Playful Patchwork by Suzuko Koseki

May 19, 2011

I was really interested when I found out that Suzuko Koseki was releasing a new book called Playful Patchwork.

I enjoy browsing Japanese craft books and her previous book, Patchwork Style, was one of the first of the genre to hit these shores (as far as I know!). She also designs some really quirky fabrics that are pretty hard to get hold of in the UK (I only know of two places to get them online – the Etsy shop Blije Olifantje, and the US shop How brilliant is this button fabric??)

Anyway, I digress. I wanted to see this book because I’ve heard quite a bit about her and her genius use of different colours and fabrics to create really beautiful, distinctive patchwork designs (check out this wonderful fan project to create patchwork coasters spelling her name, and you’ll get a good sense of her style, albeit as interpreted by her devotees).

An homage to Suzuko Koseki by her fans, from Ayumi at

It’s great that Suzuko’s now written a book to help show us how we can recreate her style, and oh what a beautiful book: the pictures are just so pretty! The content itself doesn’t disappoint either – it’s packed full of information, with detailed instructions and lots of pictures.

At first glance I found the layout of the book a little confusing (as with all Japanese craft books, though this is a US published book) but I soon got the hang of it: each chapter begins with a photo gallery of projects that use the techniques from that chapter, followed by a couple of lessons that show you how to make one or two of the projects. The instructions for the remaining projects are all detailed at the back of the book. Each image in the gallery has a postscript telling you what page the instructions are on.

I was very pleased that the book doesn’t assume any previous patchwork knowledge, starting right at the basics – though the intricate nature of her designs means advanced patchworkers would probably still find them really fulfilling too. In fact, it doesn’t assume much previous knowledge of sewing at all, even giving good instructions on how to make a ball knot or french knot at the beginning of a seam (I wish I’d known both of these methods before – I always spend ages fiddling to tie a knot). It also has a good summary of the tools you need for patchwork and quilting, which I know I’ll need to refer to.

The book starts off with Straight-Line Piecework, before advancing through Curved-Line Piecework, Applique, and finally Quilting. It shows you how to make thirteen different patchwork blocks of all kinds of flowers: roses, lilies, morning glory, tulips and cherry blossoms to name a few. It then takes these blocks and provides instructions for how to use them to make fourteen different finished projects including a handbag, book cover, coasters, tea cosy, clutch purse, and sampler quilt. The book includes the full-size patterns so you can trace them straight out and you’re ready to go.

There is also a really useful chapter called “Playing with Fabric Colours, Prints and Arrangements”. I love how she gives us a glimpse in to her world (“let’s say your patchwork block is a stage, and each individual fabric piece is an actor”) and she gives some really good illustrated examples to show why certain colour and fabric combinations work better than others.

I have lots and lots of little fabric scraps left over from my Sewbox days which will be perfect for making the blocks in this book. My favourite two designs are the Snowdrops and Cherry Blossoms, both of which would look great used for the cushion project in the book. Watch this space!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

ayumills May 20, 2011 at 5:19 pm

This book is amazing! I had been wanting this book in Japanese for years, so it was really exciting to finally get my hands on it and it is in English! how cool is that?!
Thank you Leah for mentioning about our SK project :)


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