my one-yard challenge :: Okan Arts
my one-yard challenge

my one-yard challenge

By Patricia Belyea

WAUCONDA WA  I challenged myself to make a baby quilt using just one yard of yukata cotton and stitched with the Aurifil Como Blue Color Builder thread set.

Yukata cotton measures 14″ to 16″ wide. That means that one yard of this special Japanese textile is less than one third of a yard of standard quilting cotton.

For my one yard, I chose an indigo and white geometric yukata cotton in the hemp pattern. With the unfinished blocks measuring 6.5″, I cut ten blocks out of one yard.

The veins in hemp leaves are stylized in this traditional pattern. To extend the nature theme of the Hemp Blocks, I made a collection of solid-colored Leaf Blocks pieced with a variety of leaf veins. All the colors of inserted vein lines match the colors of the Como Blue threads.

To secure the quilt, I stitched-in-the-ditch with the mid-value Como Blue thread. Yikes! After quilting two long seams, it was apparent that the royal blue thread was too luscious. Instead of hiding in the ditch, the royal blue thread was screaming for attention. So I ripped out the stitching and proceeded with an inconspicuous 50 wt gray cotton thread by Aurifil.

Next I stitched-in-the-ditch on both sides of the inserted vein lines—using matching Como Blue threads. This added depth to the piecing detail.

I also quilted along the indigo lines of the Hemp Blocks. Although there were 12 short lines in each block—starting and stopping with micro stitches—it was easy as the lines were right there in the fabric pattern!

The 5-block x 6-block quilt design plays with a checkerboard of alternating indigo Hemp Blocks and teal Leaf Blocks. The additional Leaf Blocks—in lemon-lime, royal blue, and pink—replace some of the Hemp Blocks in the structured composition.

The back is made with three yards of an indigo and white geometric yukata cotton in the tortoiseshell pattern. I’ve seamed this fabric together so it becomes one piece visually. (You may notice that I’m not counting this yukata cotton in my one-yard challenge. That’s because I’m the person making the rules!)

If you’re interested in making Leaf Blocks, here are some tips:


-You will be working oversize until you trim the block down to its final unfinished size of 6.5″ (final size of 6″).

-Make 7.5″ squares of solid fabric for the background.

-Make 7/8″ x 8.5″ strips for the contrasting insert fabric. You need three strips for each Leaf Block.

-Cut across the square of background fabric at an angle, then both sides at an angle. The angles are random and should be a little different with each Leaf Block. Prep as many of these as you need.

-Once you start assembling, only sew one Leaf Block at a time. It is very easy to get the pieces mixed up or turned upside down.

-Sew the two pieces of one side together with the insert strip. Then the other side. Press each seam out as you go. It will be impossible to line up the background fabric with the insert strips so just do the best you can.

-Trim the angled edge of each side. Sew the center insert strip and press the seams open.

-Trim to a 6.5″ square.

To make the Leaf Block with five inserted veins, follow these same instructions—only make the original oversized block 8.5″ square and the strips 9.5″ long.

Blue works in so many color combos. I often pair orange with blue so this baby quilt brings together a fresh palette for me. And the Leaf Blocks, that look so simple, were a fun challenge.

Next, I need to sew on a label and mail this gift to a new baby in our family!

Quilt Name: Purity (the hemp pattern symbolizes peace and purity in Japan)
Size: 30″ x 36″
Fabrics: vintage Japanese yukata cotton and commercial solids
Threads: Aurifil Como Blue Color Builder thread set with Aurifil 50wt gray cotton thread
Batting: Hobbs Natural Cotton with Scrim
Quilting: Stitching-in-the-ditch
Finishing: Designer facing

To shop for geometric yukata cottons in the Okan Arts online store +click here

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To learn more about Aurifil and Como Blue Color Builder Set +click here

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17 comments to “my one-yard challenge”

  1. Ardis says:

    This is wonderful, charming, not difficult, packs a punch. Thanks for all the directions and hints.

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Ardis—Thanks. It was fun to play with the idea of freestyle Leaf Blocks to support the angled lines in the hemp-patterned yukata cotton. PB

  2. Linda Lim says:

    I like your quilt and the method of making the tree squares, but wonder how you finished the edges. Of the quilt. Could you please explain?

  3. Marsha Burdick says:

    Very nice. Thanks for spliced leaf block info.

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Marsha—You can imagine all the ways you could use that idea — more skinny inserts, less angles, and on and on. Enjoy! PB

  4. Susan Zakanycz says:

    Wow your quilt is so nice, pretty and inspirational ! I always like your fabrics in your business but never knew really what to make with all those beautiful prints. Now I think I will be inspired to sometime buy a few!

  5. Susan Zakanycz says:

    Your quilt is beautiful. Your work has inspired me to order a few yards of your fabric yesterday. I am looking forward to sewing with it.

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Susan—Good for you. Please send me a photo of your project when you are finished. I’d love to see what you do with YOUR yukata cottons. PB

  6. Giuliana Nakashima says:

    This is a very sweet QUILT that makes me happy just looking at it. It is a great pattern for using some of that beautiful fabric you have in your stash that you can’t bear to cut up. (Ask me how I know this) It really shows it off with out looking just like you did a bunch of squares – nicely done!

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Giuliana—Thank you. Remember that you can make the Leaf Block with a lower contrast of colors if it would compete too much with your wonderful yukata cotton. PB

  7. Rosemary Newman says:

    I just LOVE this quilt!

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Rosemary—Thank you. As simple as it looks, it took a moment to get the balance right. If you want to try this out, let me know. I have a few yards left of the hemp patterned and tortoiseshell patterned yukata cottons in the Okanogan Highlands. (They are not available in the online store as they are not in Seattle.) PB

  8. David Owen Hastings says:

    What a great way to marry thrift with design-ability! The geometric yukata cotton blocks look wonderful with the cheery leaf blocks… and so nice of you to share your process for piecing the blocks. Wonderful quilt!

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Thanks David—I’m sure you could have figured out how to make the Leaf Blocks without my instructions. The key is to start oversized. PB

  9. Mary Sizer says:

    I purchased your East-Meets-West book and bought some of the yukata cotton to make the veined one block challenge block. I have not worked with Yukata before and wondered about the dye bleeding into the solids with washing. Do I need to set the fabric color with anything other than prewash?

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Mary—You are so sweet to make this quilt. I hope you send me a photo of your final piece! Pre-washing is excellent but you do not need to add anything to your wash. A tip: don’t put your wet pre-washed fabric in the dryer. Just lay it out or hang it out. That way you don’t cook any creases into the fabric that take too much effort to remove! PB