Sunday, April 23, 2017

the source of scraps

Hawaiian scrap quilt, c. 1970, 54" x 66"
This Hawaiian scrap quilt is coming soon from an Etsy seller in Eugene, Oregon. It is very much like a lot of the examples I have found so far, but the fabrics are slightly older than most. Does that mean it is an older quilt? Not necessarily.

Early in my search, I saw signs of the early mid-century in Hawaiian scrap quilts, particularly the fabrics. My idea about the period of scrap quiltmaking in Hawaii originally included the 1940s and 50s, but up to this point I have not collected any examples from those decades.

My search turned up quilts with fabrics from the 40s and 50s, but their construction pointed more to the 60s and 70s. One of the big differences between the fabrics of the 1940s and 50s and those of the 60s and 70s is the inclusion of DayGlo in the later period.

The garment industry in Hawaii took a big hit in the 1970s as a result of the decline in tourism. As factories closed, scraps were liquidated. When I first learned about the Hawaiian garment industry and its role in the scrap quiltmaking tradition, it explained a lot. It all boiled down to the source of scraps.

1960s and 70s fabrics glowed a bit more than the earlier fabrics
Only a couple years ago, there was practically no information about scrap quilts in Hawaii. At the time, I read a blog written by a collector of vintage Hawaiian shirts who was very alarmed about Hawaiians cutting up valuable vintage shirts for quilts.

In 2016, I published research and debuted the exhibition
"Kalakoa, Discovering the Hawaiian Scrap Quilt"
Fortunately, it is much more likely the quiltmakers got their scraps from the factories. In fact, if you travel to Hawaii today, you can find bags of Hawaiian scraps at many of the fabric shops.


  1. Interesting discovery. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I hope a show of your quilts is in the works in Hawaii. Can't think of a more compelling reason to go!