Japanese Style Quouch


  • 50cm of black for lining and binding
  • 25cm of red fabric for borders and blocks
  • Collection of scraps in reds and blacks for piecing the blocks
  • 30cm of wadding (115cm wide)
  • 70cm of 3.5cm wide black satin ribbon
  • Freezer paper for templates

Finished Size

20 x 8 1⁄2in (51 x 22cm)

Skill Level



The materials used in this project are available from all good quilt shops.

To Begin

Cut the main bag pieces first, put to one side, label and use the remaining fabrics for the blocks.

From the black fabric cut:

  • Backing 21 x 8 1⁄2in
  • Pocket lining 14 x 9 1⁄2in
  • Two 6in squares for Dresden plate and clamshell backing
  • 100in of 1 1⁄2in wide strips for binding, join as needed

From the red fabric cut:

  • Two pieces 2 x 20in for border
  • Two pieces 2 x 6in for sashing between blocks
  • Two pieces 1 1⁄2 x 6in for end pieces outside blocks

Revolving Log Cabin Block

This block gives the illusion of curves but you only sew straight lines. Like all log cabin blocks you must keep sewing round the centre block in the same direction.

Figure 1: Revolving log cabin
Figure 1: Revolving log cabin
  1. Cut 1 1⁄4in strips in plain red, black and patterned red and black.
  2. Start with a 1 1⁄4in patterned red square. Add logs as in regular log cabin. Log 1 needs to protrude beyond the small square, as shown in Figure 1.
  3. Start sewing the first log 1⁄4in from the start then add the second and third logs. When sewing the fourth log note that it goes under the beginning of the first log. Complete the sewing of the first log.
  4. Place your ruler at an angle from A to B, leaving 1⁄4in at A. Cut with the rotary cutter.
  5. Revolve the block and cut at points A and B again. Continue in this fashion until the block is square
  6. Sew on the next round of logs, remembering to extend the first strip and start with a partial seam each time. Continue until the block is 5 1⁄2in square. The blocks shown used six rounds.

Dresden Plate

  1. Draw a 4 1⁄2in circle onto freezer paper. Fold circle firmly in half then accurately in half again and finally into thirds making twelve folded segments.
  2. Round off the tops and snip off the bottom points. Cut the segments apart carefully. See Figure 2.
  3. Iron onto the WS of three or four different fabrics. Cut out, allowing 1⁄4in seam allowance. Fold the seams along the straight sides and tack in place. Use a running stitch round the curved top of each segment. Pull gently and the fabric will ease into place. Stitch the segments together to reform the circle.
  4. Sew onto the 6in black backing square using small stitches. Make a small circle to fit the centre of the plate and sew in place.
  5. Turn the block over and cut out the back of the Dresden plate shape leaving at least 1⁄4in seam allowance and remove the papers.
Figure 2: Making the template and finished Dresden plate
Figure 2: Making the Dresden plate


Select plain and patterned red fabric and patterned black fabrics.

  1. Cut out nine clamshells in freezer paper and iron them onto the fabrics on the wrong side. Leave 1⁄4in turnings all round. Cut out.
  2. Sew a small running stitch around the mushroom of the shell and pull gently, this will make the top fit snugly. See template. Repeat for all the clamshells.
  3. Pin the top clamshell in place on the 6in black backing square and sew around the top with a slip stitch. Pull out the backing paper.
  4. Place the next two clamshells in place and pin, make sure they leave a good V shape in the middle. Sew and remove the papers as before. Continue adding the clamshells until the block is complete.
  5. Cut a 3 7⁄8in square of black fabric. Cut in half on the diagonal and use to make the bottom two triangles. Stitch to cover all the raw edges on the sides of the clamshells. Trim level with the block if necessary.
Figure 3: House Block
Figure 3: House Block

The House Block

  1. Trace the shapes from the House block onto freezer paper (Figure 3). Add 1⁄4in seam allowance around the shapes. Number each piece to match the pattern.
  2. Cut out these shapes complete with turnings and iron onto the RS of your fabric. If you iron onto the WS of the fabric the block will still piece together but will be in reverse.
  3. Cut out the fabric exactly to size. Lay the pieces onto a spare piece of fabric in the correct order to make the house.
  4. Peel off the paper from pieces one to five and sew the fabrics together to create the first line of the house block. Remember to use a 1⁄4in seam allowance.
  5. Repeat with pieces six to ten, pinning the shapes which are at an angle before sewing to ensure the correct fit.
  6. Use the same method to join the bottom left and righthand sections, joining the smaller pieces together first if necessary. See Figure 4.
  7. Pin the rows together and piece into the house block. Press well. Note: The freezer paper can be reused a few times iron onto a spare piece of fabric for future use.
  8. Cut 1 1⁄2in strips of black fabric and add to the outside of the house, log cabin style. Trim to 6in square.
Figure 4: Piecing the House Block
Figure 4: Piecing the House Block

Large Inner Pockets

  1. Take the 14 x 9 1⁄2in pocket lining and cut a piece of wadding to match. Place the wadding on top of the lining.
  2. Cut a selection of 1 1⁄2in strips from all your fabrics, these can be joined if necessary. Working diagonally, place two strips from corner to corner RS together.
  3. Sew in place with a 1⁄4in seam on one side. Press open the strips. Add strips to either side until the wadding is covered.
  4. Cut into two pieces each 6 x 8 1⁄2in. Using black binding, bind one long side of each pocket.
Figure 5: Inner layout
Figure 5: Inner layout

Assembly and Finishing

  1. Decide the arrangement of your blocks and sew with 2in sashing strips in between and at the ends of row.
  2. Sew the 1 1⁄2in strips to the ends of the row and then use the 20 x 2in strips to sew along the outer edge. See Figure 6.
  3. Layer on wadding and backing before quilting around the edge of each clamshell and the Dresden plate pieces. Sew around each house piece and also around the edge of each block.
  4. Cut the ribbon in half and sew one piece to the bag, folding the end neatly into place as shown.
  5. Layer the revolving log cabin block with wadding and lining and quilt as needed. Bind all round the edges using the black binding.
  6. Hand sew the block in place on the inside. Use the quilting stitches as a guide to placement. Remember to leave the top open to make the pocket and make sure your stitches do not show on the RS.
  7. Lay the two large pockets in position with the bound edges towards the centre of the bag. Tack in place and then bind the outer edge of the bag using the black binding. See Figure 5.
  8. Sew the second strip of ribbon in place on the edge of one pocket, turn the end in neatly.
Figure 6: Layout of outside of bag
Figure 6: Layout of outside of bag
Finished Quouch

First published in Popular Patchwork Volume 11 Number 10 - September 2003