In Hawaii, awe-inspiring quilts are about as ubiquitous as fresh pineapple. The intricate symmetrical designs are inspired by the shadows of plants. They combine two of my favorite things: symmetry and tediousness. Being the quilting-obsessed seamstress that I am, I leapt at the opportunity to learn about the local tradition of quilting at a Cultural Festival in Kawaihae. Several ladies were bubbling with delight at the quilting table and gave me the material needed for my first applique square. But since the festival was wrapping up, I was left with raw fabric and a vague notion of what to do next. Luckily, a local passed on the word about a place called Tutu’s House that offers free classes ranging from yoga to ukelele lessons. What piqued my interest most was the quilting class that meets once a week. The ladies of Tutu’s Quilters were very friendly. They helped me start basting and stitching my square from the Cultural Festival. The applique stitch is similar to how one hems pants; it’s all about invisibility. After the top is appliqued, the real fun begins… Switch to a shorter needle and pop on a thimble and start rockin’ (the quilting stitch is a rocking motion back and forth through the three layers). Quilting calls for strong fingers and patience. It helps to draw stitching lines with water soluble pencil or marker.
I toted the square all over. We had quilting sessions in the house, on the beach, and everywhere in between. Many bus, car, and plane rides later, I finished the little guy and turned him into a pillow!
The stitches are supposed to be as even as possible. The stitching pattern is supposed to clarify the subject matter. Since I had dolphin-sharks, I tried to highlight the fins. Around the dolphin-sharks I drew out a Maori-esque swirly wave design to suggest water.
Since I was hooked I started other quilt squares like this pineapple design.