« Check out Open-Books... | Main | The Mighty Queens of Freeville... »

Aloha quiltologists...

Cover quilt

Title:     Unknown (The design is a reflection of Kamakani Ka Ni Aloha, circa 1900 and Garden of Kauai, circa 1910.)

Quilter: Unknown (Made in Maui for a family who lived in Kalaupapa, Molokai.)

Date:     circa 1923/1925

Owner:  Leone Kamana Ojamura of Quilts Hawaii in Honolulu.

I just returned from a wonderful week in paradise!  People do some crazy things on vacation, like sipping one too many pina coladas, falling asleep poolside and burning their mainlander bums in the tropical sun.  Happily that didn’t happen this year.  Instead I fell into the Hawaiian quilt trance, overwhelmed by the desire to return home and make one of these applique beauties myself. 

The book Hawaiian Quilts Made Easy by Milly Singletary is a sweet little introduction to a long standing tradition of exquisite hand work and dedication.  It begins with every quilter’s mantra… 

“Just as the journey of a thousand miles starts with one step, so does the beginning of a magnificent quilt start with one stitch.” 

Legend has it that quilting was first introduced to Hawaiians by a group of missionary ladies who had sailed 18,000 miles in 163 days from Boston Harbor to Honolulu. 

From the diary of Lucy G Thurston, 1820... 

“Monday morning, April 3rd, the first sewing circle was formed that the sun ever looked down upon in this Hawaiian realm.  Kalakua, the queen dowager, was directress.  She requested all the seven white ladies to take seats with them on the mats, aboard the deck of the ship Thaddeus.” 

Although the missionary ladies shared their patchwork style of quilting with their Hawaiian hosts, that style never really caught on.  Instead Hawaiian quilters used the hand stitching techniques to create beautiful applique designs that reflected the spirit and soul of their local culture.  The Hawaiian quilt designs are usually named for what they represent—flowers like ginger lei, plumeria blossoms and lilies as well as trees like breadfruit and palms.  Other more complicated designs are named for the themes they represent like Garden Island or The Beauty of Maui. 

I bought a pattern called “Ho’owaiwai” which translates as “to bring prosperity.” The design is the traditional ula breadfruit which radiates out from a center medallion into four quads.  It sort of reminds me of the old snowflake designs we would cut from a piece of folded paper when we were kids. 

Hawaiian quilts are usually a single solid color appliqued to a white background, so the old saying that the quilting makes the quilt, is especially true here.  I’m drawn to the yellow on white, just like the quilt George Clooney and his daughters curled up in at the end of The Descendants. 

Title:      Beauty of Hilo Bay

Quilter:  Unknown (Made in Hawaii)

Date:      circa 1930/1950

Owner:  From the collection of the International Quilt Study Center at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. 

Now I just have to find the time to begin that first stitch! 




Posted on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 at 05:49PM by Registered CommenterQuiltology | CommentsPost a Comment

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.
Editor Permission Required
You must have editing permission for this entry in order to post comments.