So, i tried this a year or so ago, but got frustrated. You see, it involves handwork, which is not one of my strong suits. I’m an instant gratification crafter–i like quick projects–or at least projects on which i can see quick progress.
But while we were in Hawaii for Xmas of 2009, I picked up an already basted piece of the Ulu or breadfruit design. It is tradition in Hawaiian quilting that you start with the breadfruit pattern. If you do, all your following projects will be a success. So i bought this peice, no doubt basted by someone making crap wages in the Philippines so that i could practice.
I started–as instructed on the lil photocopy–and all other books i’d read–by hooping the piece for the needleturn applique. And i ran into the same frustrations i had run into before and put the piece away. My stitches were wonky, the piece wouldn’t turn, and trying to do it was more difficult that it was worth.
But a few months ago, some bee got in my bonnet to try it again. See–my sewing room is two floors below me, and the only time i get to go in there to work is when my son is at school, or the Old Man is home–so not often as the Old Man works full time and the boy is only in a 2-hour daily preschool. But there are times when Ben just doesn’t wanna hang with me, or he’s doing his own thing and i need something to do. I like to keep those hands busy–so this seemed like the perfect project.
But halfway into this frustration, i remembered–YouTube! I have learned countless things on YouTube from knit stitches, to quilting techniques. there HAD to be a video about Hawaiian quilting. well, there weren’t many that would help me–which i’ll get into in a moment–but i did find a video showing how to do needle-turn applique.
And lo and behold: no hoop. So i pulled this bad boy out of the hoop and started sewing away. In no time it was turned and stitched and ready to quilt. it wasn’t a quick process–but i did see results quickly, which fit my quilting needs.
Now, i have to say here that i’ve noticed something about Hawaiian quilting–it’s a bit of a niche. Becuase there aren’t a lot of patterns out there. a) a lot of people don’t want to put that kind of time into applique and b) in the past the patterns were highly guarded secrets. It was considered very rude to copy someone else’s patterns–and songs were made up to mock those who did. But in keeping those patterns secret, it also created gorgeous one-of-a-kind family heirlooms.
Now don’t get me wrong–there are patterns out there. My own dear friend Stump picked me up a couple last time she was “home” (she’s from HI but livin in OH). If you were to do a google search for basic patchwork quilt patterns, you can’t really look at them all there are so many. You google “Hawaiian quilt patterns”, and well, I think i’ve seen ’em all. Lots of pretty pics, not as many patterns.
So anyway. Once i finished the applique on this beast, i put a border on it, made my quilt sandwich, and decided to machine quilt it. Sacrilage in some circles, but I ain’t lookin’ for the quilting police just yet. There are folks you fuse applique these things and then machine quilt. They’re gonna get picked up before me! 😉
(and i needed the practice.)
So i stitched the green portion with embroidery thread. Mistake #2 (first one being the hoop) it showed EVERY MISTAKE. But i got to practice doing something other than a straight line, so there was that. On the white i just did echo quilting–a little too close together, but it still worked. I tried to do a pattern quilt in the borders, but it just looked like ass, so i ripped it out and “echoed” it as well. Much nicer.
THen i bound it with a fun batik and placed it on the lil side table that’s all worn out and scratched. Voila!
And yes, i’ve got a few more patterns cut out and ready to baste. For when those hands are feeling idle…