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

Top 5 Sewing Projects for Tweens & Teens

It is always useful to have some creative projects ready to go at any time of the year and this post is JAM-PACKED with ideas. These are my top 5 go-to projects for children aged 12-16 years of age. They take a morning or an afternoon to complete and will keep the student engaged in the creativity for all that time and longer. All these projects use easy to find and cheap resources – creativity doesn’t need to be expensive and often finding all the stuff to use can be just as fun as making the item.

If you need a reminder on how to set up your sewing machine? Click here for my latest video on getting you started.

  1. Rope Bowls

These are fun and cheap to make!!  Once you have made one, you will be hooked.

What you need

  • 10-15m of cotton rope (uncoated washing line is perfect – or 6mm piping cord), you will need to get your machine needle through it – so avoid solid plastic cores.
  • Jeans or Leather Sewing machine needle (a size 90 would be great) – These are easy to buy from a fabulous British shop John James.
  • Thread (you will need a couple of spools of thread and two wound bobbins)
  • Sewing machine
  • Fabric scraps cut into 1” x 5” rectangles (optional)
  • Glue stick (optional)

How to do it

Watch me demonstrate how to make a rope bowl here.

2. Fantastic Pencil Case

Gather together scraps of fabric, two pieces of wadding (or an old tea towel) and a zip.

What you need

  • Scraps of fabric
  • Two pieces of base material (wadding, tea towel etc) cut to 10” x 8”
  • 12” zip
  • Sewing Machine

How to do it

This is such a popular project that I have written a tutorial for it which is attached below.

3. Reusuable Make Up Wipes

This easy project has gripped my sewing classes for weeks. They have made them for themselves, for family members and wrapped them up as gifts.

What you need

  • Absorbent natural material. I have used bamboo Terry Towelling fabric, but microfibre cloths from the pound shop would work just as well. See what you can find. Good ideas don’t need to be expensive!
  • Wadding or an old tea towel to give the wipe structure.
  • Fabric scraps
  • Paper (A4 sheet or anything to make a pattern with)
  • Circular item (to draw around – a tin of baked beans is good)
  • Sewing machine

How to do it

For each circular wipe you will need a circle of absorbent material, a circle of wadding/tea-towel and two circles of fabric. Now watch this video here to see how easy it is to make these great items.

4. Drawstring Bags

These are really useful, versatile bags to make. You can fill them with toiletries, sweets or presents. You could even get ahead of the game for family birthdays or Mothers Day. They can also be scaled to any size.

What you need

  • Exterior fabric 2 pieces 6” X 8.5” (for bag outer) and 2 pieces 2” x 5” (for ribbon casing)
  • Lining Fabric  2 pieces 6” x 8.5”
  • Ribbon – 2 pieces ribbon  15” long ( ¾” wide ribbon is about right)
  • 2 large wooden beads (optional)

How to do it

Below is my cheat sheet on making these bags. I hope you enjoy making them!

5. Tie-Dyeing

This is not a messy activity any more. Dylon have washing machine dyes that you pour into the drum over your items, shut the door and run the machine on a normal 40’ wash. Afterwards, I run one high temperature wash with an empty machine and wipe around the seal and that is it.  One batch of dye can dye a number of items, so this is a great group activity

What you need

  • 100% cotton items to dye. T-shirts, tea towels, camisole tops, or plain fabric you can make into a scarf or bandana later on.
  • Elastic Bands (lots and lots and more)
  • Dye (from a hardware store)

How to do it

Soak the items in warm water and squeeze the water out as much as possible. Next put as many elastic bands on your item, and wind them as tightly as possible. The more bands you can get onto your item then better. Even when you think you are done – add more!!

Once all the bands are on, pop it in the washing machine with the dye, following the manufacturer’s instructions). When the washing machine is finished, take the item out and remove the bands and give it a good shake … Hey presto – a fabulous tie dye item. You can repeat the process  using a second dye of a different colour the same item and this will produce some great blended patterns and shades.

For more ideas about tie-dye and the shapes you can make, have a look at my Pinterest Board here.

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. To keep up to date with all the other projects and tutorials I release, please like and follow my Facebook and Instagram pages.

GillyMac Magic Squares Pattern Download

It’s here ….below you will find my Magic Squares Quilt Pattern.

It was always my intention when I wrote this pattern that I would offer it for free.  The topic of free patterns came up when I met a fellow designer last month.  She fully believes that the sewing pattern market is devalued by patterns being offered for free, whereas I believe that offering some patterns for a short time for free is a good thing to encourage people to try something new.  So here it is. It is available until Christmas and will then be removed.  If I could ask you to do one thing …. if you download the pattern, then please sign up for my newsletters via the contact page on this website, and instead of sharing the pattern, please share this page and ask your friends to download it and also sign up for the newsletters.

Enjoy 🙂

 

TipTuesday – Why I am a member of the Quilters Guild of the British Isles

This is a little bit different than my normal TipTuesday messages, but as we approach Christmas and I rack my brain as to what gifts I can buy my friends and family, I am constantly looking for new ideas and presents that will have meaning throughout the year. An annual membership of the Quilters Guild is a wonderful present for anyone interested in sewing, patchwork, and quilting whether they are beginners or have more experience. There are also packages for Teen and Young Quilters as well.

What I get out of the Quilters Guild is soooo much, so I thought I would list it in my own words…..

  • As this is a national organisation, I am able to link with other members of the Guild across the United Kingdom to share and gain ideas about my work and what I plan to do next. Sometimes just seeing other peoples work will inspire you – it does me! Now that the Guild has embraced social media this is such an easy way to see and share ideas.
  • The Guild is broken down into regions within the UK and each region has it’s own events making it a great vehicle for face to face meeting with new friends and learning opportunities during the year.
  • “The Quilter” is the quarterly magazine of the Quilters Guild which you will receive as a member and it is absolutely jam-packed with interesting articles and information about Quilting in the UK and around the world. I can honestly say that it is the only magazine I am guaranteed to read from cover to cover.
  •  Also, as a Guild member, you are able to join specialist groups – there are 5 groups, for Modern Quilting, Traditional Quilting, Minature Quilts, British Study Group, and Contemporary Quilting. What I have learned about these groups is that they are full of people just like me and you – not super duper experts. They are also very welcoming to new members and will provide you with lots of ideas and inspiration for your own work. They have their own meetings and ‘challenges’ which once again will augment your overall experience and learning.
  • As a Guild Member, you are able to show your work at their exhibitions within your region, nationally and internationally. It may be that you think that this isn’t for you. However, I can’t describe the pride you will have in showing your own work or that of a small group of you. It is fun and a good challenge. Don’t discount that you may want to do this.
  • As a Guild member, you will also get advance booking opportunity for the Festival of Quilts and all the workshops and classes there. This is invaluable. As the interest in patchwork and quilting booms, many of the classes at the Festival of Quilts sell out within the first days so being able to book ahead of everyone else gives you the choice of all the amazing classes on offer.
  • Also, as a Guild Member, you will get discounted prices for Guild events, the Festival of Quilts and many shops around the UK
  • I also enjoy knowing that my membership fees are going towards preserving quilting heritage, providing support for bursaries and awards as well as supporting the work of the Young and Teen Quilters in the UK.

All this is £46 a year … That is less than the average price for 4m of fabric a year or 1 1/2 Cappuccinos at Costa each month. It is also comparable with many of the commercial magazine subscriptions (and I definitely believe you will get FAR more from the Guild).  I have built my knowledge of Patchwork and Quilting over the past 5 years and have used much of the talent and the resources within the Guild to do so.

So if you are interested in joining this fabulous organisation – the link is below – for you to send to Santa!

Subscription form -> https://www.quiltersguild.org.uk/members/subscribe

Which Thread and Needle to Choose for Machine Quilting ?

Hello Everyone… as we prepare for the Doodle Fiesta next week and the sewing up of the doodle groups the following week, a review of which threads and needles to choose for machine quilting is a great topic to cover now. Before I get started, in years gone by sewists often weren’t wealthy people and so the choices they had were limited. Whilst the information below is based on my own experience, at the end of the day, we cut our cloth to fit what we have.. so use what you have and that will be fine 🙂

The first thing to consider is what effect you are looking for. Do you want the quilting to contrast or blend in with the fabrics in the quilt? Where do you want the focal point to be? I tend to sit on the fence. I don’t want the quilting designs to simply echo my patchwork piecing, but neither do I want to take away from the work I have already done with my piecing. Unless I am doing a sample, I tend to use threads which will blend in with my piecing yet add another element to it, rather than dominate it.

There are lots of different types of thread on the market, but the most popular are cotton, metallic and polyester and rayon. Cotton threads tend to have a more matte finish, whilst polyester and rayon threads often have a shine to them. Metallic threads glimmer, but can be more difficult to work with as tend not to be as strong as cotton, rayon or polyester.  I like shiny thread, so most often quilt with polyester thread.

Thread weight is usually marked on the spool. Sewing thread is thicker as the number decreases. A 30w thread is much thicker than an 80w thread. Whilst a 40w thread is a popular choice for quilting, I have found that 50w or 60w cotton threads blend into the fabric more successfully, but a 40w polyester thread is my best choice (often called a number 40 when relating to polyester weight) as it is shiny and appears far more like a 50w cotton thread weight. Thread size is not an exact science and so a 50w thread from two different manufacturers will often feel different – very similar to clothes sizes from different High Street shops. If you see a weight with another number with it, for example, 50/2 or 50/3 this is the weight of the thread and then the number of ply/strands.

My goto threads are polyester Glide Thread or Isacord (both 40w) for machine quilting (and Aurilfil  28w for hand quilting). Don’t forget, for machine quilting, it is vital that you use the same weight of thread in the bobbin.

In terms of needles, when I can find them, I opt for titanium needles as the thin layer of titanium nitride keeps them sharper for longer and so won’t need changing so often.  The rule of thumb is that the type of needle you use will match the fabric you are sewing. The finer the fabric, the finer the needle should be. In addition, if the eye of the needle is too small for the thread you are using, it will shred, and if it is too big, it will likely leave holes behind in your fabric as the hole made by the needle as the thread isn’t big enough to fill the hole.

For my quilting, I tend to use either a quilting or a topstitch needle. The tapered shape of the quilting needle is designed to stitch through multiple layers which is ideal for quilting. A topstitch needle has a longer eye which allows more air to circulate around the thread as it whizzes through. I find that thread breaks frequently when it gets hot, so would recommend when you are starting out or just practising, that you use a topstitch needle.

For domestic machines, the size of the needle you are looking for is somewhere between 70/10-80/12. The first number is the European (metric) number and the second is the Americal (universal) metric. I do sometimes buy 90/14 topstitch needles, I don’t find the size too large for what I am doing, but I am using them in much larger domestic machines.

So now you are fully briefed…. get set … we are about to start doodling again xx

GillyMac Doodle Challenge – Sewing Up Week 4

Well done team !!! We are at Week 4 with two more to do. This week’s borders seemed to be welcomed as easier across the board – with a lot of love for the loops on Monday and my ‘lie-detector’ (too much ‘Homeland’) on Thursday.  The sewing up this week reflects that these are border patters, or at least can be used in a linear fashion. I really like quilting borders. I think it means I am closer to the ‘Ta Dah’ moment of quilt completion … and also, typically, quilting the borders is easier because they are more accessible.

So this week I have sewn up the doodles in rows, as I see you using them. Below you will find two videos and a downloadable document.

  • The first one is the video you are now used to with me sewing up our doodles. You can choose how large each of your border rows will be. I started in the middle with the stars row and found something to draw around (baked beans tins are very useful) and then worked my row sizes out from there.
  • The next video is information to help you plan for doodling and sewing up corners.
  • Then there is a downloadable PDF document which goes with this second video to help you plan your corners.

 

[embeddoc url=”https://www.gillymacdesigns.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Tips-for-Borders_Doodle-Challenge-1.pdf” download=”all”]

Next week we’re moving back to ‘all over’ doodle patterns which culminate in a picture to sew which is great fun. Then in Week 6, I will teach you how to doodle ‘bump-back ‘feathers and I know you will all love the sew up for that final week.

Talk to you all tomorrow when I will be doing this weeks prize draw 🙂