Sunday, December 31, 2023

Tokyo Underground

Once upon a time when I was a fairly new quilter, I saw the pattern Tokyo Subway Map by Elizabeth Hartman, and I was immediately attracted to it: scrappy fabrics, and the entire quilt was made of 2.5" squares, so easy to piece. My first Tokyo Subway Map was the largest project I've ever quilted on my no-longer-with-me sitdown longarm, and I was (still am) very happy with it.

That was a long time ago, and I've wanted to make another Tokyo Subway Map for some time, but I didn't want to make it scrappy. Then when I saw a neon collection of solids called Phosphor by Libs Elliott, I suddenly had the idea: make a grittier version of Tokyo Subway Map on a dark gray background, and call it Tokyo Underground.

One thing I wanted to do differently, since I wasn't using scraps this time, was try to minimize the seams on the subway lines. To accomplish this, I had to use partial seams, but it was much easier than I originally thought it would be. I had a really good time piecing this.

I knew how I wanted to quilt this while I was still piecing it. I decided to add some ghost elements in the background, because of course I had to. I don't always manage, but I try to introduce an element of interest into each quilt, and the ghost subway lines are it for this quilt.

And the background space was filled with one of my favorite designs that I rarely get to use because it's usually not right for the quilt, but is perfect for this quilt: steampunk gears! I had written a tutorial earlier on how to quilt gears here.

This was definitely one of the most challenging quilts I've completed recently. The steampunk gears were quite tough to fit in all these little spaces, and there were tons and tons of starts and stops. I had to make a lot of decisions about which section to go to next, which added to a mental tax. Some quilts are easy and relaxing because the quilt path is clearly defined, but that's definitely not the case for this one!

A lot of the time I will go for months just piecing and not machine quilt anything. For the last few months though, I've not felt like piecing at all and just wanted to quilt. (I'm not sure I've experienced this before in my entire quilting life.) I don't know how long this phase will last, but I figured while I'm in this mode, I might as well try to get as many quilt tops done as possible before they start piling up again.

And whew, looks like I finished it in time, this last quilt of the year. Happy New Year to all, and I wish you all a great 2024!


  1. What a great way to finish up a year, Liz. The Phosphor fabrics just glow, don't they, and I love how they look with the darker background. The ghost lines and steampunk gears are fantastic. I hope you have a lot of joy in 2024 and I always look forward to seeing what you share!

  2. That is a beautiful version of the Subway pattern. I love what you did and can't imagine all the starts and stops. Hope you have a fabulous 2024 and look forward to seeing what your quilting mojo helps you finish!


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