Spotlight Shines On Kaua‘i Quilters

Jane Vegas makes traditional Hawaiian quilts. Photos courtesy Lea Ingram

The upcoming Kaua’i Quilt and Fabrics show will include several pieces by renowned quilter Jane Figaroa Vegas. It happens March 29 to 31

A colorful array of patterns and prints will abound during this month’s Kaua’i Quilt and Fiber Show.

The event consists of a series of classes taught by quilt-making aficionados and culminates with an exhibition, featuring quilts of every technique and size, including Hawaiian.

“This is a labor of love put on by several women of the NoNeNe Quilt Group,” says quiltmaker Lea Ingram, who will teach a class March 24. “We do this for the love of quilting and to share that love with the public.”

Ingram became involved in quilting because she has always had a desire for crafting, especially sewing and painting.

“I decided to combine the two and save time,” says the North Shore resident who creates art quilts and paintings on fabric.

Contributing to the event are quilters such as Ingram who each bring a unique style to the table, using various approaches from machine piecing to hand-quilting.

“Some of us make ‘art’ quilts, some make utilitarian quilts and some make special occasion quilts … it is a very diverse group,” says Ingram.

Traditional Hawaiian quilts also will be on display during a three-day quilt show, featuring artists such as Jane Figaroa Vegas. Members of the 88-year-old’s family are loaning Vegas’ creations to the show for participants to enjoy.

Lea Ingram creates quilts in her studio. Photos courtesy Lea Ingram

“Not that many people make the traditional quilts anymore, and we are lucky enough to have several of them in this year’s show,” says Ingram.

Hawaiian quilts differ in that they are hand-appliquéd and hand-quilted using just two fabrics: one for background and one for design.

Prior to the arrival of missionaries, Hawaiians made kapa – a fabric made from tree bark – for their bed coverings. Hawaiian quilt patterns used today were first developed in the 1800s.

“They are extremely labor intensive,” says Ingram.

Vegas’ interest in Hawaiian quilting started in 1959 when the Kaua’i native took a class teaching various techniques on how to fashion a Hawaiian quilt pillow pattern.

The rest of her knowledge is self-taught. Prior to her interest in creating quilts, Vegas always had a passion for sewing. At 11, she began saving part of her 10-cents-an-hour earnings to purchase her first sewing machine, which she still owns today. Even though Vegas is not of Hawaiian heritage, the dedication to her craft led her to become one of the first Hawaiian quilting instructors.

People can expect to be allured by traditional quilts like Vegas’ at this year’s show.

“Expect to be surprised and inspired and surrounded by heartwarming quilts,” says Ingram.

Speaking of being inspired, it is Ingram’s hope that the event will encourage quilters and also educate non-quilters about the astonishing variety and beauty of these bed coverings.

When asked what the most rewarding aspect of creating quilts is, Ingram replies, “Making something from my heart that touches the hearts of others.”

Kauai Quilt and Fiber Show will be held March 29, 30 and 31 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Church of the Pacific in Princeville.

For more information, call Jeni at 826-6481.

For more information on quiltmaking classes, contact Ingram at