Copyright 2002. All quilt designs are copywritten and cannot be reproduced without written permission from Ginger LaVoie.
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Ginger LaVoie



......A Brief History of Hawaiian Quilting. Before the first contact with
the white man (haole), the Hawaiians were making a type of Quilt called a
Kapa, which was made of fabric pounded from the bark of the Wauke (paper bark
or mulberry) tree. On the top layer they would print geometric and snowflake
type designs, with a thicker layer in the middle and a smooth bottom layer or
lining. They were sewn with fibers gathered from nature and needles
fashioned from shells or the rib of the palm frond. In the early 1800’s the
missionaries brought woven fabrics and steel needles and taught the Hawaiian
people how to make patchwork quilts, which consisted of a top layer of the
sewn geometric pieces, a fluffy middle layer of batting and a bottom or
lining. The missionary women had scraps of fabric from sewing on the long
sea voyages, but the Hawaiians had none, so it didn’t really make sense to
the them to cut up the bolts of fabric into little pieces and sew them back
together. In addition, they taught the Hawaiian keiki’s (children) how to
cut snowflake patterns from folded paper. The Hawaiians found this method of
folding a more efficient way to create the designs that they were already
printing on their bark cloth Kapas.
While having one of their "sewing bees" in the shade of the Breadfruit
tree, the shadow cast by the tree inspired the Hawaiians to create the first
"Hawaiian Quilt" by cutting out the design seen in the shadow, from one large
piece of fabric. The Hawaiians blended the traditions of their past with
these new lessons to develop the unique style of cutting the design from a
single piece of fabric. The pattern was then appliqued onto another fabric
to create the quilt top. The quilting was stitched "echo style" --following
the contour of the design throughout the quilt, like ripples on the water
which surrounded the islands. The Hawaiians found inspiration for their
designs in the beautiful garden islands where they lived. This wonderful art
is truly a labor of love with over 1000 hours to make a full size quilt.

"Breadfruit ** The Beginning"

The Missionaries did teach the old Hawaiian the fine art of needle work
through their patchwork quilts that were made from scraps of fabric, an old
American tradition. It did not make sense to the Hawaiians, who had no
scraps, to cut up bolts of fabrics into little pieces and sew them back
together. The old legions say a breadfruit pattern was the first truly
Hawaiian Quilt design. Some Hawaiian women laid some fabric on the grass to
dry when they noticed the shadow that was cast from the branches of the
breadfruit tree onto the fabric. A Hawaiian women went to the fabric and cut
out to this shadowy design and laid it onto another fabric and appliqued and
quilted, thus the Birth of the first Hawaiian quilt.

Now in Hawaiian tradition, you should start with a breadfruit design and you
will have a fruitful life, never hungering for wisdom or knowledge. This
tradition is a very spiritual journey and starting with the breadfruit will
ensure that Hawaiian Quilting becomes apart of your life.