by Julie Fukuda
I am always interested in how quilters chose favorites.
Living in Japan, I find I am at the mercy of the local shops.If you buy what is on the shelves and don't like it, you have wasted money.
I carry a small plastic soy sauce bottle in my sewing box and in it are numerous bits of broken needles. Some of them broke in the first few minutes of using and some bent into a bow within the first half hour. Clover and Milward in the broken department and EZquilting in the bend department.
The best needles I have found are made by S.Thomas & Sons in England. I used to buy them in a local quilt store but that closed several years ago and I had to use what the shops carried. Then, I found a vendor at the quilt shows that brings a supply to Tokyo and I stock up.
Batting had been a problem here in Japan. There are plenty of packaged battings, and while once there was little choice, now they come in an assortment of sizes. The major problem is that other than size and content, you have no idea what is in that tightly wrapped package. By the time you purchase it and use it and discover it pills on the surface of the quilt, it is too late. I have little money to waste on things I can't use so I was glad to discover 3M Thinsulate. I think this product is made to be used in clothing but this is what I like about it....
First, it has a slightly tacky texture. When I hand quilt, the layers do not slide or shift and I don't need tons of basting.
Secondly, I can buy it in a variety of lofts which is good for puffy winter quilts or light summer quilts or even table covers.
Thirdly, if I buy a whole bolt, it is much cheaper and I can piece it to the size I desire without a lot of waste.
Lastly, I find it is lovely to quilt through and even the thinnest is puffy enough to show the quilting design. I have heard that there are quilt bats being made of Thinsulate but so far it is not sold in Japan. I have heard of other batting that quilters recommend but I am so happy with what I am using now that I have no desire to change.
I have heard that Japanese-made quilting supplies have been improved recently. Access to imported supplies is a bit limited, but my favorites are worth the hunt in the long-run.