Search This Blog

I am a quilter living in Woodbridge, Suffolk who has made quilts since I was a teenager. I also ring bells! Both are great British traditions....I will try to feature some of my antique Welsh and Durham quilts, the quilts I make myself, my quilting activities and also some of my bellringing achievements. Plus as many photos as I can manage. NB: Double click on the photos to see greater detail, then use back button to return to the main page.

Tuesday 13 April 2010

Hawaiian Quilts

Here is my current project which I am hoping to have completed in time for the Festival of Quilts in August. It is a red and white floral design called Kaui o Na Molokama. The size is 108 x 108 so it is a large quilt. I am also including a photo of last years entry,Lei Neriali or Silversword. And I have a third design cut out,Pua Pake or Chrysanthemum, which is waiting to be basted to the background fabric.

These large quilts do take a lot of work to prepare. First I sent for the designs from Poakalani of Honolulu. The required fabric is 9 yards each of applique and background colour - and it is sometimes hard to find a good quality fabric! If the fabric is not extra wide, it has to be cut into lengths and resewn into one larger piece. Next you have to carefully iron the fabric into eighths (thinking carefully about wrong and right side). It is a long job to cut the design out with sharp scissors - then an even longer job to unfold and position the design and attach it to the background. First you pin the applique down with straight pins, then you have to baste it into place. Traditionally the basting was done by hand a set distance in from the edge, but I free machine basted the applique to speed up the process and "nail it down".

But finally you can enjoy doing the applique. This takes some time! I must admit to using a tiny whipstitch rather than "invisible" applique. Part of it is that this is the really traditional method, seen in the antique quilts. But part of it is that I really like the appearance of the closely spaced little "teeth" stitches. Very attractive.

Once the top is appliqued its time to quilt. I have gone over to using wool batting as it really shows off the quilting stitches so much better than cotton wadding which just looks a bit flat. Last year's quilt was echo quilted by "eyeballing" at about 3/8" spacing - but this year I am sticking to a 1/2" spacing. I am not marking but using the old-fashioned trick of using stick pins to measure the half inch distance - no markings to remove so all very fresh looking when the pins are taken out as you quilt.

I have discovered that Luixan Newman (the Thimble Lady) is now into applique so I am planning to send off for her new book. I like the fact that she really does her own thinking and experimentation rather than simply pass on received information. Even if I don't choose to use her techiniques, its an interesting read - which is becoming increasingly difficult to find these days! I'm also planning to try the silk thread that she seems to like on a sample piece.

My next project will be a welsh quilt with hand prepared wadding and a vintage paisley backing. I've got the welsh fleeces, the yellow top fabric and the salvaged paisley reverse. And, I've traced a lot of my Welsh quilts so will have fun designing the top. More later.


  1. So glad to have come across your blog Pippa--I love your blog header!
    I was at the research day in Rochford + had just the most amazing day.
    Your work looks stunning- all that beautiful quilting--I shall look forward to seeing your completed quilt at the NEC.

  2. You will love LuiXin's Applique book. She is a true perfectionist, tests everything out and experiments until she gets it 'just right'. Then enthusiastically spreads the word.

    Hugz Helen from Hobart

  3. I am going to have to order her book too.
    I LOVE your red and white quilt, wow
    I tried to see your applique stitches as I am curious to see your method.
    I wonder have you tried a kona cotton solid?
    I LOVE Hawaiian quilts, I am drawn to graphic quilts as well as 2 color quilts. I would have not thought of using the machine to baste it down either great tip, thanks.
    Looking forward to seeing more of your projects.

  4. I tried to find a website to look at the patterns from where you purchased yours and have not had any luck...can you help?

  5. Kathie, I went to the Poakalani website, and it is being revamped. The "Shop Poakalani" is not up, it usually has a wide range of patterns, many are vintage (the red and white one is 30's). Prices are reasonable for a full size pattern. Hopefully they will be up again soon. Pippa

  6. Don't bother with the ThimbleLady's applique book. It's a big waste of money, and parts of it are downright scary. Like when she demonstrates appliqueing a piece where she traced the shape with a permanent Sharpie marker. There are many other excellent applique books available. I particularly like the ones by Piece O'Cake Designs (Becky Goldsmith and Linda Jenkins). They also have a really good DVD that shows there techniques. Anyway, that's my thoughts regarding applique books. Happy Stitching! Jay

  7. I started appliqueing back when Elly Sienkiewicz's books were new. One of my favorite applique tutorials is Nancy Lee Chong's Hawaiian quilting video from Pacific Rim Quilt Company ( ) Love the red Hawaiian quilt!! I have a question, however - what is meant by the stick pin method of spacing your quilting stitches? Can you elaborate on this? Thank you so much.

  8. Hello, Pippa - I know this is an old post of yours, but thank you for posting the picture of your work in progress on your red Hawaiian quilt. I am almost finished with the applique of my first venture in this genre, and was looking for tips on doing the quilting. I'll be trying the wool batting out, and I'd not seen the trick before of using pins to guide the quilting. I'm glad I saw that before I went to the trouble of marking my quilt.