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For the love of Japan (and their flag!)

May 10, 2011

Being a designer and a bit of a geek, I have always loved flags. The big, bold blocks of colours, the stars, the stripes, the imagery, and the symbolism. It would be a graphic designer’s heaven to be commissioned to design a flag. I love the Canadian flag, and wave one proudly every Canada day. I never liked the old South African flag I grew up with – weird orange and blue combo – but quite like the new one. It’s quite funky for a country flag. My favourite of all the flags though, has to be the Japanese one. It’s simplicity is exquisite and of course it has my favourite shape – the circle – slap bang in the middle of it! It’s so clean, classic, centered, zen, I could go on…! So when I decided to participate in Quilts for Japan it was obvious way to go. The circle symbolizes the “continuation of life” in eastern culture, which is perfect given the circumstances of the people receiving these quilts.

I had a some red fabric left over from the quilt I am making for my friend Sandrine (more on that later), and some other reds in my stash, so I decided that I would make up scrappy red pieces for the red sections to give it some energy. Instead of one giant flag I designed it so that there are eight flags (4 of them with inverse red sections) which made it a little more interesting, and of course more circles! (I use the trick that my friend Krista taught me for these.)

I cut strips in different widths and played with them on the floor to make up my red blocks.

Japan flag red dot

One of the big red circles.

Japanese flag quilt pattern

My flags laid out on the floor, ready for assembly.

Japan Flag Quilt Design

The front of my Japan flag quilt design.

Since I was going with a flag theme I wanted a smaller representation of Canada’s maple leaf on the back. I searched for a maple leaf pattern that was more realistic than the usual block and triangle one, but without luck. So I decided to design my own paper piecing pattern for this. Which was a bit naive of me given that I have never paper pieced before. Nothing like a challenge! (Thank you Sonya for her online tutorial) It turned out OK. I made a couple of errors, but I’m counting these as “part of the learning process.” (growl) I am not as crazy about the back as I am about the front, but I’m hoping once it’s quilted I’ll get over that.

Maple Leaf paper piece pattern

My paper-pieced maple leaf!

Now my challenge is to quilt and bind it, then get it to QFJ in Calgary on time for the big ol’ container that is heading to Japan. I have a feeling that I’m going to miss the boat – literally  - and may have to send it to Japan myself. Finding out where may be the next challenge…

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