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

Thank You Envelopes Tutorial

This is a simple way to package any note or card which is quick to make and looks fabulous. In my teen Christmas classes last week we were making a version of these envelopes and filling them with chocolate coins as extra family gifts, however at this time of year, when we so many Thank You cards are being written, I thought these would provide a perfect envelope for my own Thank Yous this year.

What You Will Need

An envelope of the size you want to replicate – steamed open and flattened

Felt Square (size depends on the size of the envelope, but a 10″ square is a good bet!)

Lining Fabric (the same amount as for the felt, however, if the lining has a directional pattern, not this pattern will be cut on point)

Kam Snaps, hook closure or button and loop.

Bondaweb (the size of your envelope)

Threads of coordinating colours

Paper & Fabric scissors

Permanent Pen and a Frixon Pen

Pinking Shears (optional)

Method

  1. Using a permanent pen, trace around the flattened envelope creating an outline on the smooth side of the bondaweb
  2. Cut around the outline and press the bumpy/gluey side of the bondaweb template to your piece of felt using a hot dry iron.
  3. Using the fabric scissors cut around the edge of the bondaweb template, which is now fixed to the felt. You will now have flat, unlined felt envelop
  4. With your frixon pen draw around the part of the envelop that will be the front. This allows you to see the size of the area that you have to work on for your message.
  5. Optional Step : Create a panel for the front of your envelope. My panel was 2″ x 3″ and backed with bondaweb, but can decide the right size for your envelope. I cut this edges of the panel with pinking shears to create more interest. The benefit of adding this panel is that the change in colour adds contrast to your envelope front and it also means that if your free motion writing goes wrong (:-)) you can start again without having to recreate the whole envelope.
  6. Write your message on the front of your envelope or on your panel with a dark thread using the sewing machine fixed with a darning foot. I find it helpful to draw out the message I want to sew with either pencil or friction pen and then trace over it with the sewing machine. On felt I find a friction pen is fine to use, but check on a small area if you are unsure.
  7. Once the message is finished, remove any remaining frixion pen marks and if you have created the optional panel, fix it to the front of your envelope and free motion sew around the panel to complete the look.
  8. Remove the bondaweb from the back of the felt envelope and iron the lining fabric to the exposed glue on the back of the felt envelope. Once the lining is attached, trim the lining back with scissors so it is flush with the felt.
  9. Using a blanket or other decorative stitch and a normal/zig-zag foot on your sewing machine, sew around the edge of the envelope from the felt side.
  10. Fold the edges of the envelope up and press it with a hot dry iron and pressing cloth.  The envelope is now complete except the fixings.
  11. I used a kam snap, but a hood and eye or button and loop could also be used. With a frixion pen, mark where the fixing need to be on both parts of the envelope and fix the closures.
  12. Add your park inside and you have the perfect thank you gift !

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 🙂