Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Going Green and having fun with Kona Bay Eco Bags!!

Kona Bay's first Eco bag made with recycled materials was a very big success and we are on our third shipment already to keep up with the demand.

Our Koi Bag has been a big success with our customers and is available now at your favorite local independent quilt shop.

Now comes the next Kona Bay Eco Bag and we hope everyone will enjoy this bag as well!! This new bag features the famed Japanese cats.

The Kona Bay web site has both of these items available for your review.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Renowned Australian Pattern Designer Joins the Kona Bay Fabrics Family

I have exciting news! Leesa Chandler is well known throughout Australia and beyond as a premier pattern designer. Kona Bay Fabrics is now the exclusive US distributor of several of her most popular patterns. With over 50 exquisite designs and patterns to her name, she is a sought after teacher throughout Australia. We're looking forward to bringing her expertise to our customers.

When not on the road, Leesa is busy at her studio in Melbourne creating patterns for quilts, wall hangings and her exquisite designer handbags. She started her first handcraft business at the enthusiatic age of 14 and made her first quilt at 18.

She sources her inspiration from different cultures and their landscapes, flora, customs and architecture. Leesa loves teaching and sharing her obsession with rich Oriental design influences. Her patterns are well written and easy to follow.

One of the patterns Kona Bay will release first is shown here. The Eastern Tote teaches a three dimensional technique that you’ll love. You’ll find many uses for this technique in your future projects. This stylish bag would make the perfect gift for that special someone on your holiday gift list.

Summer Palace
98” x 74” (right) offers the same dramatic influence of the windows in a Beijing Palace that provided the inspiration. The remaining two, Emperors Stonework 83” x 83” and Imperial Windows 72” x 72”, are equally delightful.

The four patterns by Leesa offer proven success. We are proud to be the distributor of these unique patterns whose artful use of Asian fabrics is renowned in Australia. Inquire at your favorite local quilt shop. Tell ‘em Doug at Kona Bay Fabrics sent you!

As a special bonus, we’ll be featuring a new bag design by Leesa in the upcoming issue of Asian Fabric due out the first of the year. There is still time to subscribe! Visit to subscribe today. Check out our latest fabric releases while you’re there. We have some gorgeous new designs rolling in over the next couple months so stop by often!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Asian Fabric Issue #17—The Surprise Inside!

One of my favorite things about flying to and fro Hawaii is having time to enjoy my pile of current magazines. Our recent poll tells me it’s at the top of your list, too. It has been both exciting and satisfying to publish the only quilting magazine specializing in working with Asian prints.

Last week we released Issue #17 of Asian Fabric magazine. If you haven’t picked up one at your local quilt shop yet, reports are—they’re going fast! In addition to the usual great array of patterns, this special edition includes the current catalog showcasing the latest and greatest fabric designs from Kona Bay Fabrics.

This sneak preview has previously been reserved only for our customers—the local independent quilt shops that bring you fabric, fun and fellowship. As the list of enthusiastic fans of Asian Fabric has grown, we decided to say thank you by sharing our catalog with our readers as well.

In addition to just having the scoop on new designs, a few readers have mentioned that the catalog images are a helpful planning tool. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this special edition and how it might have inspired you.

The power of the printed page has long fascinated me. Having been in the quilting industry for nearly twenty years, starting and building Asian Fabric magazine has been akin to the documentation of a long, enjoyable adventure that some days feels like it’s only just begun!

Now, if only walls could talk—the staff and I are busy getting ready for the semi-annual quilt industry trade show in October. We’ll be headed to Houston for 2009 International Quilt Market on the 8th of October. I’ll be tweeting updates and posting photos on the Kona Bay Fan Page. It’s a good time to get on board—click here to follow me on Twitter or join in and become a Facebook fan of Kona Bay Fabrics here so you don’t miss a thing!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Celebrities of the Quilting World

Did you ever wish you could be a rockstar? I know it might be hard to picture but I occasionally spent time in my youth conjuring up images of me rocking out with the sound of my guitar vibrating against my chest while the adoring fans buzzed in my ear. I know what you’re thinking…snap out of it, boy!

Well, today, I received copies of the promotional pieces for the premier issue of Quiltposium “Living and Traveling with a Quilter’s Eye”, a new quarterly online travel magazine for quilters. On the front page, it read—For the first time ever a groundbreaking online magazine with your favorite celebrities! Coming September 1, 2009!

Guess who’s photo was right there among industry hard hitters like Eleanor Burns, Kaye England, Alex Anderson and Jinny Beyer to name a few? Yes indeed, it was yours truly! So, it would appear I have finally arrived at rockstar status. The vibration might be a result of fabric folding machines in the warehouse and the buzz might be from fans sewing machines hard at work—but I have been officially deemed a celebrity.

Earlier this year Jim West, of Sew Many Places, introduced me to this exciting new venue and invited me to be a regular contributor. My answer, of course, was yes.

Each issue of Quiltposium will include over 100 pages of articles, photographs and video clips from 24 well-loved folks in the quilting industry plus detailed itineraries of up to 45 expeditions, cruises, tours and quiltposiums by Sew Many Places. You’ll enjoy free patterns, trip giveaways, discount coupons and way more information than you’ll be able to absorb in a single sitting. And, here’s the kicker—it’s FREE!

Here’s a fun note and reason enough, all by itself, to register for the premier copy—Kaye England (my quilting mom and someone I admire immensely!) will be the first centerfold and rumor is, it’s not to be missed.

My first column talks about using large scale fabric in your projects. It’s a common dilemma that is more easily addressed than you might think. You can register for this fun premier issue of Quiltposium at Remember, it’s free, so a few quick clicks mean you own it!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Kona Bay Customer Has Fabric Tours to Japan

Susan Faeder of Quilters Express to Japan will be having another one of her great tours to Japan and the dates have been announced -- January 17 - 28, 2010.  Susan has been giving tours for quilters to Japan for over twenty years!

I have been to Japan many times for business and have found many contacts and great fabric places but Susan Faeder gives a fabric tour that is unsurpassed.  Her working knowledge of Japan and fabric sources are what makes her tour the ultimate textile trip and comes highly recommended.  Add to that great mix the fact that she is very fluent in Japanese and you have all the major ingredients for a great tour.

If you are interested in her tour, you can go to her special web page at

Friday, July 17, 2009

Four New Tone on Tone Groups Add Pop to Your Project!

Ok, I know what you’re saying, “Tone on tones aren’t the pop in the project, you silly boy”! But you know I’ve been paying attention and, even more than that, admiring, quilts of all types pretty intently for nearly twenty years now.

On top of that, I’ve been pumping out those striking Asian designs that, I’m told, have made your toes tingle for just as long. Plus, several years back, we added the Seattle Bay division with its artistic, nature-inspired designs. I’m not wearing my “Ask the Expert” button today but here’s what I’ve concluded.

Tone on tone designs are like the foundation of a house or the bun on a hot dog (Is it lunchtime yet!?)—without them, everything falls apart. Over the years, our tone on tone designs have gained popularity with quilters using designs of every kind for their focus fabric. Seattle Bay, in particular, has worked to build a strong and ample selection of tonals.

The ideal tone on tone will read almost like a solid if you stand back yet offer a subtle texture and interest close up. It’s important that a tone on tone use various values of the same color to maintain only a slight contrast.

Tone on tones play a supporting role in your fabric theater. The right tone on tone is what makes the focus fabric pop.

This brings us back to the four new Kona Bay and Seattle Bay tone on tone collections. Starring on the Kona Bay side are the Gingko Tonals. Due out in stores come August, the Gingko Tonal design takes advantage of the unique shape of the gingko leaf which will pair well with both Asian and non-Asian designs. The addition of metallic gold along the rim of the leaves offers a dramatic twist.

Seattle Bay has built a name and reputation for its user-friendly tone on tone groups. Quilters can count on finding just the right print and color. Look for the three new Seattle Bay groups in local quilt shops starting in September—Falling Leaves, Vine Tonals and Tulip Tonals.
Each of the Seattle Bay groups feature eighteen different colors each while the Gingko Tonals offer eleven. Visit our website to see all the new tone and tone collections and more!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

All I Could Say Was Wow!

In each issue of Asian Fabric, our magazine, we include a fun and inspiring section titled, “What I Did With My Kona Bay”. I never cease to be astounded by the photos of truly phenomenal projects our readers submit.

Last month, our editor forwarded an email submission from Magdalena Urbankova (pictured above) of Madison, New Jersey. She had lovingly transformed the Mount Fuji print from the Emperor Collection into a stunning shirt for her husband. It was fun to see our fabric used in a new way.

The seemingly endless vault of creativity we see stitched into artistic creations is heartwarming to say the least. Many quilts—large and small—along with bags, home dec items and an occasional wearable, are submitted. I never get tired of seeing ways our fabric can be used.

Last week, upon my return to the office from Hawaii, I was presented with a package. As I opened it, I saw our fabric. After unfolding the contents, I found a shirt—a shirt for me! Wow! Yes, I'm wearing it in the photo here. If I had a toothy grin, you'd be seeing it.

In staff correspondence with Magdalena, it was mentioned how neat it would be if I had a shirt like the one she had sewn and submitted for our What I Did With My Kona Bay section. Bless her heart, if Magdalena didn’t offer to make me one. I am touched and grateful for this very special gift. The craftsmanship and imaginative use of the scenic design is incredible. This will be special occasion wear.

You still have time to submit projects for the next issue. Send in a photo and a little information about you and your project. Email or submit via mail to: Eagle Publishing, KB Project, 328 E. Indiana Ave, Spokane, WA 99207.

Thank you again, Magdalena and thank you to all of you who support Kona Bay Fabrics and churn out the magnificent, inspired projects we see and the many we don’t. I admire you!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Nobu Fujiyama Art Collection Grows

Oh my! How time flies when you’re having fun. We’ve been operating out of the consolidated office/warehouse in Redmond for two months now and I’ve been to and fro to my home base in Honolulu several times. Hmmm, am I having fun yet?

The answer is a resounding—yes! Although some days have their challenges—for instance, the artwork that was once neatly organized in art drawers is now starring as the stack in the corner. Oh, and all those file folders, that used to live in the many file cabinets we sold in Honolulu, they were temporarily homeless. It’s not like moving down the street or even the next zip code. We’re talking nearly 3,000 miles of land and water!

But, just like the sunshine in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, the light of a well organized, place for everything office is breaking through. The staff, transplanted and native, are humming and making me proud. We've been busy doing what we do.

You’ll be excited to hear we’ve got a new 12 design program that’ll start rolling into your local stores before you know it. The Textile Pearls of Japan (you’re seeing a preview here!) will be available come November. Stores are putting their orders in now.

Two designs will be released once a month for six consecutive months and each design will be available in two rich Kona Bay colorways. Do I have you oohing and aahing yet? Well, let me point out that these stunning designs are additions to the Nobu Fujiyama art collection. Ah, yes, I’m hearing it now! In unison on three this time—1, 2, 3…

You’ll find your favorite Asian motifs incorporated into breathtaking designs that will add a dramatic focal point for your next project. The intricate, story rich art in previous Nobu designs is back once again.

I also wanted to mention the survey we have in the current issue (#16) of Asian Fabric magazine. They keep coming in every day. Have we received yours? Not only do you have a chance to be entered into a drawing for free fabric (I know those two words make your heart go pitter patter) but you help me know what you’d like to see in the future.

I’ve missed you! I have more news but I’ve taken up enough of your time today so I’ll visit with you next week. I’m back in the Redmond office and looking forward to exploring more of the Pacific Northwest this weekend.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Insider Scoop On International Quilt Market in Pittsburgh

The Kona Bay troops and I spent the past weekend at the semi-annual International Quilt Market. Held in Pittsburgh this time, it was a fun time to be had by all! If you’ve never attended, Quilt Market is the big daddy trade show of the quilting industry.

We always look forward to seeing customers, colleagues and old friends. In addition to our US customers and Representatives, our distributors from around the globe make the trek to see what’s new. Thank you mates for making the trip and for your business.

Once again, the Kona Bay tradition continued. We distributed the famous and sought after chocolate covered macadamia nuts hand carried by yours truly from the tropical paradise known as Hawaii. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think people flocked to the booth for the chocolates instead of me! Hmmm, chocolates or Doug…I won’t ask.

Issue #16 of Asian Fabric Magazine had come out just before Market. We had a beautiful display of quilts by Georgie Gerl, our quilt designer, on display in the booth. Customers were snapping up the fabric used in her stunning designs. Be sure to pick up a copy at your local quilt store. Be sure, also, to fill out the questionnaire and send it in for a chance to win fabric from Kona Bay!

My heart was going pitter patter seeing all the Kona Bay fabric used in projects and new books as I cruised the aisles. We’ll introduce you to two of new books from and FW Media in upcoming posts (make sure you subscribe—in the column to the right, so you don’t miss ‘em—it's free!)

Our group stayed at the Omni William Penn Hotel just a few blocks from the Convention Center and Market. Wow! The ultimate in luxury since 1916, the William Penn has been restored to its original grandeur and continues to live up to it’s long-standing reputation. It’s like stepping back in time to the gilded era.

I can hear all the foodies (and yes, I’m a member) singing in unison—Ah, yes, but what about the eats? First of all, we all took a vote and the room service pizza at the Omni was top rate. We also visited a Pittsburgh institution that had been featured on several TV shows we foodies dine vicariously on a regular basis. The Primanti Brothers serve up a whopping sandwich complete with French fries and coleslaw tucked between the bread walls. We visited the “original” restaurant. It was fun to indulge in more Pittsburgh history.

The Quilts, Inc folks always put on great show. They also orchestrate two very popular consumer shows—Chicago in the spring and Long Beach in the summer. They’re a must do for quilting enthusiasts and you can order tickets online for the Long Beach show, July 24-26.

Houston Quilt Market is early this year—October 10-12. That’s just around the corner in the fabric world. We’ll see you there!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Story of Butterfly Symbolism in Asia

Issue #16 of Asian Fabric magazine is at the printer. As I promised in a previous post, I wanted to give you some information on the symbolic meanings of the butterfly in Asia.

You’ll find instructions for the Chocho Quilt (pictured here) beginning on page 24 of Issue #16. It's always more fun if you have a story to tell with your quilt.

In Japanese culture, butterflies carry a great number of meanings. Their most apparent symbolism is that of metamorphosis or transformation; they are specifically representative of those who have died as they are thought to carry the recently departed spirits.

Butterflies also symbolize spring, and both the Chinese and Japanese generally view them as symbols of happiness and joy. They are a very popular motif in Japan, and a great number of traditional family crests (Kamon) utilize the butterfly in their designs. They’re also one of the most popular motifs in Kona Bay fabric designs.

Often associated with traditional Shinto weddings, butterflies are seen adorning the sake flasks and containers that play such a prominent role in the ceremony and are thought to symbolize happiness within marriage as well as womanhood. There is even an old Japanese custom of sending two large paper butterflies as a wedding gift.

One Japanese superstition says that if a butterfly enters your guestroom and perches behind a bamboo screen, the person whom you most love is coming to see you. Butterflies are also often seen as messengers, and in following them one will be lead to a mystery’s end.

Watch for issue #16 of Asian Fabric at your local quilt shop. Be sure to fill out the survey on page 11 and 12, too! Send in your completed survey and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win several prizes of Kona Bay fabrics. And, remember, I love seeing photos when our readers have made projects out of the magazine, even when you prepare the recipes! It's a fun issue—don't miss it!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Kona Bay Appearing Daily On Etsy

Every day, I spend time on the internet—posting tweets to our fast growing league of Twitter followers and reviewing the many amazing products people have created with fabrics from Kona Bay. Along with enjoying photos of projects I’m emailed, Etsy has become one of my favorite places to linger.

Since 100% cotton fabrics are the norm for quilts, it’s often the first use people think of when they think of Kona Bay. Although there are, no doubt, thousands of quilts created every year by quilters around the globe, perhaps just as many other creative projects are made. I have found hundreds of examples on Etsy.

Of course, you recently saw our nations’ first lady wearing a stylish designer dress made completely with Kona Bay Fabric. Did I mention how excited we were to see that photo pop up in national papers? The thought still makes me smile!

In case you have never heard of Etsy—it’s an online marketplace where you can buy and sell handmade items. There may be no other place online that exhibits such a phenomenal display of talent all at one site. Launched in 2005 and not even five years old, Etsy is a runaway success story.

The Etsy community boasts nearly 2 million members and growth doesn’t seem to be slowing. Each seller has their own shop where you can buy their products and learn more about them. It’s boutique shopper’s paradise! I’ve also heard that it’s a source of inspiration for many.
I wanted to share a few fun products I found today.

KOALACaddie has developed a unique craft apron for knitters and chrocheters. I think these clever aprons could be appreciated by handywomen (and men!) of all kinds.

Pink Sweetie offers pendants, magnets and hair adornments using fabric covered buttons. These delightful little gems are the perfect option the next time you need an affordable gift (it’s ok to give yourself a gift).

Sandra's Creations’ stylish bags will take you from the beach to the office and grocery shopping in between.

These are just a few examples of the creative ways folks are using Kona Bay. Visit Kona Bay to see what’s new and Etsy for inspiring ideas on how to use your stash so you can make room for new designs.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Quilting Their Way To A Better Tommorrow

These are challenging times for families from every corner of the country. Almost all of us know people who have been impacted by the downturn in our nations economy and the strife of war. And for many, the reality is hitting close to home.

Yet, every day, I see heartfelt examples of quilters stepping up to help to help their neighbors, communities and countries.
Oregon now has the 2nd highest unemployment ranking in the country but the Quilts from Caring Hands group, in Corvallis, Oregon, continues their important effort in the midst of it. Each year, the volunteer group sews about 400 quilts that are donated to local public service agencies. Up to 50 women participate.

A recent effort will benefit the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence. Women from the group worked with an elementary class at Franklin School. Students, ages 5 and 6 stitched colorful blocks and were able to experience first hand the satisfaction of helping another.

Across the country in Mascoutah, Illinois, Lillian Heberer (pictured here), age 99, was the star of the 30th Annual Quilt Show held at the St. John United Church of Christ in Muscoutah this past weekend. Mrs. Heberer quilts with her group, which she was very instrumental in keeping together, once a week.

Lillian has plenty fans since everybody that gets married in her circle of friends, gets one of her quilts. She generously shares her knowledge and the experience gained from a century of staying busy and having something to look forward to—the secrets to a long life, according to Mrs. Heberer.

The Quilt of Valor Foundation, headed up by Catherine Roberts, is moving towards comforting 22,000 service members and veterans from the War on Terror with a tactile reminder of a caring community. Their Mission is to cover all war wounded and injured (physically and/or psychologically) with Quilts of Valor (QOV).

The QOV Foundation is a well-organized national effort that directly supports the men and women who are keeping our country safe. They rely on people like you and I to continue their work.

As our country works to move past an unfortunate recession, I am proud to work in an industry that supports quilters. In my nearly twenty years in this business, I am constantly touched by the generosity and kindness I have seen and experienced from quilters across the country. Should you need a new pattern to work with, remember, you can always visit the Kona Bay Fabrics site to download a lovely free pattern. Thank you for all you do!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Kona Bay Makes International News!

Kona Bay Fabrics and our nations’ first lady, Michelle Obama, have made the news again. When I made my earlier post, The First Lady Wears Kona Bay, a couple months ago, we were so excited to see Ms. Obama in photos all over the internet and I many publications wearing a lovely and oh so stylish designer dress made with a Kona Bay Fabric design.

Apparently, they caught wind of it in Japan, too. Earlier this month I received an email from one of our artists. As the proud creator of the featured fabric, EMPE-23 Black, from our Emperor’s Collection, he was anxious to share news of Kona Bay’s recognition in Japan.

The artists who worked on this design are trained in the kyo-yuzen method. EMPE-23 features pines and wisteria, two very common kyo-yuzen motifs. The herons were added as an accent. Rich colors are used in kyo-yuzen designs that typically feature picturesque scenes akin to life in Japan.

The yuzen dyeing method was introduced to Japan in the 8th century in Kyoto. Kyo-yuzen dyeing is traditionally used for kimonos and haori (short coats). The method is still practiced in the Kyoto region of Japan and was officially designated as a traditional craft in 1976. Kona Bay is fortunate to work with some of the finest artists who still practice the art.

We appreciate the good taste of our lovely First Lady and want to again thank her for choosing a Kona Bay fabric. Kona Bay Fabrics EMPE-23 is still available. Be sure to visit the Kona Bay Fabric website to see what’s new and many designs created in the kyo-yuzen method!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

We’re In Our New Offices!

We’re nearing the end of the first week settling in to our newly consolidated office and warehouse in Redmond, Washington.

It’s been a busy week. Fifteen pallets arrived from Honolulu this week. Can you picture it!? Additional phone lines are in and the light bulbs have been changed in the offices that have sat empty for years waiting for our arrival. It’s good to have all the staff in one location—Kona Bay Fabrics is humming!

I’ve always traveled back and forth between Honolulu and Redmond and love the cool weather of the Pacific Northwest. The staff, though, is facing a little bit of an adjustment. It’s been a rainy and cool this week and I’m seeing warm boots and coats I’ve never laid eyes on before. Kristina’s little dog, Tiffany, even got a stylin’ new sweater for her Northwest outings.

I’m excited about all the new ideas and events we’ll be able to craft now that we’re here. We’ve been celebrating the move by making over 100 different six yard bolts available to quilt shops. This translates into more variety. It’s also translates into a quick sale through so quilters should get into their local shops and strike while the iron is hot! Visit our website and take a look at the four pages of six yard bolts available.

Don’t forget to make the change in your address books:

Kona Bay Fabrics, 15036 NE 95th Street Suite A, Redmond, WA 98052

We also have a new fax number: 1-425-867-3054. The phone 1-800-531-7913 remains the same.

I’ll tell you one thing…my coffee sure tastes good while I watch it rain outside. I’d love your comments about the “must do’s “ for the Pacific Northwest. We're all looking forward to exploring more.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Partner With Technology And Increase Your Fabric Sales

Where do quilt shop customers come from? If you own one and you’re not asking yourself that question on a regular basis, you might be missing out.

The internet has changed the way business and customers play the retail game. Once upon a time, it might have been enough to have a shop newsletter printed up once month or quarter. Your customers would sign up for your mailing list or maybe just pick it up when they came in to buy fabric.

The shop newsletter was a good way, and still is, to communicate with your customer. Today, though, many of your customers spend hours online. Are they spending some of that time with you?

Let’s look at a few of the key tools successful shops are using:

Many people have abandoned their phone books in lieu of the internet. If they need a service, they use their favorite search engine to find it. Will they find you? No longer is your customers’ first impression always when they walk through the door. It might be online!

Kona Bay Fabrics has worked hard to build a useful site for our customers and quilters around the globe.

Ecommerce Quilters today are busy with families, jobs, activities and the home. More and more, they’re turning to internet stores to save time. If you have a brick and mortar store, you’re halfways there. If you’re not selling your goods online, it’s a good time to start. Kona Bay, aware of how busy shop owners are, was the first to offer online ordering for our wholesale customers.

Blogs Some folks still think of the early personal journals that made up many of the blogs found online. Today, businesses are using the blog format to communicate with their customers and build an interactive community. A blog allows you a way to stay in touch with your customers on a regular basis using a very cost effective format. The Kona Bay blog you’re reading prompts a lot of feedback.

Twitter This hot, relatively new, social networking and micro-blogging tool is taking the web by storm. Each 140 character post reaches out to your followers. This fun new tool can be a quick and easy way to promote your store and it’s specials. Follow me on Twitter and let me show you the way grasshopper!

Exceptional customer service has always been our goal at Kona Bay Fabrics. Making sure you can be reached via email is a simple step in the right direction. Some people are simply more comfortable with email than phone calls. Make it easy for them by providing easy access to a frequently checked email. A little secret…It’ll save you time, too! You can always reach Kona Bay by email and expect a quick response—

The flipside of this is to make sure you are always building your email list. There is no easier way to communicate with your customer. Send out your newsletter (there are many easy to use templates and services to help) or notifications of upcoming classes. Maybe you have a big sale coming up—remind them, I guarantee your customers want to know about it!

There are more online tools! But master these and you’ll be well on your way to selling fabric with technology on your side. Let me know some of the tools you’re company is using. I always love hearing from you—!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Asian Fabric Magazine—A Peek Inside

As the next issue of Asian Fabric magazine comes together, I thought I’d give you an insider glimpse of the great things to come. Your feedback on the magazine has always been very positive and inspirational.

To celebrate the rebirth of spring and new additions to families around the globe, we’ll be featuring a beautiful grouping for the nursery. Two quilts, the Akachan and Sakana, one suitable for a girl and one for a boy, will add fascinating color and depth to your child’s room.

The creative quilts are suitable for lap quilts, as the child grows older. They’re also guaranteed to be the stand out gift at the next baby shower on your calendar. An accompanying baby bag and accessories will round out the package and have everyone cooing over your creations.

Butterflies are an ever popular Motif so Georgie Gerl, our favorite quilt designer, has also designed the stunning Chocho (butterfly) Quilt. This appliqué project will delight you and brighten your room as colorful butterflies do your blooming garden. Plus, find out about what the butterfly symbolizes in Asia and give your quilt a special story.

Travel with me as we take our first magazine visit to the fascinating country of Thailand and its capital city Bangkok. Carrying on the theme, we’ll feast on easy and delicious Thai recipes you can make and enjoy through a summer of fun.

Look for Asian Fabric Issue #16, filled with these great patterns and more, in your local quilt shops at the end of May. You can also subscribe now so you don’t miss a single issue. And, as always, I invite you to visit and find our what’s new at Kona Bay Fabrics.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Tribute to Punkee Da Cat

In my Honolulu office, I had many pictures on my wall and they had to be removed in preparing to consolidate our offices in Redmond, Washington by the end of the month. A large number of those special pictures are of my cat, my friend and one of the sweetest kitties ever…Punkee.

In January, after fifteen great and wonderful years, Punkee passed away.

I have had a kaboodle of cats and kittens in my life since I was a child. In 1994, when my daughter Brittany was 5 years old, we went in search of her first kitten. Little Punkee was a resident at the local animal shelter when we found him. After we sat down in the kitten petting room at the shelter, it didn’t take long to know Punkee would be coming home with us.

He was bright and affectionate, with a sweet disposition. He was quick to stand up and say, “I’m the one! Take me! Take me!”.

We named him Pumpkin but his cuteness had us calling him Punkee soon after. He quickly had us all trained as his humble servants. In return, he lit up the house with his playfulness and love. As he and Brittany grew up together, they were best friends. The hat photo here was from one of their many “let’s dress up Punkee” parties.

Everyone thinks their cat is special, but Punkee truly was a cat that everyone who met him commented in how super friendly and mellow he was. He loved to be pampered by family, friends and strangers alike.

I have hundreds of wonderful memories of Punkee. He loved the TV remote control, using it for his pillow while sleeping and he enjoyed the little “nubs” during the daily kitty massage he counted on receiving when his daddy got home from work.

Losing Punkee was a big change for my family and I. We take comfort in knowing the challenges of aging and poor health no longer cloud his days and in our hearts know change can make us feel glad and sad all at once. How fortunate we were to share fifteen wonderful years with a kitty of a lifetime!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pittsburgh—Here We Come!

Twice a year Kona Bay Fabrics attends International Quilt Market—the big daddy of quilting trade shows. Spring Quilt Market this year will be May 15-17 in Pittsburgh. Each spring show goes through a cross-country rotation and Fall Market is always held in Houston.

Quilt Market is a wholesale only show. This is where the folks from local quilt shops go to see all the great fabric designs, products and patterns that end up in their stores. They can also attend classes to learn new techniques they can share with customers. Kona Bay loves the shows as it gives us a chance to see and visit with our customers up close and personal.

Kona Bay Fabrics has been attending Market since 1991. I’m looking forward to venturing back to Pittsburgh. It’s an easy to navigate city with a great convention center. I’ve already mapped out some of the local good eats I want to try; fabric and good food—what more do we need!?

Although consumers can’t attend Quilt Market, Quilts, Inc, who put it on also host three consumer shows. The next will be this summer in Long Beach, California July 24-25. The company has held Houston and Chicago show for a number of years. The Long Beach show was their first west coast venue. Read more about the show at Quilts, Inc. I wasn't able to attend but I heard it was lots of fun for all who did.

I’ll see you in Pittsburgh!

Monday, March 9, 2009

We're Expanding!

Come April 1, Kona Bay Fabrics will move our Honolulu offices and consolidate all our administrative and shipping operations in our Redmond, Washington location. We are excited about the fun, new opportunities this will allow us.

Hawaii has been my home since 1974. Starting Kona Bay Fabrics kept me busy growing a business and a family in a place many (myself included!) call paradise. It didn’t take me long to realize, though, that shipping our fabric from the printers in Japan to our warehouse in Honolulu and then on to our customers on the mainland was not the best business strategy. Since 1993, we have had our warehouse on the mainland. However, the bulk of our administrative operations remained in Honolulu along with my family and myself.

Now, the company is all grown up (along with my lovely daughter who attends UCLA) and we’re ready to expand. Kristina, our VP, is thrilled about the new adventure. She and her husband visited Washington last week and started setting up their new home in Kirkland. And yes, they were even excited about the snow!

I’ll maintain my home in Honolulu (the kitties at the golf course depend on my regular visits for their feedings) and make trips back and forth as I always have. But, my office will be right there at the top of the stairs in our new Redmond office. This move will more easily allow us to expand and streamline our operations. We have some fun ideas and look forward to being physically closer to our customers.

I have always loved the Pacific Northwest—the weather, the scenery, the activities and the people. I even took up kayaking last year and started my own oyster farm! As I sit here in the Redmond office today, I’m watching it snow, drinking a cup of Starbucks and smiling at the thought of a future so bright I’ll need to remember to pack my shades.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

We’re Leaping Forward With New Releases

With daylight savings coming this weekend our thoughts turn toward getting back out in the garden and working with our favorite plants. Here at Kona Bay Fabrics, I’m thinking about the fruits of summer, too. Our tone-on-tone fabrics have long been popular staples of a quilters’ stash and I’d like to introduce two new designs we’ll release soon.

In May, look for eighteen colorways of our new Autumn Tonals from Seattle Bay. These beautiful five pointed leaves with their subtle shading transform as they appear to fall from the tree. The design offers a feeling of depth and drama that will accent a variety of projects. This fabric will be equally at home as a supporting character in a quilt or the focal point of your new “green” home décor.

In June, Kona Bay brings you eighteen colorways of the striking new Mum Tonals. The elegant yet stylish interpretation of the Japanese mum is sure to brighten your day and any project it’s paired with. The distinctive lines and contrasting tones will bring a level of sophistication to your next sewing adventure. I can see it as a fun summer bag or a flirty warm weather sundress—hey, maybe even a stylin’ shirt for me! And, of course, imagine the possibilities as a coordinate in the Asian quilt you have in the works.

So turn back those clocks on Sunday and use the extra daylight to plan a project with these fun, new tone-on-tones!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Happy Girl’s Day —“Hina Matsuri”

Today in Japan, families will celebrate their daughters with Hina-Matsuri (a doll festival). Girl’s Day is focused on girls’ happiness and health. The ceremonial hina-Ningyo dolls represent the Emperor, Empress and their court. There are usually at least 15 dolls in a full set. Although many sets are very elaborate and showy, small versions have become attractive to those with smaller homes and apartments.

Hina-Matsuri is celebrated at home. A couple weeks before March 3, the dolls, which have been stored throughout the year, are set out in a special tiered display with a red base to honor the daughters in the home. The dolls, all clothed in rich representations of royal attire, are arranged by status with the Emperor and Empress on the top tier. Small items that represent food, furniture, peach blossoms and other items are also displayed.

Hina-Matsuri is also referred to as Momo-no-Sekku, which means Peach Festival. This is the time when winter moves to spring in Japan and the peach trees are in blossom. The peach blossom symbolizes a happy marriage in Japanese culture; a union parents also hope will be in the daughters’ futures.

The custom was established in Japan during the Edo period (1603-1867). Along with prayers and the wish that young girls will have health and happiness, a special family meal is usually part of the celebration. Mochi (sweet rice cakes), sushi and shirozake (non-alcoholic sake) are often served.

From Kona Bay Fabrics and me, I wish all girls a happy Hina-Matsuri!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Looking for Fame, Fortune and Free Fabric?

You’ve come to the right place! As you know (and if you don’t, you should!) Kona Bay Fabrics publishes a terrific magazine call Asian Fabric. The magazine is available at your local quilt store or by subscription. Now moving into our fourth year, Asian Fabric continues to be met with enthusiasm around the globe. It’s filled with creative and stunning ways to transform your Asian fabric into projects large and small complete with thoughtfully written patterns.

Now, here’s the “did you know”—We have a very special, perhaps the most dear to my heart, department in the magazine called, “What I did with my Kona Bay”. Here, we invite quilters just like you to submit a photo of yourself and one (or more!) of your projects that took of advantage of your Kona Bay stash. We also ask you to send a brief descriptive paragraph and where you’re from.

Every issue, we review the projects submitted and then we select the ones that will be in  the magazine.  When we feature your project, you can know readers around the world will enjoy and be inspired by you. Instant fame. As our way of saying thank you, we’ll send you three yards of beautiful Kona Bay fabric. Free fabric and money in your pocket because of it equals fortune.

Who knew it could be so easy. You can email your photo and information to our editor at: Mail your submission to: Eagle Publishing, What I did with my Kona Bay, 328 E. Indiana Ave, Spokane, WA 99207.

The exquisite quilt shown here and included in Issue #15 is by Sandra Ellis of Edmonton, Alberta. Thank you Sandra and all of you who have submitted projects over the years. I can’t wait to see the next round!

Monday, February 23, 2009

How Do You Know When Your Business Has Made It?

I recently heard exciting news from one of our longarm quilting friends and customers. Marybeth O’Halloran, who owns and operates White Lotus Quilting, that she bestowed an honor on Kona Bay Fabrics so great it made my heart skip a beat.Since I can’t say it any better, here’s what Marybeth wrote…

”Kona Bay (the dog) is a 5-month-old Sheltie tri-color. We had other names planned for her but when she arrived we found her to have a much stronger personality than we’d expected so she needed something as rich dark and deep as her coat color for a name. Kona Bay became the obvious choice”.

She continued with, “Your fabrics have a distinctive attitude and personality which I am quite naturally drawn to. They suggest an aura of repose and relaxation, of awe at the natural beauty around us which sometimes goes unnoticed. Thanks for setting such a high standard in Asian-inspired design on fabric”.

Days later and my heart is still going pitter-patter over such a touching account of what Kona Bay fabrics meant to Marybeth. I absolutely love hearing stories like these. For those of you who didn’t know, you can follow me on Twitter @konabayfabrics. It's easy to sign up and get twittering. I’m always on the lookout for fun projects using Kona Bay and to hear your thoughts and ideas.

The moral of the story—You know you’ve made it when someone names their dog after you. Thanks, Marybeth!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

How Kona Bay Fabrics Began—The Story

People often wonder how Kona Bay Fabrics came to be. It’s an interesting story (I’m biased—but it really is!). So grab your coffee and I’ll tell you the story.

My career managing political campaigns brought me to Hawaii in 1974 right after college. The food, the weather and yes, the beautiful women (did I say women—I meant scenery—I was young) of Hawaii kept me here.

After I found myself with a beautiful young family, I was ready for something new. Kona coffee was a hot commodity, so I started Kona Bay Coffee Estates. I had made the transition to business owner and I liked it.

Textiles were a recurring topic during Japan trips I was making on behalf of the coffee business. I knew little about textiles. In 1991, that changed.

An invitation from a Japanese trading company I was regularly doing business with to attend a textile trade show on the west coast sounded like a fun outing to the mainland. Trading companies are brokers who deal in many different products. This company wanted to investigate textiles in the US.

I was astounded. At food trade shows people sample your coffee and take their thoughts back home with them. At the textile show, people were lined up waiting to place their order. Hmmm, I was balancing the options in my mind—A business where you get an instant order or one where you wait for orders. You can guess where the scale tipped. The trading company offered to provide me with bolts of fabric—cotton sateen’s with oriental designs so I could test the waters.

That fall I bought a booth at the annual quilt market show in Houston. People like Mary Ellen Hopkins, the famous quilter we all love, saw my tiny booth and our gorgeous fabrics and dragged hundreds of quilters to my booth to see our designs. My Asian fabric business took hold. I felt like I had been swimming in this pool all my life and the water felt wonderful. Kona Bay Fabrics was born.

Now, seventeen years later, I am just as enthusiastic and excited as ever. I am still fascinated by the artistic talent and appreciate the dedication that quilters show for their craft.

I have made many life long friends as a result of Kona Bay Fabrics and I’m grateful to be a part of the quilting and fabric community.

Thanks for letting me be your Textile Samurai!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Twelve Art Treasures of Japan Collection 75% Sold Out!

In just a few short weeks since our sales reps were given the color sheets for the new Twelve Art Treasures of Japan, this great collection is 75% sold out. We expect a complete sell out to our quilt shop customers in very short order. Stores should call soon to make sure they'll have this lovely collection available for their customers.

The Twelve Art Treasures of Japan Collection continues the Kona Bay Fabrics tradition of exquisite Japanese art on fabric.

The first design will be available in stores this coming June. Each of the twelve monthly designs will be available in two colorways. A bonus fabric which features twelve different designs in a lattice circular pattern will be in stores come June, as well.

Traditional Japanese design elements such as koi, cranes and the Japanese mum are featured in the striking designs. Known for the artistic use of gold metallic in their designs, Kona Bay Fabrics has again made dramatic use of gold outline techniques in the Twelve Art Treasures of Japan Collection.

We encourage stores that have not yet reserved this collection to do so soon! The beautiful designs are sure to be a popular focal point for many quilting projects. As always, we love seeing the many creative projects using Kona Bay fabrics.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Life of Fabric at Kona Bay Fabrics

Have you ever wondered how that beautiful Asian fabric from Kona Bay you see in your favorite quilt shop got there?

The first step involves transforming idea into art. Several times a year, I board a flight to Japan to meet with our artists. The visits are two-fold—to review art created as a result of previous visits and to discuss ideas for future designs. I’ve devoted thousands of hours over the years to researching Japanese culture, traditions and art with a goal creating traditional fabric designs for your quilting projects.

The process for printing fabric is similar to printing on paper. Two methods are used—roller and screen printing. The majority of the Kona Bay fabrics you’ve come to love use the screen printing process. This allows us to produce the intricate designs and moiré shading that accent your quilting projects so well. A separate printing screen is created for each individual color and the popular gold metallic accents.

The printed fabric is shipped to the Kona Bay warehouse on 120 yard rolls. At the Kona Bay warehouse, the fabric masters use special folding machines to turn the rolls into the 15 yard bolds that are shipped to your local quilt shop.

The last part of the process is my favorite—seeing Kona Bay fabric transformed into projects just like yours! We love seeing your projects and sharing them with the readers of our magazine, Asian Fabric. Send an email to for instructions on submitting your project. If your project is included in the What I Did With My Kona Bay section, we’ll send you three yards of fabric for free!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Asian Fabric Issue 15 Available Now!

Kona Bay Fabrics
latest issue of Asian Fabric is available in your local quilt shop. As always, you'll find terrific projects to make for yourself or someone you love. Who wouldn't love to receive a handmade quilt by you for Valentine's Day.

Give some consideration to the Kibo Quilt on page 48 and pictured here. This project will not only be a beautiful addition to a loved ones home but an inspiration for the year to come. The featured Daruma doll figure is a wishing doll. One eye is filled in when a wish made. When the wish comes true, the other eye is filled. On page 55 there is even a short story and description about this long-standing Japanese tradition that you can include with your gift.

In addition to this and many other beautiful projects by our very own Georgie Gerl, you'll be able to take an armchair tour of Seoul, Korea. You can also plan a delicious but easy Korean meal with the three recipes included on page 45.

Our guest contributors, Tracey Brookshier and Marlous Carter, have provided us with two projects. Tracey's Ushikake (wedding kimono) quilt and the Gateway and Kaimono Totes by Marlous are guaranteed to delight you.

I also encourage you to glean ideas from the lovely projects by those who send in photos for our What I Did With My Kona Bay department. Have you done a fun project you'd like us to feature? Email a photo, short description and your name, address and contact info to No email—mail it to Eagle Publishing, 328 E. Indiana Ave, Spokane, WA 99207. If your project is chosen, we'll send you 3 yards of beautiful Kona Bay fabric for free.

And, if you have idea of the types of projects and patterns you'd like to see, I always love hearing from you. Email me at

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Concrete Revolution in Beijing China

The face of Beijing, China has changed drastically over the years with the pace picking up momentum in the last few. Some refer to it as renewal and modernization, usually a positive connotation.

The big question many are asking is what is being sacrificed in China’s effort to build a new modern city. Old Beijing was originally built around the royal palace—the Forbidden City. A hutong is an ancient city alley or lane dating back as early as the 1200s. The surrounding buildings, which created the need for and design of these passageways, were and in some cases still are peoples’ homes.

Large areas of hutong are being demolished to make way for modern streets, commercials buildings and high-rise living quarters for the ever-growing population in China. Preservationists believe the trade-off—a rich living history—is too great. In many cases, as it is around the world, the homeowners feel they are not being fairly compensated for the loss of their homes.

A recent article in the New York Times speaks of one mans’ efforts to salvage historically significant pieces from the rubble of demolished remains.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment here or follow me at my new twitter presence

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The First Lady Wears Kona Bay

As I sit at my desk looking at the Newsday website. I’m looking at the photo. Could it be? I think…yes. Yes, yes. It is!

Michelle Obama, the First Lady, is wearing a Kona Bay fabric design from the Emperor’s Collection at the National Prayer Service. Wow! 

The featured fabric from our Emperor’s Collection, EMPE-23 Black, is available at many local quilt stores and online. Quilt shops should also know we still have some available for order. By the way, the First Lady looked stunning. Check out this and the latest from Kona Bay Fabrics at

Monday, January 26, 2009

Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival 2009

Although I wasn’t able to attend the Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival 2009, I’ve heard good reports. The show ran from Friday, January 16 to Saturday, January 24.

Held at the Tokyo Dome, the show is always a sight to see. It is huge and perhaps one of the largest gathering of quilters anywhere! It’s billed as a —Fabric, Needles and Thread Exhibition—an understatement to say the least. Along with the many rows of filled to the brim booths for craft loving attendees, a quilt display of extraordinary proportions is available for viewing.

Anxious to see quilts since I could not be there, I found a wonderful collection posted by a quilter living in Tokyo, Japan who was able to attend. She has 178 photos posted on flickr for your viewing pleasure. Thank you movinghands’ for providing this wonderful tour.
The show captures the essence of quilters’ enthusiasm and creativity. The quilts represent the works of renowned quilters from around the world. You can read more about the exhibits and who was involved by clicking here.

This is historically a popular well attended show. If you’re thinking about attending in 2010, plan early. Maybe I’ll see you there! In the meantime, check out some of the new favorites at

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Kona Bay Releases 12 Art Treasures from Japan Collection

Kona Bay Fabrics is about to release to its quilt shops the images and information concerning its next monthly collection.

This new group is entitled 12 Art Treasures from Japan consisting of one beautiful design each month. Every month for twelve months Kona Bay Fabrics will have a stunning new design for quilters to work with.

Look for the 12 designs to be posted on Kona Bay's website very soon. Our web address is

Kona Bay strongly encourages individuals to purchase fabric from their local independent quilt shop as we believe these shop owners are the heart and soul of the industry and Kona Bay does not sell to chain stores.

Please contact your local quilt shop to encourage them to enroll in the Kona Bay 12 Art Treasures from Japan monthly program.