Japanese Quilting

Last week, at our crafting for health and wellbeing session we had a go at making Japanese patchwork squares
One of our lovely volunteers, Claire, shared this technique with us.  The process was photographed and she is happy for me to share it with you too.  With this technique, each individual square is quilted as you go along, as opposed to traditional quilting methods where you quilt after you have fixed your shapes together.  The results are stunning. It looks complicated but, actually, it is a very simple process. 
First of all you need to cut some templates.  A 16.5cm (6.5 inch) diameter circle, a 15cm (6 inch) diameter circle:
And a 10cm x 10cm (4 inch) square.  We prefer to be frugal with our templates and use old cereal boxes, thick wallpaper remnants (good for the smaller cirle) etc:
Choose the fabric, cotton woven fabrics work best, for the outer edge of your square.  If you look at the first picture, in this post, it is the light blue edging of the patchwork square.  Mark and cut your chosen fabric using the larger circle template:
 Stitch around the outer edge of this fabric using a running stitch:
When you have stitched all the way round, do not fasten off instead put the smaller circular template inside your work:
Then pull the running stitch up.  As if by magic, the work will neatly fold over the small circular template creating a neatly finished hemmed edge.  Fasten off and secure this with a knot:
Now, iron your work:
Then remove the template.  It will be easier to remove if you have made the tempate on thicker paper, like wallpaper, rather than card:
 Flip your work over and iron on the reverse side:
Next, cut a piece of wadding and fabric, using the 10cm x 10cm square template as a guide.  If you look at the first picture, in this post, it is the patterned inside of the patchwork square:
Lay the patterned square on top of the wadding (we used old thick curtain lining fleece for our wadding but you can use and old fleece coat or a thick old woollen blanket to be frugal:
Now lay these pieces on top of your hemmed circular fabric, you made earlier, with the hemmed side facing you.  The corners of the square should be just shy of the edge of the circular fabric as shown in this picture:
Fold up the curved edges and pin as follows:

Now stitch around all the curved edges.  You can use the same colour as your fabric or use a contrasting colour as I have done:
A finished Japanese patchwork square:
You can use a patterned fabric for the outside edge and a plain fabric for the inside as one of our workshop participants did:
This technique is easy for the most unsteady of hands too:
 The results are stunning.  This is a section of Claire's beautifully finished quilt.  She joined her squares together with machine embroidery:
The reverse side:
The front in detail:
The reverse side.  You can see Claire's machine embroidery in more detail here.  If you don't have a machine that does fancy stitches, I think hand embroidery will be just as stunning too:
We will be doing this project for a few more weeks.  If you use this tutorial I would love to see your Japanese quilted squares too.  Please share, pictures them, on one of our social media sites - Facebook or Twitter 



  1. I love this! How does it hold up in the wash? I want to make one! Thank you, Amie

    1. Thank you. Ensure your fabric and wadding is washed before you make them and they should wash fine thereafter.


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