Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Maitland, FL


President Sarah opened the meeting saying it would be a very short business meeting following by our guest lecturer, Jen Lee of Red Thread Studio in Palm City, FL. Everyone who signed up ahead for a kit or wished to have one, including guests, chose a Sashiko kit (choice of fabric color and printed Sashiko design) and color of Sashiko thread to work on during the meeting under Jen’s direction.

Wendy showed the finished Festival of Trees (FOT) quilt, which was bound by Judy S and will be raffled at this year’s FOT at the OrlandoMuseum of Art. Paula announced that she has some tickets to FOT, given to the guild by the Council of 101 in exchange for our donation of the quilt, and asked anyone interested in getting one to ask her at the end of the meeting.

Block of the Month (BOM)

The spool Blocks of the Month were won by Karol. Mary So showed the Block of the Month for November, Flying Geese, in a block designed bySharon McConnell of Color Girl Quilts. The tutorial has been posted on the guild blog. Mary asked that the blocks be made in white and gray with colored geese.

Creactive Club

Caroline drew #5 for the next number on your list of UFOs to be finished now.

Community Outreach

Mary W announced that she had 4 kits at the back of the room for anyone willing to take, blocks and fabric to finish into quilts for the Legal Aid Society project of making quilts for young adults aging out of foster care, which are due at the January meeting.

Education Basket

Susan F returned the Education Basket filled with fabric, books, and many other interesting items including the book The Artist’s Way, which she recommended to everyone. The basket was won by Yanick.

Sashiko and Big Stitch Quilting

 Jen Lee

Sashiko – pronounced sash-ko (the “I” is silent) – means small steps

Paula introduced Jen Lee of Red Thread Studio to present a program on Sashiko and Big Stitch Quilting. Jen said she has an interest in quilting, cross stitch, and embroidery and is focused on handwork.

She finds Sashiko to be something she enjoys that she can do while on the go with her children, along with English paper piecing and wool appliqué. She likes the fact that it requires only needle, thread, and fabric, and you can use what you have.

She gave us a short history. Sashiko appeared about 1598 out of necessity, first used by farmers and fisherman to make clothes warm and to make them last, as well as to decorate them, and these stitched items were recycled into other items through a cycle of clothing, which when worn out was made into items to use in the home, such as curtains, other items of décor, and eventually be used as washcloths, diapers, and rags.

 Sashiko Items Available on her Website

She says the details of its history are highly debated, but there are motifs which are, or were, associated with specific areas of Japan and specific families. Traditionally it was done in white thread on navy, because of the availability of the indigo plant for dyeing fabric navy blue. She told about Japanese firemen, who wore vests of Sashiko – they wore the vests as protection, because they fought fires by using their shoulders to knock burning walls over into the burning buildings to burn themselves out, rather than fighting fire with water, and after the fire was out, vests were turned inside out to display decorative stitching to celebrate the success. Over the years it became embellishment.

 Our Sashiko Kits

The elements of Sashiko include the fabric, needles, and thread. The thread is long staple coarse cotton. There is official Japanese Olympus Sashiko thread, such as we have in our kits today, but perle cottons 5, Sue Spargo’s Eleganza 8, 6-strand embroidery floss (either all strands of 2-3 for delicate designs), or silk can be used. She suggests 18-24” as the ideal length and recommended getting enough for a project, because dye lots do vary. Traditional Sashiko is done in white thread, though old projects have sometimes turned blue from the navy fabric.

She gave us a demonstration of thread management (available through this link to her website). You carefully separate the 2 sides of the skein of yarn, hold from the end that is tied with the end of the thread, cut the skein in half at the bottom as you hold it, cut off 1 piece each about 5” long from 2 strands, hold at the top (have someone help) and tie with one 5” piece, braid loosely – tie at the bottom with the other 5” piece. When stitching, slowly and carefully, pull a thread out from the top of the braid, cut that in half for an 18” length.

There are special Sashiko needles. She recommends Tulip needles from Japan, which come in either assorted short or assorted long packages. Needle eyes need to be large enough to accommodate the thread and sharp enough to pull both strands through the fabric. In Sashiko, you hold the needle still and fold the fabric onto it – the longer needles hold more fabric than short and keeps lines straighter when the thread is pulled through. She noted that in Japan, there is a day in February to honor the needle. She said Japanese needles are meant to last and should be stored in pincushions, not sideways through fabric. She recommends the Bohin Super Threader for threading needles, and said the company which made Thread Heaven thread conditioner has gone out of business, so, if you like it, you should buy it while the last of it is still available. You can iron your thread so it won’t twist or knot, and you can use wax, even candle wax, on thread for hand sewing.

Sashiko fabric is made of natural plant fibers, cotton, hemp or linen, but it can be anything loosely woven. Traditional Sashiko fabric is 13” wide in white or navy, because designed to be used making kimonos in panels.

Design Elements: Jen said there are 3 categories of design:
·       Continuous line, which never crosses
·       Gridlike, where lines may cross
·       One most like cross stitch while the others are a running stitch
Big Stitch and Sashiko are said to be best at 4 stitches/inch, but hers are 3/inch.
Most Sashiko is done on preprinted fabric, and that defines the stitch length. The printed designs will disappear if wet and will be set if ironed. When done stitching, agitate in warm water and the design lines disappear. Use a quilter’s knot – a few times around the needle and pulled to the end – or double back 3 stitches and stitch over to lock into place. Traditionally to stitch, begin on the border and try to have knots on the outside edge. Do not use a stabilizer or a hoop (because you’re moving the fabric into the needle so the fabric needs to be free to fold onto the needle).

Then Jen had us each use our kit and stitch the chosen pattern on the coaster-sized fabric. She gave us individual help and general advice while we each were able to try Sashiko with official fabric, needle, and thread. She has these things available on her website at 

[Any mistakes in this description of Jen Lee’s program on Sashiko and Big Stitch Quilting are the fault of the secretary.]


Members going to lunch together met at Olea Mezze Grille in Maitland.


·       November 2-5, 2017 – Retreat, Wyndham Ocean Walk, Daytona Beach
·       Novvember 6, 2017 – Maitland Sew Day, Maitland Public Library, 10-4
·       November 12, 2017 – Quilts for Pulse Brain Dump, 2-4, Mary W’s home (see roster for address) – to develop a document for other guilds about dealing with a similar project
·       November 18, 2017 – Dr. Phillips Sew Day, Dr. Phillips Public Library, 10-4
·       January 18-20, 2018 - Mancuso World Quilt Florida, Orange County Convention Center
·       January 20, 2018 – Sarah Sharp class, Dr. Phillips Public Library, 10-4
·       February 22-25, 2018 - QuiltCon 2018, Pasadena, CA
·       April 21, 2018 – Jen Carlton Bailey class, Dr. Phillips Public Library, 10-4
·       October 20, 2018 – Melissa Averinos class, Dr. Phillips Public Library, 10-4


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