Friday, December 29, 2023

Red & White Table Runner with Baby Lock Sashiko

Every year, from October to now I feel like I am in full gear between three birthdays in my family, Thanksgiving, parties, all the preparation leading up to Christmas and Christmas celebration. Phew... it is definitely fun and exciting, but it can be a bit exhausting. I bet many of you feel the same way. And guess what? Next up is New Year’s Eve!

In Japan, New Year’s Eve and the few days of celebration following New Year’s are very special. I am not very traditional, but I still remember how my family deep cleaned the whole house (yes, in Japan we do a special year end cleaning called Oosoji instead of spring cleaning) on New Year's Eve to welcome the New Year. My mom prepared special meals for New Year’s Eve and Osechi for New Year.

We exchange Nenga-jo (it's like Christmas cards), watch TV shows just for this season, visit Buddhist temples or Shinto shrines to make wishes for the New Year. I get a little nostalgic before New Year and want to carry on some of the traditions in my family. It is safe to say that I do it through my cooking. To enhance the celebratory feeling, I wanted to make a red and white table runner to set my table. I had some design ideas in my head and now it is time to make it happen with my Sashiko Machine!

* You will need
Red fabric 2/3 yard for the top
Fabric for the back -- You could use the same red fabric or something different 2/3 yard
Interfacing --- I used Pellon 987F Fusible Fleece, but it is personal preference
White thread for the Sashiko machine --- I used Gutermann 100% cotton thread for this

* How to
1. From 2/3 yard red fabric, but two 10 1/2" wide x width of the fabric strips. Usually, fabrics are sold 44" wide, but cut off the selvedges. Sew these long strips together to make it longer. Open the seam and press with iron. I did this to save money, but if you don't want the seam in the middle of the table runner, you could buy the length of the table runner you desire.

2. Iron the interfacing to the fabric strip you made in step 1.

3. Draw Sashiko Design on the fabric. On the center of the fabric I drew a 9" x 9" square first. Then I drew three more squares on both sides with 1/2" spaces in between. The both ends of squares are 9" x 8", but this all depends on your desired length of table runner. As far as sashiko design goes, I googled some of the traditional sashiko designs and I made some of them up.

4. Make satisfying sashiko stitch with Sashiko!

5. Right sides together, pin front fabric and backing together. With 1/4" seam allowance, sew all the way around the edge of the table runner. Make sure to leave a 5" opening for turning.

6. Snip the corners to a cleaner finish. Turn the fabric inside out. Use a pin to pull out the corners neatly.
7. Press the edges with iron.

8. Close the opening with slip stitch.

It is all done. I was able to finish the whole table runner in two days because of the sashiko machine, but I know it would take a lot longer if I was doing this all by hand. The table runner has good stiffness to it and I love how it turned out!

I love to think about table arrangements. I am going to do a low key flower arrangement...

Accompanied with red and white tableware.
I hope your 2024 will be filled with love, hope and much happiness. Happy New Year everyone!

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.
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