I am lucky enough to be starting the blog tour of Amy Morinaka’s new book, ‘Zakka Handmades’. I have followed Amy’s blog for a long time so to see her beautiful cute style altogether in a book is a huge pleasure. Zakka relates to the everyday and her book perfectly reflects this with twenty four projects to make and use everyday. I thought it would be fun to find our a little more about Amy and her crafting style...
You were brought up in Japan. When did you move to USA and how did the cultural change affect your crafting style?
I first came to the U.S. straight out of high school to attend college. That was back in the mid-80s, when people wore leg warmers and kids carried cabbage patch dolls and there were no zakka movement around here! (lol) Few years later I met my hubby and we’ve been enjoying our lifestyles here in Southern California ever since. We often visit Japan to visit our family members and friends.
Although I sewed and knitted occasionally, crafting took a back seat for a long time until I had my own kids (now ages 13 and 11). I guess I was just too busy adjusting to the American life, studying, working, and managing my family, during all this time. Crafting became part of my life when I bought myself a brand new sewing machine when my youngest was in preschool, and from that point on, I’m a non-stop crafter!
Looking back, I’m not sure how the cultural changes affected my crafting style, but one thing for sure is that I’ve always cherished the Japanese zakka culture. Growing up in Japan, hunting for cute and “kawaii” zakka, adoring them, and showing off to my friends and family, has always been a big part of my life, regardless of handmade or not!
Your projects have a mix of sewing combined with other crafts like crochet, embroidery and stamping. Who taught you to sew? Are there any crafts that you would love to learn?
I’m a self-taught everything girl. I’ve been a book worm all my life and whenever I want to learn something new, my first stop is to get help from the books. That’s how I learned how to sew, to crochet, to knit, to embroider, to carve eraser blocks and you name it – all sorts of crafty things - from both Japanese and English craft books. Of course, online resources have been a big help in the recent years. So when it was my turn to write a craft book, I had a very clear goal - to provide step by step instructions to the crafters of all experience levels as clearly as possible, with abundant illustrations and diagrams.
As for new crafts I’d like to learn, on my current list are magic loop sock knitting, stencilling, bead accessory making, Eastern European inspired embroidery, soap making… and the list goes on. (Which means I need to get more books! lol)
There has been a huge explosion in Japanese fabrics and cute Kawaii style. Has that made it easier for you to find the materials you want? What are your favourite fabric and notions suppliers for Zakka projects?
Oh yes, definitely! I continue to be fascinated by the wonderful fabrics available out there, including the Japanese imports, on both online and at a local level. I don’t have a specific fabric supplier that I favour to make zakka projects, because I’d like to keep myself open to all sorts of yummy fabrics available. But when it comes to notions and sewing machine, I really favour the Japanese brands – namely the Clover supplies and tools and my Juki sewing machine (TL-2010Q)!
The book is packed full of projects. Can you explain a little about where you find ideas and inspiration and how you go about designing a project?
I don’t look for inspirations, but I’m always open to inspirations! Craft books and magazines, pinterest, flickr, and the amazing craft blogs out there (including yours, Kerry! **blushes**) are all precious sources of inspiration. I keep a small doodle book where I sketch my ideas and thoughts. And every time I try a new project, I write down the measurements, the how-to’s, and the specifics in my “project notebook” for future reference. My current project notebook is in my fourth, and I know for sure that these notebooks will continue to grow!
I think my favourite project, and the one everyone will want to make, is the Kotori Little Bird Pouch what’s your favourite?
Hmmm… this is a tough one! But it will probably be the Crochet Doily Pouch. It incorporates two of the things I love – sewing and crocheting – and it’s also a quick project to put together.
My daughter is almost 13 and she was very interested in your book. We made the Puffy Ponytail bows together. Your projects have a simple fresh style and many of them would be perfect for beginner crafters. Which projects would you recommend for someone without much sewing experience?
Oh that’s fantastic, Kerry! (*blushes*) As you mentioned, most of my zakka projects in the book are great for crafters with limited sewing experience. Simple Linen Tote, Sashiko Style Coasters, and the Puffy Ponytail Bow, are probably the simplest of all. And if you know how to stitch simple crochet stitches, the Crochet-Edged One-Yard Scarf should be worked effortlessly. The crochet edging of this scarf is stitched using only three simple stitches – chain, single crochet and double crochet. (In the UK, they’re chain, double crochet, and treble).
You often mention home and your family. How does crafting fit into your family life and space? Can you describe your sewing space at home?
My family, especially my girls, inspired me to begin sewing. I would probably not be creating as much as I do now if it weren’t for my girls. I feel very fortunate for the inspirations they continue to provide me! At the same time, I find it interesting that crafting is what really helps to save my sanity from day-to-day hassle of raising two demanding pre-teen/teenage girls!
I don’t have a designated craft room of my own, but instead, my sewing table, ironing board, and supply shelves are all placed in our family room that is adjacent to our kitchen. This is really convenient for me, because I can multitask – craft, cook, help my kids’ homework, drink green tea, and listen to the radio – all at once, staying in one location.
What are your top tips to give a small project like a pouch or a bag a Zakka twist?
To me, it’s all in the details. I love adding a personal touch to my zakka projects by incorporating crochet parts, simple embroidery, pieced patchwork, and stamped art to create one of a kind design. Stitching small pieces of fabric scraps or vintage ribbons as original “labels” or “side embellishments” to pouches and bags, and attaching a small wood bead or a button to the zipper pull makes all the difference!
Thankyou Amy! The next stop on the tour is Jeni of In Color Order on 26th June
6/24/13 - Kerry verykerryberry (interview post)
6/26/13 Jeni In Color Order
6/28/13 Tea Rose Home
7/1/13 – Amber One Shabby Chick
7/3/13 – Kristen Feeling Stitchy
7/5/13 – Hiromi Harujion Design
7/8/13 – Amy nanaCompany
7/10/13 – Lisa and Sarah A Spoonful of Sugar
7/12/13 – Mette Erleperle
7/15/13 – Sarah and Rachel Roxy Creations
7/17/13 - Anna Noodlehead
And on every stop there is a giveaway of the Zakka Handmades book, including here! This one is open internationally. To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment about your favourite Zakka or small project make, either from a book/pattern or of your own invention and make sure your email address is included in your profile or as part of your comment e.g your name (at) gmail (dot) com. Winner will be randomly chosen 1st July!