Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hawaiian Quilt, Tiny Handstitches, and Historic Hand Sewing

One of the projects I started last summer was something I've always wanted to make..a Hawaiian quilt! They have a rich history, which I will share along with the details of my technique once I am done. However for now, I thought I'd share a little bit of what I've been doing with it.

I will share though, that this is my historic quilt in progress for our 1950's history presentation last summer when I portrayed a military wife stationed in Hawaii.

This is one of my blocks with a batik that reminded  me of the ocean set against a striking white. The fun thing is I can use that phrase, reminded me, quite easily because I lived in Hawaii as a little girl and we spent a lot of time at the beach!

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I am doing needleturn applique and it's going quite easily! That's the beauty of using high quality 100% cotton. (Not all 100% cottons are created equally. If it's stiff, it's poor quality. It should have a lovely drape to it.)

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These are the close-ups of my attempts at tiny stitches in the inner curves and at the outer points.  The outer points can be a bit more of a challenge. When I am done and put all the blocks together, there will be an outer breadfruit border, which is quite traditional for Hawaiian quilts. Then I will stitch an echo quilt pattern which is quite symbolic of the waves of the ocean. The fun thing about that is it's easily done without marking the quilt at all! I'll share more details later when I have completed the quilt.  

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One nice thing I have found about hand quilting is that it does not take me away from my historic sewing too much. In both I need to use tiny and even stitches, so whenever I handstitch for the one type of project I'm glad to know that I'm honing my skills for the other.  Quilters, like mantua makers (dress makers of the 18th century), measured their stitches per inch. Quite often mantua makers and even 18th century tailors wanted smaller stitches at times, depending on the type of fabric and the stitch's purpose. Likewise hand quilters strive for small, neat and even stitches for all of their work. Their goal is loading up those stitches on a needle to brag about how many stitches per inch than can actually do. However I haven't recently measured my stitches yet to see how many I can do per inch. The last time I measured was in preparation for a mantua maker workshop at Burnley and Trowbridge (she had sent homework regarding this) and I had some practicing to do!

And...yes! I enjoy hand stitching! It's my preference over a persnickety sewing machine! Hand sewing is quite relaxing and I can do it while watching a historic movie!

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