August: Yoshiko Jinzenji – Line + Color Block

 Yoshiko Jinzenji became interested in quilts after discovering antique Amish & Mennonite quilts in 1970 while living in Canada. Her life’s journey took her back to Japan and on to Bali where she was further influenced by local textile works.

Jinzenji’s exploration of quilting evolved into a unique minimalistic style that combines the traditions of North American quilting, Japanese patchwork and Asian dyeing & weaving. Never limiting herself to traditional cotton fabric, she embraces the use of upholstery cloth, silk, wool and a variety of synthetic and non-woven fabrics in her quilts.

The 2002 the publication of Quilting Artistry: Inspired Designs From The East displayed her ability to evoked a spiritual quietness through her minimalistic designs and brought her international recognition. Her quilts traveled to some of the world’s largest quilt exhibits and many of her quilts are now in permanent collections of art museums.

In Quilting Line + Color: Techniques and Designs For Abstract Quilts she published a book of quilts “inspired by the color white” with bold use of color and line. Modern quilters embraced the clean fresh look of her quilts with their minimalistic and alternate grid-work layouts in a refreshing color palette.

Painted Square I, 102” x 98”
Yoshiko Jinzenji, 2004

Painted Square II – 92” x 100”
Yoshiko Jinzenji, 2005

Section 1: Line + Color Block

Section 1: Line + Color Block 1

The Line + Color Block 1 is derived from a portion of  Jinzenji’s Painted Square II quilt and these instructions are for a 12” x  12” finished block.

  • Note: In Figure 1 the block is divided into 4 quadrants and the swaths of color highlight patch segments for use during piecing in Step 3A.

Fabric Requirements 

  1. Background:  1/8 yd Light Neutral
  2. Lines of Color:  1.5” squares of assorted fabrics
  • Fabric Tip: Start with 1 or 2 multi-color fabrics  to establish the overall color palette. Then add an assortment of solids, blenders, hombres, prints, and black & whites of different value, scale & volume.

Step 1: Cut Fabric

A. Referring to figure 1, cut the background patches from the light neutral fabric.

(A) 6.5” x 8.5”     (B) 6.5” x 3.5” (C) 5.5” x 4.5”    (D) 5.5” x 3.5” (E) 4.5” x 3.5”

Cut 1.5” squares from the assortment of fabrics for the 31 patches in the color lines.

Step 2 : Arrange Block  Pieces

A. Using Figure 1 as a guide, layout the patches for the color lines.

B. Add background patches A, B, C, D & E

Step 3: Assemble Quadrants  L1, L2, R1 & R2

A. Sew together the six segments of color line patches as highlighted in Figure 1.

Tips for piecing the color patches:

  • Set stitch length at 2.0 to keep seam ends tight.
  • Set your needle position for an accurate 1/4” seam and check the 1” patch dimensions as you go to maintain the proper overall length.
  • Option: Foundation piece the longer segments of squares (set stitch length to 1.8 for easier paper tear-away).

B. Arrange the six separate patch segments and background pieces into the quadrants, as in the Step 3b photo above.

C. Sew together quadrant L1

  • Press the 8-patch color line segment seams up.
  • Attach the segment to right edge of A, press seam toward A.
Quadrant L1

D. Sew together quadrant L2 

  • Press the 6-patch color line segment seams left.
  • Attach the segment to top edge of B, press seam toward B.
  • Press 4-patch color line segment seams up.
  • Attach the segment to right edge of the B unit, press seam away from B.
Quadrant L2

E. Sew together quadrant R1

  • Press the horizontal 4-patch color line segment seams left.
  • Attach the segment to the top edge of E, press seam toward E.
  • Press the vertical 4-patch color line segment seams up.
  • Attach the segment to the right edge of the E unit, press seam toward E.
  • Attach the E unit to the lower edge of C, press seam away from C. 
Quadrant R1

F. Sew together quadrant R2 

  • Press the 5-patch color line segment seams right.
  • Attach segment to the top edge of D, press seam toward D.
Quadrant R2

Step 4: Complete Block

A. Sew together quadrants L1 & L2, press seam toward L1


B. Sew together quadrants R1 & R2, press seam toward R2


C. Sew together L1/L2 and R1/R2 to complete block.

D. Press and square up as needed to 12.5” x 12.5”.

24”x24” quilt design from four Line + Color blocks set at successive 90 degree rotations.

Section 2:  Special Bonus Blocks 

This month’s 12” x 12” Line + Color Block is presented with 3 additional variations which can be combined to create a four-block mini quilt inspired by Jinzenji’s Painted Square II quilt. 

  • Blocks 2, 3 & 4 are assembled in the same manner as Block 1 in Section 1 by building patch segments and quadrants.
    • Refer to Figure 2 layout for placement of color lines and background patches. 
    • Refer to Figure 3 Block Plans for highlighted color line patch segments.

Fabric Requirements to make 4 Blocks

  1. Background: 1/2 yd Light Neutral (1/8 yd for each Block) 
  • Cut patches for each block per Table 1.
6.5” X5.5” X4.5” X2.5” X
Block 18.5” (A)4.5” (C)3.5” (E)
3.5” (B)3.5” (D)
Block 28.5” (A)8.5” (B)8.5” (E)
7.5” (C)
3.5” (D)
Block 312.5” (A)4.5” (C)
2.5” (B)3.5” (D)
Block 49.5” (A)4.5” (B)12.5” (D)
4.5” (C)
Table 1 – Background Patched Needed

  1. Color Lines:  1.5” wide lengths of approximately 25 different fabrics.  
  • Cut the 1.5” square patches needed for the each block:
    • Block 1 = 31
    • Block 2 = 16
    • Block 3 = 32
    • Block 4 = 26

And Finally . . .  here is a small gallery of quilts by Yoshiko Jinzenji

79” x 98”
Yoshiko Jinzenji 1998
Dew II (detail), 75” x 77”
Yoshiko Jinzenji, prior to 2002
Optical Quilt – Star Connection, 68” x 83”
Yoshiko Jinzenji, prior to 2002
Hieroglyphic Quilt, 96” x 101”
Yoshiko Jinzenji 2006
Spiral Block Quilt -Versification II
Yoshiko Jinzenji, prior to 2002