Hawaiian Quilts

by Breeze Giannasio in , ,


Just settled in to bed after a long trip to Kailua from DC.  As I pull up the covers a posting on Hawaiian quilts seems timely.  I've always loved the simplicity of the graphic field and ground pattern, always drawing from nature as well as the subtle intricacy of the stitching.  Why is the quilting technique so different in Hawaii you ask?  Well, before contact with haoles (white folk), the Hawaiians were making a type of quilt called kapa, made from pounded bark.   On the top layer they would print geometric and snowflake type designs.  In the early 1800’s the missionaries brought woven fabrics and steel needles and taught the Hawaiian people how to make patchwork quilts. The missionary women had scraps of fabric from sewing on the long sea voyages, but the Hawaiians had none, so it didn’t really make sense to the them to cut up the bolts of fabric into little pieces and sew them back together. Common sense prevailed and the rest is history!  The quilting is stitched "echo style" --following the contour of the design throughout the quilt, like ripples on the water which surrounded the islands. This wonderful art is truly a labor of love with over 1000 hours to make a full size quilt!

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