Thursday, September 01, 2011

Patchwork group

A little of my patchwork group's history today.

Although I dabbled in patchwork on my own for a few years after coming to Japan, it was only after Takumi joined kindergarten that a group of us mothers started a patchwork group. Our children were three years old... Mrs. Furui had just come back from Germany. Mrs Okutomi had her twins in the kindergarten too. The three of us decided to use a patchwork book that I had and try translating it into Japanese. It started out as an English class!

But it soon became apparent that we were all more interested in the patchwork than the English and every week after we'd dropped our children off at the kindergarten we'd gather to do patchwork. A few other mothers joined us and there were 6 or 7 of us gathering weekly.

I think it was I who had the bright idea that we could raffle off a quilt as a fund raising effort for the kindergarten bazaar using machine piecing (from the book we had been trying to translate) and Mrs. Furui and Mrs. Okutomi and I tried teaching a class on machine piecing open to any kindergarten mother. We chose a basket block (oh how naive we were!) and enthusiastic mothers either came to the class or wanted the print-out so that they could participate in the first bazaar quilt.

Well, lots of different sized blocks came back. Our headaches began. And the quilting was even worse! Knots all over the back of the quilt, a huge difference in the quality of stitching. But we went ahead and raffled off the quilt being extremely embarrassed about the finished product. NEVER AGAIN!!! What a disaster!

A couple of years went by and the patchwork members shifted and changed. Babies were born (Leiya and Mrs. Furui's Yu-kun) Mrs. Okutomi moved away, I moved to Nikko but still came for patchwork Thursdays now at Mrs. Furui's house. Mrs. Ochiai joined and Mrs. Harada, and we could see how we'd gotten better and could also control the quality of our work by limiting participation to regular members (no fees). We decided to try another kindergarten bazaar raffle quilt.

The second quilt was such a success that our group has now made a bazaar raffle quilt every year for the past 16 years. Other ladies come and go... Mrs. Yamaguchi is a regular now, as is Mrs. Takagishi. A few ladies regularly make blocks for us or do quilting but since they work they don't come to the patchwork days. Mrs. Harada moved away, but she still makes the long trip to attend once a month (once a month became more feasible than weekly). Mrs. Okutomi moved closer and she attends when she can. Lorraine became an honorary member a few years ago and she participates from Australia!

Mrs. Furui and I are the original two (and Mrs. Okutomi who was away for a few years). Nearly 20 years of meeting together and sewing for ourselves, for volunteer projects and for the kindergarten.

(From left: Lorraine, me, Mrs. Harada, Mrs. Furui, Mrs. Yamaguchi, Mrs. Takagishi, Mrs. Okutomi, Mrs. Ochiai, Lorraine's daughter-in-law Mariko-san.)

And I have more to this story tomorrow...

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