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happy flower quilts blog hop ~ plus a giveaway!

Warning:  Super long blog post here.  Might want to grab a cup of coffee or tea and a snack before settling in ... ;)

Whew!  I think this book has got to be the most anticipated publication for people like me who can't get enough pretty-pink-sweet-floral-fun-cute-feedsack-Japanese-style sewing and quilting projects. :)  Happy Flower Quilts indeed!

I've owned the Japanese version (at least I think it's Japanese .. it may be Korean ... not entirely positive ... if you know please clue me in) that was originally published in 2009 for about 6 years now and it is my hands-down favourite quilt/craft book.  Until recently, I always referred to it as "That-Pink-Japanese-Quilt-Book".  And it took me a few years to connect the author as one of my favourite fabric designers, Atsuko Matsuyama (she designs for both Yuwa and Lecien).  It's like she crawled into my brain and my heart and wrote this book just for me.  I know she didn't ... we've never met.  But that's how much I relate to the lovely projects that fill the pages of Happy Flower Quilts.  I flip through it regularly, I fantasize about making everything in it, I study the delicious fabrics and the beautiful photography, and I've even made a few things from it. 

Fun fact:  I was hired as one of the technical editors for this book.  (Still can't believe I had the honour.  Thank you again zakkaworkshop for asking me!)  Kinda weird/marvelous how the universe works.

The invitation to be part of this blog hop was more like a gift because it gave me the perfect excuse/opportunity to make what I've always considered the best project of all ... the sewing kit. 

It is hard to pick a favourite ... all the projects are so pretty.  But there's just something about this kit.  I've spent a LOT of time studying it and enjoying the photographs. 

Fabrics ... I ended up using a whopping 23 prints for this project.  But I probably auditioned 3X that.  I heart my stash. :)  Most of them are by Atsuko and a good number of them have been in my stash for several years.  I followed many colour/pattern cues from the book.  I normally wouldn't even think of using a green/white gingham for a spool.  But that's what Atsuko used for hers and if it's good enough for her, it's definitely good enough for me. 

Templates ... there are several templates for this pattern.  If you're going to make this kit, please note that some templates have the seam allowance included and some do not.  Don't worry, they are all clearly marked.  The only "tricky" one is the pouch body.  But graph paper is so awesome.  Otherwise, it's super easy to simply add the seam allowance with your quilting ruler and rotary cutter.  No stress. :)

(Haha!  I just noticed that I photocopied the templates from my Japanese copy.  The new book is ALL in English, I assure you!) 

In the interest of full disclosure, I had plenty of "do-overs" with this one.  I was quite determined to make my kit as close to perfect as I could get.  After wanting to make it for so many years, I wasn't about to settle for anything less than my best.  Most of my redos were the result of my ever changing mind ... and too many fabric choices ... if there is such at thing ;). 

I "committed" to the cover feature fabric 5 times and changed my mind on the cover border fabric two or three ... once after I'd made all the spools.  But now I get to make something with the leftovers ... yum!  :)

I changed my mind 3 times for the ruler pocket fabric (and messed up once because I had the rectangle going in the wrong direction) but I know I finally got it right.  I also found that the bit of lace for the pocket didn't look right with the lacy, vertical stripe print I chose, so I simply left it off (after much hemming and hawing, because you know me and lace ...).

I had to unpick and resew the zipper like 4 times too.  If you don't get it exactly centered, the two sides close a bit wonky and the corners don't line up.  Mine is still just ever so slightly off, but I finally had to leave that one to Jesus. ;)

Also, just a quick note, the pattern doesn't explain how to deal with the closed end of the zipper when you're installing it.  And there isn't really a clear photo of it in the book.  It took me some fiddling around, but I finally got it.  So here are a few photos of mine for reference, if you need it. 

And don't even get me started on the covered buttons!  LOL! 

At one point I even asked my husband for his opinion.  Of course he picked wrong, tee hee.  But oh are they ever fun to make and I'm going to enjoy finding ways to use the spares. 

I went with these ones because of the zipper.  That zipper is an "ok" pink (not perfect, but it was literally the only option available), but it doesn't match anything else in the case.  So I found this print (cue the angels) to help the zipper pink play nicer with everything else.

That said, all my nonsense is really one of the most fun parts of making - for me.  It's not a waste of time.  I love playing with fabric.  I enjoy that balance of technical, creative, and emotional exercise that comes with making.  I like discovering what works and what doesn't - according to my eye.  And I'm happy to say that at the end of the day, I wouldn't change another thing about my beautiful sewing kit.

Speaking of changing things, I did alter the pattern a bit to suit myself.  Nothing major, just a few little things.

On the cover, I flipped the direction of the word "Sewing" so that it would be right side up when the kit was closed.  And I prefered the border edge with the pincushion so I switched the borders.

I quilted the inner lining because I know that after time and use, the center fold line will get creased.  Quilting the layers together will minimize that inevitable crinkle.

My scissors don't stay put when I open and close the kit.  I made my scissor pocket slightly taller to accommodate my 4" gingher scissors, (they are the best looking pair I have for this kit, plus they work great for fabric, as well as thread when I'm on the go) but that didn't quite solve the issue.  So I'm going to remove the ribbon tab and replace it with a tie for the handles.

I was having a hard time making the corners on the scissor keep and ruler pocket nicely (perfectly) squared.  So instead of making one front and one back of each piece and then sewing around, leaving an opening, and turning right side out ... and then trying to make the corners perfectly square, which I rarely am able to do even when I clip the corners and trim the seam allowance inside ... I did this:

Worked like a charm.

Instead of buying a strip of leather for the thread holder, I used a satin ribbon from my stash.

The pincushion is supposed to be held in place with velcro (loop and hook fastening).  I've never been a huge fan of velcro.  Stuff gets stuck to it and as a mom, I now associate the sound of velcro separating with little people's shoes.  LOL!  I used a sew-in magnet instead.  The pattern also calls for plastic to form the pincushion bottom.  I didn't have any on hand, but I did have some kraft-tex.  It worked great.  I'm thinking you could also use thin cardboard like from a cereal box.

One note about the pattern - the book doesn't include how much to overlap the petals on the pincushion when you're gathering them together with a running stitch.  My overlap is 3/8".

Oh, and I stuffed my pincushion with ground walnut shells (you can find it in a pet store under reptile bedding ... gross, I know) to make it nice and hard.

I used a sew-in magnet for both the little pouch closure and the fastener to hold the pouch to the kit.  I figured that pressing on a snap would be cumbersome if there was - for example - a thimble in the pouch.  But a magnetic snap is easy peasy to deal with.

The literalist in me needed to have silver pins in my pincushion and these ones make me deliriously happy!  I used this fabulous COSMO silver thread.  I know, I know, metallic thread is NOT fun to stitch with, you're probably thinking.  And before I used this product, I would have agreed with you whole-heartedly.  But this stuff is different.  I don't know why or how, but it's a total dream to use.  Honestly.  And then finding these silver beads that I bought years ago for some long forgotten project - probably something I saw in a Martha Stewart magazine once upon a time - was like finding a pot of gold silver at the end of a rainbow!  Don't they make the perfect pin heads?  I started looking for pink beads, but I found these hidden in the same box.  (Not going to tell you how long it took me to even find my bead stash ... ugh!)  But it is moments like these when I nod my head in thanks to the younger crafty me who wasn't afraid to try new things and managed to stock my craft room with many treasures that really do "come in handy some day".

The same literalist tendency led me to these perfectly silvery/gray prints (Lecien's Flower Sugar) for my thimbles.  We all know someone who has/had one of those super cool china thimble collections, right?  For me it was an aunt, who ironically didn't even sew.  Well, that's kind of the look I was going for when I fussycut the fabric for this coordinating pair.

These simple buttons are the result of a ridiculous number and combination of auditions.  Lordy.  I originally had a red heart button that ... ok, it was perfect.  But then again, it just wasn't quite right for some reason.  Can't explain why.  No logic, just a feeling.  So on the 147th dig through my button box, I came across this sweet little flower from my daughter's red cardie (circa kindergarten, sniff!) and that makes me so happy to have it here now.

Another tip: Add the buttons after you've sewn the cover patchwork together.  The buttons can make it difficult to sew perfect 1/4" seams.  Just sayin'.

Oh, and one more thing, the little flower zipper pull you may be wondering about?  Sorry, but if you ask me where to get one, I am of no help.  I bought it at Quilt Market 6 or 7 years ago and I can't remember the name of the vendor.  If you want to find something like it, I recommend looking for leather zipper pulls on Etsy or eBay.  But it really is the sweetest little accessory, isn't it?  If anything I've ever made deserves such a thing, it's definitely this kit!

And now - after all that, plus 6 years - I have THE perfect sewing kit for the Happy Flower QAL I'll be hosting with my friends and fellow Atsuko fans, Wynn and Melissa

(Yes, I've already make a few blocks ... shhh!)

We're starting on March 6th, but I'll be sharing more details in an upcoming post soon.  Hope you will join us!

There's a lot of applique and little bit of embroidery required for the QAL so this kit will be my constant companion throughtout the QAL.  Sorry not sorry if you see my kit a lot for the next year.  ;)

Ok.  If I haven't convinced you to get this book for your library (and quite honestly for your creative soul), there are a lot more inspiring projects and delightful eye-candy coming up for you to enjoy throughout this blog hop.  Here's the rockstar lineup of fabulously talented ladies, plus a fabulously talented gentleman, that you should follow on Instagram if you don't already.  (Oh my goodness I can hardly wait to see what they make.  I feel like a 7 year old on Christmas Eve!)


25 Lisa @aspoonfulsugar aspoonfulofsugardesigns.com
27 Sarah @Sarahedgarprettyfabrictrims alittlehappyplace.blogspot.co.uk
30 Minki @zeriano minkikim.com

1 Heidi @fabricmutt fabricmutt.blogspot.com
3 Clara @claralovestosew Instagram Only
6 Ange @alittlepatchwork alittlepatchwork.wordpress.com
8 Erin @whynotsewquilts whynotsew.blogspot.com
10 Lauren @transientart transientart.com
13 Sedef @downgrapevinelane downgrapevinelane.com
15 Ayda @cafenohut cafenohut.blogspot.com
17 Renee @sewnwithgrace sewnwithgrace.com
20 Heather @vintagegreyhandmade vintagegreyhandmade.blogspot.com
22 Melissa  @ohhowsweetco ohhowsweet.com
24 Greg @greydogwoodstudio greydogwoodstudio.com
27 Stacy @stacyolsondesign stacyolsondesign.com

1 Wynn @zakkaart zakkaart.blogspot.com



I'm really serious about getting as many of you as possible to join our QAL to make the quilt on the cover of this book so how would you like to win one of 10 - yes, TEN - copies of this book?!!!  Zakkaworkshop has generously agreed to give a free copy of Happy Flower Quilts to 10 Pretty by Hand readers.  To enter, please leave a comment here telling me what sewing project you're working on right now.  If you're between projects, tell me what you last finished or what is next on your list.  OR any one of your WIPs will also do.  That's it! 

This givewaway closes Friday January 28 and is open to everyone internationally.   I'll announce the winners next week.

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Reader Comments (278)

Such a cute project! I just learned foundation paper piecing last month so my current project is a paperpieced star mini that I'm hand binding today.
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBrooke
Stumbled across your instagram, inspired by all the pretty things you make! Excited about this Blog Hop; can't wait to see what folks are making from this book. I love fabrics, so my last project was 2 baby blanket quilts for friends that I hand stitched (since I'm still learning to use a sewing machine)...always looking for new ideas, and time to try them!
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLori M.
im working on a scrappy bear claw quilt and its so. much. fun!!
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterjenny
Beautiful work! I am currently (and determined) working on UFOs. Currently is a BOM I have from Fatquarter Shop from years ago. I have a copy of the original Pink Japanese Book too and would love to win a copy of the English version.
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDawn
I'm working on a Swoon quilt!!!!
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLinda
My email was wrong on my last post.
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLinda
Such a sweet set! I'm working on quilting my first pieced quilt! It's for my baby due in March and I'm making slow progress due to complications in my pregnancy but loving the process and getting to learn new skills. Thanks for the chance to win and for the detailed post for such a delightful project!
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKristine
That is such a sweet sewing kit. I've just picked up my EPP Seven Sisters variation made from Lecien flower sugar.
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa
I just finished making a quilt top out of the "leftover" ends of some strip sets I had from another project. I made a small (28 by 35") quilt top in the rail fence pattern with them. I just mailed it to a friend to use as a charity project. It will probably have a border or two added so it is a baby quilt size, or it may be used as a doll quilt. Not sure what I will dive in to next!
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSandy Allen
What a beautiful sewing kit...love all the details..well done. I am hand quilting a dresden plate appliquéd quilt for my king size bed, and hope to finish it by the end of the month!
Eileen ekmvalencia@gmail.com
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEileen Maher
I have been a follower of yours for a long time. Love your blog. Thanks for the giveaway. I am currently working on a random strip quilt for a Orphanage that I support. I am trying to make a quilt for every child and have been doing this for five years. I have 7 quilts left to go. This book would be some inspiration and a chance to do some different projects.
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Schulz
I love this book. I am just finishing up a winter embrodiery and ready for something new. This would be perfect
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKathee
Thanks for sharing. You're sewing kit must be the cutest thing I've seen to date. Love it!
I'm currently working on a baby blanket. I'm hand quilting it. I need to hurry up. Baby is due in a few weeks.
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJulie
What a beautiful organizer! I love all the details and am happy to learn that I'm not the only one that can spend as much time auditioning and deliberating over the fabrics/notions as it takes to make the project. ;o) Enjoyed your tips and creative choices for finishing, too.

I just finished a mini quilt to hang in my sewing room and now have a bag prototype to work on. Happy Monday and thanks for sharing your gorgeous and inspiring organizer! Will be adding this book to my wish list.
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKatherine
Your sewing kit is absolutely gorgeous! Such detail throughout. I'm in the middle of making scrappy Haystack Quilts.
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLittle Quiltsong
I love pink and I love those fabrics and I really love the sewing kit you made and I appreciate all the work that went into making yours--thanks for sharing it with us--
would love this book--
I am working on finishing up using a line of Downton Abbey fabrics--one little quilt is all finished-(hand quilted even) a second small top it finished and am now working on a 9 patch of the prints--got 13 made and sewed together--but have decided to add 4 more to it--by the time this one is done--the fabric stash of this line will be gone--!!!
enjoy the moments-di
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDi
This sewing kit is so beautiful!! Right now I have two block of the month projects, one through my local quilt shop and one online. I also plan on making quilts for all of my 6 great-nephews this year. It's going to be a fun filled year for me! Thank you for the giveaway!
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCecilia Midgette
This is such a beautiful sewing kit, as I love l things pastel and embroidered. Currently, I am working on a quilt called Leanne's House, by the wonderful Australian quilter Leanne Beasley.
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKim
How cute and what perfect workmanship! Working on a pre-printed Wholecloth at the moment. Thankyou!
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Beddig
Wow beautiful but so many decisions, mine will take forever. I'm still working on a Green Tea and Sweet Beans quilt.
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterIndianna
I'm working on a couple of projects right now. I have a Mardi Gras quilt that needs to be layered & quilted. I am, also, working on an embroidered basket quilt with alternating postage stamp blocks.Thanks so much for the give-a-way. I love your sewing kit project & the quilt on the front cover is adorable.
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTina
I love the sewing kit and all the wonderful details. I want to make one! Thank you for the chance to win a copy of the book.
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Estrada
Darling project! This book will be wonderful to have! Love your post too.
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKeri Follmer
Wow! Love your sewing kit! I'm in the middle of finishing up a twin sized quilt that I started 1 year and a half ago right before moving and am just now pulling out again to finish!
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSusan
I am working Leah Days BOM from 2016. I want to finish it up soon.
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHeather
Your sewing kit is perfect! I have the Chinese version of the book and have been wanting to make this kit for ages but found it too difficult to follow without the English instructions. I am currently finishing a little EPP hexie pouch. ♡
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLouise
Oh my gosh, I'm drooling over this book. And I enjoyed every little fragment of your long post. You just have the most delightful, infectious enthusiasm, and you make the sweetest, prettiest projects. Thanks for everything, and the chance to win!!!
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLynne Tilley
I love everything about this! Quilting, sewing, embroidery, .....I was ooooing and ahhhhhhing throughout your post! Such a treasure for my library! I'd be honored to win!
Right now, I'm making some Dresden plates out of "Hop, Skip and a Jump" by American Jane. I needed a fun sew day and it's making me happy! ❤ thank you fora chance to win! ❤
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGenee Davis
Love your sewing kit. My current projects are the Farmer's Wife Quilt (long time WIP that I am trying to get back to) and a needlepoint bunny that I am determined to finish by Easter. But your quilt along is very tempting!
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJane Briscoe
I am finishing some Christmas ornaments. Hope to finish them this week and put them away until December. I am so excited about this book in English! I have the Japanese ? one because I saw it on your blog years ago and loved it. Dawn H
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDawn H
Thank you very much for the contest. I am currently finishing 2 purses/totes from Noodlehead patterns. I would love this book because I live in the mountains of Idaho and it has snowed just about everyday since Christmas and I am not going to see flowers any time soon, probably not until July at this rate. Your project is darling and so creative!
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLaura
I am making the little girl version of your S is for Stitch quilt. My granddaughter is just turning 4- the perfect age for an ABC quilt! I 💗all your work!
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJane
heavens, do you want a list? LOL trying to finish up an EPP plus quilt using all liberty... I love EPP & would love to make a sewing kit like yours to carry around. Thanks for the chance to win!
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEllyn
Thank you for a great give-away! Working on patchwork drawstring bags of different sizes (different size bags with different size patchwork squares. Also resurrecting my Crazy Quilt technique to use on Zippered Bags...I see a theme here. And...making a tiny wool crazy quilt embellished pin cushion with a hand carved wood bowl base. Thank you for the walnut shell tip, I really wanted to use them. Here's hoping!
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMariaeb
I love pink, so really love your sewing kit, as well as everything in this book. I am currently working on several donation quilts for senior citizens. Plus, I always have several of my own WIPs that mostly involve needleturn applique. I am planning to join the QAL, so would be thrilled to win a copy of the book. Congratulations on being asked to help bring this book to the English-speaking quilters.
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSharon
I'm making a valentine pincushion right now. This book looks amazing! Thanks for the chance.
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer
Beautiful - as all your work is. This looks like a fabulous book - so if you've had it for many years, you must read Japanese or just used it for all it's pictures of wonderful projects. I joined the 365 day challenge and began making 'circles' in September. All was well until November and December when I put it on the shelf to work on Christmas projects. Yikes, now I'm trying to keep up with January and also doing 'catch up'. This is becoming more of a challenge than I expected but I'm sticking with it. :)
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLJ
Love that sweet little sewing kit!

I'm currently hand quilting grandbaby #6's (due 1/26) crib quilt, planning grand baby #7's (due 6//12) crib quilt, finishing up an American-flag inspired men's charity quilt and about 10 baby girl quilts for our church, pregnancy center and local hospitals.

I'd be thrilled to win this book. Thanks for the opportunity!
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterConnie
What a great project and wonderful book! Congrats, Kristyne! I'm working on a Crochet-A-Long (CAL) from the UK. I can crochet but am having trouble hand stitching right now after having neuropathy in my hands and feet from chemo. Hopefully things will improve slowly in the future and I will be able to embroider and cross stitch again. Really love your projects and blog.
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKd Brown
The writing on the book is not korean
I have bought many japanese quilt and sewing books-- I just use the pictures and a ruler w centimeters , the projects are usually so much more fun if one can't really read the instructions.

I am presently working on a challenge from my local MQG-- a 23 inch mini made from recycled fabric . in my case vintage kimonos.
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered Commentersharon
What an absolutely perfect little sewing kit....never have too many of those. What I'm working on is block 6 of crabapple hill lace cabins, embroidered pillow cases and a scrappy quilt. What I finished recently are some ufos and Christmas gifts.

Miss you blogging. Can't wait to get my hands on this book.
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEdith
Wow...you did a great job on this project. I love your color choices! I am currently working on a baby quilt for my newest granddaughter. She is 5 months old, so I really need to get with it. It is going to turn out really cute!
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterChristi Pike
Have a long term english paper piecing project that I continue to work on and bought a new die for my GO so I had to cut some orange peels. Most importantly is to clean and reorganize my sewing room. Got a good start yesterday with a new ironing surface. Your sewing kit is so beautiful! Look forward to seeing the rest of the projects on the blog hop.
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterFour dogs and one quilter
What a beautiful sewing pouch !
I am finishing the binding on a Mini Swoon quilt. It has been lots of fun!
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSusie
This is just about the prettiest thing I have ever seen! Love it. I am currently making Easter dresses-lots of pintucks , pastels and lace.
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJanine
Love your sewing kit! You have me convinced that the book is a must:) Looking forward to seeing the others' wonderful projects too.
I am currently working on my first twin sized quilt. My daughter is outgrowing the baby quilt I made for her.
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHannah W
Another outstanding piece!
Right now I am working on a casual jacket. All the panels are out of 30's florals!! Loving it!
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPatricia Melilli
Ohhh, I love your sewing kit! I just realized the other day that the new version of the book was available. I immediately put it on my wishlist. I'm currently working on a pattern testing quilt. Lots more pieces than I anticipated, so it's taking me a little while to finish. Your blog is always such an inspiration! I hope to be able to join the quilt along in March.
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSally K
As always, your work is beautiful. The book looks amazing. Thanks for the opportunity. acbeier71@gmail.com
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Beier
You rock, girl! Your sewing bag is wonderful!
Sure beats the quilt I am currently working on with huge 15 inch blocks. I should have it together this weekend, then my next project will be a valentine cushion cover. I think!I'm easily distracted.LOL!!!!
January 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGinny Worden
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