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Echo Quilting

A characteristic of Hawaiian quilts

Sea Turtles and Dolphins Hawaiian Wall QuiltOne of the distinctive characteristics of Hawaiian quilts is the echo quilting. Echo quilting is not a different way to make quilting stitches, rather it is the pattern of quilting lines that radiate out from the applique edges on a Hawaiian quilt. These quilting lines are often described as looking like the waves approaching an island, or the ripples created when dropping a pebble into water.

We have been told that many Hawaiian quilters used their little finger as a guide to space their parallel quilt rows. Put your little finger on a ruler and you will see that it is probably about 1/2 to 5/8 inch wide. Rather than use our finger, we prefer to use a ruler, or sewing gauge and a chalk pencil to mark our quilting lines.
On a large, bed-sized quilt we space our quilting lines 5/8 inch apart. On a smaller wall quilt, or block, we use 1/2 inch spacing. If quilting rows are stitched any closer than that, you lose the effect of echo quilting. The stitching can end up looking more like stippling, and the quilt flattens out with an over abundance of stitching.

Hand quilting TIP: After arranging your quilt in a lap hoop, mark the quilting lines on the area within the hoop to be stitched. This mark-as-you-go technique is easy to do, and you do not need to be afraid of marking the whole quilt at one time.

Machine quilting TIP: Of course, you can also echo quilt by machine. I like to trace my lines using a chalk pencil before I begin this process or use a 1/2" echo quilting ruler as shown in this video.

Nancy teaches how to mark echo quilt lines and how to hand quilt in our video "Hawaiian Quilting with Nancy Lee Chong". If you think you would like to try hand quilting, this video would be a great investment.

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