Hawaiian Marriage Quilt Work in Progress

In my last post I told you about my friends Meg and Bill who got married this past weekend. Meg is a Marine Biologist and lived in Hawaii for many years. Her love for animals and the Hawaiian culture inspired their wedding quilt. When I did some research into Hawaiian quilts I learned the motifs you cut out of the fabric are to represent the people you are giving it to. It’s a very personalized quilt.

I searched online to see other’s Hawaiian quilts to get an idea of how the motifs work together. Then I began sketching out my own design. The hard part is you are drawing out a 1/8th portion of the whole quilt. You know those paper snowflakes you made in school as a kid? It’s basically the same concept. You fold the fabric into eights and cut out your design. Then you open it up and you basically have a fabric snowflake.


I didn’t want to risk it looking ugly so I scanned in my drawing to see all 8 sections together. Below is a digital image I mocked up beforehand to see if I liked the pattern I created. I also scanned in the fabric I wanted to use to see if I liked them together.

Hawaiian (Medium)

Traditionally you use two solid colors but that is no fun. I decided to use two prints. The green is a batik fabric I’ve had on hand for awhile and the coral is a Tula Pink Prince Charming print I found on sale. The print has giant turtles all over it. I thought it would be great with the Hawaiian theme.


I was nervous about cutting into the fabric. The most difficult part was cutting though all eight layers. You need really sharp scissors. I ended up getting a blister on the inside of my thumb from cutting so much.


When you cut it all out you lay it out and baste it to the backing fabric. Pin basting doesn’t hold up, you have to thread baste. Ask me how I know. Above is a picture just after I laid the top fabric to the back.


Now to the tedious part. Hawaiian quilts are traditionally hand appliqued. I decided to go traditional because it just wouldn’t have the same effect. Hand applique basically means you tuck under about 1/8-1/16 of an inch of fabric around all the edges and sew tiny invisible stiches by hand to keep it from fraying. I’m about a quarter of the way done now. I have to take many breaks because my fingers get pretty worn and my eyes exhausted.

I actually presented their quilt at their rehearsal dinner unfinished. I knew there was no way it was going to be done by their wedding and I wanted to be able to work on it when they are over at my place. Their family enjoyed seeing it. It’s a small quilt about 45”x45”.

I’ll keep you updated with work in progress shots and finished images.