What is Hawaiian Quilting?

On a visit to Hawaii in 2014, I fell in love with Hawaiian Quilting and for the past month at the GillyMac Studio, we have been working on our own small Hawaiian pieces. We’ve used traditional patterns and changed the hand applique to machine sewing and the results have been brilliant. In light of this, wanted to share a bit of the history I learnt about Hawaiian Quilting 5 years ago whilst staying on Big Island.

What is it?

Hawaiian Quilting is traditionally an applique pattern, which is created in much the same way as a child folds and cuts a snowflake from paper. The design is cut into folded solid coloured cloth and the symmetrical applique is then unfolded and sewn on the paler quilt top. The quilt is finished with detailed quilt stitches which echo the contours of the applique design, like ripples spreading from a stone thrown into a pond.  Many of the early designs were based on native Hawaiian plants. Another popular motif was the royal crown which was a tribute to Hawaii’s brief period as an independent monarchy.

How did it develop on the Islands?

Prior to the arrival of Westerners on the Hawaiian Island the textiles used for (sparse) clothing and bedding was bark cloth. This was thin sheets of inner bark from the paper mulberry tree, pounded together to form thicker stronger pieces of cloth. After Captain Cook discovered the Islands in 1778, missionaries from across Europe and later America followed and with them brought quilts and cotton fabrics. It is likely that the first quilts the Hawaiians saw were Album Quilts, which were quilts made for the missionaries as a parting gift from their last congregations. The use of folded applique designs may well have come from quilts brought to the Island by Pennsylvania German missionaries which were similar in style.  

My next project

Whilst on Big Island I was lucky enough to take a class in traditional Hawaiian quilting.  The sample I made there, remains incomplete but holds very fond memories of a fantastic time spent in a beautiful place. I have always liked the idea of quilts telling a story, The Hawaiian quilts tell the story of their surroundings and the fall of their own monarchy in 1897. I would like to start to make a piece every few years that holds memories for my family. I am not sure I am ready to start yet, but I’ve been holding onto that thought since I took that class with the native Hawaiian ladies in 2014. and after the past month’s Hawaain sewing in the studio, I am now planning to start my own Hawaain inspired quilt in 2020.

If you would like more information about upcomig classes at GillyMac Designs, please stay in touch by liking and following the Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Images of professional Hawaiian Quilts kindly supplied by Yoko Brown,@hawaii_apapane who also has an etsy shop which can be found here

Who Is Ready for the Sew-a-Long Tonight?

For those of you in the GillyMac Club, we are now only a few hours away from our Sew-a-Long. To help you I am posting the documents you will need here. They are also in the files section of the GillyMac Club …

See you at 8pm GMT 🙂


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[embeddoc url=”https://www.gillymacdesigns.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/FMA-Sew-A-Long-19_11_18.pdf” download=”all”]

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Doodle Groups – What we have learnt..

Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a Doodle Fiesta going on in a little part of the internet. This internet-based event was built upon the GillyMac Doodle Challenge that ran for 6 weeks over the Summer. In the Summer over 150 doodle novices put pencil to paper and over 6 weeks learnt 30 different doodles and many went on to follow my lead and sew them up into pictures.  The success of the doodle challenge meant that nobody wanted to leave it until next August for another challenge, and so the October (two weeks) Doodle Fiesta idea was born.

The reason we are doodling is to improve our understanding of doodle shapes so that the doodling movement becomes effortless. This takes time and practise, but once you have a few doodles learnt well, applying them using the sewing machine and darning foot is far far easier. The end goal is to increase your repertoire of free motion patterns which you feel secure in applying to your quilts.

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For the Doodle Fiesta Event, instead of learning new doodles, I wanted to share how the same doodles (learnt in the Summer) could be grouped to provide a totally different look. For each of six days last week, a new doodle group was published and the doodlers got busy practising them. For this week, they are sewing up those doodle groups with great success.

The key points which have been learnt over the Doodle Fiesta.

  • Doodles can be combined into groups and layers to provide more interest than a single doodle.
  • Grouping doodles of different intensities works best eg. avoid using all doodles with lines close together or far apart, instead using a mix works well
  • Groups and layers are made up of the doodles you know. Whilst they look complicated they can be broken down into known parts.
  • Creating shapes to doodle within and around adds a simple new element to showcase your doodles from.
  • Doodling is free and provides the BEST training for free motion sewing – keep doodling

Our next doodle meet-up will be motifs for Christmas… nothing complicated … single line doodle shapes that can be learnt and used on paper or on fabric ~ this will start on 10th December and run for 5 days. Everybody is welcome to join – watch out on this blog, subscribe to the GillyMac YouTube Channel or ideally join our facebook group – ‘GillyMac Doodle Challenge 2018‘.

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