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?

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Christmas Tree Wall Hanging Tutorial

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree... every year I see fun Christmas tree quilt ideas online and want to make one, but a year passes by so quickly and poof! It is already December. I tried coming up with my own pattern around October. I was sketching and experimenting with fabrics. After a few tries, I came up with this tree pattern. Wouldn't it be so pretty if I made 300 plus blocks and made a quilt with these cute trees? I was looking at several projects on my table and decided not to do that this year. Instead, I made a small wall hanging!

Cutting the fabric might be a little tedious, but once you get the hang of it, this project goes quickly. It is not too late to whip this up to be part of your Christmas decorations.

* YOU NEED

4 different kinds of green fabrics
5 different kinds of red fabrics
White fabric

* HOW TO

1. Cut fabrics. The picture shows the parts you need to construct a block and the measurements are written in the picture. I only listed the measurements on one side because it is symmetrical.
2. Start from the bottom row. Lay green fabric down right side up and lay white 1 ½" x 1 ½" square on both ends right side down. Draw a diagonal line and sew on the line. Trim the excess and open the white fabric. Press with iron.
3. For the rest of the three rows, repeat the same process and add extra rectangle pieces to the sides.
4. Sew all four rows together and trim the block. The block should be 4" x 4 ½". 8 more blocks to go!
5. Cut 24 pieces of 1 ¼" x 4" strips from white fabrics and 16 pieces of 1 ¼" x 1 ¼" squares from red and green fabrics. Piece the strips with the tree blocks as shown in the picture; make the rows first.
Then, make the "skinny rows" with the white strips and colored squares.
6. Piece the tree row and skinny row together. Press with iron.
7. From the white fabric, cut 2 pieces of 2" x 15 ½" for the side borders and cut 2 pieces of 2" x 17" for the top and the bottom borders. Sew them on, press with iron.
8. It is totally up to you on how you want to finish the quilt. I have been doing machine quilting on my last few quilts, so I decided to do hand quilting on this one. I used white, red and green thread. It was a lot of fun deciding which color to use where. One of my dream sewing machines is Sashiko from Babylock. I know; it is a one letter difference from my name. When I first glanced at the machine, I thought, "Wow! The machine has same name as me!" haha. Sashiko machine stitches are uniform and consistent, making it easier and faster to finish your quilting projects (there are many other ways to use this machine, too). You can achieve a hand quilted look with this machine! I LOVE doing hand quilting, but when I am older and it gets harder to hand quilt, there is still hope. :)
I hope you will have a wonderful holiday season. Thank you for visiting!

Friday, September 30, 2022

Scrappy Strip/String Pillow ~ Two Versions!

There are many scrappy strip/string quilt tutorials out there. Some tutorials suggest using white fabric as a foundation and some use different types of papers. I wasn't sure if I wanted to use fabric and have an extra layer in my pillow. So I used tracing paper I had at home and it was too thick to peel off after the strips were sewn. I know there are special papers available online, but I wanted to start making the blocks right away. Yes, I was in the mood that I had to start the project at that moment and couldn't wait for an extra few days for my order to arrive at my doorstep. I looked around my room and found tissue papers for gift wrapping and decided to give it a try. Because this project doesn't need specific design on the paper and random piecing, simple tissue paper did the trick. Peeling it off was a breeze too.

Before you start, you want to Iron your tissue paper to smooth out any wrinkles and cut them to the size you want. I used cutting tools to do this and it went so fast. Also, sorting your scraps by color (if you already organized them that way you are good to go!) speeds things up while you are choosing and mixing colors as you are piecing.
Let's begin!

Scrappy Strip Pillow --- finished size 16"x 16" * YOU WILL NEED

12 pieces --- 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" tissue paper
12 pieces --- 1' x 7" (or longer if you prefer) white fabric strips
Various scrap strips
1 --- 18"x 18" Batting
1 --- 18"x 18" backing(I used muslin. It is going to be in hidden inside of the pillow)
2 --- 11"x 16 1/2" fabrics for the back panels to create the pillow

* HOW TO

1. Fold both ends of the 1"x 7" white strip in half. Match the folded line to the opposite corners of the tissue paper.
2. Lay the printed scrap strip on top of the white strip. I used pins to keep them aligned and the corners matched.
3. Sew them together onto the paper with 1/4" seam, open the seam and press with iron.
4. Repeat the process and do the same with the opposite side as well.
5. Lay the pieced fabric side down on the cutting mat. Trim the excess fabrics using the tissue paper as a guide.
6. Peel the tissue paper off.
Tada! A block is done. Isn't this so fun?
7. When you are done making the rest of the blocks, play with them to decide on the layout and piece the blocks side by side to create the rows.
8. Then, piece those rows together.
9. I did simple rows of quilting on this. Degital Dual Feed foot is one of my most favorite accesorries for my Babylock Aria. It feeds the fabric evenly and consistently. I felt the big difference on finished projects especially when working on larger items. Trim the excess around the quilted square.
10. Take a 11"x 16 1/2" piece and fold one side of 16 1/2" twice (1/2" each time)and sew. Leave the other side row edge. Do the same with the other 11"x 16 1/2". Lay them on top of the quilted square right side down. Center part will overlap by 4". Pin and sew around the edge. I used zigzag stitches to finish the edges to prevent flaying.
11. Turn it inside out and press with iron.
Time to enjoy!
This is a simple project and a great way to use your strips of scraps. Also, this quick project will make a great gift. I created this pillow in one afternoon while I was half watching Korean dramas on my phone. I had so much fun doing it, so I decided to make a bonus project for you!


Bonus! Scrappy Strip Mini Halloween Pillow --- finished size 11"x 11"

*YOU WILL NEED

4 Pieces --- 6"x 6"tissue paper
4 kinds of 1 1/4" strips
1 kind of 2" strips for the corners
1 --- 12"x 12" batting
1 --- 12"x 12" backing (I used muslin. It will be hidden in the pillow)
1 --- 11 1/2"x 11 1/2" fabric for the back of the pillow
1 1/2 yard of pom-pom trim
*HOW TO

You can pretty much follow same steps as I provided above There are few differences between those pillows, which are:
* I used unified width of strips (except for both corners of the square).
* The each squares are larger and you only need 4 pieces
* The back is one piece, instead of two panels. When you are ready to make it in to a pillow, sew quilted top, pom-pom and the backing together leaving a few inches opening. Turn inside out. Stuff and stitch the opening to close.
Thank you for visiting. I hope you will enjoy making those projects! :)

Thursday, June 30, 2022

My Mom's 70th Birthday ~ Purple Quilt

Before we can talk about the purple quilt, let me tell you a little bit about a red quilt I made 10 years ago... 10 years ago, when my mom turned 60 years old, to celebrate her special birthday, I made her a red quilt. There is an old tradition in Japan that when you celebrate your 60th birthday you wear a red vest and hat with your family and friends. My mom didn't want to wear them AT ALL, so I made her a red quilt instead. Even though I was born and raised in Japan, I had no clue about this tradition, how it started, and the meaning behind it. So I did a quick search and I wrote about that in my blog post 10 years ago, if you are interested, you can read it here.
During the research, I found out that there is a theme color for each decade and the color for 70 is purple. I told her that when she turns 70, I will make her a purple quilt. 10 years passed so quickly... and to tell you the truth, I had forgotten about the promise I made. One Sunday, I was facetiming with my mom and she was using the red quilt I made. Talk about divine timing!! I was thinking to myself "Thank you God SO MUCH!!" I definitely want to keep my promise to her. The last couple years were very hard for her and I wanted to do something special.

I made the red quilt with only solid fabrics to play with color gradients. For the purple quilt, I thought it would be fun to use prints and make it scrappy. I had most of the fabrics on my shelf, but I added some new ones to them. I used Half Square Triangles to create this quilt and I will show you how to make 8 of them very quickly. There are MANY tutorial posts and videos out there if you want to explore.

* Purple Quilt How to

Finished quilt size 64 1/2" x 80 1/2"

1. Cut 40 pieces of 9 3/4" x 9 3/4" squares from dark fabrics and 40 pieces of 9 3/4" x 9 3/4" squares form light fabrics.
2. Combine a dark and a light square, right sides together. Draw diagonal lines on the square.
3. Sew 1/4" seam on each side of each diagonal line. I had my 1/4" Quilting Foot with Guide on my Baby lock machine, so I just use that as a guide to sew 1/4" seam from the diagonal line. You could draw the lines next to the diagonal line before you sew too. Draw a vertical and a horizontal line in the middle of the square.
4. Cut in the middle of the sewed diagonal lines, on the vertical and horizontal lines to make 8 triangles.
5. Open them up and press them with an iron!
6. I didn't have a specific design idea in mind. After I made all the HSTs, I sat in front of my design wall and moved them around for a few days. I thought about doing a more unified look at first, but then I changed my mind to do a more scrappy look. I pieced squares first, then pieced them to make rows and sewed the rows together. Once I finished with the quilt top, I was going to take pictures and like always, my little dog came and joined the photoshoot. He was too cute to dismiss...
I machine quilted it myself, added the label and packaged it. Now the quilt is on its way to Japan and I hope my mom will receive it before her birthday. Happy Birthday, Mom!!
P.S. In case you are curious... The theme color for 80 is yellow. I normally don't use many yellow fabrics, but I better start thinking about what to do!
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