Counter-intuitive Quilting

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Yesterday I took a workshop entitled “Counter-intuitive Quilting” sponsored by Kitsap Quilters Guild and taught by Patricia Belyea who lectured at the guild last week and share her wonderful Japanese yukata cottons (see earlier blog posting). These photos show Patricia’s cheerful quilt (overall and a detailed shot), Wabi Sabi, which translated from Japanese means love of imperfection. If you look closely at the quilt, you can see some repeated elements. The basic technique involves choosing fabrics to work with and then designing three very simple blocks which are pieced together in a free-form way (we made three of each). When the blocks are put together, pieces are added to fill in any spaces, for example, some of the large flowers. The blocks may trimmed or divided into smaller sections if they don’t fit and the pieces that were cut off may be moved to another area of the quilt top.


Here is Patricia examining my work. For me, the whole thing seemed too chaotic when I put all my blocks adjacent. I liked them better when I separated them and put some space around them. This reflects my tendency to want my quilts to look more organized and symmetrical. It was quite a stretch for me to cut the fabric with scissors to the approximate shape needed and to piece them together without much regard for straight seams – in fact creating wonky blocks was encouraged. The first set of blocks I made, I used my rotary cutter and had very straight seams, than I took the plunge and used my scissors to make some that were much more irregular. The class was inspiring and I enjoyed trying a different approach. Usually I design a pattern, and then choose fabrics for it, although my initial inspiration may come from a particular fabric that I like. In this case we chose the fabrics we wanted to work with and more or less designed the blocks as we went along.



Elizabeth Mador made some interesting blocks using purple and chartreuse fabric and a burgundy that had embroidered spirals. Lisa Jowise had some beautiful oriental fabrics for her blocks. We had a very enjoyable day.

Japanese Yukata Fabrics

At our last Kitsap Quilters Guild meeting, we were fortunate to have a lecture from Patricia Belyea, Okan Arts, who displayed many beautiful Japanese yukata fabrics and had them available for purchase,

20130326_19410420130326_194608                    Patricia first visited Japan eight years ago and fell in love with the country and the culture. She has since made another four trips there and has hosted Japanese students. She began quilting five years ago and was inspired to use yukata cottons in her lovely quilts, and decided to import them to make them available for quilters here.


Yukata cottons are typically 14-16″ wide and come in rolled bolts containing 10 meters of fabric, enough to make one kimono. In the past, these unlined kimonos were worn for trips to communal bathing pools (prior to the days of indoor plumbing in Japanese homes). They are the official costume for the Summer Festival. Junior sumo wrestlers are required to wear these thin yukata robes and yukata is also used for dressing dead bodies.


The cotton is hand-dyed with silk stenciling. Indigo and white is the most traditional. Later, color was added to the indigo and then color was used without the indigo. The motifs in the patterns are traditional, realistic or abstract. Patricia has around 500 bolts of this 20-50 year old yukata cotton, the largest inventory in the USA. I’m looking forward to taking a quilting class from Patricia on counter-intuitive quilting next weekend, hosted by Kitsap Quilters.

Colorful Inspiration for Quilts

All kinds of observations inspire me in my quilting, and I suspect this is a subject I’ll write about fairly frequently. I was in the Capital Hill area of Seattle and saw this mural and the colorful recycling bins. I love the bright graphics of these colors against the grey background and the variety of spots, checks, concentric and wavy lines.


At the Seattle Art Museum I saw this wonderful large oil on canvas with giant convolutions. This painting, titled Distraction (1999), is by a Canadian artist, Karin Davie. The colors in this piece are vibrant and there is such motion.

20130326_124035These images made me think of some of the awesome fabrics I have in my stash. It’s good to be reminded of what is there. I suspect that many quilters tend to forget what they have available for immediate use. I like to review my stash every couple of months, and when I do this, I become excited about the possibilities for my fabrics.