Visiting InterQuilten

My family and I are on our yearly vacation to Traverse City. I’ve been coming here since I was a little girl, and I was so incredibly excited that my mother has been super generous by letting us stay here during her timeshare week. We’ve been coming here for the past three years now- it’s become one of both mine and my husband’s favorite weeks of the year.

Well, this year I was intent on going to visit some of the local quilt shops in the area. And today’s visit was to a wonderful little quilt shop called InterQuilten. It’s a play off of the area they are located in- Interlochen, which my husband tells me is German for “between lakes”. Which is exactly where Interlochen is located.

I forgot to snap a picture of the front of the building, but it is a wonderful little building that reminds me of a log cabin in the woods. The shop itself is wonderfully cozy, with a surprisingly large selection of wonderful fabrics. I found myself eying more than one bolt or precut package.

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I forgot to snap a picture of the front of the building, but it is a wonderful little building that reminds me of a log cabin in the woods. The shop itself is wonderfully cozy, with a surprisingly large selection of wonderful fabrics. I found myself eying more than one bolt or kit. One of my favorite sample quilts I saw, however, was this beautiful yellow, grey, black and white quilt. They had just sold the last kit for the quilt, which was probably just as well or I might not have been able to resist! Here’s a few pictures of some quilts they had on display!

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And here is that fantastic yellow/black/grey/white quilt I mentioned above! I just LOVED some of the fabric they used, which was surprising since always before I was never very into that color combination.

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In the end, however,  I stuck with picking up their row by row invention. I originally wasn’t going to do the row by row this year, but this row by row was so whimsical I InterQuilten_Row2015.15494025_largehad to grab it. So now I have to go back to some of the other stores and grab their row by rows as well. (Which I was planning to stop by and snap some pictures anyways, so it’s a win-win!)

Have a fantastic day! Enjoy your quilting projects!

Quilt tops and a new camera!

So, as a wedding/birthday gift, my dad bought me a new camera! It is a Canon EOS Rebel, and I have to say, so far it is one sleek piece of technology. I’m not very technology savvy; I know how to change out lenses and how to zoom and focus, but that is about the extent of my photographic abilities. But this camera makes it easy. It comes with two lenses- a 18-55mm, and a 75-300mm. (Basically, for those of you who, like me, read that last sentence and go “Uhh, what?”, it’s a short lens for closer photographs and a long lens for objects farther away.) It’s been super fun to work with. Not quite a point-and-shoot deal, but VERY close.

And, since I now have a new camera, I am able to take pictures of some of my quilt tops for y’all! Not all of them, since we are currently up in Michigan visiting with family and friends, as well as going on a family vacation up in Traverse City.

The first one is the second quilt top I have ever finished- I saw the kit in the local quilt store and instantly fell in love with the bright colors. I know I’ve included a picture of it in a previous post, but that was with my 4yo cell phone camera, in a dark apartment, so you’ll be able to see this much better now! I dragged my husband outside to be the official quilt holder- he had a bit of fun with it. IMG_0034IMG_0036

The second quilt I made during a class I took, again at my local quilt store. I had been eying this fabric collection for several weeks, and the class gave me the perfect excuse to try it out. The pattern is made by simple square blocks, 9 patch blocks, and rail fence blocks. It was a ton of fun to put together, and it gave me some practice with pressing seams to one side (usually I press them open) and working with my corners! IMG_0040

I’m currently working on finishing up a Farfalle quilt top using fabric from the Ambleside collection, as well as a quick and easy one-night baby quilt using a charm pack. The problem is, since I’m up in Michigan I do not have access to any of my sewing materials.

This is where I leave you for the day, but I will also leave you with a picture of my husband proudly flying the quilt flag of the drafted helper!

IMG_0055Have a wonderful Father’s day; enjoy your week!

Q & A with Ayumi from Pink Penguin

I have been a huge fan of the blog Pink Penguin by Ayumi Takahashi for quite some time now. (Make sure to go check out her blog- she is seriously talented!) It started when I saw a pattern of hers on Pinterest to make a bento/lunch bag. Her tutorial was easy to follow and straightforward, even for a beginning sewer like me! The bag turned out absolutely adorable, too. (Again, I will post pictures when I get a new camera!)

Well, I have been following her blog now for several months, and finally got up the courage to ask her if she’d be willing to answer a few questions. I was very intrigued – she lives in Japan and sews/quilts over there, as well as designs her own fabric. So, I went out on a limb and asked her if she would be willing to do a quick little Q&A with me. I really expected her to say no, so imagine how surprised I was when she said she would be happy to!

So, without further ado… Here you go!

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Ayumi Takahashi and I blog at Pink Penguin. I was born and raised in Japan but I spent 8 years in the US where I went to a college and also met my husband. We moved to Tokyo 4 years ago, had our first baby a few years later, and the next one will arrive in September this year.

2. How did you get into quilting and/or sewing?

I was much inspired by sewing/quilting blogs I randomly found online. My mother-in-law was also huge inspiration because she is a great quilter. She convinced my husband to get me a sewing machine for my birthday several years ago. (The best birthday gift ever!!) And I never went back to life without sewing regularly.

3. What is your favorite part of the process?

Thinking/designing a new project is so much fun! Choosing fabric for it is also thrilling! I like to learn new techniques, so if my project has any process that requires a new technique, I am intrigued. When I think I master the skill, it satisfies me and I love it!

4. What is the most challenging?

Finishing a project lol! It is very easy to start a project, but I get side tracked by other projects so easily. I have boxes filled with many work-in-projects from years ago!

5. Of everything you have done, what was your favorite project? Why?

I love paper-piecing, especially designing a paper-piecing pattern. I discovered love for paper-piecing from joining a quilting bee called Ringo Pie bee where we made many original paper-pieced blocks. I enjoyed making all my blocks, but if I were to pick one favorite, I may have to say it is this popsicles block.
6. How did you get into designing your own fabric?
I had an annual column for a Japanese magazine called Patchwork Tsushin. The chief editor introduced me to a fabric manufacturer, Kokka, who was then looking for a designer who would design a fabric collection for patchwork/quilts. I was very nervous but thought it was a great opportunity to turn what I love into fabric I can sew with!

7. What is the biggest difference between living in the U.S. and in Japan as a sewer?

I wouldn’t say there are a lot of differences since I now have access to as many supplies as I used in the US. Some things I miss are rulers/measurement tapes/ cutting tables in inches. Everything is in metric here, but my brain still prefers inches/yards. I miss easy access to a lot of American quilting weight fabric too. Another difference is that quilting is still for older generations in general in Japan. There are a lot of younger people who sew but they often make zakka items like bags and clothes. Quilts are not often used practically here. They are rather art to put on the wall. I feel very lucky that I have spent enough years in the US to appreciate practice use of quilts.
8. How do you think up your designs for your fabric?
I had some ideas for my first fabric collection, Lighthearted, from a long time ago which were
Plaids by Ayumi! (Borrowed from her Etsy shop)

Plaids by Ayumi! (Borrowed from her Etsy shop)

– Small kitchen design that can be fussy cut for hexagons etc.
– Plaid because I just love plaids in general
– Text design because I can rarely finish a project without including a few texty prints
– Small polka dots for blending
– Little floral design which can be used for clothes making etc other than patchwork/quilting
Basically Lighthearted was a collection of all the things I love to use for my patchwork projects.

9. What is the hardest part about designing your own fabric?

I designed using my computer and was quite surprised when I first saw samples of printed fabric. They were pretty different from what I thought they looked on my computer. Unlike simple designing on the computer, there is a lot of knowledge you need to have about colors when it is actually printed on fabric. There are some colors I needed to give up because they just wouldn’t look good on fabric even if they were beautiful on my desktop screen. The stronger contrast is, the finished fabric comes put prettier, which I didn’t know, so working with color with consideration of a limitation due to nature of fabric printing was very difficult for me partly because it was fully my first time.

10. Could you tell me a little bit about the timeline of creating your own fabric line?

My manufacturer was hoping to debut Lighthearted in April 2014, which is about 4 months after I begun the whole process. It didn’t give me enough time, so the debut month kept extended til September 2014.
If you want to read more, visit Ayumi over at Pink Penguin or stop by her Etsy shop!