Tuesday, 29 April 2014

An Interview With Ayumi!

It is with great excitement that we post this interview with Ayumi, author of Pink Penguin and creator of so many wonderful tutorials that I'm sure we've all used more than once.  (Seriously - if you haven't tried one of her tutes, do so immediately.  They're listed on the left hand side of her blog home page.) Ayumi, please tell us a bit more about yourself!

Hello! My name is Ayumi Takahashi. I am a wife to my American husband and a mom to a 9 months old daughter. We live in Tokyo, Japan. I blog at Pink Penguin, though I have been terrible at blogging regularly lately. I am also an author of the book, “Patchwork Please!

What inspired you to pick up patchwork/quilting?

Lots of things inspired me, but I would say what inspired me the most was blog land. I found so many people’s work just amazing and I couldn’t resist getting a sewing machine so I could sew great things like them.

Where did you learn to start quilting?

I self-taught myself when I was still in the US.

Do you remember your first completed project, and what was it?

My very first completed sewn project was a pillow that I made in class when I was a fourth grader. I remember I was quite stressed out about the project because I never understood how the sewing machine worked exactly. I was rather surprised that I somehow ended up finishing the project. It felt great!

Which quilters inspire you the most?

Goodness I have way too many quilters who inspire me. It would be a ridiculously long list of people if I list them all! If I were to name my top quilting heroes, I would say Kumiko Fujita and Suzuko Koseki are some amazingly talented quilters.

What are your favourite styles of quilting?

Straight lines :) My sewing machine is pretty small, so straight line quilting has been just the most doable. And I like the modern twist it gives to your finished quilt!

What would you say is your no. 1 quilting tip?

Maybe finding tools and materials that you are most comfortable with  is a great quilting tip. Quilt basting spray is one thing I just can’t live without now!

Do you have any advice for beginner novice quilters?

I think it would be great for any beginner novice quilters to start from a smaller projects like potholders, table runners, and a baby quilt before they get into a larger quilt. This way you learn basics of quilting first :)

Thank you so much to both Ayumi and Fiona for producing this interview for our Modern Irish sewers. I am sure each and every member of our crew was reading with great interest. Ayumi, it's been wonderful getting to know you a bit better.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Modern Irish {Scrappy} Bee Blocks: April

Happy April Fools' Day!

I contemplated all sorts of sewing-related mischief for my first day of being Queen Bee for April, but I'd be easily identified as the quilty party (groan lol) ;)

At this stage, we've had three really different blocks to create, I'm really looking forward to seeing the resulting quilts, they're going to look FAB! I have spent ages thinking about what I wanted from my month, and I've changed my mind a number of times. Then it hit me, something that reflects me and my reason for quilting: crazy, happy, fun, sharing, variety.... What suits that better than a collaborative quilt made up of improv blocks! My inspiration comes from these blocks:

As you can see I love bright, bold colours, and neutrals/low volumes that make them pop. Aneela Hoey has a great tutorial to give you an idea of how to approach it. It's simple, you start with a fussy cut piece with 5 sides, and clockwise stitch on pieces of fabric longer than the sides. Every so often, whip a chunk off a corner to take away the 'straight lines' of the blocks. The tutorial can be found on Aneela's blog, Comfort Stitching, the only difference is I don't want the blocks colour-coordinated.
For my blocks:

  • Two 12.5" square blocks - for these, just keep going until you reach a size you can trim to 12.5" square :)
  • No batiks or heavy, dark florals
  • Please use cotton or cotton-linen blends.  No poly cottons.
  • Fussy cut centre piece and positioned off-centre
  • If you really felt inclined, the centre piece could be Kona Ash, with an embroidered motif or applique, but it's not a requirement.

  • I hope you enjoy these blocks, I know I loved making mine, and can't wait to get them all together into one quilt that will make me smile whenever I see it/snuggle up in it! One thing's for sure, this is a truly scrap-busting block!