Nautical Flag Quilt

nautical signal flag quiltAny guesses on what this quilt is saying? So… I’ve been working with flags lately after a longtime fascination with flags and more recently, nautical flags, has gotten me going about a few new projects.

Chart-of-signal-flagsFor those of you land lubbers, inland dwellers or non-sailors who don’t know yet- there’s a international code of signals used at sea for relaying communication back and forth between ships or from ship to shore, before the radio or during times of required radio silence. They are used individually or together to spell out short messages.

BVI flags Cooper IslandA recent trip to the British Virgin Islands got me thinking about my love of all flags, especially signal flags and the secret code aspect that makes them just a bit more intriguing.

piecing nautical flagsIn a recent visit, a friend and I came up with this quilt idea- our last names spelled with nautical signal flags.

nautical flag quilt piecingSome everyday math was required to get the dimensions of the flags right- within each flag and in relation to each other on the face of the quilt. Each flag measures 8 inches by 9 inches. I used a few different blues and yellows on purpose for a bit of dimension and to leave uniformity in the dust. All squares were pieced together on the machine, save the “i”  (black dot square above) which was hand-sewn (using a turn under applique method) to the yellow, and not perfectly round on purpose.

nautical flag quilt topI decided to go with a linen fabric for a plain background that made the flags pop but still has the textured, weather beaten look of a old sail bag, or a sailors face or the look of the linen shirted folks hanging out at any given yacht club… or maybe I just love linen. The dimensions of the whole quilt are 5 feet wide by 5′ 3″ long.

signal flag quiltHere is the quilt top all pieced together and ready to be quilted.  I was really curious how the linen would look once it was quilted, and how it would act in the long arm quilting machine.

nautical flag quilt with tribal eldersI previewed the quilt at Thanksgiving, a nice surprise for the family members for which the flags have meaning in their secret-code order. The family elders and even the little ones, absolutely loved the idea.

nautical flags on the wallThe finished quilt with a built in sleeve on the back for hanging. I really toyed with the idea of making the backside a bright colorful fabric to contrast the business-in-the-front look, but in the end, I kept it simple and just put the same linen on the back.

signal flag quiltingThe quilting is a super-small, wave-like pattern in gray thread throughout the whole quilt. It’s machine quilted (or it wouldn’t be finished for 50 years) and even with a machine, it took 12 hours- yikes!  Recently I’ve been going with a bigger quilting design and always wishing I’d gone smaller, so this quilt was the tiny design test.

quilting detail, nautical flagsOf course it’s hard to see at a distance, but close up and to the touch, I really like the way it turned out- even if it made the machine quilter friend of mine nearly crazy by the time it was finally finished.

quilting detail, signal flagsLovin’ the linen next to the cotton flag squares.

If you’re loving the nautical look, check out my nautical flag banners (great for a nautical themed party) available on Etsy. The fabric is hand-drawn, designed and made specifically for the banners. The alphabetical version is available in my shop but custom orders are welcome!

nautical party theme

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