I signed up to take my first paper piecing class at my LQS in March of 2004, and the instructor was teaching these kimonos. I loved the look of the kimonos as soon as I saw them, and knew this quilt was perfect for me. I already had some Asian fabrics I’d been collecting for who knows what reason. Two of the fabrics I’d purchased in Rhode Island when I went to visit my best friend, Julia. One is the red fabric with the origami cranes on it, and one is the gold fabric with the gold leaves on it. I went prior to class to collect my fabrics for the quilt. I had a great person helping me, and we found some lovely fabrics that worked well together for each kimono, plus background, border and sashing fabrics. While looking around at the Asian fabrics, I came across a magnificent Indian fabric that I just couldn’t pass up. So, I purchased it to use for the back of my quilt, even though it was a purely Japanese quilt. During the class I completed one block, the green and purple kimono in the center of the quilt. I think after that I put down my blocks and didn’t work on this anymore for some time.
When Eric and I got married and bought our dining room furniture, we decided to decorate that room in Asian style – to incorporate his Japanese swords, etc. I immediately knew that I wanted to finish this quilt as a wallhanging for that room. So, I got started on it again in 2006 and after re-teaching myself how to paper piece I was able to get three more kimonos pieced.
Then I didn’t pick this back up again until 2007. In May of 2007 I pieced three of the five kimonos I had left to do. In June of 2007, I finally finished up the last two kimonos, for a total of nine. I also got my sashing and borders cut and then Eric helped me decide on the layout for the quilt top. He has such a good eye for that kind of thing. I then worked on piecing the quilt top and had high hopes of having it finished up quickly.
I got all the sashing on the first two rows and had them sewn to each other, but after two tries of sewing, ripping out and resewing the bottom row, I finally gave up. For whatever reason, my bottom row wouldn’t line up with my other two rows. Sigh. I did, however, reassure myself that I had plenty of the fabric I need for the border. The problem with buying fabric for a project four years from the time you actually work on it, is that you buy the fabric knowing “ok, I’m going to cut my sashing this wide, and I’m going to cut my borders this wide”. Well, I bought the fabric, but didn’t write down what I planned to do with it. So I made my best guess and cut my border fabric – luckily, it fit just fine! Whew!! It really started looking great with the sashing on it. I finally finished the quilt top on a Saturday afternoon, and it took me both Saturday and Sunday afternoons to pull all the paper off the back from the paper piecing – whew, my fingers hurt! But, I had it done! I initially thought I would quilt this one myself. I thought I’d teach myself how to do stippling for the background of the blocks, and then outline the kimonos, but I just never got around to it. I was also deathly afraid of messing it up. So, after seeing how beautiful my Rooster and Pigwidgeon quilts came out, I decided to take this one to Krissy to quilt. I basically gave her free reign with what to do, only telling her that I wanted the kimonos to stand out. While I was piecing and ironing my backing fabric in preparation of taking the quilt to her, the name for the quilt suddenly dawned on me. I would call it “Silk Road”. That was the perfect way to incorporate both the Japanese kimonos and the Indian backing fabric. Love it!
So, off my little quilt went to Krissy. I fully expected with this being a custom job, that I would not see it before January when I brought it to her in August (as a birthday present to myself). But, lo and behold, I got the call that it was ready to be picked up on October 10th! With everything going on, I didn’t just bust right out and start on the binding. But, with family time looming over Thanksgiving, I decided that a hand sewing project was just the thing for sitting around visiting or watching movies/tv. So, the weekend before Thanksgiving I cut out my binding and machine-sewed it down. I cut and prepared the sleeve for hanging the quilt once it’s finished. And I prepped my label for embroidery. Unfortunately, I had no embroidery thread that would have worked with the colors on the back of the quilt, so that required a trip to the sewing machine store. But, I was able to start the hand sewing on my binding on Thanksgiving and I finished it up 11/30/08. I also got my embroidery thread and made my label that day. I finished the last of the hand sewing I had to do on December 4, 2008. After purchasing a rod for it to hang on, Eric mounted the brackets to the wall on Sunday and it is now proudly hanging in our dining room. It looks wonderful!
I am so happy to have another quilt finished. That makes four this year! I still hope to get my Partridges quilt finished as well, but I am quilting that one myself. I did, however, pull it out of the plastic storage container it’s been residing in and now it’s out in plain view to remind me to work on it! So, hopefully one more quilt finished this year – that would be fabulous! But four is a great accomplishment, especially since I hadn’t finished one prior to that since 2005!
I am grateful for my beautiful kimonos now gracing my dining room.