Last week I had a wonderful opportunity to tag along on my husband’s business trip to Hawaii. Since our 20th wedding anniversary is tomorrow, this was a second honeymoon of sorts (despite the fact that my husband had to work). We saw all the things you’d expect to find on Oahu:

Beautiful vistas and blue, blue water

A view from the top of Diamonhead
A view from the top of Diamondhead


Gorgeous flowers

bouganvilla final


Amazing sea life

sea turtle final

But I also wanted to see Hawaiian style quilts. (Fun fact: Editor Kit Robinson and I met many years ago as a result of my admiration for a Hawaiian style quilt that she made.) It turns out that on Oahu I couldn’t find many historical examples. There were plenty of stores selling items in the traditional Hawaiian appliqué style, but most of those items were created in the Philippines. Finally, on our last day in town, before heading to the airport, we visited the Bishop Museum, which is the Hawaiʻi State Museum of Natural and Cultural History.

The museum does have a collection of quilts, but on the day we visited only one was on display. Nonetheless, I was fascinated by what I learned.

As many of you know, American Protestant missionaries brought quilt making to Hawaii. The Hawaiians put their own spin on it, creating the iconic appliqué style that is so closely associated with Hawaiian quilt making. They also began making flag quilts as a means of showing support for the Kingdom of Hawaii. After the overthrow of the monarchy, and later annexation with the United States, creating these flag quilts was one of the only ways that Hawaiians could express their love and support for their country. The quilt on display was one of these flag quilts.

Hawaiian flag quilt with Hawaiian flag
Hawaiian flag quilt with Hawaiian flag


hawaii quilt

Here is the text from the display that describes this particular quilt:

“Marie Ford’s Hawaiian Flag Quilt, Ka Hae Aloha (Flag of Aloha)

This extraordinary example of a Hawaiian flag quilt once belonged to Marie Ford who resided in Lahaina at the turn of the 20th century. A friend of Queen Lili’uokalani, it is believed that she may have received this quilt as a marriage gift from the queen in 1899, who may herself have sewn parts of it. The pair of small crossed Hawaiian flags above and below the crown is shown upside down, indicating the Queen’s distress at being dethroned.”

I’ve always admired Hawaiian quilts for their beauty, but am even more impressed by the sentiment behind these flag quilts. Here’s a closer look:

hawaii flag quilt detail

As you can see, it’s quilted in the echo style that is associated with Hawaiian quilts in general, creating quite a bit of texture. I’d love to see more examples of these remarkable quilts. Maybe I’ll have to go back!

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