Hawaiian Applique – Breadfruit (Ulu)

We’ll just get the disclaimer out of the way, right now. . .

“I love applique, but I AM NOT an ‘appliquey’ type person.”

That being said, I really love Hawaiian applique: the simplicity, the contrast of colors, the echo quilting.  Traditional applique with non-print colors on a stark white background sing of the islands.  Modern designs using patterned fabric or batiks inspire me to make “snow flake” cut designs for potential pieces.

In 1994, six years before I started quilting, Rob and I went to Hawaii for his brother’s wedding.  We saw beautiful quilts at the Iolani Palace.  At the Royal Hawaiian shopping center, we found kitch shops with quilt patterns & tourist pillows.  I bought all sorts of stuff, brought it home and appreciated things from afar.

Even after I started quilting, I resisted applique.  “I won’t do that! It’s too intricate, don’t care, not my style.”  What finally pulled me over, was the need to do something while on a plane.  By then, we had moved to Kansas City and I was traveling about once a quarter.  Within a year, I was traveling at least two times a month.  Boredom.  I missed my sewing machine at home.  There were only so many books & magazines you could read on an airplane.  The iPhone hadn’t been invented yet, so there were no movies to watch, no music to listen to.  My Hawaiian applique became my friend on the plane and in the airport. Not to mention, I never realized how many people are willing to stop and chat with a complete stranger.  My favorite airplane applique memory is getting grounded from a killer snow storm in Fargo North Dakota, en-route from Kansas City to Minneapolis.  We were stuck in the plane, on the tarmak for two and 1/2 hours while they waited for a clearing to get us into Minneapolis!  For those of you who know me, being stuck in a confined place is NOT a great thing for me.  Who knew that applique could help put me in my “happy place”!

This is my very first applique attempt.  My curves look much nicer than my points and valleys.  The echo quilting is very basic curves around the fruit and leaves.  Because batik is such a densely woven fabric, quilting this was difficult. 

Fortunately (or unfortunately), my excessive travel days are over.  I still have a couple of completed Hawaiian tops that need to be quilted.  They are on the UFO list, but as you know, that is a very long list.


Breadfruit  (Na Ulu ‘O Hawaii): The Ulu, or breadfruit, is a symbol of plenty or abundance. Hawaiian quilt lore says that those who make Ulu their first quilt will always have abundance.


About julia

Modern Art Quilter Funky Designer Fiber Art'er Dog Lover
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