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Quilting Inspiration in Hawaii

A recent family holiday in Hawaii wasn't just an opportunity to postpone winter a little longer, while absorbing and storing as much sunshine and warmth as Canada customs would allow us to bring home, it also provided a whole new chapter of ideas and inspiration for quilting and needlework designs.

On the day of our arrival the evening sky after sunset was magnificent with a vibrant display of lavenders, hot pinks and rich blues. These colours made their way into a number of my earlier quilts, and I still find the combination attractive and magnetic.

Picture perfect orchids were growing everywhere. The petals provide a great example of how a natural colour gradient works.

There were a number of species quite new to me. The ironwood tree below is a dense red hardwood that was used for making tools and weapons in ancient times and is currently planted to create windbreaks. But it's the colours of the trunk that caught my attention.

The Ironwood Tree.

At first, my daughter and I thought that the tree had been painted, but a closer look proved that the colours are quite natural to the tree. I can see this being an inspiration for a background if I ever start another quilt using Gloria Loughman's mosaic landscape technique.

 Close-up of the trunk of an ironwood tree.

The banyan tree, below, which I had seen only in pictures, was quite amazing to see firsthand. The tree sends roots out which grow down into the soil and become secondary trunks. Brought to Hawaii by missionaries from India in 1873, the tree seems to have adapted and thrived in Hawaii's climate because it grows everywhere.

Banyan tree.

One tree can spread over several city blocks with many secondary trunks.

This is one banyan tree that has numerous secondary trunks and has spread across to the other side of the side walk.

Cute little ornamental pineapples grow along the boulevards. This plant was only about 10-12 inches high and the pineapple itself was about 2" long.

It wasn't just the foliage that caught my attention. Some of the hotel decor of the area was also quite interesting. I can see this wall sculpture becoming a boutis design, or maybe applique, or maybe a combination of several techniques?

The pattern on this door would make a great background filler design for FMQ.

And even this little watercolour in our hotel room made me want to find a fabric store in a hurry and start a new applique.

During our stay, my daughter and I managed to find time to fit in a class of traditional Hawaiian applique quilting with the Serrao family. More on that next time.


  1. There is a Hawaiian quilt on my bucket list! And maybe a couple of months residence there to start it... :D I'm very envious that you got to join in with that class! Sounds like a great trip, I'm looking forward to hearing more.

    1. Hmmm.... . A couple of months at a quilting retreat in Hawaii.I like the sound of that. Meet you there?:)

  2. You have a great eye for color and patterns! Thanks for sharing all of your ideas. Sadly, Hawaiian quilting is not for me. I've done needle turn appliqué, and am finished with it, although I do enjoy other forms of hand sewing.

    1. I think that all stitchers can appreciate most types of needlework even if we don't personally relate or work on all of them. (Time is limited after all.) But for me, the Hawaiian style of needle turn applique is seriously relaxing because once the pattern has been cut out and basted onto the background, the rest is super easy and relaxing. Great for watching a good movie or a Downton Abbey marathon.


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