Once again it is that time of year – The American School in Japan‘s annual Gala Fundraiser – and once again I have had the pleasure of being intimately involved in one of its most special projects, the quilt! Reminiscent of summer breezes in a classic rock garden, this year’s ASIJ Gala quilt features one of the most romantic objects in Japan, the furin, or wind chime, hung outdoors in the summer to ring when it catches even the slightest breeze, refreshing the listener through sound in the midst of hot summer.

To further complement the evocative Japanese theme, we have echo quilted the entire background in the style of the rock garden at Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto.

Based on a design by Japanese master quilter Suzuko Koseki, the quilt features irregular sized blocks, hand sewn in bands, from which the furin hang. Each bell is unique, with its own hand drawn individual pattern.

The detailed tracing and cutting even required headlamps for a few folks!

Fabric selection was a careful and complex process, the balancing of color and pattern the key to the design. We used a wide variety of traditional Japanese prints in cotton and silk which were then hand appliqued.

A close-up of one of the bells, just after being appliqued.

The quilt top with all bells appliqued and embroidered  – ready to have the border added.  Take a close look at each individual bell, fabrics coordinated as a whole for their feeling of shibui, the Japanese aesthetic of simple, subtle, and unobtrusive beauty.

Every step adds so much and the border always makes the quilt feel that much closer to finished. Basting day is always fun as the quilt top goes from being flimsy to having its backing and border.

And here it is – the finished quilt!!!

Also be sure to examine the close-ups of the elaborately detailed rock garden quilted into the background, lovingly stitched by many experienced hands.

Get your bids ready!!!

Julie Fukuda’s blog, My Quilt Diary has more posts with details and photos here, here and here, as does Cynthia Nanto’s A Quilter By Night.

Related Posts:
Coming Full Circle…A History of the ASIJ Gala Quilt

Image Credits: 1. via Yoseido Gallery, 2. via Ohmi Gallery, 3. via Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art, all other photos by me or someone from the quilting group.