If you’re on Instagram and Facebook, you already know that I was INCREDIBLY excited to attend Yoko Saito’s schoolhouse presentations this fall. For the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing photos and notes I took throughout the weekend, over her presentations, her exhibitions, and even getting to meet her personally. It was an amazing experience.
So, first up, her presentation with Priscilla Knoble of Stitch publications about her favorite books and projects. Saito-san was an absolute DELIGHT to listen to, even if you couldn’t understand her words, her enthusiasm and excitement were evident throughout.
Saito-san publishes two books PER YEAR, each with 25-30 projects. She typically makes these projects in about 6 months, and ONLY uses her sewing machine for sewing the bases to her bags. Now that’s productive. She also teaches 400 students, and prepares special patterns just for them.
Yoko Saito’s Favorite projects
One of the first projects she showed was her hand-sewing kit.
The audience giggled when Priscilla pulled a clover needle threader out of it. When asked about her choice of needles, Saito-san said she uses Clover black needles to get her tiny stitches.
Next up, a darling turtle pincushion, from her wool work book.
Then she showed a tote bag she designed for carrying piano books, based on a sketch of Mozart that she drew while watching a show about him on television. The top section with the notes on it is a zippered pencil pouch.
She said one of the reasons she makes so many bags is that Japanese people don’t always have a lot of room to store lots of quilts in their home. But they use public transportation frequently, and enjoy having bags to take with them on the trains for their shopping.
The tote bag below is from a new book that she published with a publisher in Taiwan. Stitch publications will have an English version available next year. Quiltmania already has it in French, so of course I impulse bought a copy. It lives up to expectations!! I love the pop of red on this tote, which is also on the book cover.
The detail on this scallop tote is mind-blowing.
And last, but not least, here’s a project from her Japanese Taupe Theory book.
We had a chance to ask questions at the end of the presentation. Someone asked what Saito-san’s home studio looked like. She replied that she never worked on quilting or sewing projects at home, only at her store workshop. She said she can’t even think about designs if her husband is around. How cute is that!?
Finally, Saito-san also talked a little about her inspiration for the Scrap Valley book. She said that she loves antique American designs, and wanted to incorporate them into some larger projects.
Saito-san’s journey into fabric design
Saito-san started designing fabric for Lecien about 20 years ago. She was having trouble finding Japanese fabrics that gave the effects she wanted, so when Lecien approached her about designing, it was a win-win for both of them. Some of her designs are based on a 100-year old book of patterns from Lecien.
Next week, I’ll be posting about her second schoolhouse presentation. It focused on her upcoming line from Lecien, and included some tips for using fabric creatively to achieve realistic textures.
(And if you’re new to my site, you can check out the Japanese Quilting Study group tab at the top of this page for lots more information about Yoko Saito and Japanese Quilting!