Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Kantha Inspired Quilt with Sashiko Machine

Have you ever heard of Kantha? Kantha means "Patched cloth" and is a type of embroidery performed in the eastern regions of India and Bangladesh. It is often used to make simple quilts with a mix of old saris and other discarded pieces of fabric. The rich history of Kantha traces back to centuries ago! I have a Kantha quilt I purchased years ago and what I love about it is the bright colors and big stitches running through the quilt. Kantha does not have batting in them, but it is very soft and perfect for summer nights. The art of Kantha reminds me of Sashiko, which also has a very rich history of its own as a type of traditional Japanese embroidery or stitching used for the decorative and/or functional reinforcement of cloth and clothing.

Kantha and Sashiko were both created by people who were trying to be frugal; repurposing the old cloth, but at the same time those women created something beautiful to enrich their lives.

I marvel at how the human brain works and makes us innovative. India (and other parts of east asia) and Japan are separated by sea over thousands of miles. There was no TV, books, or internet to know these things centuries ago, but somehow we have similar beautiful crafts. Isn't that interesting?

I always wanted to make a Kantha quilt, but I have so many other projects I want to work on. I thought why not use modern technology (meaning my Baby Lock Sashiko machine to create a Kantha inspired quilt!

I have a stash of beautiful fabrics (Amy Butler, Heather Bailey, Tula Pink and Sandi Hendersen!) but some of them are big scale fabrics and kind of difficult to incorporate to some quilt projects. I love the fabric design so much that I hate to cut them into small pieces and lose their original beauty. You should see me in my sewing room pulling them out, admiring them, petting them and putting them back on my shelf. Haha. I bet many of you have the same problem as me. I know that this project is perfect for those fabrics waiting to be used and shine!

* You will need ~ finished quilt size 63"x 75"

Several large scale fabrics with bold colors and designs, Several fat quarters and cut by the yard fabrics
Batting ~ Actual Kantha quilt doesn't have batting, I decided to use batting
Fabrics for backing ~ I pieced my fabrics for backing
Thread for piecing and quilting

* How to
1. Some of you may not want to hear this, but to piece this quilt, I just went with the flow. To start off, I cut several of my fat quarters in half to create rectangles and lay them out on the floor to see the placement of the colors and scale balance. The wider rectangles are about the width of the fabric which is about 42" to 44"wide. They are about 7" to 17" high. I pieced narrow columns and wide columns separately, then pieced the two columns together.

2. Baste the top, batting and backing together. I wanted to use the Sashiko machine, so I went with pin basting. If you are machine quilting with your regular sewing machine, this step is the same. If you are hand quilting, I recommend hand basting the quilt with large stitches.

3. I set both the stitch length and stitch spacing to 5 on my Sashiko.

4. I used 4 different colors of Aurifil threads. I love Aurifil threads for quilting, they don't break like my other threads and I can always depend on them. The space between the quilting is 5/8".

5. Cut the excess.

6. Sew bias tape around the quilt. I normally sew the bias by machine and hand sew in the back, but I finished it off with the machine this time.

Time to enjoy!

I pieced the backing.

I love looking at gorgeous stitchings

Now the Kantha inspired quilt is all ready to be enjoyed. It is almost winter, but I love bright colors and bold floral design. I could imagine myself, wrapped up in this quilt with good books in front of the fireplace and dreaming of a warm spring day.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Halloween Trick or Treat Bag Tutorial

Trick or treat! I can't believe we are already entering October. The year flew by so quickly and it has been a bit chilly where I live. I wanted to share a quick, useful and fun Halloween project using my Sashiko machine. Of course you could make this project with your regular sewing machine, but I wanted to showcase Sashiko stitches with this project. Are you ready?

*You will need

A fabric to cut side fabrics
A fabric to cut bottom and handles
A fabric to make lining 12"x 20"
Muslin for backing 12"x 20"
(sorry, it is not in the picture, but you need it...)
Fusible batting 12"x 22" (this is for the body of the bag and the handles)
Pearl Cotton to add trimming (optional)
*How to

*Note* I used 1/4" seam for this project

1. Sew the side fabrics to the bottom fabric. Open the seam and press with iron.
2. Baste the fabric you pieced with fusible batting (follow the manufacturer's guideline) and muslin. If you prefer, you could use pins to secure the corners. For quilting, I just quilted straight lines on the bottom fabric and crosshatch quilting on the side fabrics.
3. Add trim. I am still acquainted with Sashiko machine. While I was watching some tutorials on youtube, I came across a video. There is one technique I wanted to try. This step is totally optional.
4. Make the handles. Take the fabric and fold it in half horizontally. Open the fabric and bring both long edges to the middle and fold. Now you have three horizontal lines. Cut 2 - 3/4"x 12" strips from fusible batting and fuse next to the center line. Fold the fabrics and top stitch outer lines. Repeat to make the other handle.
5. Pin a handle to the quilted fabric and sew. See the picture for the placement of the handle. Do the same with the other handle.
6. Fold the fabric right side together in half and sew the sides.
7. Make the boxed bottom. Fold the bottom and create a triangle. sew. If you are interested in better instructions, there is a tutorial I did for this post, around step 7.
8. Follow steps 6 and 7 for the liner.
9. Put the bag and liner right sides together. Leaving about a 4" opening, sew the top around the edge. Turn the fabric inside out and press the edges with the iron.
10. Top stitch all around the top and it is ready for Halloween night! Well, almost... on a whim, I decided to make a felt pumpkin charm to accessorize the bag. Now, it is really ready, haha
You could make this bag or two in one afternoon, so you still have enough time before Halloween. Enjoy!

Friday, July 14, 2023

Baby Lock Sashiko Machine

At the end of last year, I received a Baby Lock Sashiko machine. It is no joke, the Sashiko machine has always been in the back of my mind ever since I discovered its existence. This is such a unique and innovative machine; it can create a hand stitched look. I started out as a hand quilter several decades ago, and I still love doing that, but it would be nice to have an option to quilt with a machine and get the hand stitched look. You can see what I mean...
WHAT!? Right? Isn't it pretty amazing? I used smaller stitches, but you can easily adjust the stitch length and spacing too. I inserted the quilting bar (guide) that came with the machine and quilted the borders. A little accessory like this makes the quilting process more simple and quick.
To tell you the truth I was a bit nervous about using the machine. It is a completely different type of machine than my other sewing machines (and I don't like reading manuals!!), but I was able to learn through Baby Lock SEWED online classes. Also my friend Evy Hawkins have several how-to videos out on Youtube. When you start going through her videos, you will find out that there is so much more you can do with a Sashiko machine.
It is quilted and bound. I made the hourglass blocks for this baby quilt with scraps from another project. I was going back and forth with white or gray background. I am glad I chose gray even though my usual choice is white. The bright colors against gray look pretty nice.
My daughter helped me to take this picture. She wanted to experiment staging the quilt and take a picture. Didn't she do a nice job?
I am far from being an expert on the Sashiko machine, but I would love to keep learning and experimenting with it for sure.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Dresden Plate Quilt from the Past

I was going to post this quilt last year when I finished appliqueing all around the border, but I didn't. I guess I started working on the other quilt while I started hand quilting this one and kind of forgot to post it. Let me tell you a little bit about this quilt...

Why is the title "Dresden Plate Quilt from the past"; you might ask? I actually started making this quilt over 22 years ago. Sometime in my 2nd or 3rd trimester of my first pregnancy, for some reason, I thought I was going to have a baby girl. Please don't ask me why, I don't even remember. I jumped into this quilt project and appliqued all the main blocks and pieced them. Then at my ultrasound, I found out that I was being blessed with a boy! I put away the quilt top deep into my craft bin and forgot about it. I made lots of boy quilts for my boys and time went by... every time we moved, I would reencountered the unfinished quilt top, but then I would put it away again. A couple years ago, I had an impression that I needed to finish all the projects I started in the past; well, I have no strict time limits, but I decided that I shouldn't neglect them anymore. I pulled out this quilt top and designed the whole border applique and worked on it.

It was a lot of work, but I love how it turned out!
I started hand quilting it last year and I am still working on it. I usually have multiple projects going on at once, so I only hand-quilt whenever I feel like it. The process is slow, but I enjoy the time. I guess I could give it to my daughter, or one of my future granddaughters.
It is never too late to finish a quilt from the past.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Baby Lock Sashiko Sewing Machine

Sashiko is in the hooouse!

This giant box from Baby Lock was delivered to my doorstep the day before Christmas Eve. I had my birthday in December (I turned 50! Yep, it's kind of a big one), it was like receiving a birthday present and a Christmast present both at the same time! The name of the machine is "Sashiko", look closely, not Sachiko; which is my name(means a happy child or blessed one). Sashiko is a traditional Japanese embroidery or stitching used for the decorative and/or functional reinforcement of cloth and clothing. The items that were created using Sashiko stitching are very beautiful and I feel like many traditional Sashiko designs resonate with modern design lovers too. I found a great website if you know more about it.

A long time ago, I was at a quilt store and saw a Sashiko machine for the first time. To be honest, I really thought that Baby Lock named one of their machines "Sachiko", just like they had named some of their machines "Anna", "Amelia", "Rachel" and such. But I thought to myself "why a Japanese name???" I looked closely and realized it was "Sashiko" instead of Sachiko. I learned what the machine can do and ever since then, it has been one of my dream machines!
Now you might ask; "So, what could this machine do?". Let me tell you ... you can do hand stitching with this machine!!

I was astonished when I first found out about this!

I started out as a hand quilter in my teens and I did piecing/quilting all by hands. I am always drawn to traditional hand quilted quilts. I love the spaces in between the stitches and I feel like hand stitching gives a more softer, cozier and whimsical touch to the quilt. I still enjoy hand quilting, but I am starting to get concerned about my hands now that I am getting older. I will continue to hand-quilt here and there, but it will be amazing if I can use a machine and have it look like it was hand quilted! Wouldn't you agree?

I haven't started learning how to use the Sashiko machine yet, but Baby Lock has helpful online resources and my ever talented and skilled friend Evy of A Bit of Stitch has created a book all about Sashiko machine. I know they will help me tremendously in my learning process.

I can't wait to share my new creations using the Sashiko machine in the near future!

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Scrappy Strip/String Quilt

I remembered that I didn't get around to posting this quilt I finished in November. I used the same method that I used to make strip pillows in October. I used 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" tissue papers for the pillow, but I used 6 1/2" x 6 1/2" papers for this quilt, that's it! It is done by exact same technique, just bigger. If you are in interested in the tutorial you can click the link.
After I finished piecing, I wondered how I wanted to quilt it. The options are:

A. Ask someone with a longarm to quilt it for me.
B. Quilt it myself with my machine. I am not that good at it, but it will be good practice.
C. Hand quilt it.

I tossed and turned... well, maybe not that much, but I finally decided to hand quilt it with thick thread and big stitches. I was second guessing myself while I was working on it, but I actually love how it turned out!
I like using pieced fabric for the back of the quilt. It is more work, but I love the small surprize when you turn the quilt over. It adds more interest and character. The hand quilting is more visible on the back side and I love it!
If you have lots of scraps, this quilt is perfect for them. It is easy, quick and fun! Do you want to add it to your "to make" list for this year?
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