Hello Tokyo is Sydney designer Lisa Tilse (The Red Thread)'s first range of fabric, produced by Robert Kaufman. The range features Japanese Kokeshi dolls, kawaii cats, stylised flowers, spots and circles on colourful cotton fabric in the boldest brightest hues of pink, orange, mint and blue. I came across it last year and have been buying small amounts whenever I could find it at discounted prices, with a view to eventually making a quilt for my daughter as an end-of-school-year gift.
With the end of the academic year in sight, I took stock of how many pieces I'd amassed and downloaded Robert Kaufman's free Hello Tokyo quilt pattern. The quilt design comes in two suggested colourways, one predominantly pink, the other mostly blue. I used a mixture of both colours, adding in some orange polka dot cotton left over from other projects. My version is pretty faithful to the Kaufman template but I've swapped a few of the blocks and changed the positioning of some of the cute appliqué characters.
This is the first patchwork quilt I've made and I didn't fully appreciate how much space is needed to make a bedspread sized quilt! I cleared floorspace in the lounge to lay out and assemble the squares, then had to drape the work-in-progress over a chair, ironing board and across the dining table so that family life could resume as normal in between sewing sessions – just about manageable in our narrow Victorian terraced house. (The houses in my street were built in 1870-80s and typically housed Worthing's working people - including dressmakers and manual workers.)
Cutting out and laying out the pieces took hours but once arranged sewing the blocks together was a speedy and wholly absorbing process. I cut out the appliqué characters leaving a 2mm white border, used fuse-a-web to fix them to the quilt then machine zig-zagged around the edges to secure them in place. Next I added a greige polka dot border to the patchwork. I wanted a border that would make the Hello Tokyo fabrics really stand out and this colour also gives the quilt an elegant edge. Then I made a huge inside-out quilt sandwich of the patchwork, wadding and a mint green cotton lining fabric, sewed it together leaving a gap, turned it through, then hand stitched the turn through gap. Finally I fastidiously pinned all three layers together before beginning machine quilting. I sewed around the appliqué shapes, highlighted some of the square patches and channel quilted the head and foot of the quilt to finish.
The patchwork cushions were very quick and easy to make after wrestling with such a huge object as the quilt - they have envelope backs so that they can be swiftly removed for washing.
The finished quilt really brightens up her bedroom – we're both thrilled to bits with it – and I'm now motivated to do more patchwork quilting. Watch this space!