Buddhist Patchwork Quilt Is Out!

Out in the world, that is! I was thrilled to see that the new issue of Craft is now online (and hitting the newsstands soon) and I'm it it!

The Buddhist Patchwork quilt that I gave you a sneak preview of a couple of months ago is the subject of Wendy Tremayne's column, and comes complete with a brief tutorial. I went on and on about the layers of meaning and metaphor in the quilt and its process, but Wendy only had a few hundred words, so it's a sweet, brief article.

Here's a few more pictures:

My Mom's cat Angus checking out the comfort level. Little does he know that all the fabrics in this quilt were rescued from the garbage. Everything from samples and scraps retrieved from my studio building's dumpster to clothing found on the street! My only criteria was that I had to use discarded material. I ended up with a lot of blacks, whites, and bright pinks and oranges - not my usual palette in the least.

The top as I was pinning the layers together.

Buddhist patchwork is not my idea - I first read about it in Yoshiko Jinzenji's book Quilt Artistry where she describes the 16th C. Japanese monks patching together rags for their robes. The rags were elevated to the status of Buddhahood, and the patchwork was a visible reminder of the interconnectedness of all beings.

I later read more about Celia's Quinn's method of doing the patchwork in her book Quilted Planet. What I do is cut a whole schwack of strips the same width, grab two at random to start, join them, and then work very spontaneously, asking "What does it need?". Sometimes the answer is a certain colour, other times a woven fabric to stabilize an area full of stretchy knits. Sometimes it's a lively print, others a subtle stripe. Always thinking of the whole, how it all works together, seeking balance, harmony and truth.

Oh, and in case anyone is thinking, "Ooh yuck, clothing off the street??" rest assured that everything was well laundered before I used it. I got over the "icck" factor long ago, and actually like to amuse myself by concocting stories about how the clothing might have met its sad end. My favourite concerns the XL black stretch lace teddy and the white chef's apron...


  1. It's a beautiful quilt! Totally my colour palette *^v^*
    I only tried to make a quilt once and I found out that it wasn't my favourite craft, but maybe I should give it another chance? Some time ago I cut out many strips of different fabrics and I like the idea of choosing them at random, it can be a form of a meditation.

  2. ah, congrats! the colors are great on this one. and old clothes from anywhere make sense to me....

  3. I got my copy of Craft in the mail yesterday and immediately saw your quilt! It's gorgeous and inspiring...congratulations!

  4. Anonymous9:37 AM

    Ah, yes---the "ick factor". It's so hard to explain to people why reusing someone else's cloth is no big deal! I agree that it just has more history and interest that way...

    *btw, Love looking through your blog :)

  5. gives a whole new layer of meaning to story cloth. love the colors, the use of rescued fabrics, and the history. congratulations -

  6. A great idea, and the result is stunning;adding meaning to one's everyday environment definitely helps build a better world.

  7. Having been a dumpster diver starting from the long ago, the ick factor is only heard from my girly girls. I tell them "Wah, now grab that thing in there!" What amazes me is your finding so many things that go together, or is this from much collecting?

  8. I love that all the patterns are so different but together they symmetrize. How wide are your strips?

  9. For this quilt, the strips were cut 4" wide and I used 1/4" seam allowances. When working on a smaller scale, I have found that 2" strips are very pleasing!

  10. Oh wow, how impressive. I love it, and I love the process too.

    I still can't get over the ick factor - it's a pity, because I see so much reusable stuff on the streets.

  11. Happy NY Heather! I love this quilt- I'm glad for the way the categories work as search terms. And your question, do I see more cloth now that I'm looking, not really. BUT, I did have to will myself to think of it as 'cloth' and not just 'garbage'. That was the hurdle for me, even though it's just semantics, really! Thank you for stopping by my blog, and I'm glad I found your post on this quilt.


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