A hand-sewn running stitch as fast as a sewing machine? Must see 😮

Yoko SaitoWhen we see a quilt artist do amazing things, we can’t wait to share those amazing things with you. We’ve got one of those magical moments for you today. But you are going to have to see it to believe it. We saw it in person, and we still can’t believe it!

Japanese master quilt artist Yoko Saito has dedicated 40 years to her craft, and her patchwork-and-appliqué designs are admired the world over. She’s known for hand piecing, hand appliquéing, hand embroidering, and hand quilting all of her work. Her quilts and bags are astonishing, but when you realize everything is sewn by hand, her work becomes even more mind-blowing.

Dots and Crosses Bag
Dots and Crosses Bag from
Quilts and Projects from My Favorite Fabrics

We had the opportunity to capture video of Ms. Saito stitching, and she showed us how to do a running stitch by hand. We’re excited we get to share her technique with you today—and we’re already betting that your jaw will drop at her speed!


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

Yoko Saito gives sewing machines a run for their money, don’t you agree?

We’re proud to be the distributor of books by Yoko Saito, translated into English and published by Stitch Publications. You can see the Yoko Saito books we carry here—you’ll love owning them not only for the quilts and bags you can create, but for the gorgeous photography, the breathtaking projects, and the opportunity to slow down and dream about where your own creativity can take you.

Yoko Saito through the YearsYoko Saito’s work is truly like no other, and that’s one of the many reasons we’re thrilled to be publishing a retrospective of her work in our next coffee-table book, Yoko Saito through the Years, coming September 2018. We cannot wait to show you more from this exquisite volume! But until then, you can get your quilty daydreaming in with Yoko Saito’s other books—here are just a few peeks:

Quilts from Yoko Saito’s Traditional Block Patterns
Quilts from
Yoko Saito’s Traditional Block Patterns

Bags from Yoko Saito’s Japanese Taupe Color Theory
Bags from
Yoko Saito’s Japanese Taupe Color Theory

Basketweave Handbag from Yoko Saito’s Woolwork
Basketweave Handbag from
Yoko Saito’s Woolwork

Turtle Pincushion from Yoko Saito’s Woolwork
Turtle Pincushion from
Yoko Saito’s Woolwork

You can watch more how-to videos starring Yoko Saito here:

So, how often do you sew by hand?

  • Right now it’s just me and my machine.
  • I enjoy both types of sewing!
  • Yoko and I are kindred spirits: I sew everything by hand.

Tell us in the comments!


60 Comments (leave a comment)

  • I love hand sewing and it used to be all that I did even right down to the bindings – now I do about half and half and I do make a lot of quilts and finish them with hand quilting.

    Karen on April 20, 2018
  • I love to hand applique and do some other sewing by hand as well. Its very relaxing.

    —Joanne O'Neal on April 20, 2018
  • I love machine quilting but recently have been learning a lot about hand quilting. I am looking forward to getting better at hand quilting with more practice.

    —Ann West on April 20, 2018
  • I enjoy both types of sewing!

    —Susan Smith on April 20, 2018
  • I sew both my machine and hand. I enjoy doing both.

    Sandy on April 20, 2018
  • I see both. I do English Paper Piecing tops, all by hand, then machine quilt them. I piece by machine traditionally & quilt on my home machine.

    —Cynthia Brown on April 20, 2018
  • I enjoy both…I love to do hand applique, embroidery, but when it comes time to join those blocks together, I’ll take a machine, thank you! I sew binding on one side by machine and hand stitch it down on the other side. I still sew hems by hand on clothing..I haven’t don’t any hand-quilting for years so I’ve lost my touch, but I enjoyed it when I did it. I do love a hand-quilted quilt!

    —Trudi C on April 20, 2018
  • I hand quilt and I love the process. It is so relaxing. I piece by machine because I think it is more accurate and holds together better. The first quilt I made was done by hand and it was a Flower Garden. It took forever. Her work is awesome. Jenny Beyer pieces by hand and her work is gorgeous.

    —Kay Menefee on April 20, 2018
  • I enjoy both types of sewing.

    —Joel Sellers on April 20, 2018
  • I love sewing by hand. Wool feels great while hand sewing!
    Keeps my hands occupied while watching TV in the evening.

    —Eileen Suderman on April 20, 2018
  • I have several works in progress of both types of sewing. Hand sewing is very relaxing.

    —Kathi on April 20, 2018
  • Unfortunately, right now I’m not doing any sewing at all as I’m having problems with my hands. But, I have always enjoyed sewing more by hand than by machine. Baby clothes, clothes, quilts, whatever all by hand.
    I really enjoyed it, to be able to do it now would be wonderful!!

    —Debbie Clayton on April 20, 2018
  • Just me and my machine although I do sew quilt bindings by hand. I also love hand embroidery.
    Thanks so much for sharing Yoko’s video. She is an inspiration!

    —Karen on April 20, 2018
  • Right now it’s just me and my machine. Due to arthritis I really can’t do all the hand sewing I’d like but I admire what she creates.

    —debby on April 20, 2018
  • I enjoy both methods, but their is a unique pleasure in hand stitching. The feel of the needle as it glides through the fabric is very soothing. I love to see the stitches as they evolve beneath my fingers.

    —KatieQ on April 20, 2018
  • I do both. Hand sewing is my favorite. Love the feel of fabric in my hand. Very relaxing.

    —Ginny on April 20, 2018
  • I enjoy both types. I hand piece difficult blocks. Handpiecing is more precise than my machine piecing.

    —Cheri B on April 20, 2018
  • I enjoy hand sewing–both for piecing and quilting. I wish the video showed more of her use of what appeared to be a leather band on her middle finger. She seemed to be pushing the needle so it didn’t slip backward.

    Hi Sharon – yes, you are right, that open thimble helps to push the needle through the fabric. You can see the thimble in use a little more clearly in this video. Thanks for your question! –Jenny

    —Sharon Nungester on April 20, 2018
  • I hand quilted my first quilt a number of years ago & another more recently, they sure suffer in comparison to Yoko’s. Hand sewing is very meditative.

    —Julie A. on April 20, 2018
  • Yoko and I are kindred spirits: I sew everything by hand. I have learned to love to hand stitch and it is so relaxing. Her work is a joy to look at.

    —Tanya on April 20, 2018
  • I enjoy both types of sewing!

    —Sabrina van Ginkel on April 20, 2018
  • Right now it’s just me and my machine. I’m not a good hand stitcher and tend to avoid it any time that I can do the job by machine.

    —Eilene H on April 20, 2018
  • I enjoy both types of sewing!

    —Kaye Walker on April 20, 2018
  • I enjoy both types of sewing! Yoko’s designs are beautiful! Inspiring!

    —Donna on April 20, 2018
  • Depends on the project for one. My mood for another as I have two ongoing handwork projects … someday they will finish…LOL! (Baltimore album and redwork quilts.)

    —Tonie Peterson on April 20, 2018
  • I enjoy both hand sewing and machine sewing. I use hand embroidery to embellish many of my quilt blocks and almost always handstitch quilt bindings. Hand sewing makes for great portable projects…especially when camping or travelling.

    —Anne on April 20, 2018
  • I hand sew every night, doing machine sewing by day. I am currently appliqueing a block and hand quilting a Baltimore (I alternate). I also travel with embroidery.

    —Janet on April 20, 2018
  • Mostly machine, but enjoy TV time with various types of handwork. Amazing how quickly she can do that!

    —Judy Purcell on April 20, 2018
  • I hand quilt, and always have one hand piecing project in a "go bag". Right now, it is 6″ Lemoyne stars using "By Kate’s rubber stamps! But Yoko Saito is just showing us what happens when you practice your craft (an art!) for over 40 years! Stick with it, and you will be rewarded!

    Karen Alexander on April 20, 2018
  • I enjoy both types of sewing. Especially like embroidery and wool applique for leisurely projects that I can take with me to keep my hands occupied.

    —Sandy May on April 20, 2018
  • My hand sewing corresponds to my favorite tv programs. LOL Machine stitching on larger projects.

    —jean howard on April 20, 2018
  • i enjoy both

    —brenda stone on April 20, 2018
  • I do both & love it. I am amazed by the speed & skill Ms. Saito demonstrates!

    —Sharon Groves on April 20, 2018
  • Watching Yoko sew is fascinating. I think I’ll go back to piecing by hand again on a project or two. Watching her appliqué makes me want to be a better stitcher. I’ll work on her technique tonight.

    —Barb W on April 20, 2018
  • I enjoy both! There is definitely a different feel & rhythm to each method.

    —TheQuiltedDog on April 20, 2018
  • I do both: hand sewing while riding in a car or away from home and machine sewing at home. Exactly 40 years ago I left Japan after a year as a student there; I have ALL of Ms. Saito’s books on my ‘wish list’!

    —Martha on April 20, 2018
  • Except for stitching down binding, I’m a machine stitcher.

    —Rochelle on April 20, 2018
  • Right now, it’s just me and my sewing machine. I haven’t been taught to hand-sew, so I am a little uncomfortable to try it.

    —Teri Gailey on April 20, 2018
  • I enjoy both hand sewing and machine. I actually did one from Yoko’s Floral bouquets book using wools. The center is all finished. Still working on the borders. It seems lately I’m doing a lot of wool appliqué. I love it.

    —Linda on April 20, 2018
  • I do both, for quilting. I typically piece by machine.

    —Peggy Hallstrom on April 20, 2018
  • I do most by machine except for the hand sewing on bindings but I do lots of hand embroidery and appliqué.

    —Susan on April 20, 2018
  • I do both and love it.

    —Perri Ann Kaufman on April 20, 2018
  • I enjoy sewing by hand and by machine. I wish I could hand piece like Yoko–she is incredible!

    —Karen in Breezy Point on April 20, 2018
  • I machine piece, but I love handwork: bindings, wool applique, embroidery, etc.

    —Nicole on April 20, 2018
  • I sew by hand often especially on detail items and hard to get to areas. If it’s a straight stitch for hemming…it depends what it is. A hem on my pants or tops, I prefer to hem stitch by hand. If I’m just repairing some item of clothing for my husband’s work cloth, I then to use the sewing machine. I love doing embroidery by hand. I feel more accomplished and creative than doing cross stitch although I do do a lot of cross stitch but am getting into doing more embroidery.

    —Marlene from Torrance on April 20, 2018
  • I enjoy both types of sewing.

    —Lu on April 21, 2018
  • I enjoy both types of sewing. I love, love, love hand quilting, but it takes so long that I am learning to machine quilt all those UFOs that are pieced by machine. Also, I’m English paper piecing a quilt with overlapping flowers.

    —Linda Towers on April 21, 2018
  • I enjoy the appliqué with wool but pretty much everything else as well.

    —Mimi on April 21, 2018
  • I enjoy both types of sewing.

    Clare on April 21, 2018
  • While I sew mostly by machine, I do enjoy some EPP and some hand quilting. I would love to learn how to hand piece but feel that I would need to take a class for it. Unfortunately, all of the classes in my area are done by machine.

    —The Lisa Marie on April 22, 2018
  • I LOVE this Turtle Pincushion.. Is JUST THE PATTERN out there for purchase? I have searched a ton for it & can’t; locate it at all.. HELP

    Hi Jacqueline, we aren’t aware that Ms. Saito has published the turtle pincushion as a stand-alone pattern, but it is included in the book Yoko Saito’s Woolwork. Thanks for your question! –Jenny

    —Jacqueline Taylor on April 22, 2018
  • I love to sew by hand, but do less of it now than in my past.

    —bookboxer on April 23, 2018
  • LOVE hand sewing! Doing both.

    —Gina on April 23, 2018
  • I love to sew by hand, mostly applique or embroidery (hardly ever piecing). I find the hand sewing very relaxing and like to hand sew at night. I love Yoko’s beautiful hand work, she does an incredible job, truly a labor of love. Love the turtle pincushion too.

    —Donnamarie on April 24, 2018
  • I very seldom sew by hand, but she makes it look so easy!

    —gail on April 24, 2018
  • hand sewing is my usual go to

    —carole sherman on April 24, 2018
  • Lately just me & my machine unless I have a quiet evening to stitch on a wool appliqué project!

    —Tammi Williams on April 24, 2018
  • I do enjoy both types of sewing, especially wool applique

    —Geri on April 25, 2018
  • I do some English paper piecing but other than that I don’t piece by hand. I love Yoko’s books. The first time I saw one I bought it even though it was expensive and printed in Japanese. Of course I couldn’t make anything from it but I really enjoyed the pictures.

    —Barbara on April 25, 2018
  • I usually end up selecting projects that require both. I feel hand-sewing gives a special touch, like I’m putting something of myself into it. I have some of my mother’s embroidered dresser scarves that take me back to when I watched her make them. Good memories! I admire Yoko Saito’s work. There’s a soothing rhythm to her sewing.

    —Rose D. on May 1, 2018

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