Wednesday, September 26, 2018

YOKO SAITO Through the Years. A book review.

You all know how much I admire the Japanese quilters and among them Yoko Saito. When I discovered that Martingale was about to publish a book about one of the most fascinating quilter I know, you can imagine that I was really looking forward to discovering it. It is now available and I can't stop looking at it and all the photos it contains!

It is not a pattern book. It is a coffee table book about Yoko Saito's quilting journey. The book is divided into 3 parts : My quilt journey, Quilts, and Bags.

First, let me tell you my impression.

I didn't know what to expect. I have known Yoko Saito's work for a long time, have met her several times, have taken classes with her, have visited her shop in Tokyo and have seen many of her quilts in different exhibitions in France. I have almost every single pattern book Yoko Saito has published, both in Japanese and in English or French when they were available. I have all her Quilt Party Catalogues which are  beautiful books showing all the quilts made by her students throughout the year. So what would this book offer me that I did not already have? Well, .... so much more!!! Let me explain you why.

The first part, My Quilt Journey, is quite short and Yoko Saito speaks about her art and her beginnings showing her very early quilts. But immediately, you realize that the book you are holding is just a different type of books! It is not so much about the texts but about the quilts themselves. How can it be, you might wonder?

Well, let's move on to the second part of the book : Quilts. There are 20 quilts showcased in this part from her first quilts to the latest ones. You can see the entire quilts with a text in which Yoko Saito explains its story. And then the show starts!!! There are detailed photos of the quilts, a lot of photos, getting closer and closer, giving you a sense of Yoko Saito's amazing handwork, hand appliqué, hand quilting! These photos give you the opportunity to see the texture of the fabrics used. When looking at the photos in this book, I have the same feeling I had when seeing Yoko Saito's quilts for real! I do know the sky's the limit, but I can assure you Yoko Saito is already high up! Her work gives me goosebumps!!! I have never seen so many details thanks to the close-up photos in any other books.

The Bag part is a bit shorter with 8 bags showcased but you will find the same detailed photos which will leave you speechless and dreaming.

I have decided to just post here a few photos that you can also see on Martingale's website. I am not adding any others as I do not want to spoil the pleasure you are going to have when discovering them! But believe me, you're in for a treat!

If you want the patterns, they are available in different books and magazines both in English and French. In the USA, the publisher is Stitch Publications. In France, Quiltmania has published many of her books (both translations from Japanese and original publications). Moreover,  two fabulous quilts showcased were published in Quiltmania magazines (references are given in the book). Les Editions de Saxe have also translated a few books into French.

I believe this book is a book both for those who want to discover Yoko Saito's amazing work but also also those who, like me, do know her work but want to discover it in more depth and detail.
For me, YOKO SAITO Through the Years will be one of my bookshelves' treasure!

Until later,

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A new project, a new blog ?

The back-to-school frenzy period is now behind and I can find time for quilting and stitching again. The first thing I did was to clean up my sewing room because it motivates me to surround myself with a peaceful atmosphere with all my cherished tools around me. It doesn't stay so tidy for long! When it's messy again, I just look at the photos.... trust me, it works ;-)

My blog is slowly coming to an end by lack of motivation. I have spent some time thinking about it and though I know that blogs are not a favorite media anymore and many people have moved to Instagram, I truly believe that blogging is a very different experience. It creates a very different type of relationship with your readers while being a self-development tool in many aspects. I still love my blog and when I see all the past posts, the photos, it does make me happy. It is a bit like a quilting life journal. So I do not want to let it die. But I need a new blog project, with new ideas and new goals.

That's why, I am thinking of giving my blog a fresh new start in a very near future. Maybe I will open a new blog on a different platform or change this one so it looks different. This new blog or new blog version will be about my passion for threads. Shall I also post about lifestyle, travel  and food or not? I would love your input about what you would like to find and what is important for you : text, photography? Would you like to see finished projects, projects in the making, step-by-step tutorials, discovering tools, books, artists, exhibitions? Do not hesitate to write in the comment section what you like in a blog, what you like reading, what you are looking for in a blog you follow.

Some people have asked me to write my blog in French rather than English. Would you prefer to have it in French, in both languages?

Posting everyday is just impossible for me as I work full time as a high school teacher. Posting once a month may not be enough. Would you prefer one post a week, one post every other week?

What about the name? Do you think I should change it? Any ideas?

Let me know what you think, I will note down and review all your ideas, opinions, comments in October and November and work on the new blog meanwhile.

I thank you all in advance for your comments ;-)

Wishing you a lovely fall season if you're in the northern hemisphere and a lovely spring for those down under :-)

Until later,

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Japanese quilters 3 : Masako Wakayama

Masako Wakayama is a quilter whose books and projects are published in France by Les Editions de Saxe. We often found one or two of her projects in the magazine Quilt Country. Her quilt company is called Crib Quilt.

Because her shop is not very far from Tokyo, I wanted to visit it. But unfortunately it was impossible to organize this visit while I was in Tokyo as I had so many things to see in five days.... and I didn't want to impose another quilt shop visit to my wife as I had already planned two.

But sometimes, the planets seem to align perfectly and guess what? A few weeks before leaving for Japan I discovered that Masako Wakayama had an exhibition in a luxurious department store in Osaka and it was the weekend I was in Osaka at the beginning of my trip! I couldn't miss that opportunity and so I went there!

 Masako Wakayama creates quilts that are different from the ones of Yoko Saito and Reiko Kato. She doesn't use taupe fabrics. Her fabric color palette is blue, white and red. Yet, her quilts have the Japanese style I like so much : attention to details, tiny pieced pieces, embroidery, beautiful hand quilting and her fabrics are both printed and textured.

Many quilts, quilted bags, pouches or decorative objects were displayed. I got the chance to see all the projects I had admired in her books and magazines. I also discovered her new fabric collection and bought the new collection box which included a fat eighth of all the fabrics as well as the printed panel used to create several projects.

Below are details of the quilt Masako Wakayama is holding in the first photo! It represents a book with the spine on the left. Look at the bottom right hand corner (4th photo below)! She has created the folded pages!

I spent some time talking to Masako about her work and projects. It was the first time I saw her in person and she has been very very nice and so enthusiastic about quilting. She showed me a project she was working on! She was piecing tiny hexagons which were 5 mm!!! Instead of paper lining, she uses the appliqué paper used with Apliquick. In fact she uses the Apliquick method to prepare the hexagons and pieced them together afterwards. The paper becomes very soft with manipulation and it is as if it is not there. So very easy!! I will definitely give it a try ;-)

Among the notions, I noticed her threads which are really fine, even finer than the Aurifil 80wt and yet very strong. She also used extremely fine needles. She has a special technique to avoid the thread from sliding through the needle eye while stitching!

That was another great moment for me during this trip.

Japanese quilters are fascinating! And Japan has been fascinating as well! I have been back for more than a month and there are still images and thoughts that come back regularly. It is a country you wish to discover even more after such a beautiful trip!

Until later,

PSPlease let me know if you are having trouble commenting. There are new laws in Europe about Privacy and I do not know whether I should change anything or not in the settings so your feedback about comments is really appreciated so that I can make the necessary changes if it is needed. Thanks a lot 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The Japanese quilters 2 : Yoko Saito

Who has not dreamt to go to Yoko Saito's Quilt Party shop in Tokyo? It has been a long time dream as she is a quilter I have admired since the beginning of my passion for quilting.

I remember when I first saw her quilts in an exhibition in Saintes Marie aux Mines, Alsace, France. It was simply mind-blowing!!! I had done the tour where she related the story behind the quilts that where exhibited, how she worked and how her designs evolved throughout the process of making them. I also remember she mentioned that she could find inspiration in everything around her.

If my memory is right, it was in 2006. At that time Yoko Saito worked with many dark fabrics but she was starting incorporating lighter colors in her quilts. And since then, I have seen her taupe fabric range change slightly and now incorporating more blues due to her passion for Sweden. Her use of taupe fabrics is amazing and she has written a fantastic book about it which is only available in Japanese and English. It is entitled Yoko Saito's Japanese Taupe Color Theory - A Study Guide, by Stitch Publications.

Finding the shop is very easy. But if you have trouble finding your way, you just have to ask someone in the street and, as always in Japan, people help you and very often go with you to show you the way.

The shop is on the first floor. There are two more floors but these are not accessible to the public.

The shop is quite big but not that much. It definitely has a very warm atmosphere with wooden floors and wooden shelves. It is filled to the brim with fabrics both on bolts and in folded fat quarters. All the accessories and notions that Yoko Saito use (and even more) are on display. At the back you can find the kits and on the walls the quilts and bags are on display.

Finally, behind the glass where all the small items kits are is the classroom which can sit up to 50 students. As you already know, I am quite fascinated by their teaching process.

If you are a fan of Yoko Saito and her work, it is a bit overwhelming at first. There is so much I wanted to see that I probably didn't see all there was to admire.

There are quite a lot of people working in the shop. One of the lady looked familiar to me. She finally asked me whether we had not already met in Nantes, France. She had good memory because she was with Yoko Saito in Nantes a few years ago.
I had no idea whether Yoko Saito was there or not but while I was looking around she went upstairs to tell Yoko Saito that I was in the shop and Yoko Saito very kindly came to greet me and my wife. It was great to see her again in person. Indeed, I have taken several classes with her so she remembered me and was very nice. She asked one of the ladies to bring the animal and alphabet quilt downstairs so I could see it! I was speechless! What a quilt! I know, from the many quilts from Yoko Saito I had seen in exhibitions, that when you see them up close it is always breathtaking with the details and workmanship and this one did not disappoint!

I also noticed that the same quilt, but without the borders, was on display behind the cashier counter which means that the Quilt Party staff make several versions. It is really impressive!! And there was also the bonus small projects that were made with the block patterns of the quilt :-)

I brought back some notions and kits and fabrics. I can quilt night and day for years I suppose!!! But that's another story ;-)

If you do not know Yoko Saito, I really recommend that you have a look at what she does. She has plenty of books available in French (Quiltmania Editions and Editions de Saxe) and now in English too thanks to Stitch Publications, distributed by Martingale in the USA.

And if you want to make one of her projects, Stitch Publications have published single patterns too. I have read them all throughout and I can assure you that the patterns are really well written and the instructions are very clear. It is a fabulous way to make a first Yoko Saito's project.

Until later for my last post about the Japanese quilters,