Aloha Inspired Appliqué Pillow
May 20, 2013
It was one of those weekends devoted entirely to family which was a good thing. We attended a birthday party for Matt’s Aunt’s 90th birthday, and it was a family reunion with everyone traveling far distances to celebrate. Seeing loved ones you haven’t seen in a long time is a reminder of how time marches on far so fast. The kids grow older so quickly, and we’re all getting older too, and it makes you realize how each days really is a precious gift.
I started clearing out closets on Sunday, minimizing clutter in my quest for a home that is simple and meaningful, and then spied a project I started a few weeks ago so I finished it. When we visited Hawaii in March I was inspired by the motifs I saw in the traditional Hawaiian quilts that date back to the early 1800s, a technique brought over by missionaries. Funny, in previous years I’ve never been drawn to them but something about the intricate and handcrafted nature spoke to me on this recent visit.
I came up with an aloha inspired appliqué pillow cover, one that adds a dose of watery aqua blue for summer and also adds a touch of the islands I miss so much.
In Oahu, I visited the Polynesian Cultural Center and spent half an hour chatting with the Sisters. This quilt was on the wall was so impressive, that green pattern is cut from one single piece of cotton cloth and sewn by hand. Incredible.
You spy these patterns all over Hawaii in shops and hotels, I love the unique designs that repeat around a central point.
The Hawaiian quilt is traditionally done completely by hand. You start with a template, fold the fabric, cut the design, baste it, and then stitch the motif to a separate piece of cotton cloth. Once the design is attached, the quilt is layered with batting and further stitching just like in this step by step I snapped a picture of when in Oahu.
I decided to speed up the process by using my awesome sewing machine (worth every penny) and the decorative stitch options, but first, the template! I haven’t mentioned this yet but I have been immersing myself in the Adobe Illustrator program, taking online classes, watching videos, and familiarizing myself with the tools which are taught to graphic artists and surface designers. I started to learn them because knowing how to create any image or pattern I envision has proven extremely useful for textile design (my prints will be available soon, pinkie swear!)
I was inspired to create a floral-ish motif based on a pattern I saw while visiting Hawaii. It took me an hour or so to create the design in Illustrator and to test the repeat so it looked like what I wanted.
Hey look at that, so cool!
I printed out the template, cut it, and pinned it to my aqua cotton fabric (you’ll need ¾ yard of 44” wide cotton for the applique and for the back of the pillow cover.) Fold your fabric in half, then in quarters, then in eighths and align the template. Same concept as cutting a snowflake!
When it’s unfolded you get a perfect repeat – I used pins to secure it to another 22 x 22” piece of white cotton.
I tested various decorative stitches on a scrap piece of fabric for the surface and settled on the second from the left.
It makes sense to start at the center which is what I did, working slowly around the middle circle to secure the design to the white cotton.
I worked my way around the edges slowly, the whole pattern took about 30 minutes of concentrated stitching. I messed up a little in a few places but from a distance you can’t tell. :)
I used the same aqua colored cotton for the back and actually sewed a zipper into a pillow this time. Usually I’m lazy and do an envelope or pocket style closure but I’ve been practicing zippers and I’m getting much better at them.
It turned out better than I expected, I love it! It reminds me of the quilted patterns I saw while visiting the islands, but with a modern twist.
If you’d like to recreate one for yourself in a 20” x 20” size, feel free to use this template!
Tags: aloha pillow