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Behind the Blocks: Lunar Zodiac Quilt

It all started with one quilt block in 2019. Berene of Happy Sew Lucky designed and made a quilt block of a pig and turned it into a pot holder as a small gesture for a family friend who hosted that Lunar New Year gathering.
Since the first zodiac animal quilt block, a quilting Instagram friend from Malaysia, Kathy Looi, encouraged Berene to design and release all 12 zodiac animal quilt blocks at once so she could complete her set of blocks. Those conversations led to a new friendship and sparked the idea to collaborate with me, Wendy of The Weekend Quilter, to form something greater. 
The three of us are proud to present the Lunar Zodiac Quilt. It’s a combination of my traditionally pieced New Year Blessings mini quilt, surrounded by all 12 foundation paper pieced zodiac animals designed by Berene. The Lunar Zodiac Quilt pattern comes in two sizes: (1) Lap size - 52″ x 52″ and (2) Baby / wall hanging size with three layout options - 41″ x 41″.
The Weekend Quilter x Happy Sew Lucky Lunar Zodiac Quilt Pattern Layouts
The zodiac animal block patterns are available from Happy Sew Lucky’s online store - both individually and as a 14 combo pack - and the New Year Blessings mini quilt pattern which is incorporated in the centre of the quilt design is available from The Weekend Quilter’s online store.
The Weekend Quilter x Happy Sew Lucky Lunar Zodiac Quilt Pattern Animal Blocks
The Weekend Quilter x Happy Sew Lucky Lunar Zodiac Quilt Pattern New Year Blessings Fu (福)

Download the Lunar Zodiac PDF quilt assembly instructions for FREE here.

Supporting Our Local Asian Communities

Between September 29, 2022 and October 31, 2022, $10 CAD from sale of the 14 zodiac animal quilt block combo pack by Berene will be donated to organizations that support Asian communities in Vancouver, Canada (i.e. Yarrow Intergenerational Society for Justice and explorASIAN Festival) and $2 USD from each New Year Blessings mini quilt pattern will go to Think!Chinatown (New York, Manhattan based). These grassroots, non-profit organisations aim to provide platforms, resources and opportunities to foster and celebrate the Asian culture. Moreover, these local-based organisations provide a voice to vulnerable groups within these immigrant communities, and help shape better policies and programs to support the needs of the locals and preserve cultural heritage. 

We have chosen to donate to these specific organisations because Berene is based in Vancouver, Canada and I’m based in New York City. Another reason why we’ve chosen grassroots non-profit organisations over larger, national non-profit organisations is, the money raised will go directly towards supporting our local Asian communities in each of our cities.

Significance Behind the Quilt Blocks

So why the 12 zodiac animals and the Fu (福) Chinese character in the middle of the quilt design for Lunar New Year?

The Weekend Quilter Lunar New Year Blessings mini quilt pattern

Let’s start off with the Fu (福) Chinese character from my New Year Blessings mini quilt pattern. This Chinese word is the most popular and auspicious word used throughout the Lunar New Year celebrations. It means happiness, blessing and good fortune.

Many Chinese households decorate their homes with this word and keep it up all year long. These decorations are replaced every new year. Interestingly, people display this word upside down on their door or window with the belief that more blessings and good fortune has ‘arrived’. This is because the word upside down pronounced in Chinese sounds like ‘arrive’.

 The Weekend Quilter x Happy Sew Lucky Lunar Zodiac Quilt Pattern Pieced Animal Blocks

As for the 12 zodiac animals, there’s an old legend behind how they came to be. There are many variations of the legend. But they all start with the Jade Emperor who called upon all the animals in the world to participate in the ‘great race’. For their participation, the Emperor would assign them as a zodiac animal and their placement in the race would determine the order in which they would appear in the zodiac animal cycle, which starts at each new lunar year and repeats every 12 years. As you would have guessed, on the day of the race, 12 animals crossed the finish line (rat, ox, rabbit / cat, dragon, snake, horse, goat / sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig).

The legend behind the animals changes slightly by location. In China and Korea, the fourth zodiac animal is a rabbit, while in Vietnam it is a cat. The 8th zodiac is a goat in China and Vietnam, and a sheep in Korea. Hence there are 14 zodiac animal blocks available for purchase from Happy Sew Lucky’s online store to accommodate these options.

The zodiac animals in the quilt design have been strategically placed so that it reflects the results of the ‘great race’, starting from the top left corner of the quilt in a clockwise direction.

 The Weekend Quilter x Happy Sew Lucky Lunar Zodiac Quilt

Learn more about the lunar calendar, legend behind the zodiac animals and colour symbolism in Asian cultures in our FREE Lunar Zodiac PDF quilt assembly instructions here. 

Supporting Asian-Owned Sewing Based Businesses

Schedule a digital edge-to-edge longarm quilting service for your Lunar Zodiac quilt with Stitch Panda Studio before December 2022 and receive 20% discount*. Use code LUNARPANDA when you complete your online booking form.

P.S. Stitch Panda Studio quilted my project! She used the Orange Dream pantograph by the Longarm League. Traditionally, this motif symbolises fortune, money or currency in Chinese culture. 

The Weekend Quilter x Happy Sew Lucky Lunar New Year Zodiac Animal Quilt Pattern quilted by Stitch Panda Studio

If you’re looking to support more Asian-owned sewing based businesses, the Asian Sewiest Collective has compiled a list here. And if you’re wanting to go beyond the Asian sewist community and would like to explore and support other BIPOC & ally crafting businesses, here are a couple of other lists:

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Longarm Quilters List by Longarm League
Jacinta’s Shut Up & Sew Vendor/Store List by Pink Mimosa

Final Note from The Weekend Quilter

My family migrated to Australia in the early 1990s for a better lifestyle and upbringing. Growing up, my parents did their best to connect my sisters and me with our Asian roots through travel, Chinese classes on the weekends and food with the hope that we would do the same with our children one day. 

 As a quilt designer and pattern writer, it brings me great honour to be able to share my culture and the significance of the lunar new year through the art of quilting, and this opportunity would not have been possible without Berene and Kathy. Thank you ladies and the community for your continued support! I hope your lunar new year sewing will bring you and your loved ones a sense of joy and heartwarming memories.

The Weekend Quilter x Happy Sew Lucky Lunar New Year Zodiac Quilt Pattern

*Stitch Panda Studio longarm services discount terms and conditions: Use code LUNARPANDA to receive 20% off digital edge to edge quilting on a Lunar Zodiac Quilt booked before December 2022. Discount does not apply to pantograph purchases, batting, or shipping costs to and from Stitch Panda Studio located in Anaheim, California (92805).