By: Loretta G. H. Woodard
In Hawaii, during the Territorial years (1900-1959), when there were no commercially printed Hawaiian quilt patterns, communities of quilters collected and exchanged designs. Hawaiian appliqué and flag quilt motifs were traced onto newsprint or other paper and, occasionally, onto woven fabric, oilcloth, wax paper, or even old sheets of barkcloth tapa (kapa). A widespread code of ethics ensured that patterns and their names were preserved as a common corpus of design. In contrast to a popular misconception, designs freely circulated among both rural and urban quilters across the islands and abroad.
This paper explores the changing dynamics of pattern sharing within four communities of quilters living in rural and urban settings and examines the resulting impact on Hawaiian quilting. Sources include private correspondence, newspaper articles, interviews, and quilt and pattern collections registered by the Hawaiian Quilt Research Project.