“Sutoraipu to Supankoru”

“Sutoraipu to Supankoru”

ストライプ と スパンコール

(Striped & Spangled)

I know what you are thinking! Why all of the Japanese heading, if this is an American flag?

Good question!

You see, my family and I used to live in Japan for a few years. While there, a friend of a friend asked me if I’d like to take part in her quilt show in Oregon. I would be one of the “international quilters”. It would be my first quilt show entry! But, the fabric stores in Japan were too rich for my blood if I did a large scale project. I could have ordered my fabric on-line, but I’m a touchy feely quilter. I have to hold the material in my hands before I purchase it.

Meanwhile, I became a big fan of the shrine sales. Think: Flea Markets without the entrance fees and fleas…usually.

I often came across obis. An obi (pronounced “OH-bee”) is the wide, long, stiff silk band or belt that is worn around the waist when wearing a kimono or yukata. Both men and women can wear obis, but the fabric varies depending upon the formality of the occasion.

Here I am in mine:

I came across so many beautiful obis at these shrine sales that I started to collect them and a thought began to form….making a quilt with them! Maybe this is where I could find my quilt fabric? It’s cheap, luxurious, and unique!

But what pattern should I do? I wanted a quilt to commemorate our time in Japan. Why not do an American themed quilt with Japanese materials?

Here is the quilt by (Hunter’s Design Studio) I decided would be quick and easy to meet my quickly approaching dead-line:

I chose a number of red, white, and blue obis, and found one yellow. They were all made from silk, which is hard to clean, and most of them smelled like they had been living in someone’s attic for ages.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of my cleaning process, but here’s what I did:

  • purchase the obi (typically about 500¥…$5)
  • take it home and open up the seams
  • remove & trash the stiff material used to keep the shape (this is where most of the stink hid).
  • hang the silk material outside over the balcony
  • spray with a concoction of tea-tree oil, vinegar, and water

After the silk was de-stinkified, I was able to use it for sewing.

Other than the top quilt materials being repurposed obis, there wasn’t much of the quilt that said “Japan”. So I splurged and bought fabric from my local Yuzawaya shop. Above all, it needed to practically scream “JAPAN”.

Then I saw it! Japanese writing all over it (names of fish) AND it had the colors red, white, and blue…in the perfect shades matching the top quilt.

I machine quilted a wave theme to mimic the American Flag waving in the air.

Since this was going into a show, it needed a rod-pocket and a label.

(I should write the date it was completed.)

I still have drawers full of obis:

maybe another quilt???

Before this quilt, I was making purses with obis:

clutch with zipper
clutch with magnet closure

I even made a couple of mini quilts for some friends that were moving back to the states.

(I will add a post about those later)

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