120 Original Embroidery Designs is another amazing book by Yoko Saito- a master quilter, prolific author, fabric and pattern designer, and quilt shop owner (near Tokyo, Japan). I am drawn to this book on many levels.
First, the book is beautifully published by Stitch Publications. The spacious oversized format allows large, inspiring photos to highlight techniques and designs, accompanied by enough text to explain but not detract from the lovely images.
Second, Yoko Saito’s unique style showcases her skillful use of Japanese taupe fabrics.
Third, the neutral palette is enhanced by combining four design elements - careful selection of background fabric, patchwork, appliqué, and embroidery - with stunning results.
The original embroidery designs include animals, flowers, trees, alphabet, numbers, buildings, daily necessities, borders and repeatable patterns. Some of my favorite designs combine embroidery with patchwork. One example shows small pieced hexagons of similar light-colored fabrics with a grid of embroidered hexagons superimposed on, but offset from, the pieced hexagons resulting in a subtle three-dimensional effect. The author shows clever ways to embellish quilting designs, such as grids, with embroidery stitches. These diverse, unusual designs are incorporated into a variety of small quilted projects. Purses and bags are Ms. Saito’s specialty, so there several from which to choose.
As a quilter, I am more drawn to her wall hangings and the charming quilted keepsake boxes. It is easy to visualize that the embroidery designs used for purses in the book, often in combination with appliquéd elements, could readily be adapted or enlarged to enhance pieced blocks and borders in small quilts and wall hangings – or even framed as artwork. I especially like the way the author chooses background fabric to add detail and complement the embroidered design, as illustrated by the artistic floral arrangement on book’s cover.
120 Original Embroidery Designs includes several embroidery stitches and basic instructions for those just learning to embroider. Patchwork and purse-making instructions are given for the projects, but the author assumes the reader is experienced in these techniques. I heartily recommend this book as an inspiring addition to a quilt library. I am eager to try several of the designs and techniques; it is a challenge to know where to begin! Perhaps I will start with the small sampler of embroidery designs encircling vintage buttons on pieced squares. Patchwork, buttons, and embroidery – oh my!