18 Aug

Beginning Patchwork Class!

Hello out there! Do I have any readers on Oahu who want to make a few projects and learn some basic patchwork and quilting skills? Does anyone have a friend or two in the Waipahu area that wants to take a class?

Here’s the deal:

I’ll be teaching at Ho’ae’ae Community Park in Waipahu (Village Park/Royal Kunia neighborhood). Classes are Monday mornings from 10:00 until 11:00 (ish). Classes start on September 13th and run for ten weeks. The fee is a mere $20 though you should bring your own sewing machine and will need to bring your own fabric and basic supplies.

Registration will be on August 25th from 6:00 – 8:00 pm and on August 26th and 30th from 2:00 – 5:30 pm at the park. That’s next week!!

Any questions, leave a comment or call Ho’ae’ae Park at 808-676-8832. The address is 94-709 Ka’aholo Street, Waipahu for the map savvy.

What are we making?

Fat Quarter Friendly Small Tote
We’ll warm up our rotary cutters and strip piecing skills with a fat quarter friendly tote bag that’s the perfect size for a small gift or just a few necessities.

Aloha Scraps Pillow
Then we’ll learn and easy way to make triangles and put them together in a fun pillow cover. We’ll also use this project to practice machine quilting and to insert a zipper and add binding.

Final Quilting
The final project is a Mod Log Cabin table runner. Log Cabin blocks are a quilting basic and these wonky ones are just the right amount of fun without worrying too much about accuracy. We’ll hone our quilting and binding skills on this project as well.

Please spread teh word if you know anyone who would be interested! Aloha!

07 Aug

Shop Hopping on Oahu

Warning: this is a long post, but if you’re interesed in fabric shopping on Oahu, it’s definitely worth the read.

I went out for some embroidery floss this morning and came back with an armload of quilty/crafty supplies.

My first (and originally planned, only) stop was Fiddlesticks. I needed a variety of lorikeet colored floss for my next 12×12 project and Fiddlesticks is really the only place on the island for anything other than DMC. The shop is primarily for cross stitch, but they stock such gorgeous silks and wools and glittery things, in addition to the stranded and perle basics, that I can’t imagine any stitch lover not enjoying the shop. Oh, and right now they have $5 grab bags. Mine had wool and cotton flosses and five cross stitch patterns which I think is pretty darn good for the price. Too bad I don’t really cross stitch. The ladies there are quite friendly too. I brought my partially completed quilt to match color and everyone oohed and awed; and then asked if I was participating in the quilt shop hop this weekend. Ooops, I had forgotten.

Each summer the quilt shops on the island band together for a shop hop two weekends in a row. One could hit all the shops in one day, like I did, but it’s nice to have the option of taking a more leisurely pace. I’ve never done a shop hop on the Mainland, so I have nothing to compare this with, but it seems well organized and fun. Customers get a booklet with participating shops, and a stamp card (passport) at the first stop to get stamped at each store. At the end of the hop, full stamp cards get gathered and random winners are drawn to win prizes like gift certificates, fat quarters or even a new sewing machine! Each shop has special sale prices and a free quilt block pattern. I doubt that I’ll make a quilt with any of the patterns, but somehow, seeing each store’s contribution to the collection was fun and there seemed to be a kind of celebratory mood overall.

So, I figured, as long as I was in town already, and hubby had the kids, I might as well join in and visit the stores.

My first official stop was a half mile from Fiddlesticks at Bernina of Hawaii. This store is primarily about the machines, but they do have a decent supply of threads and some fabric. They hold regular classes and have a mechanic on-site. No one can compare to my Renate in Germany, but this store is OK. I had ordered the needle punch attachment for my Bernina over  the phone, so I took this opportunity to check out the parts they did have in stock and see how long it would be until the other part arrived. I had a nice chat with manager Trish and showed off my half-done lorikeet quilt. I think they could use more examples of how people use their Berninas, and I could be a part of that….

Next stop was to US Sewing and Vac around the corner. I’d never been there before and was surprised to see that they had a largish selection of thread and fabric. Nothing that was up my alley, but good to know that it’s there. They are the place to go for your Singer or Viking machines. I bought vacuum cleaner bags.

New Home was stop number three. Owner Ed has endeared himself to the entire Hawaii Quilt Guild. His tiny shop specializes in Janome machines but has other stuff too. Essentially though, I think that it’s his friendliness and helpfulness that have earned him a loyal customer base (or maybe it’s that faint Swiss accent). Unfortunately, I’m not in the market for a new sewing machine (unless I add a serger to the stable) so I don’t give Ed much business. I did buy a nice heavy thread cone stand and two spools of King Tut for an upcoming quilt.

Several miles further on King street is Kuni Island Fabrics. I don’t visit Kuni often since it’s not in my regular geographic circle. They don’t have a lot of fabrics either, but they do have many loyal customers. I think what owner Terry’s (ooh, I hope I’m remembering her name right) got is a lovely boutique . She’s got a lot of patterns, mostly for bags, but also for clothing and quilted items. She’s also filled the shop with unique and colorful finished products. There are classes, and I think the shop is well connected to the community and the quilt guild. I think Terry organized the shop hop too. If so, kudos! I bought a cute little tissue holder for my purse. In addition to the free shop hop pattern, I was also given a little bottle of cold water — perfectly thoughtful considering shop hoppers would be driving around on a hot day. Again, kudos.

Then it was off to my favorite neighborhood. Kaimuki has that college vibe, and there’s not one, but two wonderful quilt/fabric stores. First is my usual stop, Kaimuki Dry Goods. They cater to sewers too and have a large (for Hawaii) selection of everything. All those hip new fabrics on the internet? Yep. Awesome Japanese home decor fabric? Yep. Kona cottons in every solid imaginable? Yep. Two aisles devoted to batiks? Uh huh! I hate going to different places for different things, so this is my one stop fabric shop for my every whim except thread. The only drawback is that I don’t always get a welcoming vibe there. The more I go though, the more I think it is just an age and cultural thing. The majority of ladies working there are older and asian and I think that they just approach things differently than a much younger Mainlander. I will fogive them this because they have free parking and what I think is the best fabric selection on the island. I used my 20% off coupon (the only shop in the hop that required a coupon to get the hop sale price) to buy a yard of Echino fabric that will be great for a bag, but is normally more money than an impulse buy will allow.

Up the street is The Calico Cat, a teeny place with crappy parking, but jam packed with fabrics. I want to buy everything just to make sure the shop stays in business. Carol, the owner, is so lovely and will often special order notions and other supplies. She carries my favorite Quilter’s Dream Cotton batting and has some felting and arty supplies. If I had to commit to patronizing only one shop, I think Calico Cat would be it even if it doesn’t have quite the breadth of fabric as Kaimuki Dry Goods. I like it’s funky, arty side and I like Carol’s taste in fabrics. Batting was in stock today, so I bought enough for a bed quilt. Because of the shop hop, Carol had cookies and chocolate covered kona coffee beans on offer for customers. Win!

Back out in the neighborhood is a Bead It! which, though not my favorite bead shop, had the right location today. I bought simple seed beads for the lorikeet quilt. FYI, Bead Gallery around the corner from Bernina of Hawaii, and Bella Beads tie the for bead shops I’d make special trips to. Back in Kaimuki, there’s a toy shop my kids love (lots of Pokemon) and lots of places to eat. The surrounding area is also home to the Kahala Mall and KCC, a beautiful college which hosts a wonderful farmer’s market every Saturday morning. Not to mention that Oahu landmark Diamond Head is right there. I think I could love Kaimuki.

From Kaimuki, on the far side of Honolulu from my house, I hopped on the freeway to head home. Just west of Pearl Harbor, I stopped at The Quilt Hut, which is tucked away in an unassuming looking industrial complex. I think The Quilt Hut may suffer from being off the beaten track because it has the reputation of not moving stock. This is too bad because while it doesn’t have quite the range of fabrics as Kaimuki Dry Goods, it’s not half bad either.  It’s clean and bright and easy to find things, plus they sell my favorite Roxanne needles, there’s a nice classroom in the back, and they offer Longarm quilting service. It’s a LOT closer to my house, so just that in itself should make it a great shop. I think they could have a blowout sale of the current stock, buy a bunch of fresh looking Free Spirit and Alexander Henry fabrics and use the classroom to court the young sewists on the island and nearby military spouses. This would be the perfect shop to have their own special fabric like Quilt Passions in Kona on the Big Island has. Just saying. (BTW, Lizzy House had a good presentation at one of the Quilt Festivals regarding the next generation of quilt shop customers). Anyway, I did my part and bought four fat quarters to use as examples in my next class at the park. I also received a free fat quarter as my shop hop purchase prize. OK, brownie points for that!

Not playing in the shop hop, but also in the industrial complex on Hekaha Street is Fabric Mart. This is the place to go for Hawaiian print cloth. The novelty hasn’t yet worn off on me, so I have all kinds of fun browsing here. They have pillow forms and trim and a wide variety of dressmaking and upholstery fabrics too. Their non-aloha print cotton fabrics tend to be low quality and boring deigns though, so I skip that area. Customer service is also hit or miss. Fabric Mart is a chain of sorts and also has location in town and on the Windward side. My favorite though, is the location in Kahului on Maui. It’s just cleaner and more organized, which adds immensely to my shopping experience. Back on Oahu, in the same row of shops as Quilt Hut, is Tracy’s Yarn. I went in expecting a knitting store, but it’s all about making sewn, knotted, or crocheted lei. I wish I had a need for everlasting ribbon lei because the possibilities are amazing. I marvel at Tracy’s handiwork on the walls. You gotta love a place where you can buy jumbo ric-rac not by the yard, but by the big-a** spool. It’s not all crafty stuff at the industrial park though. In fact, most of the shops are actually of the car detailing, stereo pimping, asian accessories, wholesale type. Hubby got a dent in his baby fixed there. We bought my daughter a bike for her birthday there. The Goodwill there has potential as well. And, last, but not least, it’s where our Taekwondo/kickboxing school used to be. So it seems to me, if you want it, it’s probably at the end of Hekaha Street, which even offers a nice view of Pearl Harbor.

OK, one more stop to fill my shop hop stamp card. US Sewing and Vac in Pearl City. This is the closest place to my house and has no fabric at all. Bummer. They specialize in machine embroidery. Quilt Guild members tend not to go here at all, but there is always a clatch of ladies every time I go and I get the impression that they hold a fair number of classes on embroidery and that there’s a core group that just likes to come and hang out and work on projects. I tend to buy thread and vacuum cleaner bags there. They are obviously affiliated with the shop in Honolulu of the same name, but I think that Bernina of Hawaii is also under the same umbrella of ownership. Rosie, the manager, can be hard sell, but I do think she means well. When I mentioned off-hand that I would be teaching beginning sewing and patchwork at the local park, she was eager to get a flyer or info that she could pass on to interested customers since she really focuses on the embroidery angle. I bought wash away stabilizer to support the shop hop.

So, if you’re on Oahu next weekend, I encourage you to join in the fun and try teh shop hop out yourself. If you just come to visit or are new to the area, I hope my comments are helpful. And, if there is a shop hop in your area I hope you can get out and support it.

19 Jul

Part of the Process

Since I sorted all my scraps (and have been pretty good about putting new ones in the appropriate bins) I have also been slowly sewing the scraps to paper foundations. “String” quilts made from these sort of aggregate bits are pretty popular these days, and I have always been a fan of the scrappy look.

Green Strings

I started with green because I have a plan that uses greens, blues, and yellows. I am happy to report that my green bin is nearly empty! Now I will chip away at the blue bin.

11 Jul

Class Projects

Last spring I taught a sampler quilt class at my local park (Ho’ae’ae Park). In August I will hopefully teach another beginner class. This time I’m thinking that small projects featuring many of the same skills will work as well and give students a better chance at finishing them. To that end, I’ve been making up class samples to show off at the park office.

Fat Quarter Friendly Small Tote

First will be a small lined tote, perfect for a Hostess gift. It can be made from four fat quarters (that are always so tempting at the fabric store, and often already bundled in nice color combos). Students will learn basic rotary cutting skills and strip piece fabrics to make the patched “piano keys” strip at the top of the bag.

Aloha Scraps Pillow

Next we’d move on to an easy way to piece triangles and make this quilted pillow cover. If students have a pile of scraps, just one solid can pull them together — or the pillow would look great in two colors. In addition to making triangles, this is a good size project to practice machine quilting on, and the edge is bound just like a large quilt.

Mod Log Cabin Table Runner

Finally, we’ll make my “signature” project, the Mod Log Table Runner. I love log cabin blocks and think that because of their versatility, every quilter needs to have at least a little experience recognizing and making them. This project needn’t be super accurate until the borders are added, and reinforces those quilting and binding skills.

So, if you or anyone you know is on the Central to Leeward side of Oahu and would like to learn to make these projects, keep your eyes open for the Parks and Recreation schedule in August.

06 Jul

I’m a Threadologist!

Last weekend was Quilt Hawai’i on the Big Island. Many, many, months ago I heard that the Superior Threads people would be holding their School of Threadology there and so, of course, I had to sign up. I even convinced three other friends from the quilt guild to join me. We were so happy we went.

Waialea (69) Beach

We arrived early (really, really early) on Wednesday because Rowena had a morning class. Susan and Debby opted to help the organizers set up, and I escaped to the beach with local Flickr friend Anika! She took me to Waialea Bay (AKA Beach 69) where we chatted, snacked, and swam a bit. This being in Hawai’i stuff is rough, but someone’s gotta do it.


Thursday was all about thread. In the morning, Dr. Bob, professor of Threadology, gave a lecture on thread composition, uses of various threads, needle types, sewing machine issues, and pretty much everything you ever needed to know about using thread in a quilt but never thought to ask. Class included a huge goodie bag of Superior threads and needles, and a book with all the information covered plus handy dandy charts. Then, after lunch, it was play time with Annie.


We used this cool product called Texture Magic. Basically, you stitch your fabric to the Texture Magic sheet (and using cool threads adds to the fun) and then steam it to shrink the Texture Magic, thus crinkling your fabric. We used our crinkly fabric to make cute handbags.


After class, Susan had arranged for the four of us, plus three other Guild ladies who happened to also be there, to visit Quilt Passions, a lovely quilt shop in nearby Kona.

Quilt Passions Shop

Karen, the owner, is doing a wonderful job with the shop. She’s got patterns from local designers and lots of classes. They specialize in batik fabric, but have a nice selection of other things to choose from as well. They’ve even got their very own fabric (which she’s cutting for Rowena here)! Not only did Quilt Passions have a booth at Quilt Hawai’i, but they offered to shuttle people down to the shop and even included a small dinner for our group. Definitely making the most of opportunities both for the shop and for us visitors. Kudos.

Open Thread Bar

Friday was Open Thread Bar. We had the whole day to play with all the lines of Superior threads. This was a great opportunity to get expert help troubleshooting any issues with our machines and the tricky threads. It was also great to try in person the threads I had only seen online.

Mother Superior

Mother Superior showed us a nice couching combination with an uneven zigzag stitch and Razzle Dazzle thread. Our Bartender Cindy was great with tips on adjusting our machines and the best uses for each thread.


I never thought I would be stitching feathers with metallic threads, but I did — and I liked it!

Thursday night was Quilt Hawai’i’s fantastic Fabric Bingo, where I won an amazing amount of swag. Friday was Superior quilt show and tell (I’m ready to make a whole cloth quilt in dupioni silk now), a project with fusible thread, and then graduation with highly coveted, much sought after, certificates. My friends and I are now a Certified Superior Threadologists!

Waikoloa Petroglyphs
(I think this guy is waving goodbye, which I am too, until the next post.)

21 May

It wasn’t weird at all

You may remember that I bought this quilt as a top from Wanda about a month ago. I thought it would be weird  to quilt and finish someone else’s work, but it wasn’t at all. In fact, it was really fun and as soon as I started working on it, I couldn’t stop. Firstly, Wanda’s workmanship is impeccable. All the seams were even and all edges and points aligned. There were no poufs to “quilt out.” Basting was easy-peasy. The quilt is not quite twin sized, so I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it came together despite it’s being large enough to wrap oneself up in.

More significant though, was how the quilt revealed itself to me as I worked on it. Normally, I would already have a relationship with the fabrics from piecing them together. But since I didn’t piece this one, I got to meet each and every fabric and see how it interacted with it’s neighbor as I quilted. I enjoyed seeing how individual stripes modulated in color, and loved being surprised by each pairing that picked up on a hue in it’s partner. It was quite fun.


I don’t know how many readers are relatively new to quilting and it’s associated gadgets. I may be preaching to the choir, but here are two of my favorites: my walking foot, and the bar thingie that came with it. Walking feet come in several varieties depending on your machine, but they are all variations on this foot-with-box contraption. The purpose of the walking foot is to move the top layer of the quilt sandwich at the same speed as the bottom layer and thus eliminate lots of frustrating puckering. I do all my straight line machine quilting with my walking foot. On this quilt, I kept the quilting simple, because really, with fabric like this, fancy quilting is just unnecessary.

Often, I just use the side of the walking foot as my guide for stitching parallel lines. That’s how I did the first round of quilting 1/4″ from the edge of each zig zag. I wanted to quilt a line down the center of each zig zag too, so I used one of the guide bars that came with the walking foot. It is L shaped and slides through a hole in the back of the walking foot and is locked in place with a screw. You can adjust it so the “leg” sticks out anywhere from right next to the foot, to about three inches away. I also have another guide bar for the other side of the foot, depending on what I want to line up with. (As an aside, my machine came with another two guide bars that fit into the back of many of the regular presser feet too.) Once you get the hang of it, there’s all kinds of uses for these guides. I measured the width of my zig zags (4″) and set my guide bar two inches from the needle. Then, off I went, quilting down the center of each zig zag, making sure the leg of the guide bar followed the seam line. In the photo you can’t see the lovely line of stitching behind the walking foot, but it is perfectly parallel to the edge of the yellow zig. You can see that I am about to pivot the quilt and sew the zag (this is where the needle-down function on many newer machines is also very convenient). I considered more lines in between these, but the quilt didn’t seem to need them. It’s for a kid’s bed, so it didn’t need to be quilt-show-fancy.

27 Jan


I finished another one! This one started as one idea about four years ago, got abandoned, and then came back to life last year in this form:


Hale’aina (ha-lay aye-nah) is hawaiian. Hale means house and aina means “of the land.” In the old days, the hale’aina was the house where the women ate. Today, it usually refers to a restaurant. But as most hawaiian language also contains a “secret” meaning, it could be interpreted as “the house that nourishes.” Hale’aina also happens to be the name of the street we live on.

Women, home, nourishment, where we live — how could I not do something inspired by this? I already had the houses (appliqued to a duvet cover — more comforts of home) with collaged floral roots, so I decided to just take it further. I added food themed fabrics, and once I found one with a spam musubi the whole thing shifted into whimsical and allowed me to add other things like a pizza button, a pumpkin bead, two flounder, and a cocktail olive. It’s a house chock full of food, love, hope, fun, and dreams.

On the technical, or construction side, this is all about the contrast between the plain corduroy areas and the richly embellished house and roots area. I had fun laying it on. Every time I thought I could stop, I found another place to add something. This one is very rewarding up close, and I dare anyone not to be tempted to touch it.

The quilt is 25″x37.” Hale’aina is the working title. I’m going to ask a hawaiian speaking acquaintance if it calls for something more poetic. It’s obviously not a hawaiian quilt, so maybe I’m pushing the boundaries already, but that’s at least where the inspiration came from.