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Japanese Quilting

What contributions has Japan made to quilting?

Japanese quilting came in many forms, from futons to armor.

In the Known Beginning

The earliest form of quilting that began in Japan was the futon.  Yep, this is where the modern day futon came from.

The Japanese called them “shikibuton”.

Usually when we think of quilts, we think of bedspreads.  They had those too.  They called them kakebuton.

However, the first quilt was an actual bed.

There was top and back fabric that was sandwiched together with the center filling being hard cotton.  Not the soft stuff like today’s futons.

Usually the futon was basted together like a modern day tie quilt.

They were around 2 inches think.  How uncomfortable.

They began as a thing of necessity.  Family sizes were large and there was little home space.

As a solution the futon was born.

The people rested the futon on the floor at night and rolled it up for the day.

Throughout Time

Quilters from japan named their quilting stitch “sashiko” which means little stabs.  

The commoners throughout Japan used quilting for other things than just futons.

Clothing was the primary form of quilting.  This was because they were forbidden from using silk.  Silk was a sign of their high society.

They therefore relied on different plant fibers such as cotton, hemp, banana stalks, and bamboo for materials.

Babies were even wrapped in quilts at birth. There were symbols in the piecing and quilt design.  Usually the symbols represented good health and strength.

Japanese quilters recycled all of their textiles and previous projects too.


In the 16th century Japan implemented quilted armor.

Warriors filled some of their quilted armor with bone, horn, and/or metal.  It was an effective technique that is the root of what we used today in our bullet proof vests.

Still to this day, you can find patterns for samurai garb that uses the quilted clothing.

Today’s quilting culture in Japan has merged their previous history with American style.  It has preserved it’s elegance of Japanese quilting and incorporated some of patterns used in the United States.  Simply beautiful.

Color Block Quilts

› Japanese Quilting
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