Nina’s Japanese Jigsaw Journey

I’m having so much fun with this project! My son was intrigued by the pattern and selected all the fabrics, building the quilt around the bright orange fabric and the gingko fabric, which will also be used for the borders.


We followed the pattern’s guidance and selected what we thought would be enough fat quarters for the 64” x 70” quilt. However, because I squared up the fabric before cutting, I didn’t really have enough for all the 9-inch squares called for by the pattern. So, I would recommend buying 1/3 yard cuts instead of fat quarters. Here’s the proposed layout after cutting each 9-inch square in 4 pieces:


By my calculation, if I want to fill out the periphery with dark fabric (i.e., to try to rescue the originally intended size), I will need 50 4-½” squares of dark fabric. After some furious measuring, it looks like it will work (albeit a bit scrappy looking). Yay!


The pattern says to take triplets down from your design wall (floor) one at a time, sew and return. This is good advice. If you’re bold you can chain piece, but it really helps to take a lot of photos along the way.

A tip about templates: At first I didn’t want to buy the acrylic template and instead bought cheap template plastic and traced the template from the pattern. So far so good, but slow and I was going through quite a bit of scotch tape to repair the edges of the template from all the times the rotary cutter veered off course.

Finally I broke down and bought the acrylic template – why didn’t I do this earlier! My speed increased significantly and my rotary cutter behaved itself and stayed on track.  (By the way, there are two different sized template rulers available – one for 10-inch squares and the other one, which is the one you want if you work with 9-inch squares)

Joining the blocks into rows: When they say “offset by a little bit, leaving a little ear at each end,” I find it works best to expose 1/8 inch of the bottom fabric when the top fabric juts out to the left.

Joining the rows: When they say “matching the centers of the jigsaw blocks,” I found it helpful to: (1) overlap the entire seams of the center jigsaw block with the rows diagonal to each other;

(2) using a Purple Thang, insert a pin ¼” from the edge making sure the pin butts up against both seams, but do not secure the pin; (3) carefully pivot the rows back into place and secure first pin;



Oops, looks like I was a couple of rows short in the length. Can’t add them in now because it would likely mess up my balanced layout. So, I’m going to turn it sidewise and call it Jigsaw Lanterns.  Here it is all trimmed up with borders. I like it from the diagonal perspective because it’s not as obvious that I made it too short.


Final Japanese Jigsaw


Final Japanese Lanterns


Which do you like better?

For the Japanese Jigsaw pattern, click here.

For the acrylic template designed for pre-cuts (e.g., 5″ or 10″ squares), click here.

For the acrylic template designed for yardage (e.g., fat quarters), click here.