Sunday, 18 November 2012

Nothing for months...

...then twice in two days!

After another good night's sleep (only three get-ups), I feel filled with energy to crack on. Linda and were cruising the web and came across some fabulous antique garments from Japan. Amongst them were pieces described as Boro. This wasn't a term I was familiar with, but after some research it turns out that it refers to textiles that have been mended and repaired often over many generations. I loved the patching, colours and density of stitch, some functional, some decorative. These garments and cloths could be handed down through generations being worn and slept on by numerous family members. I read somewhere that babies would be born onto and wrapped in these ancestral 'quilts' and of course with my own baby that had a real resonance.

So, I have decided that I will make my own 'Boro' quilt that we will use, wash and when needed, mend with a new patch and more stitch. I remember when my sister and I were at home we always had a quilt on our beds, one we'd mope under when we were ill on the settee or haul out into the garden to sunbathe on. I reckon Amelie needs one of those too.

Traditional Boro textiles are indigo dyed and I will take my lead from that. I've done lots of indigo dyeing and I've dug out as many pieces as I can find. Most are cotton, but there are some silk ones too. Some are indigo over dyes so there are flashes of other gorgeous colours too. I love a bit of hot pink or red and so my quilt will have accents of those to complement the blues.

I do have some authentic Japanese fabric. You can see it in this photo - the bit with the waves. I've also got some deliciously beautiful lengths that have the look but aren't Japanese, but I'm not being a purist. Why would I? I'm not Japanese, never been to Japan, I'm just inspired by this tradition. To that end I'm including a Union Jack. I'm British and it's Jubilee year so it all seems to fall into place. Oh, and Amelie's middle name just happens to be Elizabeth.

The flag is an old one, very fine cotton lawn and complete with holes and a tear - just ready for the first boro patch.


  1. Your pile of fabrics is delightful. It makes me want to dig in and start stitching. Here is a link to a man in New York City who travels to Japan frequently. I love looking at the samples of boro on his site and on his blog. He had a show recently that I was able to see and the catalogue is wonderful. A group of online friends worked on boro clothing last winter. My jacket became more journal like than boro, but it was fun. It reminds me a lot of the kantha that Linda is sharing on DMTV. Enjoy!
    Amelie is so adorable and beautiful. She will learn to associate your sewing machine with you and be comforted by it. My Gram used to sew next to my crib and it would put me to sleep every time. :)

  2. You may also be interested in the twist that contemporary textile artist Jude Hill has put on the boro tradition. You can find out more about her work here: and elsewhere on her website. Enjoy!

  3. Hi Jeannie, That was one of the sites I stumbled upon when I was researching! Margaret, thanks for the other link, I'll check it out.

  4. Laura, your version of a Boro quilt is quite fabulous! Are you appliquing the fabrics with needle turn as you go and is there a 'foundation cloth behind all the piece?
    I love the orderliness of rectangles and squares. The stitching/quilting will be such fun.
    Do they include a 'batting' between or are they comprised of only a front and a back?
    No need to send me a separate response ... if you happen to do an update on your progress, perhaps a mention then?
    Amelie is so precious! So glad your Mom always includes an update.
    Really enjoyed seeing you back on DMTV with the advent challenge.
    Leslie B.

  5. Hi Leslie, It's all raw edged and I think I'll leave it that way as it's got the ragged look of the original Boro quilts. It's a bit of a mix between traditional inspiration, modern Western quilting style and my own spin! I'm going to do a DMTV video about how I'm making it so hopefully you'll find that interesting. It'll probably be on the website just before Christmas or one of the first of the New Year. In the meantime, once I've managed to get a bit more stitching done I'll post again with some close up photos. Bye for now, Laura