I first came to quilting when I won a beautiful quilt at a raffle in college. I thought the colors and little pieces so wonderful and I loved the idea that mothers at the college had spent months making it for their raffle.
Years and years later I was starting to make my own quilts, and when Takumi reached kindergarten age I made friends with a couple other ladies who had an interest in English and patchwork. I was asked to teach them English and we decided that we'd use a book I'd recently found, and do the patchwork as we translated the book. We used Mary Ellen Hopkin's book "The It's Okay If You Sit On MY Quilt Book" and it was revolutionary (to us in Japan) to think that quilts could be made on the sewing machine. Up until then all patchwork was done by hand and there were no books or teachers talking about machine piecing or roller cutters etc.
My friends and I got pretty good with machine piecing quilts and one day I came up with the bright idea that we could hold a machine piecing class at the kindergarten, ask participants to make a specific block and then we'd all make a quilt and raffle it off at the bazaar. DISASTER!
Lots of people showed an interest and so my friends and I held a couple of classes and gave everyone the basics of how to make triangles en mass, and then machine piece everything. We had chosen to make a quilt of many colorful baskets all set on point. Of course we gave out measurements. Of course we taught a quick applique class on how to applique the basket handle. Of course we explained the importance of a 1/4 inch seam. And everyone went home with homework. What came back to us? Lots and lots of different sized baskets! The triangles were in an assortment of sizes, the handles were placed in all different diameters of curves and the stitching could hardly be called hidden applique. Something had gone very wrong but we couldn't insult anyone and say
"We're not using your block. It is too poorly constructed." or "Sorry, you'll have to make this over again, it's not the right size."
So my friends and I squeezed and pulled and SOMEHOW got all the blocks into one quilt flimsy. (I think Mrs. Furui re-did a few of the applique handles.) Not great but passable.
The next part of our plan was to make the sandwich and ask everyone who had made a block to participate in the quilting. We drew the quilting lines on the center offset blocks, wrote out specific instructions for quilting and passed the quilt around with a quilting hoop, thread, needle and thimble. HAH! We were so STUPID! No one can just be handed a bedsize quilt in a quilting hoop and a thimble and start quilting! But that is what we expected and you can guess what came back to us!
The instructions had either gotten lost or everyone decided to ignore them, but the whole back side of the quilt was covered in knots! No one had hidden the knots in the quilt! The back side felt like it had the Chicken Pox or something! The quilt stitches were of a variety of sizes, some large enough to poke your finger through! Many of the stitches never made it to the back side of the quilt (some did) so there were parts where the back was puffing out, part where it was quilted to the front. In the time it took for the quilt to make its rounds, the quilting lines had faded away to almost nothing so parts were left unquilted, and some people had become creative and quilted where they thought a stitch or two was needed. The whole quilt puckered in some places and was wrinkled in others. Mrs. Furui spent days trying to hide the knots but often the original quilter hadn't backstitched so the thread and the seams began to unravel. Oh my goodness! What a quilt!
We went ahead and raffled the quilt (I still remember the name of the poor person who "won" it) since that had been the whole point from the beginning and it was the main event of the bazaar but really it was such a disaster that my quilting friends and I were embarrassed and swore we'd never do it again!
And we didn't... for maybe three years. After continuing our own little quilting group we grew a little wiser and decided to try a bazaar quilt again but this time limit the quilt making to experienced quilters and to anyone who wanted to come "weekly" to our quilting group and get some lessons. (We could also monitor the work a little better and make suggestions without hurting peoples' feelings.) And from that time onward for the past 12 years, our little group has spent each year making a quilt to be raffled at the bazaar.
And for all that there isn't even a picture of that disaster quilt but the rest of the bazaar quilts have been pretty well documented.
The quilt here with my friends was the 2006 bazaar quilt. The lovely quilt with the hearts was a take-off from Quilting Bebbs quilt that I found on her blog and that we made for the 2007 bazaar. This year's quilt was inspired by Colleen from Musings from my Soul...
Today is raffle day and I'm happy to say that we have wonderful quilt that we are very proud to show and we are certain that the winner will be very happy to take home a quilt made of love and many years of experience!