I bought a lovely book at Festival of Quilts this summer, and I've been desperate to tell you about it, but I had a rather difficult problem to solve first. I didn't know what the title was, or who the author was! I know that sounds ridiculous, but let me explain...

Japanese Patchwork Bag Book
Japanese Patchwork Bag Book

The book was full of wonderful designs for patchwork bags and purses, and I found it amongst many other lovely volumes on a shelf in Sew Good Books. The unusual aspect was that it was written in Japanese! All the instructions are in Japanese, but the diagrams and paper patterns are so clear that it really doesn't matter. Measurements are labelled in European style with numbers, however they are in centimeters, so that is slightly awkward. I don't own any metric quilting rulers, but converted to imperial without any problems. It really is well worth looking at these books, they are lovely, inexpensive and inspirational, packed with loads of projects and are actually very practical. I've made a mobile phone cover and the bag shown here, to prove to you that it is possible!

Japanese Bag
My Japanese bag
Japanese Bag
The reverse of my Japanese bag

I tried to discover more about my book by googling the ISBN number, without much success. It is by Mikami Natsuko and my friend in Japan says the best translation of the title he can come up with is "My bag is cute because it's handmade". Sew Good Books use the title "Handmade Patchwork Bags". They have usually have several similar titles in stock, although they're not available on the website, you can ring them on 01398 351160 to enquire about the range.

Makower Zen

I've also fallen in love with the Makower Zen I and Zen II fabric ranges, which are ideal for these projects, and can be seen in my bag. Some of you will have received Fat Quarters from this range as forum and gallery prizes recently, I admit it is quite a struggle for me to part with it! I think the colours and designs are so pretty, I could sew with this range for the rest of the year without ever getting bored. I bought a "wheel" of Zen fabrics from Quilt Room. A wheel is similar to a Layer Cake, and contains twenty 10" squares. Quilt Room are now selling a Zen Roses collection wheel, which features equally gorgeous designs, and only costs £13.95. The November issue of Popular Patchwork includes a floral quilt, Zen Blossom, made using Zen II fabrics, and there is a Zen Rose Jelly Roll giveaway on our Bits and Pieces pages. See the Makower website for a list of local stockists for their lovely fabric.