My Quilt Crush: Yoko Saito (+ A Giveaway!)

Book-J:  Yoko Saito's Interweave/F+W MediaGiveaway-GoldThis infatuation started when my morning email included an Interweave/F+W Media e-flyer promoting a new Yoko Saito title called Housewarming Patchwork: 78 Original Motifs and 10 Projects. Ooh–how fabulous! Delicious neutral prints deployed whimsically ala style Japonaise!

Hmm, I thought that morning, blogging sister Christie’s post on neutral quilts was super-popular. I’ll bet our readers would love to take a peek at another spin on projects that feature prints that play with light and shadow. Am I right, or am I right?

Gotta admit I’m susceptible to the Japanese quilting aesthetic and I’m astonished by the facility with which these master craftswomen re-imagine traditional quilting styles from the U.S. and Europe. Yoko Saito is a queen among quilting queens and her new book is a visual treat. Her Western World fans love her so much that they’ll buy her books in Japanese, French, or whatever other language, just to own them. Lucky for us, Interweave/F+W Media has translated texts to meet the demand for English-language versions. Housewarming Patchwork is the first of two volumes of Yoko’s 156 Patchwork Designs.

This particular title focuses on 78 design motifs (yielding 3½” blocks) that can be used in infinite ways. Yoko uses selected blocks to embellish 10 projects ranging from business card holders (if only my own business card was as charming) and water bottle totes (fashionable hydration) to table pockets (a cool, unexpected idea) and purses (love, love, love the compass bag on the cover).  What makes Yoko’s handiwork so transcendent is her deft use of prints—she is scary good at it. Gotta say I’m obsessed by her spot-on fabric choices spotlighted in the cover projects.

Book-J:  Quilts Japan Series

The trio of “Quilts Japan” compilations I co-edited–available via online outlets like Amazon.

My love of Yoko and her Japanese quilting sisters is longstanding. Back when I was publicizing new quilting titles for C&T Publishing, I actually had a hand in developing compilations of Japanese quilt patterns for publication. C&T had struck a collaborative deal with Nihon Vogue to produce a trio of project books from Quilts Japan magazine and I was tasked with selecting the projects and ushering the books through the editorial process. Who should be one of our featured quilt artists?  Well, Yoko Saito, of course!

Here's Yoko Saito's project featured in "A Bouquet of Quilts."

Here’s Yoko Saito’s project featured in “A Bouquet of Quilts.”

Here’s her biography from Interweave/F+W Media:

YOKO SAITO appears regularly on Japanese television. She has been featured in magazines, authored multiple books and created quilt exhibitions and workshops in France, Italy and Taiwan. In 2008, she celebrated 30 years of quilting with the Yoko Saito Quilt Exhibition at Matsuya department store in Ginza, Tokyo. She lives in a suburb of Tokyo. To learn more about Yoko Saito, visit her website.

Her groupies are known to travel to Japan to visit her shop Quilt Party (the link takes you to a an America super-fan’s visit to the shop). For those who cannot venture so far, Yoko Saito adoration is available at Pinterest where a legion of enthusiasts “pin” her handiwork.

About that new book . . . Interweave/F+W Media will bestow a copy of Housewarming Patchwork on a lucky giveaway winner here at SHWS. (Note:  the book will be mailed November 25, 2013, the title’s release date.) Leave me a comment by Thursday, October 24 and I will announce a winner in my Friday post.  Here’s the giveaway question:  What do you enjoy about Japanese quilt-making traditions? Visit Interweave/F+W Media to pre-order the book at a special price.

See ya Friday,


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73 Responses to My Quilt Crush: Yoko Saito (+ A Giveaway!)

  1. Pingback: Yoko Saito Redux: English-Language Patterns Available Now + Giveaway! |

  2. Pingback: Quilter & Designer Carolyn Friedlander Stops By . . . Giveaway Today! |

  3. Heather J says:

    I admire the fabric choices to achieve a stunning design with such attention to detail. The quilts are a visual feast for the eyes.

  4. kiska says:

    the sublime beaty is over whelming. you can just look at them and feel the tranquility.

  5. Melissa G. says:

    I am drawn to the quiet serenity of the colors. They have a way of drawing you in instead of coming out and grabbing you. I see something different in the pieces every time I look.

  6. Belinda K-N says:

    As I explore Japanese quilt-making, I continue to be inspired – at first glance, each piece tends to look symmetrical; however, I have found most of the detailed quilts to be a well-balanced blend of symmetry and asymmetry. The intricate geometric patterns, the traditional motifs, and fabric choices speak to me and definitely spark my creative interest!

  7. barb price says:

    i love their soft colors, Taupe, i have a small stash, just waiting for the right project, maybe a book?? lol

  8. Susan Paxton says:

    As a newby to quilting I have not seen a lot of Japanese quilts. One of the reasons I love Your blog is because I learn and experience so many new and wonderful things. Thanks so much for your post …Yoko Saito is so talented and I am in awe of her work. I am not sure if I could accomplish that kind of art but would love a chance to try.

    • Jennifer says:

      Hello Susan, Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I do hope you take a peek at the Yoko Saito Pinterest boards. You’ll find plenty of inspiration for your explorations in quilting. The design motifs collected in the new book are easy enough to tackle so I think you could find you way to assembling a Japanese inspired project. Good luck with the giveaway!

  9. Theresa Early says:

    Absolutely love her work (have sought it out in magazines!) and would LOVE to have the book.

  10. Lois says:

    Their attention to detail from design to finish is incredible. I have taught many Japanese women to quilt and rug hook and I’m always amazed at their determination and creativity.

  11. Bonnie Y says:

    I love the fabric choices, the amazing bags, the details of the appliqué. Amazing work to look at.

  12. Gladys says:

    I love the precision, order and designs. And also love the coloring too. Would love to have a book! Thank you very much for the chance! Have a nice day!

  13. I love the fabrics she uses and the designs she makes, and how the japanese taupes look in the pieces. I have gotten a few to use in a project, now i just need some projects to do. I wish we could get more of her designs here.


    • Jennifer says:

      Hello Debbie, What a pretty pictures you have on your blog. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Japanese taupes are heavenly. I think working in neutrals is excellent therapy for a cluttered mind (like mine). Texture, shadowing, and print design can be spotlighted, which makes for very interesting design challenges.

  14. Cathy says:

    I find the neutral fabrics very soothing and sophisticated even in the primitive blocks. Just lovely.

  15. I love the color themes and the variety of projects which are different from what I see in other American venues. crystalbluern at onlineok dot com

    • Jennifer says:

      I too enjoy that distinct and different dialect of quilting that Japanese craftswomen deliver. They blow my mind, so to speak, and show me new ways to approach classic blocks and designs.

  16. Elizabeth Monahan says:

    I admire the precision and patience, but I really love the sense of design including the use of odd numbers, creating movement even within a symmetrical layout.

  17. Rosemary says:

    Asian handwork in general is so meticulous and perfect. I admire their patience. I really love Sashiko and intend on doing some projects that incorporate it. The simplicity is so refreshing and their designs are timeless.

    • Jennifer says:

      Thanks to Rosemary for her insightful comments and to all of you who have shared thoughts and insights about Japanese quilt making. Yes! Yes! Yes! I agree with all of you and I’m happy to find so many who enjoy the artistry of these wonderful craftswomen. We are blessed that our craft in this modern age allows us to share our handiwork across the globe.

  18. Carol Barringer says:

    I enjoyed following all the links — Thank you! I love the use of stripes and plaids. The effect she achieves is so different from the usual “mood” of stripes and plaids (which I also love). Amazing work!

  19. mellonquilts says:

    I appreciate the attention to detail without it seeming rigid. Many of the Japanese pieces I’ve seen seem to flow with grace.

  20. Nancy R says:

    I love the details in these quilts. I also love the coloring…I find them all to have a calming and cozy look to them.

  21. Sheila says:

    I am not familiar with this lady’s work but the book looks very inviting. The Japanese quilts I have seen have subtlety and serenity and I like their use of texture.

    • Jennifer says:

      Absolutely agree–truly sublime work. Do check out the link to the Yoko Saito Pinterest boards. It’s an opportunity to look at her quilts as well as the smaller work.

  22. Karen says:

    I love the precision and order. There was a Japanese quilt at PIQF that had a simple design in traditional blue fabrics. The thread work was perfect and not overdone. Overall, the quilt emanated a sense of tranquillity.

  23. Sheila says:

    I think what draws me to these quilts is the simplistic approach yet so elegant with great attention to detail .

  24. Terry says:

    I really love the attention to detail. Thanks for the sweet giveaway :)

  25. Brenda says:

    I just came back from PIQF and was so impressed with the Japanese quilts. I think it is combination of the complexity of design, the use of color and the amazing workmanship.

  26. I have seen this book! So many great designs! I love the fabric choices and precision.

  27. Lucie says:

    I went to France from Canada to experience the Japanese quilts. The handwork of embroidery and quilting always takes my breath away. The attention to minute details to enhance a design is stunning.

    • Jennifer says:

      Your are so right–the attention to detail is awe-inspiring. There’s a lovely contemplative quality to Japanese handiwork and I suspect (and I’ve heard) that the pace of work is unhurried which is so essential to high quality work.

  28. Jill says:

    I love everything about it! I fell in love with Japanese fabrics many years ago and have quite a wonderful collection. I have not cut them! I love the fabric choices and how simplistic Japanese quilt makers make the quilts look…. That is until you really look at them……not simple at all!

    • Jennifer says:

      You haven’t cut into your Japanese stash? Ever? Wow! Perhaps this Yoko Saito title will inspire you to sacrifice some yardage for a good cause.

  29. Ann Dunn says:

    It amazes me that such simple designs can translate into complicated visual effects.

  30. Love the delicious combination of fabric used in Japanese patchwork.

  31. Diane says:

    I love the colours.

  32. Love how exact everything is and the result is so lovely.

    • Jennifer says:

      The beauty of the work is unequivocal, which is something really wonderful in a time and place when things can be hurried and half-done.

  33. Mary Kastner says:

    The colors, the design and the details. This new book is a great idea. The bouquet quilt is just beautiful. Thank you so much for the chance to win a copy.


  34. Lizzie says:

    I love how well planned and logical projects tend to be, with beauty as the end result!

  35. M says:

    The intricate details and lovely use of colours:)

  36. Michele says:

    I think the Japanese quilts have an incredible detail ethic, and a passion for accuracy.

  37. Sally MB says:

    The appliqué and piecework seem to flow seamlessly. One doesn’t overwhelm the other.

  38. Reading this was an eye opener. Never realised how neutral can be made into stunning art-work! thanks for writing about it.

    • Jennifer says:

      Designing with neutral prints is a real pleasure and the end result is something that can be quite soothing. I love working with lots of colors, but there are times when light and shadow and quiet tones are so therapeutic.

  39. Elle Pukalo says:

    If this makes sense- the simple complexity!

    • Jennifer says:

      Yes, simple complexity does make sense and is embodied in Japanese craftsmanship in all arts and crafts. Sublimely simple, but dazzlingly complete, thoughtful, and exact.

  40. Annette R says:

    The color – definitely the color is the major draw for me. Their use of neutrals is really an art.

    • Jennifer says:

      Yes, indeed, Annette. Scrolling through the Yoko Saito Pinterest boards really underscores that notion of artful use of neutrals. It’s one of her hallmarks. I know she designs some fabric lines, but some of the prints she uses must have been serendipitous finds. This maybe a chicken/egg conundrum. Does she design the fabric before the project or does she design the project and then suitable fabric?

  41. Peggy O'Connor says:

    I love the Japanese perfectionism in patchwork and applique. Always stunning!

  42. Colleen G. says:

    The workmanship is a big draw but the calming neutrals are such a restful spot in a world of colour. Thanks for the opportunity to look between the covers.

  43. The Japanese quilts I’ve seen have an amazing way of layering and weaving shapes and motifs. There are always MORE to look at, more surprises to find, endlessly fascinating. Thanks for the chance at this lovely book.

    • Jennifer says:

      You’re welcome. I’m always happy to chat about the sublime artistry of Japanese quilt making. I love it and yet, I can feel intimidated by the scope of their achievements.

  44. I really enjoy the details, details, details. I would really make use of a copy of this new book.

  45. Linda Vanderbaan says:

    Thanks for sharing about this book and artist – I love the whole look with using neutrals and prints.

  46. Suzanne says:

    I love the colors, the book looks really interesting.

  47. Sally Dixon says:

    I’m not familiar with her but what I’ve just looked at is amazing! So beautiful. I plan to read more about her. Would love to have a book! Thanks for the giveaway.

  48. Ssgirl says:

    I love the use of plaids and neutrals in the Japanese quilts, combine that with superb handwork and the result is so calming and restful.

  49. Jane from New England says:

    I love how there is a simplicity amidst the complexity. Sounds strange – but that’s always what I
    see. Simple beauty crafted so intricately!! I would just LOVE this book. Thanks for the chance!!

    • Jennifer says:

      Your reference to simplicity amidst complexity has been repeated a number of times in the comments. That’s certainly a key quality shared by Japanese quilt makers. Best of luck with the giveaway.

  50. cynthia says:

    I really admire the meticulous, precision handwork.

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