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Just a Thought…

An Oriental Influence

Americans have long had an on-again / off-again love affair with all things Oriental.  Asian cooking and foods are woven into our culture.  In addition, our country is growing more diverse.  Things have become familiar that 50 years ago would've seemed unimaginable.  The ability to communicate globally has brought all nations into closer proximity making it easy to travel endlessly without leaving our armchairs. Why not look around then explore, expand and dream up a quilt with Oriental flavor?

There are many ways to incorporate that simplicity and reflect a sense of quiet organization in one's quilt.  In addition to what we consider Asian images (such as: fish, pagodas, lotus blossoms, pottery, coins, gates, pandas, writing, colors, etc.) there are traditional Japanese techniques that have become part of quilting's repertoire.  Two popular ones are Shibori dyeing and Sashiko quilting.  Origami has even been adapted to fabric and used in quilting.

If you want to create your own fabric Shibori dyeing has become a favorite workshop with quilters.  The Japanese use various Shibori methods but all styles are similar in process to American tie-dye popular in the late 1960's.  These handmade fabrics can serve as the appliqué pieces, backgrounds, lively lattices or borders.  Use a bit here and there or everywhere when choosing fabrics for your quilt.

The Sashiko quilting style is bold and unmistakable and may be best used in un-appliquéd areas or on large pieced borders.  Generally seen on indigo blue fabric with white stitching it can be done by hand or machine. A few interesting books on the subject are: “Sashiko and Beyond” by Saikoh Takano or “Sashiko Made Simple, Japanese Quilting by Machine” by Alice Allen. 

Perhaps you don't want to spend a lot of time designing and you prefer to appliqué and complete a project.  There are many wonderful Oriental-style fabrics available for quilts — lavish prints enhanced with gold to simple geometric repeats with only a few colors.  All would combine perfectly with my Bonsai flower series — eight big blocks with easy-to-appliqué pieces.  Each beautiful blossom (complete with its own pot) definitely displays an Oriental attitude.  Make a wall hanging or an entire quilt.  These unusual designs work equally well alone or in a group.

Stitching styles can always be mixed and combining techniques adds interest to your quilts.  The route you choose really depends on the amount of effort and time you wish to expend.

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