Sunday, January 22, 2017

crib quilt from Kailua

crib quilt, cottons, unknown maker, Hawaii, c. 1995, 36" x 36"
This cool little 16-patch medallion crib quilt came from a vintage shop in Kailua, Hawaii. It was made some time in the last 25 years, and is 36" square. The cotton fabrics look like aloha shirt prints. The motifs are definitely Polynesian, floral, botanical and geometric.


I can tell this piece is a little newer than a lot of the others. There are more cottons and no DayGlo, but the fabrics do not look pre DayGlo. They look much more recent than that. I love the red and white print with the figures. It looks tribal.


Looking at the borders, especially the blue border, you can tell it is made of scraps. Each side of the blue border is made of multiple pieces. Nobody cut up a usable shirt to make this quilt. It's made from the leftovers, and the scraps were new when the quilt was made.


The quilt is essentially a framed 16-patch block, and I love the random placement of prints. It is carefree, casual and easy-- a happy little thing.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

1960s Hawaiian string quilt

string quilt, cottons, unknown maker, Honolulu, Hawaii, c. 1960, 62" x 78"
This dazzling 1960s string quilt came from a vintage shop in Honolulu. It includes a variety of mid-century Polynesian fabrics in pink, red, blue and gold with bits of black. Many of the scrap quilts from Hawaii include DayGlo fabrics, but this one does not. DayGlo appeared in garments around the middle 1960s. Shortly after, the hot colored scraps appeared in patchwork.


A string quilt is typically made with strips of fabric placed diagonally and sewn on a cloth foundation. Blocks are assembled in larger patterns, such as zigzags, squares or diamonds. Piecing on cloth foundation is a good way to keep things squared when using mixed fabrics cut on the bias. The maker of this quilt was very clever, coordinating the colors throughout the quilt. Easier said than done, since each block intersects with other blocks on at least two sides. Some blocks are surrounded with as many as eight other coordinating blocks.


There is a pink and white check strip running through the center of each block, surrounded by strips of red on both sides. That combination of elements is not where the organizing ended. The other strips are coordinated with the neighboring blocks to create a secondary diamond design. Each of the 63 nine-inch square blocks includes nine strips, a total of 567 strips but there are more patches than that. Some of the strips are made from more than one piece of fabric. There is no batting, but it is backed with flannel and loosely tacked together.
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Friday, January 20, 2017

ho'oholo i ka wai lole lepo


The applique quilt from Kailua needed a bath. I wanted to see if the uneven tone in the appliqué fabric would improve, as well as the general appearance of the quilt.
After testing the fabric for colorfastness, the quilt was immersed in a cold water bath for a nice, long soak.


Second round, light washing with a very small amount of Dawn dish liquid. Dawn is a mild soap, good for removing dirt, grease and stains. It is concentrated, so you don't need a lot, just a little squirt. That's good because I'm running low.


More soaking, rinsing and soaking. I repeated this process until the water ran clear.


That was enough for one day. There's still work to be done. Lots of small brown spots to treat with sodium perborate and a Q-Tip. A few holes and burn marks to repair, and possibly another washing since there is still discoloration in the applique after this washing.


Better, but still more potential for improvement, in my opinion. The cheddar orange is colorfast, and should be able to withstand a little more washing. It will be interesting to see a photo when it is dry, to get an idea of the degree of improvement and how much more work it may take.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Ka Ua Kani Lehua

"Ka Ua Kani Lehua" Hawaiian applique quilt, 80" x 81"
The box from Hawaii arrived yesterday, and the first quilt I pulled out was the cheddar orange and white appliqué quilt attributed to the Wilson family of Kailua. I have not been able to find a link to a maker in the family, and I'm starting to get the feeling the quilt may was purchased, but it would've been a long time ago.


There is some discoloration in the lower section of appliqué where the fabrics appear to have darkened. I will test the fabric for colorfastness, and if everything looks good, I will probably try to wash the quilt. It needs some TLC, there are also a few holes and burn marks, but before any restoration it needs to be as clean as possible. It's a lovely thing, worth the effort. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Modern Patchwork Magazine


The March/April 2017 issue of Modern Patchwork is coming soon, and I'm in it. I wrote an article about the ins and outs of collecting vintage quilts. To order a copy, click here.

yesterday's playlist for today


In the 1960s and 70s, our family had to be very thrifty. We survived on hand-me-downs, garage sales and a deep repertoire of casserole recipes. It wasn't so much about stretching a buck, more like a dime. Mom could feed a family of four with a can of SPAM, tomatoes and some spaghetti, and remarkably, she always made it feel like something special.


In the kitchen we listenened to the radio together. We never missed Joan Hamburg's bargain shopping segments on WOR, New York, the Rambling with Gambling show. I loved WABC, top 40 music, and many of yesterday's hits are still spinning around in my head. Times were tough when these songs were on the radio, but the music always helped.













Monday, January 16, 2017

coming soon: vintage Kamehameha shirt


Since my visit to Oahu last weekend, I have been looking at Hawaiian shirts online. There was a fun Kamehameha shirt available on eBay, so I bought it. Whenever the snow and ice melt enough for the mail truck to attempt coming up my street, maybe the shirt will arrive...and maybe it'll fit. 





I love the 1960s and 1970s Hawaiian shirts, especially the ones with really bright, neon colors. Can't wait for it to arrive. If it doesn't fit, I can still exhibit it with the scrap quilts.