Quilters converge on SMC Museum for lecture

Published 5:21 pm Thursday, October 2, 2003

By By JOHN EBY / Niles Daily Star
DOWAGIAC -- Quilting in Hawaii? It sounded like a bad idea to Carol Frovolone.
Her neighbor "kept needling me until I finally said okay. I took my first class and I got hooked. I loved to quilt and I made several pillow-sized Hawaiian-style patterns, wall hangings and one full-size quilt before we left" the islands after her husband's two-year Army commitment.
Hawaiian quilts start out like snowflake designs that can be snipped from a folded sheet of paper.
Hawaiian quilters believe everyone should make their favorite flower. Frovolone's is lily of the valley.
Frovolone, who has been quilting for 15 years, showed her great-grandmother's "crazy quilt" that is more than 100 years old.
Folding quilts a different way each time helps guard against damaging creases.
It bears her great-grandmother's initials. Not to be outdone, her great-grandfather "signed" it by discreetly placing a "stick pig" within the complex design.
It was this particular quilt and her desire to display it which led Frovolone to take a restoration class 12 years ago.
As a child, Frovolone recalled, her mother bought her "that little black Singer sewing machine that you cranked with your hand and made a chain stitch. That piqued my curiosity in sewing and making doll blankets. My aunt worked for a fabric shop. It must have been the late '50s. Fabric came in big books. You had samples. As they got old, and new books came in, my aunt brought those home to me and I made things," she introduced her first quilt.
One square even depicted matches and cigarettes, though flowers decorated the most fabrics.
Frovolone, who belongs to a Tuesday night quilt guild in Hartford, made a quilt when her husband was in the military service and stationed in Panama.
"I didn't know anything about quilting at the time. I thought the dots were where the needle was supposed to come up and go down. They're half an inch apart. That didn't look very nice, so I started to go in between them and do every other, so the top looked like a quilt, but the back looked terrible. I was in my early 20s."
Frovolone said her larger Hawaiian quilts took as long as nine months to make by hand.