Seeing the beautiful Japanese fabrics at the Edinburgh Quilt Show in 2015 was the trigger point that inspired my passion for patchwork and quilting. How could I possibly resist working with these fabulous fabrics?

I’m Val Brooks, born in Abingdon too many years ago to remember, and I learnt to sew at school by an inspirational teacher with whom I am still in touch and who has become a firm friend, encourager and ‘big sister’ to me. 

My very first ‘make’ as a result of that quilt show was a Hana Bag  purchased from Japan Crafts. It was just what I needed to inspire me – using beautiful fabrics, low cost, something that wasn’t too challenging, but giving me an extremely useful item that I now use every day. Within a few days of the show, it was complete. 

This really got me going and now I had the taste for making my first quilt (in fact I didn’t really know the difference between patchwork and quilting at that time). I’d fallen in love with a Kaffe Fasset design from his book ‘Country Garden Quilts’,  but I decided to use Japanese fabric!

 Talk about a challenge, but with my mathematical and logical background along with my sewing skills from being a teenager, I thought I’d have a go! Ha – it wasn’t as easy as that.

The summer of 2015 was spent choosing fabrics, cutting out all the different shapes, keeping some sort of order and stitching them together.  The piecing was fine although I quickly understood how not having an exact 1/4 inch seam would make things difficult further down the line! 

Then came the quilting! This was definitely a first but friends from a group I’d recently joined talked me through how to ‘sandwich’  and ‘quilt’. I decided just to quilt by echoing the seams (top-stitching ¼ inch from the seams). 

Finally I completed my first binding and I’d finished. I was thrilled with the outcome and the quilt now proudly lies on our bed and will always remind me of how I started quilting in earnest. 

Since then, I’ve learnt so much and over the next few months through this blog, I’d like to share some of the new skills I’ve learnt.

Next month read about my first ‘retreat’, and the quilts I made for my sister and my daughter as a result.


  1. Teresa Barrow

    Hello from Oxfordshire too Val … I saw a bag kit from Japan Crafts at a retreat made by a lovely lady there, fell in love with the fabrics and designs, so bought some kits too. Packing for my next retreat will be so much easier, just one shoe box of kits to take instead of the angst of deciding what to cut/make/do. I love your interpretation of the Kaffe design.