Thursday, March 31, 2011

News from the “Horse’s Mouth!”

Wow, yesterday’s post sure brought out a lot of comments and opinions! And I am positively grateful that we have this network of quilter-stranger-friends to bounce things off of.

That grapevine of information can open up worlds of understanding that many of us had never considered before.

Thankfully someone read on the blog about the fabric with the characters, and went searching for more answers for me!

This is the reply I got:

OK, Bonnie, here's the word on that quilt and the writing on the border from someone born in Japan! Even though I lived in Japan for 31 years, I didn't go to school there; however, all four of my daughters went through the Japanese school system and are native speakers.

I sent an appeal to them a few minutes ago to read that kanji on your fabric to see if there's truly as "random" and innocuous as I told you (like seeing some fabric with "horse" or "tree" or numbers scattered willy-nilly on it). Here's the skinny on that fabric straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak.... One of my girls answered immediately and wrote,

"Totally random kanji. She shouldn't worry about it and send it. People in Japan wear T-shirts like that with kanji on them."

Hope that settles the question for you, and takes a load off your mind! THANKS for your blog; couldn't start my day without it! (^_^)

PS from Sandy: Japanese characters ARE Chinese in origin; they look the same as the ones the Chinese use, because they ARE! They are just pronounced differently, and Japanese add symbols to them to indicate subject, verb tense, etc., that aren't found in the original Chinese. Since there are no "extra" symbols in your fabric, that's how it's identified as Chinese, or even as ancient classical Japanese writing (which was about the same thing).

Way more of a language lesson than you ever wanted to know when you posted those pics! But just in case you get some posts from readers who want to argue the point of Chinese vs. Japanese, thought I'd throw in another two-cents' worth! :)

~ Sandy Shigeno

THANK YOU SANDY! This is a load off of my mind. I know I could have found another place to donate this quilt, but my heart was in it for Japan while piecing the batting, quilting it, and binding it. I also heard from Tammy, who was the one who donated the top to me for charity purposes in the first place. She said:

I was also saddened to find that you were told not to send it, because of the characters on two of the prints.

I don't know the expertise of the person who told you that these were Chinese characters, but I bought this fabric directly from Lonni Rossi's (she is the fabric designer) website when the fabric first came out. The reason I found it so appealling is that she said on her website that “the fabric was printed with a Japanese poem about nature.”

I am always very careful about any words in ANY language that go on my quilts, so I felt very safe with this print even though I couldn't read it. I hope that you will reconsider sending this little quilt to Japan. I would love to see it go to such a good cause. I'm gathering up some of the quilts that I just recently finished to send as well.

Sincerely, Tammy J. , Belcamp, MD

So there you have it girls! The quilt IS going to Japan!

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These two pics show the areas where I removed the skull fabric…The left pic? I replaced them with the green with big random pink dots. In the right pic? It’s the purple-y fabric with the silver stars next to the lime green.

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I quilted it with a purple thread about the same color as the border print….the binding is on and just needs to be hand stitched down. I just used random strips of various greens sewn together for a scrappy green binding.

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I also chose the border fabrics for the sampler quilt I’m also going to quilt up and send over. I had a piece of brown dot that was great for the inner border…and the outer border? I’ve had this gorgeous green with pink flowers for a long time but a quilt never came around for using it. I used that as the outer border, and I inset 4 orphan “broken dishes” units as the outer border corner stones.

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A dig deep into the stash unearthed some pieces of Asian fabrics that had never gone into anything. There was a BIG piece of a beautiful print with cranes on it, a piece of cherry blossoms, and another piece that had japanese fans on it…I’ve incorporated them ALL into a backing:

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I know it looks kind of wild from far away, but the detail on the fabrics is really beautiful…

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So maybe this evening I’ll get this quilt loaded and can start quilting on it as well.

Thank you so much for all your replies and suggestions. I appreciate each and every one of them! I also loved knowing who else is going through the same things, wanting to donate a quilt to a good cause, but feeling “on pins and needles” about what is politically or culturally correct at the same time.

How are your Japan Quilts coming?


  1. These will be loved and cherished, no doubt about it. The Asian backing fabrics, especially the cranes, are sure to be appreciated. What a lovely gesture!

  2. I have the batting unrolled (resting) and the back ready to be sewn together. Hope to have the quilting done this weekend....

  3. Glad you decided to donate that quilt. I think it is appropriate and will be very loved. It really turned out lovely.

  4. Anonymous5:13 PM EDT

    It is great to know that so many people keep an eye on you Bonnie!! I love your blog. I am glad you are sending quilts to the people of Japan. The quilts look fantastic & will make a difference to someone who needs it. Have a great day.

  5. Very interesting reading, fantastic you have some great followers, who 'follow' things up.

  6. The group I lead at my church is doing Saturday Sews for Japan and doing quick toddler quilts. It's good to be using up stash for such a good cause. So glad you got good reports back on the word characters on your quilt.

  7. Your quilts are lovely and anyone that has endured so much will be thankful for a gift from someone who cares. I will be mailing mailing my quilt tomorrow and hopefully another one soon.

  8. I'm glad that there are so many people out there to help all of us not offend strangers that we just want to send a hug to.

  9. very nice fabrics. I'm confident that Japanese people will appreciate your effort.Is it a baby Dear Jane in the background of your photo? please show it too.
    thank you

  10. Especially the cranes are an absolute bonus for Japan, as these are considered HOPE after the cold wintertime. When cranes come back after wintertime, they announce spring blossoms and return of life. They symbolize fertility, woman, family. They are included in wedding gifts for the bride...
    Thank you 8^}
    Love, Irene from an Amsterdam clad in cherry blossoms

  11. So glad that your quilt is going to Japan. The second one came out so pretty with the borders and the back is just as pretty with all the fabrics pieced together.

  12. Fantastic news Bonnie...what a relief for you I imagine...hugs Khris

  13. So glad that you will be able to send the quilt! Isn't it amazing what this quilt community will do for each other and even for those they don't know!
    It looks great! Someone will get a lot of warmth and love from it!


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