Crazy Quilting: A Complete Resource for Embellished Quilting
You can learn everything basic by this introductory book; materials, threads, piecing methods, seam stitches, motifs, SRE, embellishments, dyeing and etc.

Kayoko’s first work Yoko’s first work

Carole Samples' Treasury of Crazyquilt Stitches: A Comprehensive Guide to Traditional Hand Embroidery Inspired by Antique Crazyquilts
This is the real encyclopedia of CQ stitches, though some people may think it’s too involved. Maybe it’s for intermediate.

Ikuko is now working on a Hearts tapestry.. Here are only three out of fourteen hearts and the close-ups.

2. Color

I think the colors decide the definite impression of the work. Sometimes it seems to me more important than stitching skills.

3. Whole Balance

Sometimes we tend to concentrate in a small area where we are working. However, we always need to look at the whole block. The quantity of each color, space/distance between embellishments, effects of each material, etc.

4. Practice of stitching

Some people are nervous about even stitches. I think it depends how many hours you practice. I am always telling a beginner not to pay attention to it. If you would like to undo, I recommend you to make another new seam. Work as many seams as you can, because we are not young.

5. Try/challenge rather than hesitate

Too much consideration is not productive. No inspiration comes from emptiness. If we work something on the block it leads the next idea.

We will have a CQ exhibition in Sendai from March 14 to 18, 2008.

Kayoko’s boxes

Ikuko’s boxes

Kiyomi’s White Tapestry  Ikuko’s Tapestry
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