(Pacific International Quilt Festival XIX part 1)
Picture all hues and shades of batik fabric slowly opening up like paper snowflakes that have been neatly folded and cut in quarters… revealing the lush shapes of tropical flowers.
That dramatic moment was the highlight of my Thursday night. Jean Brown, a petite woman in her late 70s, brought a touch of Hawaii (with a slight Texas accent) to Northern California last week with her Hawaiian Quilting class at the Pacific International Quilt Festival XIX in Santa Clara.
I have visited Hawaii just once—on my Hawaiian honeymoon, a cliché that was, in real life, a very wonderful thing—and I’m hopeful I’ll return. It’s a gorgeous and, indeed, very dramatic place, filled with color-bursting flora, unique fauna (I’ll never forget the NeNe birds running across the road!), shocking volcanic landscapes, and, naturally, outstanding beaches. But until I can actually fly off to the Islands, I’ll try Hawaiian quilting, a craft that focuses on large-piece appliqué and hand-quilting.
My big reveal showed me hibiscus flowers’ silhouettes. I’d carefully traced a pattern on my quarter-folded pink and red fabric with a white quilting pencil, then cut around it with my trusty Gingher scissors, leaving a quarter-inch seam allowance. Opening it up—tah-dah—I saw this:
Then came the hard part—hand-appliquéing the shape in place. I first basted it with light thread, and then began to try Jean’s technique for appliqué. Rather than using freezer paper (impossible on such large and complex shapes) or needle-turn methods, Jean folds the edges of the fabric under slightly and pins them in place using long quilting pins. She said this method was passed on by her grandmother and has never been bested.
I am not certain yet whether this method will agree with me. I like freezer paper immensely; and in fact, a woman sitting next to me at the class said she prefers using 3 layers of freezer paper when she hand-appliqués a shape. Jean’s method seems a little finicky at first, although I do think it is a lot easier than straightforward needle-turn, where you are constantly pushing fabric under with your needle. I wasn’t too good at that technique! In this case, the pins hold the seam allowance in place, and they sure are easy to remove after you sew the shape into position.
My next post will fill you in on Jean Brown’s quirky tips for hand quilting and binding. Then I’ll tell you about my second class, a Double Wedding Ring full-day affair with quilting guru John Flynn. I’ll also upload some pix of the remarkable quilts on display at the festival.
Now, back to that appliqué… based on how slowly it’s been going, I’ve calculated that if I really focus on it, I might complete this block in about a month. That is, if other projects don’t get in the way!