Buddhist Patchwork Quilt

Just a quick update to let you know that I have, in the sidebar, posted a printable version of this article that Wendy Tremayne did for Craft five years ago, on my Buddhist patchwork quilt method. In all the time since the article first came out, I have been hoping to see other examples of this approach to piecing. I have, I must confess, hoped to see some evidence that this article might have inspired someone. But, if anyone did make a quilt in this way, they haven't posted their results on the web.

Due to space limitations, the how-to didn't include the following paragraphs, which are very important (particularly the last sentence) in the process:
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.
So, here you go, friends! Looking for a lovely, meditative approach to creating a treasured piece of cloth, rich with memories and meaning? Try a Buddhist patchwork quilt! And go have a look at Jean Betts's latest project - Layers of Thinking.


  1. I know how you feel ... I posted a silverware rain chain on my blog and Pinterest hoping it would inspire others, with no apparent affect. Discouraged, I put aside my blog for two years ... then found thousands of views that accumulated when I stopped looking. It just took time ...

  2. Hey this is awesome, Heather! I used to do this to make my son's baby quilts and my own clothes in the early 80's, collecting most of my materials from the Free Box at the West End "Neighbourhood House". We need to do this more, again.

  3. You are my inspiration, Heather! I've been working from the stash(es) more and more. Trying to find some kind of harmony from disparate bits and without buying (much) more stuff to make it work. I actually find it hard but it's a fun challenge!

  4. I've always used old bits of fabric to make whatever I've made, because that's just the way I like to do things...how perfectly serendipitous that this turns out to be the buddhist way of literally patchworking as 'a visible reminder of interconnectedness', especially as the latter is something close to my heart.

    if I'd been blogging then I'm sure I would have stumbled upon your post Heather

  5. We so rarely know how we've inspired or touched people. There may well be quilts out there made or in process.

    I had no idea there was a Buddhist way, and I at well explore it as I like to work in this kind of improvised way, it's pretty much how I approach everything!


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