If you know me very well you know that I am somewhat crafty, and also somewhat impatient. Over the years I have done some sewing, quilting, and various pinterest inspired crafts. I enjoy being creative but often lack discipline.
I had worked 3 years on my last quilt. I had a love hate relationship with it. Just when I thought we were getting along, it would laugh in my face and wouldn’t lay flat or I’d sew the wrong pieces together. When we were packing up to move to Japan I had finished the quilt top, but found it was much smaller than I wanted, and it WOULD NOT LAY FLAT! I was about to chop the thing up and make pillow shams out of it. Luckily my mother in law was visiting and rescued the poor quilt. She had a couple suggestions and agreed to take it, add a border or two, then take it to a quilt shop to have it quilted. I said good bye to the headache and hoped it would cooperate for her. Well guess what?! We saw my in-laws at christmas time, and she had my quilt finished! It is so beautiful! I’m so happy that she was able to help get it finished, we both put lots of work into it and it makes me smile every time I walk past it. Thanks so much Colleen!!!!
When I heard that there was an interest meeting for a Quilting Circle happening at Tokyo American Club (TAC) I emailed the leader and started to get more excited about getting back into quilting and sewing. I left my sewing machine in storage in Minnesota, however as part of our expat package they gave me a “Spousal Allowance” for self development, education or to seek employment”. I think of it as a bribe to try and keep me happy because “if mamma ain’t happy, no body’s happy!” So I began to research sewing machines. The voltage in Japan is 100V and in America it is 120 V. which means not all appliances from America will work in Japan, and vice versa. I spent hours and hours trying to figure out what type of machine I wanted I did internet research, asked the quilt group leader and multiple forums for foreigners. Did I want something that was computerized? did embroidery? allowed free motion quilting? Should I buy an American machine then use a transformer? Should I get a Japanese machine, then try to translate and entire manual? Or find an English manual? Do I try to buy in Japan? Buy in US and have shipped? Amazon.com? Amazon.jp? ebay? SO MANY CHOICES!
After much nervous research I decided to order a Brother HC1850 (click to read a review) off of of ebay. It is American. I decided, and Caleb encouraged me that it would be better to risk that the machine may not work optimally with a transformer than be frustrated from day 1 with NOT being able to read anything about the machine. Plus if I like it, I can take it back with us to the US. The machine is coming from the US and
is not here yet but I am so excited to get it! actually came today.!!! I unboxed it and watched the instructional cd, plugged into a step up/ step down transformer and it seems to be working just fine, at least for the couple lines of sewing i did! YayI I am so happy for my new toy.
Another task was trying to buy fabric. with a little internet research (again- what did people do before the internet) I discovered there is a whole area in Tokyo called Nippori fabric town. It with filled with craft and fabric stores!
Check this out! It’s one (of many) articles I read about shopping for fabric. I planned my trip, made myself a cheat sheet of possible words in Japanese I may need, wore my walking shoes, and hopped on the train when the kids left for school. In about 45 minutes, and 2 different subway lines I was there. The Fabric Street was easy to find since it is a bit of a Tourist attraction, here were even arrows on the sidewalk. Once I got to the right area I was a bit overwhelmed, there were so many little shops that mostly looked the same. There was one bigger store I had heard about called “Tomato” I followed google maps and made it to the Tomato Store. It was 2 floors and had fabric in big rolls. My quilt teacher told me I was supposed to buy Yukata fabric. I had done some research but really didn’t know what I was looking for. I was a bit confused because I hear this store was supposed to be really big and have 5 floors, yet the store I was in was only 2 floors and didn’t seem all the large. After looking around a bit I finally figured out how to read a label on the fabric to find the section of cotton fabrics. I knew these would work for my quilt even if they were not a Yukata fabric. I set to work choosing my 9 fabrics that would coordinate to make my “around the world quilt” I decided to go with a blue, tan and pink color scheme. Picking out fabrics for a quilt take quite a long time, and to add to the difficulty they were on long rolls as opposed to shorter bolts that I have been used to in American stores. I probably spent an hour and a half in the Tomato store and finally made my selections. I went to the counter and asked the store clerk to give me 2 meters of each of my fabrics. I mostly just held up two fingers and said 2 meters please. I wanted to try one more chain fabric store so I hopped on a train and found some solid fabrics I liked at the second store. This store seemed much more like a JoAnn’s Fabrics in the US. The fabric was on smaller bolts, they had sewing machines, craft supplies, and accessories. I was pretty exhausted but think I would have done just fine if I want to this store in the first place. Here are some pics from my little adventure, and the last one is from my quilting group. (click the arrows to scroll through pics)
The next day I got some updated information about the supplies I needed for my quilting group. I found out I got wayyyyyy too much fabric. I should have been more persistent in looking for yukata fabric, or actually asked someone for help. Yukata fabric is only 14 inches wide, and my fabric was over 40 inches wide. I only needed 1 meter and I bought 2 meters. OOOPS!
I took a second trip to Nippori Fabric town a couple days later in search of a rotary cutter, mat and quilting ruler in inches. Of course you cannot find a ruler in inches here. I settled on getting the mat and rotary cutter. AND found out that just a couple stores down and across the street was the bigger Tomato store. I guess I was so focused on my google map, and looking at what was directly in front of me I didn’t consider that there was possibly something bigger and better just ahead. I went to the bigger Tomato store. They had a huge selection and some discounted fabrics. I also recognized the yukata fabrics that I was originally supposed to buy. Oh well, my fabrics till work just fine. and I will be able to make more of a bed quilt instead of a wall hanging.
I had my first quilting group meeting and we discussed color theory( the way you want the colors of your quilt to be arranged) how to measure and cut with a rotary cutter. I have used a rotary cutter before but found out that I probably rushed through it, and didn’t take the time to make sure that I was being precise. This is probably one of the many reasons my last quilt was such a headache! There are 4 other ladies in the group, 2 have been quilting for quite some time, and 2 that are newer to quilting. everyone seems nice and we ate lunch together in the cafe at TAC before leaving. We won’t meet again for a couple more weeks but I have homework to get my fabric cut into strips and sewn together. So far I have been trying to take my time and have patience as I cut the stips. I got them all cut yesterday so soon I will get to use my new sewing machine to put them together.
Well congratulations if you made it all the way through this very crafty post. I’m hoping to post about our trip to Sapporo, skiing, and snow festival next.