My friend Mrs. Okutomi was featured in Patchwork Tsushin this month! Mrs. Okutomi is getting to be quite a well known figure in the Japanese quilting world.
Let's see... 20 some years ago Mrs. Okutomi, Mrs. Furui and I enrolled our eldest children in the kindergarten. Mrs. Okutomi and I were neighbors and she was interested in brushing up her English. I think she had done some clothing sewing and dabbled in a bit of handwork but I suggested we use an English patchwork book and "study" and sew at the same time. We invited Mrs. Furui to join us because Mrs. Furui had done a lot of embroidery and tapestry weaving and her English was excellent (she speaks German as well.)
Our English classes quickly deteriorated as we became more involved in the intricacies of patchwork and machine piecing. This was a new idea in Japan at the time, and roller cutters, cutting mats, flag piecing were unheard of. We had successes and failures but we all had a good time. From those beginnings, began our annual kindergarten quilt raffle which continues to this day.
Mrs. Okutomi moved away a couple of years later but she refined her machine piecing skills and went on to teach classes at local fabric shops. Gradually she branched out into doing paper piecing and stained glass applique. And she kept in touch with Mrs. Furui and me and visited us when she could. Mrs. Okutomi instructed me in my first paper piecing attempt and she mentored me in an applique quilt I made a few years ago of my church. Mrs. Okutomi also developed her machine quilting skills and has taken on the job of quilting our kindergarten raffle quilt for the past couple of years.
As Mrs. Okutomi moved to various parts of Japan she held exhibitions and her creations were regularly featured in magazines. She has been on TV and one of her pieces was shown at a Padacuh quilt festival. In recent years Mrs. Okutomi has depicted Bible scenes and churches in her stained glass applique and she has done a whole series of the places she has traveled in Japan. It was the travel quilts that were featured in this month's magazine.
Mrs. Okutomi does beautiful work and I am proud to be influenced and mentored by her!