Quilts for Comfort Northeast – Meeting the challenge of bringing comfort one stitch at a time.



Japanese Folded Patchwork just happens to be one of my favourite techniques. It’s right up there with making hexagons. So I thought I’d show you how I approach the task. Keep in mind that others may do it a little different.

I’ll start by giving you the template dimensions; I’m aiming for 4-1/2” block. I have cut out two circle templates. The measurements are for the diameter. The first template measures 6-7/8” but 7” is near enough if that’s easier for you to produce; and you will use this for tracing the circle onto your outer fabric. The second template measure 6-1/4”, this template is the sewing template. And finally the square of fabric and wadding should measure 4-1/4”. I use a rotary cutter to cut the fabric and then lay the fabric on top of wadding scraps and trim it with scissors.

When I make a Japanese Folded Patchwork I use two colours; one for the outer circle and one for the centre square. So here is the method I use when working on Japanese Folded Patchwork Blocks.

First I take my larger circle template and trace it onto the outer fabric. Then cut on the traced line.

JF 1

Now using a doubled up thread with a knot in the end I sew a running stitch a scant 1/8” from the edge all the way around. DO NOT SECURE AND CUT THE THREAD YET.

JF 2

Place the fabric circle on the table. Now lay the smaller circle template in the centre and hold it down with one hand and pull the needle and thread like a drawstring until the fabric fit snuggly around the cardboard template. Now secure the thread in place and cut. This is the same method I use to make really good circles for applique purposes.

JF 3

The next steps is to press the circle on both sides. Let it cool. Gently remove the template. Press again on both sides carefully. This second pressing gives the circle a good crisp edge to work with.

JF 4

Now it’s time to add the centre square. Layer one fabric square over one wadding square and centre them both in the middle of the wrong side of the circle. Now you simply fold the circle edges over the sides of the square and pin in place. Make sure that everything looks even on all sides. You can measure up with your squaring up ruler to make sure it’s square.

JF 7

JF 8

Now we stitch everything in place. That’s pretty simple. You can either use a matching thread or a contrasting thread depending on whether you want the stitching to show up or blend in. My preference is a thread that blends in but for these photos I have used a contrasting thread. When stitching, make an effort to stitch thru all the layers right thru to the back so the stitches will show front and back. This will assure that nothing moves and your block will keep its square shape.

JF 9

JF 10


Once you have pieced all your blocks they are sewn together to produce your project. I recommend you sew carefully making very small stitches.

JF Bag

Over the years I have pieced a couple of bags using his technique but you could make placemats, table runners, quilts, sewing machine dust covers and a whole range of things. Let your imagination run wild. And let me know how you get on.

I hope this little tutorial helps.

Happy stitching.

Lucie the Happy Quilter X

Author: Lucie

I'm passionate about quiltmaking and have in recent years taken up longarm quilting with a good degree of success. I was born and raised in Canada but I moved to England in the mid nineties. I love being creative and so I dabble in many different types of craft.


  1. Wonderful tutorial – thank you for taking the time to share.

  2. Just love your tutorial, can’t wait to try this, many thanks.

  3. Thanks for the clear and precise instructions Lucie.

  4. I so appreciate this tutorial. Someone pinned this but called it a Japanese Kaleidoscope block but did not include instructions. I tried doing a google search, checked to see if there was a book without any luck. So I finally tried Japanese folded patchwork which lead me to you pin. Your instructions are wonderful and easy to understand. I do plan on making some since I always like to have a project that I can do by hand. Thank you for taking the time to do this.

  5. We are doing this technique in class next week.You have made it look so easy.Thanks for sharing

  6. Thank you very much for the the patteren I am dieing to have a go at it now

  7. Thanks for your clear instructions, but do you use the over stitch to sew the patches together? I am planning to make small quilts for a local charity.

  8. I have retired to France and thanks to new friends have just ‘found’ patchwork and applique! As a beginner I would like to thank you for your clear instructions – can’t wait to try this technique!!

  9. At last an easy to follow explanation of Japanese quilting.
    Thank you so much.

  10. Do you know of a Japanese folde quilt block which produces ‘Pin Wheels’ on one side, please

  11. Hi have you ever quilted in the shape if so what did you use I am making a quilt top & finding it needs some quilting

    • Vikki, I was simply used whatever hand quilting thread you are used to using. However if you feel a bit more adventurous try a couple of strands of embroidery cotton. It gives the look of sashiko thread. And just quilt a simple shape because quite often less is best. Thank for popping in today.

  12. Hi Lucie – thanks for the great instructions. However, I am struggling getting a nice even square. My circle cotton seems perhaps a little thick. Is it better to use quite a thin cotton? I am a beginner quilter so still finding out about different fabrics and which ones are good for patchwork. Any advice to offer?

  13. How many squares do I need foe a double quilt please

    • I suppose that all depends on how big you’ll be making your Japanese Folded Patchwork blocks. My favourite size is 4″. And I suppose I would aim for 76″ square for a double bed quilt. So you would need to make 361 blocks. I hope this helps. Good luck and enjoy the journey.

  14. This block is so simple and looks great.I have discovered that you can join two together easily by sewing the team’s together on the sewing machine before you fold the flaps over and hand stitch, it gives a really neat finish. Thank you for sharing this.I will use it in a quilt I intend to make

  15. I needed a fresher on how I did it years ago!! Found your tutorial just want I required. THANKS

  16. I have lots of small squares of Japanese fabrics that would look good in this little frame. Thanks for the information

  17. Thanks for the tutorial, just completed a practise piece, I now have a new skill. Diolch the fawr.

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