By Patricia Belyea
I first caught sight of Kitty Pippen at the La Conner Quilt Museum in 2015. A petite sprite of a woman, Kitty was sitting beside a mammoth quilt filled with Japanese textiles.
In her description of Flight (64" x 87"), Kitty writes “the fabric makes the quilt.” Kasuri hexagons, sashiko stitching, and Japanese folk textiles puzzle together in a celebration of interlocking blocks.
This quilt won First Place for Innovative Piecing at IQA Houston in 1994.
Not only was Kitty the woman who introduced the American quilting community to Japanese textiles, she was a remarkable individual and a generous teacher.
I would like to inspire you with two textile projects by Kitty, made with Japanese kasuri (ikat-woven) cotton.
Kitty made her first quilt when she was 70. Hexegon Sashiko Sampler, shown here, was made four years later.
The big hexagon blocks feature hand-stitching of Japanese crests and ikat patterns in kasuri cotton.
The double crane motif on the label was a favorite of Kitty’s as she was an identical twin.
Kitty went on to become a national quilting teacher and an author, penning her first book at age 80!
Kitty made this jacket, lined with satin, out of kasuri cotton bought from her favorite fabric shop — Kasuri Dyeworks in Berkeley. Many students remember Kitty wearing this jacket when she taught.
After Kitty passed, her daughter Sylvia Pippen sent me this precious gift.
I love the little patch on the front. Perhaps Kitty added an unwanted buttonhole. The mouse-like stitches show Kitty’s incredible handiwork.
I’m not the only quilter smitten by Kitty. She passed at the age of 98 in 2018 and left behind a legion of admirers.
As the Okan Arts Japanese Textile Shop introduces Kasuri Cotton, we remember our dear friend Kitty Pippen!
TO SHOP FOR KASURI COTTON +click here
ABOUT US: Okan Arts, a petite family business, is co-owned by mother-daughter duo Patricia Belyea and Victoria Stone. Patricia and Victoria sell Japanese textiles online, host creative quilting experiences, and lead quilting & textile tours to Japan.
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