The Perfect Stitch


Mr. Whoozy and I used to love cruising during the Christmas/New Year Holidays. Being on a cruise ship during those events kept us from having to choose which family to visit during that time. Having a big family does have its problems with this. I thought we solved the problem very well by being out of the country and on board a ship. Besides that, I love to cruise.

One Christmas we were in Tahiti. What a glorious place. It is almost like being in Hawaii. Actually, if I woke up there and someone told me I was in Hawaii, I would believe them. Tahitian quilts are also made for tropical climate just as the Hawaiian quilts. The Tahitian quilts are called Tifaifai. They are made similar to the Hawaiian quilts, as they usually have elaborately appliqued designs on the top. They have two thicknesses, and no batting. There is a top and a lining but they are not quilted in any manner. This makes them very lightweight and easy to launder.

Many Tahitian ladies have learned that the American quilts are heavily quilted. This requires adding a lightweight batting between the top and the lining. One very well-known quilter was Roxanne McElroy who lived in Tahiti for several years before she learned to quilt. Once she learned, she would take some of the Tifaifais that she had made while living in Tahiti, add a batting, and quilt them beautifully.

Roxanne wrote a beautiful quilt book titled “That Perfect Stitch.” She labored over it for months and months. Six months before publication, she passed away suddenly. Her daughter later took up the task of selling her mother’s book and started a line of quilting notions named “Roxanne.” Her needles are wonderful for hand quilters.

The book is still available for hand quilters. I highly recommend it. She goes into great detail about the art of hand quilting. She was truly a fantastic quilt artist. Thank goodness her teaching goes on and on through the use of the book.

Most hand quilters today don’t bother to count the number of stitches they are achieving in an inch, just as long as the stitches are the same length on top as well as the same distance apart. I hesitate to tell my secret, but, the quality of the quilting depends mostly on the quality of the fabric. The thread count of the fabric will dictate how closely one can quilt, or how many stitches per inch are possible. Roxanne even went to the nitty gritty of taking a magnifying glass and flashlight with her when she bought fabric to check the thread count.

I am not that exact. I can tell by feeling of the fabric how well it will quilt. That comes from years of experience. Most fabric bought at discount fabric stores cannot be quilted nicely. Sorry about that, but it is true. Fabric bought at really nice quilt shops will usually quilt beautifully. The thread count is very high of these cotton fabrics. Good name brands to check are Hoffman, RJR, Michael Miller, just to name a few; however, if you happen to find these name brand fabrics at discount fabric stores, you can bet they are seconds, and not the best quality. Fortunately, quilters in the Ponte Vedra Beach area have great quilt shops available in short driving distances. What a blessing!

Pictured is a wall hanging that I hand appliqued and hand quilted several years ago. White thread quilting on white background doesn’t show up very well, but I didn’t want to detract the eye from the applique.

Visit the Ocean Wave Quilters Guild the second Friday of every month at The Players Community Center on Landrum Ln. off CR-210 behind the Shell station, 10:00 – 12:00. I shall be teaching a class to them Feb. 12. Join us! I’d so love to meet you!