A Quilter in Paradise

I recently had the very good fortune to travel to the Hawaiian island of Maui.  Knowing that Hawaii has a rich quilting tradition, I checked to see if there were any quilt shops on the island.  With a quick online search I found the Maui Quilt Shop and also found that they offer introductory classes on Traditional Hawaiian Needle-turn Applique.  The shop was in Kihei, very close to where I was staying.  I signed up immediately!
On the day before the class, I dropped in to the shop to choose my precut kit.  I chose one of the simpler patterns (Ti Leaf) with a sunny yellow background and an elegant leafy green applique.  It was also a great chance to have a good browse through this relatively small, but very charming store!  Chock full of “Hawaii”, we couldn’t help but nab a few mementos including a beautiful mini fabric pineapple that will adorn our Christmas tree this year.
On the day of the class, I was happy to find many visitors like me had joined the class, mostly from coastal California and Texas.  We were all new to applique and our instructor, Elyn, was up to the challenge.  In no time, she had us pinning and basting our appliques in place and left the first hour for us to finish basting as much as we could.  I was very glad at this point to have selected one of the easier appliques and managed to finish about ¾ of the basting.
Now it was time to learn the applique process.  Being the only “lefty” in the class, Elyn taught me the technique facing me, so I could simply mirror what she was doing.  I started with the centre of the applique, which worked out fairly well.  The next challenge was figuring out outside corners.  Elyn showed me how to anchor the point with an extra stitch.  Finally, in the last minutes of the class, we tackled the acute inside curves.  The seam allowance gets very small and the number of stitches increases greatly, but the results are very tidy and very secure.
I can’t wait to complete the applique and start on the echo-stitch quilting.  The final goal is a cushion for the TV room which will be a perfect reminder of my first visit to Maui.
Taking this class and meeting Elyn and the other students, all of whom share a love of handcrafts, was a very enjoyable experience.  During the class many questions came up regarding the history of Hawaiian quilting and the meaning behind the various blocks.  It really left us with a deeper appreciation for this unique art form.  This class, added to the experience of the beautiful landscape, snorkeling, body-boarding, amazing food and drinks (soooo much fresh pineapple and one or two Mai Tai’s) and even an introduction to surfing, helped create memories that will last for a long time.
Would you consider taking a class on your next vacation adventure?

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