Friday, January 14, 2011

The Blues in Japan

No, we're not talking about music. We're talking about a gorgeous blue kaleidoscope quilt done in Japanese fabrics.  In fact, it is one of the most beautiful blue quilts - and kaleidoscope quilts - we've seen!  We came across this masterpiece at Julie Fukuda's blog: My Quilt Diary.

Kaleidoscope, 92 x 92.  Made for the 2010 Silent Auction to benefit the American School in Japan (Tokyo)

One hundred blocks were cut by volunteers, using a wide selection of Japanese fabrics including yukata fabrics. The quilt has a dynamic arrangement of textures, dark and light values, and beautiful blue hues. From looking at the quilt is obvious that the blues are all compatible. A quick color analysis shows that the main colors are 'tones' of cerulean blue (cerulean blue plus gray).

We asked Julie about the professional-looking design, and we were amazed to hear that not even a design wall was used. She says:  "Although it looks well planned, we just cut the fabric and matched up darks and lights. After the blocks were all sewed, we arranged them on the floor until everyone was satisfied and then joined them in rows. We work at the school or a community room or whatever space we can find and some work is taken home between weekly meetings. No design wall."

All of the quilts that have been made for the ASIJ Auctions are posted on the ASIJ pages at Julie Fukuda's blog.  Julie says: "There is a great deal of 'ownership' among those who work on the project and the quilt is one of the auction items bringing lots of bids and a high price. The work group is made up of mothers of kids at the school and changes from year to year as people move in and out of Tokyo.  The volunteers are all of my daughters' generation and with my own daughters being so far away, these women fill a great gap. Each year we welcome newcomers to life in Tokyo and say farewell to others."  You can see the group working on the 2011 quilt here.

Image credits:  The image is shown with the generous permission of Julie Fukuda.  She was born in Cleveland Ohio, and moved to Tokyo in 1963. She is a mother to six grown kids and grandmother to seven. Regarding her beautiful hand quilting,  Julie says:  "My house is too small to accommodate a sewing machine so everything I make is by hand."


  1. Agreed, Sewjournal ! It is a stunning quilt and the circular pattern of the border is an especially beautiful enhancement.

  2. Just to clarify a bit...The colors of all the fabrics are actually indigo and white. The photo softens them together to make it feel as if they are a mid-blue color. The only cerulean blue would be the small repeated squares (which are all the same fabric). We had a very hard time finding a good mid-range blue to link the quilt together. And the only other medium blue is in the center of the circular pattern that makes up the border. We took a risk with that border fabric so I am happy with the comment above!

  3. All those blues look so lovely! Makes me want to get to work on a monochromatic quilt :)

  4. Tokyo Jinja, thank you for the clarification ! Your selection of colors for this quilt is outstanding. All the fabrics go together perfectly ; and that is what makes this quilt so gorgeous.

  5. Thank you, Esch House ! We think that monochromatic color schemes really bring out the luminous, radiant qualities of these quilts.


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