|"Hawaiian Etude" |
17x17 inches, 100% cotton fabrics and batting
"Hawaiian Etude" has been on my plate for a long time. A couple of years ago, a high school classmate found me on Facebook and we developed a mutual admiration for each other's handiworks. She is an amazing knitter and now an amazing photographer as well. One day I got this fun package in the mail. While on vacation with her family in Hawaii, she'd seen the beautiful and unique quilts they make. Knowing I'm a passionate quilter and love history, she had a book sent to me to share the experience. It's fun, showing both historic quilts of Queen Lili`uokalani's imprisonment period (she made some incredible quilts) as well as the typical style that is still made today.
That style is very identifiable - it's typically done in two fabrics, often quite bright, and batiks are favorites. It's very geometric, almost like cutting out a gigantic 8-based snowflake, and features elements that relate to Hawaii and hospitality, such as Bread Fruit, Birds of Paradise, dolphins, palms, waves, turtles. . . You get the picture. They are hand appliqued and hand quilted in a distinctive echoing tradition.
Well, after Kathy sent me the book, I really got the bug to try my hand at this genre of quilting. First I had to gain some hand-applique skills. That took a good while since I'm working on a masters in history and only get time for stitching most evenings for a half-hour or so.
When I felt ready to tackle my Hawaiian foray, I found a mini pattern online, some batik fabric that made me think of Hawaii, and went to work. I used the back-basting needle-turn method rather than the typical cut-the-whole-thing-out-first method, and was very happy that I did it that way.
The quilting took me F O R E V E R. I'd never done hand quilting before, so I was (and still am) quite slow at it. Plus, every time I had a binding to stitch down, or label or sleeve to attach, those got priority for my stitching time. After I finished the interior, I was browsing Hawaiian artists again and realized I could have done something different in the flowers if I'd wanted. But I did really enjoy working this piece. I almost couldn't mail it off to Kathy, because I really love how you can see my skill progression in it. Nothing was marked. I just did the traditional Hawaiian echoing, spacing mine roughly the width of a wooden pencil. That seemed proportionate for this mini's size. On the larger quilts, the echoing is typically 1/2" to 3/4" apart.
I started the quilting in the outer border of the print where my beginner stitch size wouldn't be so noticeable (on the front, anyway). Then I quilted the applique, leaving the creamy background for the last. My stitches went from a 5-count to a 9-count per inch. I just adore how you can see that so clearly on the back. If Kathy weren't a knitter who could appreciate that fun tell so much, I couldn't have let it go. But I like knowing she could look closely with the same eye for detail and smile at the progression.
One more thing about this to share - I did not use a hoop or anything to support it while I quilted. I pin-basted it quite densely, and just held it however was most comfortable as I worked. I'd seen a couple ladies in my Florida guild quilting Hawaiian and Somoaon sofa-quilts with no hoops, so I figured I'd follow their leads. When I got finished and triumphantly laid it out, I panicked!!! It was the waviest, bubbliest thing I'd ever seen, with very pronounced crease marks showing how I'd kept it folded in quarters each time I'd put it away. I was so distraught, I forgot to snap a shot. It was about twice as bobble-ly as this one:
But you know what? A very easy blocking job solved every problem! I just put out a couple styrofoam sheets, spritzed each side fairly well, and then patted it down flat. (The batting is 100% cotton.) I didn't pin it, because when I checked the squareness it was already there. I flipped it over once to let both sides dry well perfectly flat. Problem solved, quilt lying beautifully!
I attached the binding completely by hand. Never done that before! After all that hard hand work, from the applique to the intense echo quilting, I couldn't let a machine touch it. I'm glad I did it this way.
A hanging sleeve and a label attached, and all is Happy! The Hawaiian quote is one that conveys a traditional Hawaiian idea of giving freely without expecting returns.
I love this piece. It was particularly difficult to part with, but I am happy knowing its owner can fully appreciate it and that it can bring fun memories back to her of their family's time together in Hawaii. Some day I'll make a Hawaiian quilt for myself. :D
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