My Travel Quilt Story

**ETA-- Check out my completed Travel Quilt #3 here**

I don't know about you, but I check my blogger stats a couple times a day.  It's nice to see how readers find me, who has linked to me, and where they are.  In the last week though, there's been a gap, a hole.  I usually have at least a couple hits a week from readers in Japan, this week-- none.  Of course with such tragedy, I can't expect them to take time out (and use valuable electricity) to check in on my little ol' blog here, but still, the absence makes me worry about them even more.  I was thinking about how I can go back to  posting more about quilts but still satisfy my need to talk about Japan.. 

Victoria took this great photo of me at her retreat last weekend and I've wanted to write a post about it, and then it clicked, "Oh Yeah~" let's go back to the quilt that started me off on my EPP obsession..
Here we go.  Travel Quilt #1, aka "Ayane's Star"
See, I was going to Japan to visit friends (and bring back as much fabric as I could carry) in the spring of 2007, and a couple days before the trip I was struggling to decide on what quilt projects to bring with me.  I had a great huge applique leaf thing started, but thought I needed something simpler and easier to pick up and put down quickly.  I had the Quilt Patis templates, so I combed through my scraps and cut a bunch of diamonds. I started piecing stars on the flight to Tokyo and decided that I would make a baby quilt for whoever got pregnant first, me or Makiba.  She won.

I pieced and pieced through the summer, taking it with me wherever I traveled.  I was on a lot of planes that year and so I dubbed it my "Travel Quilt."  Stitched into this quilt are memories of Atlanta (where the bright fabrics came from), Japan, Athens, Chicago, and Fall River, MA.  It got me through months of infertility, the deaths of my sister and my father-in-law, and basically one of the worst summers of my entire life.  I was grateful to have something to keep me busy that year, something beautiful to look at and to hold.  In a way I was glad that it was Makiba who got pregnant first, because I was not just stitiching it for her baby, but also as a gift for a friend who helped me get through a very trying time. 
I finished the top in October 2007 but I had a lot of diamonds left over.  What to do?  Start another of course. 
And Travel Quilt #2 was born.  I wanted to make something bigger, for myself.  And though I've been working on it since October 2007, it's still not done yet.  (In the first photo you'll see it has borders basted on the top and parts of the sides, but that's it).
Travel Quilt #1 did get finished however, right in time for Makiba's baby shower.  Of course I didn't get to take a picture of the baby with the quilt, but M sent this one to me a few months ago:

Once Travel Q #2 was mostly pieced, I cut pieces for TQ #3.. started in July 2010, I've been working away at it steadily since then. 
I set up a Quilt Along on Flickr and currently have 4 friends IRL working on similar epp star projects.  It's nice to have company.
So, that's the history of my Travel Quilt collection, started because of a trip to Japan 4 years ago.. I never thought English Paper Piecing would take over my life like this, or that these quilts would end up shaping who I am as a quilter, but man, I do love them.  Scrap quilts, every diamond tells a story.  A fabric collection and display.  I was tempted to cut into the new pile of scraps from Victoria to make more diamonds, but I think I might have enough cut already.  Maybe I'll just throw in a few...
Do you have any quilts with a Japanese connection?


  1. Such a lovely post. I had no idea what you have been through. You certainly have found a way to turn it into something nice. Your quilts are beautiful and well loved!

  2. I can see why recent events in Japan have been so much on your mind. Your quilts are stunning, and their beauty increases because of the connections between them and so many life events.

  3. Beautiful quilts and story! Thanks.

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  5. I have also spent some time in Japan, back when I was on an exchange program in high school. My mother is an art historian who always loved Japanese paper-making, and travelled in Japan quite a bit herself over the years of my childhood. Somehow as a consequence of that, every time we went out to celebrate something when I was growing up, we went out for sushi. I also love Japanese fabrics, and have quite a few in my stash.

    I am also teaching about earthquakes this week, and it has been sobering to see nature destroying lives again... although encouraging to see how much less tragedy was wrought by this event than in the Indian Ocean in 2004, largely because the Pacific Ocean has had a tsunami warning system for a long time. If only the Indian Ocean had had one, maybe only a few thousand would have died rather than a quarter of a million... and maybe someday the warning systems will get so good that no one will die. Here's hoping.

    Your quilts are beautiful and they have inspired me to take up this piecing technique! I have lost momentum on that project, hopefully this will revive me... :-)

  6. Your traveling quilts are beautiful and I have started my own EPP project. It is nice to be able to put it down,than pick it up again and take it with me where ever my travels take me. <3

  7. Thats what I love about epp, you can do it anywhere!

    By the way I've just found another diamond quilt that I started last year!!
    Dont think I can face it just yet.

    Hvae a great weekend.

  8. I do so love your travel quilts - might have to start one of my own when I get all the rest of my UFO's down to a manageable level! I am too am watching the developments in Japan. I have a close friend lving 250km south of Fukushima - safe enough for now....but.....

  9. I loved hearing all of that story, all together, after reading bits and pieces of it (and seeing the quilts) here and there over the last few years. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Your stars are fabulous my dear. I didn't know you had already made a baby quilt like it! How sweet and lucky little one! We have many friends in Japan... It's been very quiet.. Many are leaving to come here, or Paris... We keep them in our thoughts... Hugs. We're off tonight... talk next week... - V

  11. Wow, I love the story, Jessica!! It definitely has some memories there and you will never forget them. Plus, you have made wonderful memories for your friend too.

  12. Hi Jessica, Have you seen today's post on There's a way to send quilts to Japan!

  13. jess I have posted a picture of the rediscovered quilt on flickr.

  14. I have a few quilts ready to send to Japan and I am going to send the one I started at Victoria's retreat......its for a child with three sock monkey's on can see it on my blog this week.

    Lovely story and thread to see how quilting comforts us and connects us to the world.

    Happy Sewing, it was lovely to meet you.

  15. I was wondering how your second travel quilt comes along, thanks for sharing! And I have often thought about you and your Japanese friends for the last ten days. It is heartwrenching what happened and is happening to such a beautiful country.

  16. I just read your "comments" on the retreat you went on with Victoria! Very thought provoking and I'm glad you shared! Your EPP quilts are gorgeous, too! I'm working on one, too, correction: I WAS but it's tucked away now. I should get it out and join you on Flickr!

  17. lovely quilt and post. Tea Rose Home blog has some great info on Japan and how to help. hugs

  18. All my quilts have a Japanese connection because they were all made in Japan. I have never done paper piecing but the fabric stores sell cut paper pieces of hexagons in several sizes. And I ALWAYS travel with a quilt project take-along.

  19. You have touched me with your quilts and now with your stories. I am starting a new quilt today which will be my next take-along....not too far away...only to meetings, appointments, and the LIRR. See you Saturday.

  20. I have admired your travel quilts for years, so it's great to read the story behind them. I think I may have to make a sample and see how it goes. This could be my next hand work project! I'll need one for summer. I'm traveling in a few days. Maybe I could start now! ;) thanks for the inspiration!

  21. Please tell me where you purchase the templates?
    Your quilts are beautiful.

  22. Hi Annie,
    Thanks for your comment. I order my Quilt Patis from the quilt shop "Picking Up the Pieces" in Ohio, here's the link: Quilt Patis
    It doesn't seem like they have an online shop, I always order by phone. If you call, please let them know you heard about them from me~


  23. Wow, your traveling quilts are beautiful and I enjoyed reading your story. It sounds like quilting was very therapeutic for you during those difficult times. I would love to start this project if I didn't have a hex project already in the works. I just posted photo's of my hex quilt this morning which was my traveling project as well. I followed the link from Crazymomquilts to your post today and I'm glad I did.

  24. Very inspiring story.. You have inspired me. I am so glad to have found your blog..I ordered my patis today!

  25. I think I will be starting one of these ASAP. Love it.

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  27. cindyburgdorf@sbcglobal.netJanuary 29, 2012 at 1:44 AM

    I just found this post. I am going to have a lot of "sitting with nothing to do" time in the next couple of months. I would love to be able to hand piece a quilt like this!!
    I looked at your video for instructions.
    What size Patis do I need to order? I am thinking the 2 inch size. Right?

  28. isn't paper piecing absolutely the most satisfying thing? I am always puttering on something :)

  29. Hi Jessica! I look my stats often and from there I came. Now I'm your follower not to miss your posts! I love your travelling quilt story and the quilts! You have been in Athens - too bad I didn't know to invite you for a coffee in Crete! I adore your latest TQ 3 with white stars and little hexagons and I would love to make one, but I really don't travel much and my 4 hours flight to Finland is not enough.
    x Teje

  30. Hi Jessica,
    How do you finish the edges of the quilt.


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