Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Paper-Pieced Home Blog Tour: Allie-Gator

By Penny Layman
Interweave/F+W; $26.99

I am very excited to host a stop for The Paper-Pieced Home Blog Tour by my dear friend Penny Layman on my blog today! I feel I've said this so many times already, but I just love Penny and everything she makes!! I don't know if I had discovered the joy of paper-piecing if she had not kindly invited me to co-host our Ringo Pie bee years ago where we designed and made a paper-pieced block each month with super talented gals. I fell completely in love with paper-piecing techniques, and as of today it is by far my favorite sewing technique. So you can imagine my excitement when I heard about her writing her first book full of her original paper-pieced block designs!!! I knew her book would be amazing, but it even exceeded my expectation. How could that be possible?! It has so many amazing patterns and there is a CD inserted with all full sized patterns!

When I had to choose a project for this tour, it was so hard because thought I could make literally anything in this book joyfully!! So I ended up sending a long list of projects I want to make and had the coordinator pick one for me from it :) I am happy this Allie-Gator Block was selected, because he is super cute, and I just needed to start making a quilt for my nephew to be born next month! This is my first time to see my sister being pregnant, and I am beyond excited to welcome a boy in the family! 

Both my sister and her husband are big eaters! My sister is already concerned about food expense since she expects her son to be a big eater like them. I somehow wanted to include some food theme in this quilt, so I modified the pattern between the alligator's teeth just a bit only so I could fit in some chocolate cake and a cherry. And then, I thought I want to incorporate more of food stuff into the quilt so I made the patchwork border around it. (Each square is 2 3/4" finished) This turned definitely too busy for my sister's taste. She likes things soft and quiet, and that's why she never seems to appreciate anything I've made for her lol. Well, it may be the case this will be another thing she won't like very much, but I bet her son may like it.

My girl, Honoka, is having a lot of fun learning new words everyday. In this household, we speak English and Japanese completely mixed, (which is not good, I know) so she would point at chickens if I ask her where "cock a doodle doo" is and enjoys telling me which ones are "Go" (which comes from a Japanese word, Ichigo, meaning strawberries) and "JinJin"(which comes from a Japanese word, Ninjin, meaning Carrots) If my nephew is a big food lover like his parents expect, then he should learn these words quickly and joyfully from this quilt. Well I hope so!! (Most fabric I used in this quilt top is from Lighthearted, my fabric for Kokka which I still have some left in my shop. You can still find them at some shops too - see the shop list in the previous blogpost.)

I think I will embroider his name above the cute alligator's head or applique because the white part seems a bit too strong to me. Then I will probably hand-quilt just like Penny did for hers in the book! Oh I should mention that Penny offers this Allie-gator patterns in two sizes. I picked a larger version. 

If you love paper-piecing and all things retro, you will covet this book like myself, I promise! This may become one of my very first book that I make everything from!!

Here is the schedule for this blog tour. Go ahead and be inspired by all the amazing things these talented ladies are making from this awesome book!

3/16       McCall’s Quilting / Sewing Machine Block
3/17       Love of Quilting / Review
3/17       Sandi Sawa Hazlewood  of Crafty Planner / Watering Can Block
3/18       Quilty Pleasure (Quiltmaker blog) / Review
3/18       Imagine Gnats / Rotary Phone Block
3/20       Verykerryberry / Lion Block
3/21       Artisania / Cast-Iron Skillet Block
3/23       Where the Orchids Grow / Lamp Block
3/24       Katie Blakesley of Swim Bike Quilt / Layer Cake Block
3/24       House on Hill Road / Oven Mitt Block
3/24       Lee Heinrich of Freshly Pieced / BBQ Grill Block
3/26       Pink Penguin / Allie-Gator Block
3/26       A Happy Stitch / Giraffe Block
3/27       Bijou Lovely / Jar Block
3/27       Two Little Banshees / Saucepan Block
3/27       Charise Creates / Espresso Mug Block
3/30       Karen Lewis Textiles / Couch Block
3/31       Poppyprint / Clawfoot Tub Block
3/31       One Shabby Chick / Stack of Books Block
3/31       During Quiet Time / Sleeveless Dress Block
4/06       Pat Sloan The Voice of Quilting / Author Podcast Interview

Would you like to win a copy of The Paper-Pieced Home? If so please leave one comment by the midnight of March 31st! A lucky winner will be announced on the following day!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Introducing "Lighthearted"...finally!

Image courtesy of Kokka Fabric

Warning: This is a ridiculously lengthy post, so I suggest you just skim through the photos!

Thinking lightheartedly has always been a challenge throughout my life. I worry about everything like crazy. Whenever I take on a new endeavor, I can't help myself thinking about the worst possible case scenario and get cold feet eventually. This new journey was no exception... the journey to design fabric!

Image courtesy of Kokka Fabric
This line is called "Lighthearted"" by Kokka, a Japanese fabric manufacturer. When this amazing opportunity to design fabric came to me in fall 2013, I was so excited. I have always loved fabric, especially retro inspired, quirky, small prints - all sorts of fabrics I used for my projects in my book, Patchwork Please!. I thought this would give me a perfect opportunity to bring some fabric I-wish-existed to the real world!

Image courtesy of Kokka Fabric
I was really enjoying designing it in the beginning but spent just way too much time looking at my designs, editing, twisting, changing colors, etc to the point I started having second thoughts. 'Is this line really cute? Is this something people will want to play with? ....I thought so, but I am not sure anymore!!!'

After mulling it over, I felt I was in middle of nowhere and really didn't know where I was going. I felt ridiculous that I thought I had what it takes to be a fabric designer. After all I didn't know anything about designs/colors. I didn't know how difficult the whole process of designing fabric could be. Everything was so new to me. I was in the world I had absolutely no clue about.

Loving pretty fabric didn't necessarily mean I could create pretty fabric, which is the conclusion (at least I thought, at the time) I came to when it was too late. Also, I was scared of the thought about promoting my fabric. Promoting myself is the last thing I feel comfortable about doing in general. And I was afraid I would neglect my family by getting into it deeply.
Image courtesy of Kokka Fabric
My name was going to be on the selvage of this fabric line but I asked for a big favor to remove it. I got too intimidated and it helped me to think it was over. Yes it was very selfish of me and I felt extremely guilty about this. I shut down and needed a long break from social media. I was scared of people judging me who was still struggling to find the balance in life with a baby, have made very few things lately, and thought I had what it takes to call myself a fabric designer.  I didn't want people to think of me. I had to turn down many great offers/opportunities during the hard time.

Now I think about it..., it was solely myself who was the most critical of myself.

A few friends of mine and family I've shared my fabric with said great things about it, but because they are just being kind, I thought. Then I started seeing my fabric popping up on blogs, Instagram, and popular fabric shops. One of Lighthearted fabric, the mustard text print, was actually Kokka's best selling fabric last month! There were some people who bought it!? And believe it or not, they are the people I've admired for years!! Seriously? Reading through comments on IG about my fabric just made me cry so much. OK, so I guess this is fabric some people love and want to play with.

It made me feel so good and gave me enough courage to finally reveal that this fabric was truly designed by me. I've read lots of inspirational articles and self-help books ("Self-Compassion" by Kristin Neff is so inspirational) to deal with the difficult time, but what helped me most effectively and quickly was knowing that the sewing community does support my fabric much more than I had expected. That's just amazing finding. My fabric doesn't suck. It will be used in people's creations which will be loved by someone's hands for possibly decades. Sure the market is filled with beautiful fabric already and Lighthearted may not be everyone's favorite, but you can say that about anything, right? It's time I stopped beating myself up. Maybe it's time I admit I do like my fabric and say I am proud of it. *sobbing*

I even started making some paperbag blocks to put together a quilt. Maybe I can even make it into a pattern. Would anyone like to make some paperbag blocks?

Anyway I am very thankful of folks at Kokka for flying over to visit with me so many times and having a lot of patience to deal with this very difficult person during that time. Thank you for creating amazing things with my fabric for the quilt market! Thank you Alyce of Blossom Heart Quilts for making the beautiful quilt for it! I am very thankful of the chief editor of Patchwork Tsushin magazine who first encouraged me to get into fabric designing. And I am extremely thankful of all my friends and family who have supported me throughout. This community of my sewing friends is very good and important to me. I should never try to hide under a rock again. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for all of you who have been supportive and encouraging.

If you are interested in playing with Lighthearted fabric (Yay!), here is a list of shops that carry Lighthearted as far as I know.

Kiwi Fabric
Pink Castle Fabrics 
Sunny Day Fabric 
Westwood Acres
Stash Fabrics
Momen Plus (In store)
Cool Cottons

Amitie Textiles (In store)
Polka Dots Tea Fabrics 
Patchwork on Pittwater (Coming soon)

The Village Haberdashery
The Eternal Maker (Coming soon)

Miss Matatabi 
My shop

If you know of other shops that carry Lighthearted, I'd love it you could let me know so I can update the list! If you are a shop owner and would like to have Lighthearted, here is a list of Kokka's international distributors.

Thank you so much for reading through such a lengthy post! *Big hug*

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Announcing the winner

Thank you to all of you who entered for the giveaway of "318 Patchwork Patterns"!
The random number generator picked 28, which means..

The winner is Angelia! Congratulations! I will contact you shortly!

Thanks for World Book Media for allowing me to give away a copy of this amazing book!
Just so you know, the book is already available on their etsy's shop here as well as other shops
such as superbuzzy here! (For some reasons on Amazon it says the publishing date is January, 
but that isn't true. Thanks for letting me know, Lindsay!)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Review and Giveaway: 318 Patchwork Patterns by Kumiko Fujita

You may have already heard about this, but this book, 318 Patchwork Patterns, by my awesome quilting hero Kumiko Fujita will be finally available to anybody! This is just such amazing news to anyone who loves quirky, cute, and creative patchwork patterns!!

I can't say enough how much I love this book. I have had this book for a long time but I keep going back to it because I can always find something new every time. Endless inspiration! I think Kumiko's way of utilizing beautiful fabric is just divine. She is just so talented and creative, and oh so funny and thoughtful too. I just love her! I don't think my love for patchwork would have been the same if I had not discovered her.

Years ago, my real life sewing friend Tamiko and I have decided to start a little patchwork bee and invited our lovely friends and we made some cute blocks from the book.

Scissors for Amisha ~ Patchwork 318 Bee ~

Cake Blocks - The 318 Bee

Living in Tokyo, I am often asked by overseas friends to look for particular Japanese sewing/quilting related things in Japan that are very hard to find. There has been nothing like the original version of 318 Patchwork Pattern that were sought out like crazy. It has been out of print for years, and there were literally hundreds of people who were looking for it. Because of its rarity, it was very hard to find in Japan too, and the market value has gone insane.
The most amazing gift ever!

And the popularity of the book even increased when my sweet friends made this baby quilt above for my girl! (I can never thank Krista for organizing and putting together this beautiful quilt! I still can't use it practically, worrying it may be ruined.)  Many patterns used in this book come from this book!

Thanks to World Book Media for republishing this book. Finally it is available to everyone at a reasonable price. And guess what? This time it is an English version!

I think the title of the book and the cover pretty much describes what this book is all about. There are 318 very unique and cute patchwork patterns that have vintage feels to them. Templates inside the book are supposed to be enlarged 250% to produce 6" x 6" finished blocks.

The first half of the book consists of blocks with straight line seams and the rest of it is about more elaborate patterns that have more curvy seams. All patterns are meant to be sewn by hands. You can paper-piece some of the blocks with straight line seams, but for most of them, you will need to break down the pattern by increasing the number of seams in order to sew by machine.

The book is available for pre-order here!

Check out this great blog hop along this book!

October 20th : Kerry from

   House wall hanging from Home Sweet Home collection

October 22nd : Penny Layman from

   Gardening apron with blocks from Vegetables collection

October 24th : Angela Pingel from

   Wall hanging or bunting from Halloween collection

October 27th : Amy Sinibaldi from

   Tote bag with applique blocks (288 or 285 or 261)

October 29th : Amber Carrillo from

   Blocks from Christmas collection

October 31st : Latifah Saafir from

   Baby blanket from At the Circus collection

November 3rd : Charise Randell from

   Make up kit and shoe bag from Girls’ Night Out collection

November 5th : Leila from

   Tea Cozy from Tea Time Collection

November 7th : Amy Friend from

   Table runner with blocks from Fruits collection

November 10th : Faith Jones from

   Mini quilt from Vehicle Collection

November 12th : Caroline from

   Tote or pouch with applique block

November 14th : Rashida Coleman-Hale from

  Paper piecing tutorial

For your chance to win a copy of this book, leave a comment for this post by Sunday November 2nd! I will have the random number generator choose a number and will be back to announce a winner!