13 years ago I finished a Hawaiian quilt, photographed it (with help from Felicity), blogged about it, and gave it to dear friends who had just had a baby.
And then I immediately started another one, because Hawaiian quilts take a looooooooong time to make, especially when you only work on them around other projects. But I knew that at some point someone else I loved enough to make a quilt for would have a baby, and I needed to be ready!
12 and a bit years later, the quilt had progressed quite a lot, but wasn’t quite done, and my dearest friend in the world (the one who knows secrets about me she’s going to have to take to the grave) was pregnant.
And what do you know, the quilt that I started all those years ago was perfect for her and my not-quite-nibling to be.
So one of my big sewing achievements this year was finally finishing my third Hawaiian quilt!
So, that’s one per decade so far…
Hawaiian quilts are fully handsewn. They feature a central motif that’s usually based on a stylised plant (although there are some animal quilts, and a few examples with lei or kahili or historical motifs) appliquéd on to a plain ground. The central motif is cut out from a folded triangle so it opens out to form 4 or 8 mirrored sections.
Different motifs symbolise different things. Breadfruit usually symbolise abundance and are often given for weddings and housewarmings. Pineapples symbolise hospitality so are also popular housewarming gifts
This quilt is based on a heliconia pattern, specifically heliconia rostrata. Heliconias are a flower that have been imported in to Hawai’i as ornamentals. The plant has proved hardy and thrived, without becoming an invasive pest. Heliconia rostrata are usually grown from rhizomes: sections of root that branch out from the parent plant, and develop into their own plant which can be planted elsewhere.
Like me, my friend Stella is an immigrant to NZ. The quilt is a wish that her child will thrive here, growing up with the support of its family and friends, until it can stand on its own.
The quilt represents hundreds of hours of work. You cut the central motif, and then baste it on to to the background layer. The motif is then sewn on with slip or appliqué stitches. The layers of the quilt (applique on background, warm wool batting, backing fabric) are basted together so they don’t shift. Then the layers are quilted together with lines of running stitches that spread out and in from the lines of the motif, like ripples spreading in water.
Finally you bind the edges. This is the only part I did by machine, as I wanted it to be as strong as possible.
As with the other quilt I blogged about, Felicity helped with both making and modelling!
Such a workhorse my cat!
Thirteen years later, and she’s still eager to play fetch with her favourite toys: the plastic caps from water bottles.
(Yes, Stella is fully aware that Felicity has been all over this quilt! Obviously the last thing I did before I gifted it to her was to get it cleaned.)
I’m pleased to report that Stella loves the quilt (baby Embee is a little young to have an option on it), and she’s given it the greatest compliment you can give a sewist who makes you something: she’s actually using it.
Grandma thinks its too precious to be used, and should be put away, but Mum knows me. I want her to use and love it and enjoy it.
Embee gets to lay on it all the time, and better yet, it’s the backdrop to the monthly photo! (awww!).
So every month I get to see a photo of slightly bigger adorable little Embee on my make. 💛 Worth every stitch!