Pacchiwaku – Japanese Textile Quilts

wafuku blog aug 12 logo A

wafuku – noun: traditional Japanese clothing

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Japanese Textile Quilts
Having taken up making patchwork quilts last year, I have now decided that I am going to use some of the many bolts of unused, traditional Japanese textiles I have, to make a range of quilts and cushions in Japanese rustic style.

A bolt of fabric for a kimono is called a tanmono (often shortened to just tan) and is always made in one specific size, roughly 35cm  by 11 metres. I have kimono bolts in cotton; woven for casual yukata kimonos, in silk; woven for more formal kimonos, and in wool; mostly made for men’s kimonos. Each type of textile will make wonderful quilts and, perhaps, a few matching cushions.


I am quite excited about creating a range of Japanese textile quilts. I have about a dozen bolts of indigo dyed, Japanese yukata cottons, in lovely, traditional designs. I also have a few other yukata cotton bolts, with floral designs. As well as those I have several yukata cotton sample books that I can use. Three of the sample books are quite old, although still very strong, good cottons, with white backgrounds and a variety of great, simple designs on them. The rest are much more recent cotton samples and are florals, mostly with black backgrounds, they too are vintage but only about 10 to 15 years old.

Japanese Cotton Textiles
Here are the indigo and white bolts of yukata kimono cotton, these were woven for men’s kimonos.

Chainlink designs are a very popular, traditional print in Japan




A woven lattice with geisha on senmen (the paper parts of folding fans)




The next one is a woven bamboo design.



A shaded chainlink mesh.


I especially like the bamboo pattern on the next bolt.




The next one has hanabishi dotted among a grid pattern hanabishi are diamond shaped flowers




This last bolt is rather like tatami matting.


I have done a few quick mock ups. I really ought to leave that for later and get some other sewing done first.






Japanese Yukata Cotton Sampler Books

1a (1)

1a (3)

2a (3)

4a (3)

5a (1)

The sample books above each have 5 different prints, each one metre long and folded in half lengthwise. The samples in the three books below are about half a metre each.

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Japanese Wool Textiles
I have, as I mentioned, numerous unused bolts of extremely high quality wool textiles, a few more colourful ones intended for women’s kimonos but most for men’s wool kimonos. Men’s wool kimonos tend to have traditional, small, subtle patterns woven into them, they will produce fabulous quilts in a variety of muted blues and browns, very rural in style, like old farm-style, country quilts. The fine wool textiles will be extra warm and cosy.

Three made for women’s wool kimonos.







Now five for men’s wool kimonos.

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The hexagon popular motif, based on the pattern of the turtle shell. It represents longevity.

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In addition to all those I also have many unused bolts of kakebuton textiles, most with ikat weave pattern. Kakebuton are quilts made especially for Japanese futons and these bolts are woven specifically for making those quilts. These have traditional motifs and patterns that have been popular on kakebuton for over a century. Most of them have some ikat patterns; ikat is when the yarn is died with sections of it bound to block the dye, called resist dying because the yarn inside the tied sections resist being dyed. It may be dyed once, in which case it is most often indigo dye that is used, or it may be retied and dyed repeatedly, allowing it to bave more than one colour. When this thread is woven, with the undyed sections cleverly lining up, a pattern emerges. because the pattern is from the weaving of the threads, it does not have hard, crisp outlines. Ikat’s primary characteristic is that the designs have slightly fuzzy, soft edges. It is widely seen in kasuri kimonos, in cotton or wool, the style worn by farm workers, but it was very popular in the past, especially from about 1920 to 1950 when it was fashionable to wear meisen silk kimonos that had an ikat weave. Meisen is a sort of taffeta like weave silk and the patterns usually have that fuzzy edge too. I was also popular in the early part of this century in textiles wove for kakebuton.

Japanese Kakebuton Cotton Bolts

tc zabouton cotton (6)

tc zabouton cotton (2)

tc zabouton cotton (28)

tc zabouton cotton (8)
tc zabouton cotton (21)

tc zabouton cotton (25)

tc zabouton cotton (18)

tc zabouton cotton (20)

tc zabu1


Japanese girls lying on a futon under a kakebuton (futon quilt)


Silk Bolts.
I have some silk bolts too. It will be nice to make a few silk quilts. These Japanese bolts are fabulous quality silks and any quilt made from them would be very special. I have a few more than shown here.


sou20160108i 136







As with all my previous quilts, I will go for simplicity and use large pieces, letting the fabric do the talking. These Japanese textiles will make fabulous rustic style quilts that really echo Japan. I have enough Japanese fabrics to keep me cutting and sewing for a few years..


Pacchiwaku is the Japanese word for patchwork, made up of pacchi – patch and waku – frameset. It is pronounced pack – chee – wakoo. When I build up some stock of my Japanese textile quilts and cushions, which will take me a good few months, I will make them available on Etsy, probably with Pacchiwaku as my Etsy shop name, although I am also considering the name Tanmono because it simply means cloth, as well as meaning a bolt of kimono fabric.


I’m now way too tired to proof read this, so I will risk posting it and try to get back to check it tomorrow. It’s almost time to get up, so I must go to bed now.


You can also check out my website, providing vintage & antique Japanese kimonos & collectables.


One of my kimonos being modelled by the singer Rita Ora



Please note that any advertisements shown below my posts are put there by WordPress, not by me. I am not responsible for whatever product or service is advertised and it being there does not mean that I endorse or recommend it. 



  1. How beautiful these textiles! It is not often one sees such beautiful patterns. I love the yukata textiles….about impossible to find a bolt of this in the US. I can find an already made kimono, but not the material. I make kimono by hand, and have for a number of years, but I am generally forced to use quilting material! I sew everything by hand and it is quite a task, but one I love.

    Thank you for this beautiful display of textile.

    Lady Nyo

    1. Quilts that are made from recycled old kimonos are beautiful too. I plan to do make some of those as well. I was lucky to get those bolts of Japanese textiles but they don’t work out cheap, especially with the shipping costs from Japan plus the tax etc. added on. They did take all I could scrape together at the time. Unfortunately I can collect fabrics and plan quilts way, way faster than I can make them. My head is buzzing with plans for them just now.
      There are some exquisite quilting cottons available in the US and many will make very beautiful yukata kimonos. Timeless Treasures is an American fabric company that makes so many wonderful printed cottons that I love. I have to have those sent from the US and it makes them three to four times the cost they are in the USA, because I have to pay shipping, import duty and 20% VAT on both the fabric in the package and on the postage too, plus an £8 – £13 fee the post office charges per package just for handling my fee payment. It does mean I can’t freely buy the amazing American fabrics. In fact, I have three Import duty bills currently awaiting payment just now, one for £234 ($463),
      one for £112 ($160) and another for £93 ($133) that I didn’t expect to arrive all at once, so payment is going really to hurt and they only give you 20 days.
      One of the American fabrics I did buy, to make clothing, nothing Japanese, is black with brightly coloured big lizards on it and that is a print I think would make a fantastic looking yukata kimono.

      1. Oh! Thank you so much for the hint about Timeless Treasures. I’ll look them up. I don’t know if I can send a pix of one of the kimonos I made recently, but the fabric comes from a local quilting shop. When I heard about the Tsunami, I made 4 kimono for elderly Japanese women….figuring that they might have lost their kimono in the floods, etc. I want to give them to the Japanese embassy here in Atlanta to be sent to Japan but I think perhaps they will not understand? They certainly are not of the seasonal colors that you have on your new post, but they are lovingly made all by hand stitching and people say they are beautiful. I hope to get them to someone who would want to wear them. I studied carefully the techniques for kimono making but we will see. I did buy a beautiful black with silver band running on the hem and up the front kimono, from Kyoto apparently from Marsha Mallet here in Atlanta. It is a heavy crepe and just so beautiful. The stitching for cleaning is still on it but I leave it because it is so precisely done. It is masterful!
        Lady Nyo (Jane Mori at one time)

      2. All hand sewn, Such patience. I love that most of my Japanese kimonos and haori are hand sewn. I don’t even have the patience to hand sew quilts, I machine sew and machine quilt them, though it is a struggle to get a queen sized quilt through my sewing machine as I quilt it.
        Sending the kimonos to Japan is a lovely idea. I suspect that someone in the Japanese Embassy speaks perfect English, probably several of them. Worth a visit or phone call to find out.
        I have absolutely no doubt that the kimonos you made are beautiful. To go to that trouble one will create a thing of beauty.
        That stitching you mention, the shitsuke (basting stitches) to hold the edges flat during storage are always so neatly done, though you may be talking about the very, very tiny ones you sometimes see in tomesode kimonos, which your black kimono sounds as though it may be. I would never remove that, though I would remove the big shitsuke stitches prior to wearing one, of course. I rarely wear one, though, just now and then as a beautiful house robe, with just a simple, easy to put on, wide belt. I have about 8 for that. Most of the ones I keep for myself are really just as a collection, not for me to wear.

      3. That’s right! BASTING stitches~ The word escaped me. And thank you for acknowledging the ‘patience’ in sewing by hand. It probably is the ONLY place I exhibit patience. LOL!
        Quilting, especially large quilts need to be on a machine. The weight of the material demands it, but it is a struggle. I have a machine, but it is very old, husband’s grandmother’s…and there are copper wires sticking out of it in the back…a very old Singer with the Sphinx in gold leaf. I am afraid to use it, and even when I take it to the sewing machine repair place,….it is too hard to use the bobbin. LOL!

        Yes, my black crepe silk is a tomesode….something a married woman would wear, neh? And yes, the stitching is so tiny and precise…beautiful as much as the work to make the kimono. It is lovely to talk to someone who appreciates kimono…though I do wear mine on occasion… We have Whole Foods here in Atlanta, and the Japanese employees behind the sushi counter always come out to admire a kimono, and literally pick up the hem to examine the stitches! LOL! And they so very graciously tolerate and encourage my slight Japanese. Blessed people. And yes, I will again contact the Japanese embassy here and see if they can get at least maybe two of my kimono to Japan. Thank you so much for this blog. It is educational, cultural and of great value.

        Jane (Lady Nyo)

  2. I can’t find an email contact anywhere, please email me
    I found your blog while looking at Japanese kimono silk and quilting stuff. Was reading your post about the timeless treasures fabric you enjoy so much and thought I may be able to help. You have some beautiful Japanese fabrics on this post, I’ve been looking for fabric by the bolt like this but haven’t had much luck.

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