On Friday I met up with a new friend and her daughter who is expecting to go out to lunch, to check out the fabric store and to teach the mother-to-be how to make a nine-patch.
My new friend is someone I've met during my swimming and she asked if I would give some direction for making a baby quilt to her non-sewing daughter. It just so happened that one of my old English students has just had a baby. (Oh my gosh! She used to be in fourth grade!) so I decided to teach a nine-patch quilt and make one at the same time. And I had saved a simple pattern from someone's blog ages ago so I knew what I wanted to teach. (I gave some other options but let's just say a gently STEERED Expectant Mother to the simpler pattern.)
Before we met on Friday I went to a couple of fabric stores myself thinking I could make fabric suggestions. Let me tell you... We are sorely in need of a great fabric store in my part of the world. The first place I went had plenty of notions but no real "patchwork" fabric. Mostly broadcloth or polyesters. Lots of Japanese character prints (anybody want to make a Hello Kitty or Moomin quilt?) Things that might work for a child's lesson bag but not what I had in mind.
On another day I specifically went to a patchwork shop but was very disappointed to find the shelves understocked and many bolts leaning against each other or falling over because of too much space. I have a feeling the owner is ready to give up because the shop was icy cold and though I was there about 10 minutes (I should buy SOMETHING... Even BUTTONS) the owner never appeared and so I left empty handed. Most of the fabrics were in dark browns or red... I don't know why.
Okay, back at home I got on the Internet and looked at Thousand of Bolts. And found some nice stuff at FANTASTIC prices! I have ordered through Thousand of Bolts before so I thought that at least MY problem was solved. A couple cute juvenile prints (I don't often make quilts with juvenile prints... which is why I was going looking) BUT... for some unknown reason, Thousand of Bolts would not accept my shipping information. (They would accept the billing information but their computer didn't like Japan and the Japanese zip code.) Okay. E-mail them. Wait a day and get some advice. Try their advice. No good. E-mail them again. Wait another day. Get more advice and try it again. No good. I must have typed in card numbers and addresses and passwords etc. at least 50 times but after the third e-mail I gave up and said it was nice doing business with them but this was a waste of my time. If they could help me further let me know... But they didn't e-mail back so I guess Thousand of Bolts and I have parted ways. (But if I lived in the States I'd be their best friend!)
So on Friday the three of us went to the largest fabric store that I know around here and Expectant Mother and I both found fabric we liked. Not fantastic... Too soft and pastel for me, I wanted something a bit brighter but bright is hard to find in Japan, and Expectant Mother found dull pinks and greens that she was very happy with. Different tastes I guess. I have a feeling her quilt will turn out the nicer because it will all be coordinated fabrics. I'm planning to use leaders-enders and do this by machine. Expectant Mother is going to piece her quilt all by hand...
I have a feeling that patchwork and quilting is losing popularity in Japan these days. There was a time when it was the big boon and then there was tole painting and recently beading. I see a lot of felt work these days so I guess that is the wagon everyone is jumping on. Ah well. This week I'll start on a PATCHWORK baby quilt.