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 moirĂ© 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