Tuesday, January 5, 2016

"Kalakoa, Discovering the Hawaiian Scrap Quilt"

"Kalakoa, Discovering the Hawaiian Scrap Quilt" is now on display at Latimer Quilt & Textile Center in Tillamook, Oregon. This exciting new display of quilts from my collection reveals a previously undocumented tradition of scrap quilts in Hawaii. 

It is very rare to discover a regional style of quiltmaking rooted in regional fabrics, but these quilts, bedspreads and tops were made with cutaway fabrics from the Hawaiian garment industry. Hot colored muu muu fabric and cool aloha shirt scraps give the patchwork a distinctly Hawaiian look and feel, yet these quilts have no resemblance to the popular idea of a Hawaiian quilt.

Two small quilts on display over the doorway represent the popular idea of Hawaiian quilts. One is a floral applique quilt in yellow and red and the other is a red, white, blue and yellow Hawaian Flag quilt. These quilts have become so popular in the tourist trade, they are now made overseas in places such as the Philippines and distributed from Hawaii. That is what those two quilts are, tourist objects, and they represent how the traditions ultimately evolved.

Considering the commercialization of the popular Hawaiian applique and flag quilts, it is refreshing to unearth a new tradition so representative of the vibrant people of Hawaii. Kalakoa is a word from Pidgin, now considered Hawaiian creole. Loosely translated, it means mixed up colors, such as those seen in the scrap quilts.

The gallery at Latimer Quilt & Textile Center is erupting with explosive, tropical color, kicking off the center's 25th Anniversary year with a bang. There will be a reception on Sunday, January 10th from 12 noon to 4pm, open to everyone. I may be wearing something tropical to get into the spirit, and guests are welcome to do the same.

If you can't make it to Tillamook before the end of February, no worries! There is a print catalogue available through Blurb. The 40-page full color, softcover catalogue is brimming with wildly colored quilts and an introduction explores the context of these colorful gems. To check it out, click here.

Latimer Quilt & Textile Center is located at 2105 Wilson River Loop in Tillamook, Oregon. If you are planning to visit, please make sure to inquire ahead of time about their winter hours. For more information, call 503-842-8622 or visit their website.


  1. Fantastic quilts !! I love bright colours. Wish I could visit but much, much too far away!

  2. Looks wonderful! All that color must surely be a bright spot in the heart of midwinter.

  3. Looks wonderful! All that color must surely be a bright spot in the heart of midwinter.