Let’s Go Hawaiian—Quilting

Lokelani quilt1Hawaii is famous for its distinctive quilt tradition in which a large stencil-like pattern is appliqued onto a base fabric of contrasting color to form the quilt top. Designs are inspired by the native flowers, leaves, marine life, or by symbols of Hawaiian royalty. Each island is associated with a particular blossom. I designed the Lokelani quilt after the Lokelani rose, the island flower of Maui.

Four methods of creation and construction of a quilt, when combined, give Hawaiian quilts its distinctive quality. Traditional quilts are designed with only two color fabric choices. The applique fabric is folded and cut in a “snowflake” method reminiscent of the paper snowflakes many of us remember from our schooldays. This fabric is then hand-appliqued onto a white, background fabric. The quilt sandwich is constructed using an echo or outline style of hand-quilting that follows the contour of the applied design. To me, the echoes resemble the rippling waves of the ocean surrounding their Hawaiian homeland or the rainbows that arch above the island sky.


Historically, Hawaiians made bedcovers from kapa, a tree bark that had been beaten, felted and dyed. Western missionaries introduced Hawaiians to American quilting methods and fabrics in the 1820s, resulting in the bold, symmetric botanical motifs of the Hawaiian quilting we know today. Hawaiian tradition teaches if quilters begin with the breadfruit pattern, they will lead a fruitful life, filled with wisdom and knowledge. And Hawaiian quilters were quick to recognize the making of a quilt, as Laney discovers in Aloha Rose, is itself a spiritual journey.

For more behind the scene photos of Aloha Rose, visit http://www.pinterest.com/quiltsoflove/aloha-rose-by-lisa-carter/.