Review by Ali Burdon of http://veryberryhandmade.co.uk
The first thing that struck me about Playful Patchwork by Suzuko Koseki are the intriguing, stylish patchwork block designs and the wonderful use of prints and colour in her projects. It's one of those books that bowls you over when you first flick through it - I could look at the pictures again and again.
This is not so surprising because the author, Suzuko Koseki, is a renowned quilter (she's a regular exhibitor at the Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival), and a talented fabric designer too. Her fabric designs are quirky and many have a cool retro look - it seems that they're hard to get hold of, but if you're interested you can check some of them out at that emporium of gorgeous Japanese fabrics - Superbuzzy.
Playful Patchwork is divided up into 6 sections. The first 4 chapters outline basic patchwork & quilting techniques - Straight Line Piecework, Curved-Line Piecework, Applique and Quilting. In each of these sections there's a gallery of gorgeous project pictures followed by an in-depth, very well illustrated, lesson in the skills needed. Chapter 5 is a fascinating and extremely useful discussion on how to put colours and prints together and chapter 6 contains the instructions for all the projects. There's also a paper pattern insert for all the projects (very useful!), a glossary, a stitch guide, and an introduction to patchwork tools.
All the instructions are for hand sewing, but it would be very straightforward for people with a bit of machine quilting experience to adapt them. Personally, however, I think it's lovely to have the opportunity to sit down, put on the radio or some music and get into some contemplative stitching. It's the ultimate in relaxation. And, many of the projects are small enough to be absolutely achievable stitched by hand rather than machine.
The layout of the book does mean that you have to do quite a lot of flicking between sections when you're working on a project - but if you are used to Japanese craft books, you will know that this layout is actually a bonus, because it allows the inclusion of lots of variations on projects. The projects themselves are pleasingly varied - a couple of dinky bags, a needle book, pin cushions (you can see my owl version above), a tea cosy, coasters, cushions, and even a stunning sampler quilt where you can put all the techniques together in one glorious piece of stitchery. And of course, as with all patchwork, the blocks are endlessly adaptable for use in other projects.
I'd recommend this as a lovely book for an ambitious beginner (like me!), but I'm sure that some of the more intricate flower blocks have plenty to keep an advanced sewer interested too. If you're thinking about investing in this book, then it's well worth checking out this Flickr group for Koseki enthusiasts - you can get a really good idea of her style and the patterns she writes. I have a feeling that you'll soon be reaching for your credit card!