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When I asked my grandmother what she wanted to be represented by in the house, she said a quilt, or “If that was too much trouble, a pillow.” I was game for that, since Hawaii developed their own type of quilt when cottons made their way across the Pacific.

What I didn’t realize was she was referring to a specific quilt:

quilt1My great grandmother Maggie stitched this many moons ago in the mountains of North Carolina, and though loveworn, it is still in use. Apparently, both of my great grandmothers on my mom’s side of the family quilted, and one was a meticulous planner, while the other (the one who made this quilt) preferred spontaneity in her craft. One of the things I love about this one is it is a classic scrap quilt, with bits of flannel next to loud calicos, and a lot of it looks like feedsack cotton. My mom and I promptly went to a quilt shop and left with a plethora of pleasantly tiny patterns.

There was no way I’d be able to replicate Maggie’s churn dash, but I did borrow her navy blue border. Since I had 36 squares to make, I used twelve fabrics and made three squares of each. For fun, I arranged them Sudoku-style, where each of the three rows had all twelve fabrics, but there was no repeat of that fabric in the same row or column.

squares1Each square is 1/4” with an 1/8” seam allowance, and though there’s a beautiful tutorial where someone has paper-pieced a dollhouse quilt, I took the low road of marking the backsides.

quiltsquaresI kept to the pencil lines as I settled in for a lot of handstitching, but the results were worth it.

finished2I also did it while it was snowing outside (which almost never happens in central North Carolina), and it made me ponder my great grandmother living in the mountains, and how back then quilts were first and foremost functional items to keep the family warm in the days before electric heating. The batting is no-scrim cotton that feels so yummy it makes me want to stitch another quilt just to play with it more :-). Better keep me away from cotton fields…

I’m of a mind that a house should have two quilts, and I made the Hawaiian one a wall hanging with a breadfruit pattern. I’d been looking for an alternative to my Setasilk paints, because while they work well, the idea of trying to apply the resist in a perfect pattern (to fence in the dye so it doesn’t run everywhere) made me cry a little inside. But Pebeo came through for me yet again, when I found out they have an all-purpose fabric paint called Setacolor. It doesn’t run at all and I was able to get a 12-color set of their opaques for $30 from the UK (yay for birthday money, but boo on the US for not stocking many Pebeo products).
hawaiianquilt1The paints smell a little funky when wet (like Sharpies doused in caramel and I kept wondering if I was going to get a buzz from them), but they are a dream. And I actually had a squee of joy at work when I realized I’d finally be able to paint a tiny Hawaiian shirt too!

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