Aizome & Kakishibu “Boro” Quilt Pattern


Level: Beginner

Have a lot of blue and brown scraps? A collection of natural indigo? Vintage fabrics from Japan that you’ve been hoarding? Faded fabrics, worn, used, or otherwise color-softened cottons handy? This casual lap quilt will put them to good use. All measurements in this pattern relate to the original quilt and its dimensions. You can add or subtract to make the quilt any size you like. Piecing is not complicated; just spend a bit of time assembling the colored blocks where you want them. Give yourself some space on the floor to spread out your fabrics and don’t be afraid to make a few “mistakes”.


What you need for the top:

  • Two 2” x 44” light colored tonal strips for outer side border
  • Two 3” x 44” dark colored print or tonal strips for top and bottom border
  • Two 3.5” x 44” medium colored print or tonal strips for inner side border
  • Two 2” x 44” medium colored print strips for vertical panes
  • Two 2” x 44” medium colored different print strips for vertical panes
  • 45-50 pieces at least 4.5” x 2” and up to 4.5” x 7” from ten or more different fabrics


Suggested fabrics:

  • Quilting cottons – I used several prints from Moda’s “Kasuri” collection for the original quilt because of their vintage look. Moda’s “Indigo” collection works well, too.
  • Old cotton shirts – woven cloth, not knit (button-down shirts, not t-shirts)
  • Vintage Japanese cottons – check for colorfastness and durability. Some become fragile with age. Katazome and kasuri cottons can work beautifully with this quilt.
  • NO denim jeans! Unless you really enjoy sewing through heavy fabrics.


I’m a big fan of improvisational quilting. If any part of this pattern doesn’t work for what you have on hand, try something new. Don’t have 2” strips 44” long? Stitch a few smaller 2” strips together. Boro wasn’t meant to be perfect, it was meant to be practical.


Assembling the top:

Each of the five columns consists of eight to eleven blocks of various lengths. Each column is 4.5” wide before sewing, and with a ¼” seam allowance on each side they become 4” wide.

Ten different fabrics will give you plenty of variety, but even more will spice it up a lot. Raid your scrap bin for faded blues and soft browns, crisp navy or vintage indigo. Avoid bright white unless you’re going for a true blue-and-white look, and stick with beige, cream, and light brown tones to balance out those faded blues. A single scrap of special fabric will pop when used as an accent.

Play with block placement until you like the look of it. These columns are meant to look random, so don’t fuss too much about blocks being the “right” size. The right size is what looks good to YOU. While working on the original quilt I made the blocks much longer in order to showcase some of the fabrics, then decided they looked too big and blocky and cut everything in half, then cut them down a bit more.


Use the two different 2”x44” strips of medium blue print fabric to separate the columns, alternating each strip so they aren’t standing next to each other. Get a feel for how things look before you sew anything together. Once the balance feels right, sew the blocks into columns and then use the strips to connect them.

Once you have sewn the five columns and four strips together, add the medium blue print 3” x 44” strips for the inner side border on each side.

Add the 3.5” x 44” dark blue print for the top and bottom borders.


The 2” x 44” light tonal fabric strips for the outer side borders will be too short on their own, so cut those strips in half to 2″ x 22″ and add a 2” x 3.5” piece of dark blue fabric to stretch it a bit. This also makes a small but eye-catching accent. Sew these strips to the left and right outer edges. The top is done!


Bind and back as you please. I’m lazy when it comes to binding so I just fold the backing over, mitre the corners, and sew it down by hand or machine (hand looks best!).

Batting & Sashiko – I used Winline 100% Bamboo because it’s lightweight, sustainable, and easy to sew through. I could sashiko stitch through all three layers; top, batting, and backing without too much trouble so long as I used a thin sashiko needle (Tulip sashiko needles are the best) and strong thread such as Hida sashiko thread and Fujix Persimmon thread.

Take a look at boro textiles on Pinterest, and for inspiration.

Mottanai (もったいない)– use every scrap!

© 2016 Kimonomomo LLC
Original design by Carol Ziogas
Free for personal use and sharing with attribution. Not for sale, not for commercial use. If you share this on your blog, please include a link to this page.