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.