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Konnichiwa Tokyo

In 2009 we went to Tokyo and it was just the most wonderful and fascinating place! The Japanese people are so kind, friendly and polite. My heart goes out to these lovely people recovering from the earthquakes and the ongoing risks they are currently faced with.

Tokyo is a huge city chock a block full of people, yet I was never bumped or jostled and always felt safe. It is one of those cities where just wandering the streets day or night is the most wonderful experience, no tourist attractions required!

In many of the gift shops they sold lovely little pieces of printed cotton fabric, not too dissimilar to a fat quarter. They are called tenugui. According to the little brochures they have been used since the Edo period in 1603 and are a sort of little towel that most Japanese carry with them to use for all sorts of things – drying their hands, a head scarf, to put on the ground to sit on and many other innovative uses! We did question whether this was just a nice little story for the tourists; however we actually saw local people using them to dry their hands so maybe it is authentic.

In Roppongi we found a whole store dedicated to these lovely fabrics and Mr Tortoise asked if he could have his own quilt made up of them. Needless to say I jumped at the chance. He chose a range in blues and whites.

It took me a while to get round to making it earlier this year, but once I started it was a quick and fun project. I used a disappearing 9-patch block. A very simple 9 patch is made then cut into quarters and rearranged. I added solids in blue and white bought locally to ensure it would be a good lap size.

I machine quilted it using a simple sashiko pattern. I have discussed in my posts before about my mixed results when machine quilting and this was a quilt that was only so-so. I had lines to follow but you can see in the photos that sometimes the stitches jump a bit and the stitch length can be quite tight. I find it really difficult to not go fast; however the result of this seems to be the tight stitches. A lot of practice required for me I think! I wasn’t sure whether to post any photos that show my wonky quilting but it is what it is and I wanted to show you the different fabric designs – can you spot the penguins or the sumo wrestlers?

Mr Tortoise loves it and it has been great snuggling under it on the couch this winter. The fabrics are so soft, perfect for this quilt and it is a lovely memento of a wonderful city. Konnichiwa Tokyo!

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