A long story, but not so long run

Today’s Janathon activity consisted of a 5.8 mile trail run, where the deer outnumbered runners.

I returned home, took Things 1 and 3 to a local museum to see the Eric Carle (of The Very Hungry Caterpillar fame) exhibit, and then once home again, headed to my sewing machine to start what I suspect will be a year-long project. But there’s no better time to start something that long than on the 2nd day of a new year.

Here’s the project:


It’s called Zig Zag, and it’s a Denyse Schmidt quilt pattern. Today I got started cutting the fabric and laying out and sewing the zig zags.


The main fabric is the light colored one with mustard-y and navy circles, then the zig zags are the navy and more of that great mustard color.


This is my first quilt in a long long time.  My first quilt has seen far better days. And it’s a bit ugly and due for replacement. But it brings back such funny memories, and it makes me chuckle every time I go to bed (which is every night, and it’s not such a bad way to end your day–chuckling).

Here’s the soon to be replaced funnybone tickler:


While the top is not so much in vogue, that’s not the ugly/funny part.

This quilt was my first foray into quilting, and I started it a loong time ago, in a galaxy far away Japan. In the late 80’s and early 90s, “patchwork” was all the rage in Japan, and a Japanese coworker and I decided to take a class. She researched the options, and we found a class that met monthly after our workday was over that wasn’t too far from either of our apartments.

The minute we walked into the instructor’s apartment, I knew we were in for a treat. The genkan (the 3’x4′ entry way where you take off your shoes) had a large quilted “welcome” mat. The shoe rack was lined with quilted shoe holders. There was a quilted wall hanging, and in the bathroom, the toilet seat, toilet paper holder, and plunger were all covered in quilted cozies. In the classroom, each of the zabuton (seating cushions) was some quilted masterpiece, and the table runner, of course, was quilted.

The instructor introduced herself as Kyoko, but asked us to call her by her “American” name, Jane. Then one at a time, the ten of us introduced ourselves, and after we said our names, Kyoko/Jane asked us to pick an American name, to be used during class time.  I picked Paige. Kyoko/Jane told me it wasn’t American enough.

Kyoko/Jane gave us a syllabus–the class was 12 months long, and every few months we’d work on a different project, starting with a toilet paper cozy and ending with tote bag. When it was my turn to pick the style of toilet paper cozy, I asked instead if I could make a queen size bed quilt. (you can see, my penchant for biting off more than I can chew started early)  All of a sudden the room got really really quiet. Kyoko/Jane ascertained that I had no sewing experience and tried her hardest to talk me into the toilet paper cozy. But this newly minted Lulu held strong (and yes, I picked that name on purpose).

Kyoko/Jane gave in, so while my classmates were toiling away at their cozies, I started on different blocks. Every month a new one, each teaching a different technique.  Each and every one hand-pieced. As we were nearing the end of the class year, I was also nearing the end of my time in Japan. I had 17 blocks, and with Kyoko/Jane’s help, we put together this design and picked the filler fabric. My  3rd to last class, I hand-pieced the entire top together. My 2nd to last class I missed (I was taking a last minute trip to Korea), and when I returned for the last class, the entire group of students and Kyoko/Jane were sitting around the patchwork-clad table grinning like Cheshire cats.

“Lulu, we made your quilt sandwich,” Kyoko/Jane said.

“How?” I asked. “I didn’t make the back yet.”

“Oh, we did it for you, as a going-away gift.”

Since I’m not a conspiracy theorist, I’m going to assume that they really thought this fabric was pretty and was in line with the rest of the quilt. Otherwise, Kyoko/Jane totally got the last laugh. I packed up this quilt (and actually put it in my carryon luggage, and then spent the next six months handquilting it. It has been on my bed since 1993, and every time I flip it over, my heart cries a little, but laughs a little harder.



  1. That is an AWESOME memory, Lulu (surprised you didn’t pick Lucy) — and it would have been such a boring quilt if the back was different.

  2. What a fab story! Maybe your blog should be called Lulu on the lamb, lol… I’m embarking into the world of quilting this year but can’t imagine the story will be worth telling in 20 years time. Good luck with number two! 🍀

  3. I can honestly say that this is the best Janathon post about a quilt I have read this year.

    Ever, even.

    In fact, the best quilt post even outside of Janathon.

    Ok ok… I admit.. I have never before read any blog post about a quilt…

    … But even if I read them all, I’m sure this would still be the best one!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s