Zabuton Cushions

My project for the last 10 days has been to make new cushions for my dining room chairs and bench. The current ones were made by a friend who is clever at sewing as a housewarming gift…but that means they are really about 20 years old!!

Aizome Cushions from an antique Kimono

The special thing about these is that I was able to use Grandma’s kimono, or the last pieces of it. I had to patch little bits together to do it. The other amazing thing is that I am not a good seamstress at all, but they turned out pretty nice.

The zabuton cushions add to the feeling of “Wa” to the room. “Wa” means peace, literally but is used to refer to things Japanese. For example, a tatami room is called a wa-shitsu whereas a Western-style room is called a yo-shitsu. 

This type of kimono is kon-gasuri, worn for every day and not made of silk, but usually cotton. Usually the navy-colored aizome fabrics here are dyed using a vegetable dye, Japanese indigo. I saw some cushions in a craft magazine that were round like these but in a floral fabric. The bench cushions I had to figure out myself.

kongasuri patterned cotton kimono

Make the outer cover leaving one center seam open about 8-10 inches to insert the inner cushion. Use an old sheet or something to make the round cushion for inside. Again leave an opening to insert the cotton batting.

Next make a pattern out of wrapping paper or butcher paper. Layer the batting on top of this circle, gradually building it up evenly. Tuck in around the edges to make the circle round and well-shaped. Now slip the whole thing, paper and all into the inner cushion (sheet) cover. Slip out the paper pattern Stitch up the opening with a slip stitch.

Now the filler cushion can go into the cover. Slip stitch that opening too. It is easy to rip out these stitches when you want to wash the cover.

Now serve up a cold Japanese eggplant dish to go with your Japanese cushions! Chilled Eggplant in Sesame Marinade.

Now I have to go finish the second bench cushion. Hopefully I’ll have this all done for the Bible Study meeting here on Tuesday! I am serving Rhubarb Crisp. Hiroo grew the rhubarb as it isn’t sold here.

Laying out the bench cushions

I was able to stay in the city and sew because it is the rainy season here now. My heart goes out to all the people in India who are having such terrible floods right now. In this area, there have been quite a few mudslides and we won’t know until we go out there what is happening at the farm!

Last week, we picked thirty-some kilograms (1K= about 2 lbs) of green plums. These are for making umeboshi or pickled plums that go into our rice balls and so on. I also made Plum Jam with the riper ones.

Umeboshi Pickles (salt and shochu is added)

Hiroo insisted I use up all the plums so, even with giving 5 kilo away, I ended up making 28!! kilograms of pickled plums. What are we going to do with that many?? Rice balls, anyone?

P.S. I finished the bench cushions!!

Ai-zome Cushions



3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. beckynielsen
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 00:19:05

    The cushions are beautiful, Leah! And, wow, 28 kilos of plums! I don’t know what they taste like but imagine they’re good as pickles. Guess we know what your guests are going to be getting for the next year!


  2. milliemollymandy
    Jul 07, 2012 @ 18:22:48

    In England those little green plums are known as greengages. I’m lucky enough to have an old greengage tree in my garden, but our weather has been so poor this year and it looks as though we will be lucky to get 28 greengages, never mind 28kilos!


  3. leahmama1
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 00:29:06

    Can you eat those greengages? If ours ripen, they turn light yellow and soon rot. So we can’t eat then as fruit per se but just jam or pickles or plum wine.


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