CHAT: Meet Tamiko of Patchwork Notes

Welcome to another fun chat.  I’m loving this series!

Come on in, have a seat and make a new friend.

Today I’m chatting with the wonderfully talented Tamiko Percell of Patchwork Notes. You might recall these beauties:


They are what brought me to this very interesting and creative quilter.

She and the fabulous Ayumi are great friends and upon Ayumi’s move to Japan, Tamiko shared this post about her friend and the parting gifts they exchanged.


Aren’t those pot holders darling? Tamiko brings such an artistic touch to her creations.

So pull up a chair and let’s have a visit.

ELQ: Tamiko, tell me a little bit about yourself.

Tamiko: Such an open ended question! I was born and raised in Canada but I’ve been living in California for almost nine years.  Some days I miss Canada like crazy and other days I am so happy that California feels like home.  My sewing habit is paid for by my career as a Transportation Planner – something that I might love more than sewing. 


ELQ: Where and when did you start sewing and quilting?

Tamiko: My mom taught me to sew when I was about 9 or 10 years old.  She managed to teach me the basics even though I put a lot of energy into resisting the learning process.  I wish she was around to see how far I’ve come.  Sewing fell by the wayside when I picked up knitting in my early twenties.  A couple years ago I pulled out my old sewing machine and last year I decided to try my hand at quilting. I think it’s safe to say that I won’t be stopping anytime soon. 
ELQ: It’s so addicting, isn’t it? I picked up a knitting a few years back but quilting is much more satisfying for me.


ELQ: Your fabrics in the X and + quilt are eclectic and amazing. You have such a great eye for pairing fabrics together.  What tips do you have for buying fabric, especially for people that struggle with blending different lines and designers?

Tamiko: Thank you.  The + and x quilt is my first project that really feels like “me” and my style.  I don’t know that I’m the best person to give tips but this is what works for me.

1. Don’t buy entire lines unless you really truly adore the collection. Pick your favourite prints from various lines and mix them up.  
2. Buy a little of what you love instead of a lot of what you like.  The best decision I ever made was to get away from the “super size” mentality in my fabric shopping.  I’d rather spend the same amount for a FQ of something I absolutely adore than get yardage of prints that are just nice.
3. When you find a fabric that you love, don’t think about whether it “matches” your existing stash.  Clashing = good.

4. Make a quilt that will make you happy with fabrics that you love. Don’t worry about trends or discussions that are happening in the blogosphere because your opinion is the one that matters. 

ELQ: Such great advice.  In the beginning, I felt I needed to have lots of fabric, but really, what I’ve found is I want fabric that I love. Those prints are the ones I always come back to when choosing fabric for a new project. 

ELQ: Your fabric stash must be amazing. Where do you shop for fabric and what are some of your favorite designers/lines?

Tamiko: The vast majority of my fabric is bought online because I have different taste from my local quilt store (but they get my notion business).  My favourite designers are Suzuko Koseki,  Kumiko Fujita, Yoshiko Noda, and Cosmo Cricket. I also love vintage fabrics, feedsacks, and several Lecien lines.  
Suzuko Koseki and Kumiko Fujita seem to be experiencing an increase in attention. I really hope that leads to more American stores carrying their prints.  SuperbuzzyLuckyKaerufabricMwendasMasonsCottage are all good places to start if you don’t know Japanese.  The bulk of my Japanese prints come from Japan. 
ELQ: Wow- those Japanese designers have some amazing talent and some really unique prints. I am on the hunt for some text fabric and now I know where to start looking. Love learning about cool new fabric- thanks! 


ELQ: What kind of sewing machine do you use?
Tamiko: Until last year I used the same Kenmore and Janome machines that  learned to sew with!  Last year I upgraded to a JanomeHorizon.  I can’t believe that I waited such a long time!  


ELQ: Do you have an educational background in sewing or design?

Tamiko: No. I am a Geographer by training and have a strong cartography background, which requires a lot of design work but nothing like a graphic designer.  
ELQ: You are quite well-rounded! Your day job sounds really interesting. 


ELQ: What inspires you?

Tamiko: What doesn’t? like so many people, I am constantly inspired by Flickr and Pinterest but most of my inspiration comes from the world around me – friends, travel, etc.  

I commute to work by bicycle, which gives me two hours everyday to clear my mind, work out frustrations, and think about sewing projects.  I often stop to take pictures or jot down notes along the way because I have a horrible memory. 

Patchwork books from the 70’s can be very inspiring as are Japanese patchwork books because the aesthetic really speaks to me. 
ELQ: First, I think it is way cool that you bike to work- awesome workout and great for the environment. Secondly, I find Flickr and Pinterest very inspiring too- there are so many creative people out there- you being one of them! Now, I am off to search for some vintage 70s patchwork books- cool. 


ELQ: Tell me about your favorite finished sewing project?

Tamiko: I haven’t finished a lot of projects! As a process sewer, I’m also a chronic starter.  But, my favourite project is probably my Hello Betty quilt. It was the first quilt I made that is big enough to use as a quilt. I knew nothing about designers, fabric or quilting.  I had no idea that I used a honey bun or that I could buy it in other precuts…or that they were even called precuts. I finished the quilt top a few weeks later but I didn’t quilt it until this year!  Just like you can never replicate the feeling of crossing the finish line after your first endurance event, you can never replicate the feeling of taking your first quilt out of the wash. 

ELQ: Gotta love a quilt straight from the dryer! Always the best part I think. 


ELQ: What do you like to do with your time when you aren’t sewing?

Tamiko: I spend as much time as I can with my friends and my husband. We’re very far from our families so we are lucky to have close friends that fill that void. I love riding my bike, hiking, canning, and I’m also always up for trying anything new. 

ELQ: Sounds like life is good in Cali. :) I am sorry you live so far away from me- I would love to hang out with you! 

ELQ: Thanks so much for stopping by to chat Tamiko! I so enjoyed it and hope you all did too! 


  1. 1


    Thanks for this chat. I just discovered Tamiko a few weeks ago and love her style. I want to go to Japan and go shopping. Jen, you want to go with me?

  2. 2


    She is amazing! What talent. I loved the line about “chronic starter” – I can relate to that! Great advice about fabric shopping too…

  3. 7


    I’m so sorry that I wasn’t able to comment until now! Sporadic technology access at best. Thanks for all the nice comments :) And, Diane, you should definitely go fabric shopping in Japan. It’s something else!

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