Learning Japanese Patchwork

I have come to deeply appreciate all the little things that make up my life’s tapestry. Today was no exception.

After ladies group and chores I scooted down to the quilt shop- a brisk 15 minute walk from our house which is awesome because I love to squeeze in exercise where-ever I can.

The sensei greeted me warmly and introduced me to my “classmate” -a wonderfully kind older woman who was working on a beautiful green patchwork quilt.

I wasn’t sure what to bring besides my sewing kit so I lugged about half of the fabric that I have in my sewing drawer along with me. Turns out that it was actually a good idea because the project that I thought I was going to make (a free pattern I downloaded from Craftsy) turned out to be something that I could work on later. Sensei had my lesson structured already-cool! I felt really comfortable with her because she knew exactly where I needed to start.

I can “sew” but I’ve never had any formal training and as I found out today, there are a lot of basics that I need to learn.

The first thing we did was discuss what I really wanted to do for a first project. She helped me discover that what I really wanted was to learn Japanese patchwork-something that I really admire and think is totally awesome.

Next we narrowed it down to exactly what I wanted to make for a first project. I remembered a tote that I had seen when I visited her shop the other day that has patchwork houses on it. Sorry-not a good photo.


I wanted to make patchwork house blocks and she agreed that, skill-wise, it was a good first project. Well, actually…I wanted to make the mini bird quilt she has on display but she said that was really a bit too complicated for me and would probably only frustrate me.

She’s wise. Best to start with something that I can actually do and have fun making.

She hauled out the pattern book so that I could learn how to draw a pattern from a book. She made something that could have driven me nuts -had I tried to figure it out alone–  simple.  I was actually able to follow along.

She doesn’t speak English and my Japanese is so-so. This is actually quite a challenge for me on so many levels. It’s a challenge for her too but she has such a neat personality that both of us enjoyed even the challenge of trying to communicate.

There was a lot of laughing happening. Awesome-I love laughter.

The whole while sensei and I were doing our thing -the other student seemed to be enjoying listening and joining in our fun.



We got the pattern drawn together. She helped me mark it all according to the fabric that I chose. I was thankful I hauled so much fabric with me because it gave me a good selection to choose from.


Next step was to cut out the pieces of the pattern. For a few minutes the cut up pieces got all scrambled up and we had to figure it out…that was my fault.


She lent me this “sticky” board to lay the fabric on while I traced the various pieces. It was really a handy tool and I ended up buying one from her. She sells all sorts of sewing notions and gives students 10 % discount. I have to say that having traced patterns onto fabric before I knew that this tool was something that would really help. The fabric stays put while you trace.

Even if you sneeze.

We arranged the fabric pieces onto a piece of felt-like fabric so that while I was working on them I wouldn’t have to re-assemble the lot every single time. Knowing me I would probably get something mixed up and end up having to re-cut a piece or use the seam ripper. I hate using a seam ripper.

She also sells that felt patchwork-piece holder but… I wonder if Daiso has something I can use. I’ll have to look.

She had me begin sewing the pieces together and she taught me the proper technique. I found out that all these years I’ve been sewing the wrong way. Her technique really was much better than the way I had always tried to hand sew.

So-I have homework- sew the pieces together. My next lesson is week after next. I have 2-2hour lessons per month. With my schedule right now that’s just right.

She is a gem-funny, patient, kind and very skillful. I have a feeling this is going to be much more than just learning patchwork.

My classmate said that she was thrilled I had joined …she had so much fun! I’m glad I could liven up the party!  :)

So thankful! So very much to be thankful for-really.

10 thoughts on “Learning Japanese Patchwork

  1. I want to come too.
    I have several books on japanese patchwork, especially admiring Yoko Saito. Do you know the name of the book you are using? Maybe I could find it and follow along.

  2. Hi! I’ll have to ask her. I can take a picture of the cover and send it to you. I won’t see her till week after next though…if I have time I can maybe stop in if I’m in the area. I remember it was a thick book…I’ll ask her for sure! I had a blast today! You would really like her-she’s awesome!

  3. Hi Ian, thanks for continuing to read my ordinary experiences here in this very foreign country.

    Sorry you are having trouble with the font color- on my computers it looks black. I wouldn’t purposely set a font color that was not easy to read. Might be something in the way your computer sees the color?

    I’ll go have a look at it later when I have a bit more time- but I actually set it to black – definitely not pale blue.

    If it persists I’ll contact WordPress – they are really good at customer service. Might be a glitch on their end.

    Is anyone else seeing a font color other than black?

  4. Ok- I’ve just surveyed several family members and Facebook friends- no one sees pale blue. They see black- not dark black but definitely not pale blue.

  5. I am seeing a lighter shade of black. I can see it fine. Until you pointed it out, it didn’t register with me that it wasn’t the dark black.

  6. Thanks Kathy- it’s important to me that my readers can actually read what I write. I too hate it when I want to read something on the Internet and the font is in a ” different color”.

    I’ll see if I can tweak it to a darker shade of black- not sure if I can but I’m glad to know it’s not pale blue! Gah! That wouldn’t even match my color scheme! Lol

  7. It appear gray to me, a rather dark gray. I think it is very pretty and I can read it.

  8. Thanks Kireikirei! I would never intentionally use a color like pale blue– it must be an issue with a computer or browser…I asked about 10 people now and everyone said its light black or grey and readability was fine. I won’t try to change it then- it’s not easy sometimes trying to adjust something in my blog. It takes up a lot of my time and right now- I’m busy! Lol

  9. It sounds like you are already getting your money’s worth right from the start! You’ve got me wondering if I am sewing wrong, too. I’ll bet we both learned the same way back in Home Ec class. I always pass up the quilt pattern books because I can’t figure out how to transfer the patterns. You can find them on sale for half price at those discount book tables that pop up at the supermarket every so often. BTW, I see gray too. I don’t even know if there is a way to change the font color for my blog. I doubt it.

  10. Hi Ian,
    After surveying several other bloggers and readers I’ve come to suspect that the font color issue you are having with my blog posts may be on your end. No one that I’ve surveyed sees pale blue. As a matter of fact several other bloggers have told me that their blogs have the same font color as mine which is NOT determined by the bloggers-it is preset by WordPress. In short-there is nothing I can do about it short of spending a lot of money to purchase an expensive customizable theme-which I’m afraid I can’t do.

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