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,