Friday, October 24, 2014

Plumeria and Daisies: A Tribute to Vai

I saved this quilt finish and gift presentation for 5 days, because I am entering the quilt in the Blogger's Quilt Festival, which starts today.

"Plumeria and Daisies" or "You are in Our Hearts"

Quilt stats:

Plumeria appliqué by
The rest of the quilt designed by me, Rachell Reilly

Superior King Tut: Mint Julep 1023, Malachite 989, Alabaster 997
Masterpiece 131 pale green for piecing
Connecting Threads Essential Cotton 21119 Hyacinth purple
Purple Batik, Teal Batik,
Background: Legacy Cotton Solid "Curaçao" (aqua-green)
Kona Cotton: Cypress (medium aqua green) for backing and hanging sleeve
Purple blender from Cranston Village for backing and binding.

I finished this quilt last Saturday, and my neighbor Kira embroidered the label on her Bernina machine on Sunday afternoon. I literally drove straight from her house to the hospital to present the quilt to sweet Vai Malungahu and her parents, my cousin Jessica and her husband Taylor Malungahu. I sat down and sewed the label to the quilt as I spoke with her parents; then her dad, mom and I all tucked Vai into the quilt. She is mostly sedated to control the pain. Vai has been in the hospital for two weeks, for uncontrollable vomiting and pain. Her heart has just been weakening so fast. We all feel blessed that she was strong and courageous for four months longer than the doctors all thought she would. Taylor, her tall Tongan dad, silently cried as he opened the quilt from the gift bag and gave me a big bear hug. That was seriously the best thanks.

(Photos taken Sunday, October 19, 2014)

As I'm writing this post, I learned that Vai passed away this morning, Friday, October 24, 2014. She was just 20 years old.
We are all saddened, but grateful for a loving Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, who provided a way for families to be sealed together in the temple for time and eternity; so we know we will see her again.

If you haven't been following me lately, here is her story.
She received a heart transplant when she was 9. Soon after, she was adopted by her cousin Taylor and his wife, Jessica, who is my cousin. Vai has struggled this past year with heart valve replacement, received a pacemaker, and been admitted several times. After some serious pain in June, the doctors diagnosed her with heart failure specific to transplant patients, and gave her 6 weeks to live. In July, Vai and her family were able to fly to visit her family in Tonga and New Zealand for the first and last time since Vai came to the United States.

I chose the Hawaiian-style appliqué because Vai is Tongan. I used batiks because it would go so well with her island heritage. She loves Plumeria flowers, and purple and green. I quilted daisies in the borders, because daisies are also her favorite flower. I used one appliqué for the medallion center, and cut another appliqué into four pieces to appliqué in the triangles for a square-in-square effect. (I didn't have time to appliqué a large quilt, and my tendinitis wrists would probably complain too.)

I feel so blessed, every step of the way, in this quilt journey. Barbara Bieraugel gifted me her Plumeria pattern when I commented on her blog, telling her Vai's story. She has been such a great teacher and support to me, with all my questions, and my first experience with needle-turn Hawaiian appliqué.

I had the purple batik in my stash, waiting for something special. I found the perfect aqua solid to match the aqua in the butterfly print in the batik. Kim's Fabric Outlet had a Thrifty Thursday on her Facebook page, and I found the beautiful teal batik, and the green-aqua daisy-swirl batik for the backing. (I found the purple batik at Fabric Outlet too, last year!)
I found color cards at Superior Threads booth at HMQS, so it was easy to match thread to the quilt. I ordered the King Tut thread from, and Tracy the owner was able to mail them to me in less than 3 days...New Mexico to Utah!  I used the entire spool of Mint Julep for all the echo quilting, using the last bit to sew on the label. I seriously felt like the widow with the last bit of flour, being blessed by Heavenly Father to last and have just enough to finish.
I'm grateful for my neighbor Kira for the quilt label.

I just can't get enough of this quilt. Maybe I took a ton of photos, but it has seriously turned out so beautiful.

Hopefully, this quilt will provide cuddle comfort in Vai's memory for her parents and younger siblings.


  1. Sorry for your loss. She must have touched many. Your quilt is beautiful. I thought of the islands even before I read your story. Your quilt is beautiful and such a loving gift. I hope it will give her family some comfort. You put a lot of thought into everything for her family to remember things about her. Visiting from the Blogger Fest.

  2. Oh I'm so, so sorry for her passing. I know that she will truly be missed by all those that love her but your gorgeous will continue to be a source of love and comfort to them each and every day.

  3. Your quilt is beautiful, and full of kindness. This is a great gift, and a very sad story. But I think Hawaiian or Tahitian quilt are made to have a strong story attached to them.

  4. What a beautiful quilt to remember someone special. A gift of comfort and love.