Celebrating the Hawaiian Quilt

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The Hawaiian quilt is an art form unique to the islands. Although its roots may have been in kapa moe — the pounding together of the inner bark from the wauke or paper mulberry tree to create sheets of different textures that were dyed and stamped with a design — it was not until the arrival of the missionaries in 1820, that native Hawaiian women were introduced to stitchery and quilting. Some believe that the natives could not understand the purpose of cutting fabric into pieces and thus began the practice of creating appliqués out of single pieces of fabric cut using the method of creating snowflakes. Typically only two colors were used in each quilt and the stitching on the quilt was in the “echo” syle — following the outline of the appliquéd design. It is said that the first design was created by a woman who noticed the shadow cast by a breadfruit tree, laid down her fabric and cut out the design following the outline of the shadow. Whether that is true or not, it is clear that the designing of a quilt was very personal affair. Women gathered inspiration from the natural beauty of the islands as well as personal experiences, events, and dreams. And they gave their quilts names. This personal attachment combined with many hours in a labor they loved, resulted in quilts that were both unique and treasured.

Here at Shops of Hawaii, we celebrate the Hawaiian quilt in several items that are unique to our stores. Created by our own local designer, our Hawaiian quilt products — from our reusable bag to our insulated tumblers — feature several of our most favorite Hawaiian quilt designs. They are our means of honoring this beautiful art form unique to Hawaii.

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