Elegant vine appliqué: Yoko Saito’s (astonishing!) technique + video

We are honored to be able to bring you Yoko Saito books in English, published by Stitch Publications and distributed by Martingale. Today, you’ll see why we feel that way!

Ms. Saito is a celebrated Japanese quilter, and we were thrilled at the chance to meet her in person at Quilt Market in October. It’s a rare opportunity to see her actually appliquéing her incredible pieces, and a few lucky quilt-shop owners and Martingale staffers got to see it firsthand.

Did we make sure you’d get a chance to see it too? Of course we did!

In Ms. Saito’s book Yoko Saito’s Strolling Along Paths of Green, she shares her technique for getting the skinniest, slenderest, slimmest stems and vines we’ve ever seen—all by hand, all appliquéd to perfection.


Shepherd's Purse Handbag
Shepherd’s Purse Handbag—see the stems?

The technique is worked by hand with fabric cut on the bias, so it can curve and bend just like real-life stems and vines do:

Barley Handbag
Barley Handbag

Teeny-tiny appliqué stitches hold the stems and vines in place:

Dogwood Pouch
Dogwood Pouch

But HOW? Right? Here’s Yoko Saito, along with translator and Stitch Publications owner Priscilla Knoble, to share how Ms. Saito works her magic:


Reading this post in email? Click here to view the video.

Ms. Saito’s technique works for geometric motifs too:

Peeping Down from Above Handbag and Sunflower Pouch
Peeping Down from Above Handbag (note the interlacing strips on the sides of the bag) and Sunflower Pouch

Along with 19 bag and pouch projects, Yoko Saito’s Strolling Along Paths of Green includes two quilts featuring beautiful plant motifs for each month of the year: appliqué gorgeous renditions of lotus flowers, goose grass, oak leaves and acorns, mistletoe, and more. (Pullout pattern sheets are included.)

Plantain quilt block
Quilt block for July: Plantain

Yoko Saito's Strolling Along Paths of GreenAre you an appliquér who’s up for the skinny-vine challenge? Those of us who saw Ms. Saito stitching at Market think we’d love to try it too! Order your copy of Yoko Saito’s Strolling Along Paths of Green at your local quilt shop or at our website, ShopMartingale. And stay tuned for more peeks of Stitch Publications books coming soon.

How do you appliqué stems and vines?

  • Needle-turn, just like Yoko Saito—practice makes progress!
  • I prefer back-basting appliqué.
  • Fusible appliqué: fun and done!

Tell us your favorite technique in the comments!


53 Comments (leave a comment)

Leave a comment

*Indicates required field