Monday, 17 December 2012

The Bikini Project - Part 2

(Excerpt from my one and only journal entry dated 30.08.2011...cont. from here)

I guess I better start at the beginning.

Last evening, I got a severe case of Houseclearosis. Thats when you suddenly decide that you've had enough of living in a pigsty and launch into a clean-and-clear frenzy. The Husband joins in after getting a lecture on how everybody's lives would be much easier if things were just put back where they were supposed to be. Nah, not once in a while, but every day. Yes, like every single darn day. Its an entirely different matter that his idea of cleaning house is restricted to his own wardrobe. ONLY. The kids, of course, LIKE living in a pigsty.

So there I was, sorting though stuff, trying to decide what to keep and what to chuck. Houseclearosis requires a certain steeling of the heart. You gotta mercilessly discard stuff. Especially stuff thats not been used in the last two years. Or ten. There is no place for emotions, no sir. If you falter, you fail. No place for second thoughts either. Nope. Once in the out-bin, always in the out-bin. Ah, but then 9 year olds don't understand that. They tend to rescue Barbie dolls and colourful horses with long, silky manes, and other assorted weird looking stuff from the out-bin. It is one thing to steel your heart and discard stuff, but its quite another to grab a rescued toy from your 9 year old and dump it back in the out-bin. I'm afraid I'm not that steeled up. Yet.

Long story short, I packed the Barbie kitchen, bathroom, drawing-room, pet-parlour, salon, fast-food joint, Cinderalla carriage and plenty others into cartons meant to be passed on and delight other kids. We are strong believers in the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle funda, you see. Well, somewhat strong. Once done with the toys, I moved on to the books. Rearranging and re-stacking them. Everybody, yes everybody, knows that its a very very bad idea to open books that you are supposed to be rearranging. But then, everybody is also prone to occasional lapses of judgement once in a while. I had one of those just then, those li'l lapses of judgement and I opened a book. And then another. And yet another. Again, long story short, I spent a good part of the afternoon drooling over the glossy pictures in my recently-acquired books from my neighbourhood bookstore 'Odyssey'. Odyssey had recently had a 70% off sale and I had picked up these absolutely yummy books that I was leafing though right then - The Soup Bible, The Ice-Cream Book, Greek Cuisine, 70 First Courses, Thai Cooking for Indian Kitchens, Fabulous Cakes, One Pot Dishes... No, no, don't get me wrong, I do NOT enjoy cooking. Nor am I a major foodie. But honestly, who can resist exotic, lavish and droolicious looking pics of food? More importantly, who can resist the 70% off tags?!

And while I was in the middle of this food-glossies-induced-stupor, I noticed an unfamiliar li'l book buried deep in the clutter. I pulled it out and repeated the cardinal sin of opening it. 'twas a smallish book, glossy paper, attractive pics, uncomplicated sentences, and a great plan. A great 4-week plan to become what it called 'Bikini-Fit' ! But what caught my attention most was the cover picture. It was a picture of the back of a woman's torso in an itsy-bitsy bikini. A back like my own, I caught myself thinking. "Oh, I look like that too. From behind." Ahem ! I admit to some stretching-of-the-imagination, but that aside, I MAYBE would look like that cover pic lady from the back. But there was no freakin way I'd have worn a bikini or turned around, what with all that loose, jiggly, overflowing, overhanging bits of me in the front, and worse, stretchmarks. From the East to the West. All the way.

Oh boy! Whom was I kidding? I looked like the map of India even from behind.

And then I remember thinking, nay, wishing that I, me, moi, could be bikini-fit.

And then I thought, why not?

Why not??

And the minute I thought  that, a buzz ran through the soon-to-be-bikini-fit body of mine. Something had happened! Something had definitely happened in that moment ! I had found purpose ! I was so going to be bikini-fit and I was going to be bikini-fit by my 40th birthday. I was going to wear a bikini. (I have never worn one before) Hell, I was going to wear an itsy-bitsy bikini on my 40th birthday AND I WAS GOING TO LOOK FRIGGIN GOOD IN IT !

(Here ended my first and last journal entry of my life thus far)

Post script: Though I had planned on keeping a journal for the entire duration of the 'Bikini Project', I, sadly, aborted it after the first entry. However, I got myself a support group comprising of my very dear friends Uma and Sabine who were my guardian angels and my safety nets. In the following months, I watched my food, exercised a bit, pampered my skin, shopped for a bikini and bullied my husband into taking me to Goa for my 40th birthday. En route to an almost-bikini-fit body I learnt a lot about myself. I also learnt to love my body as it is, make friends with it and feel comfortable in it. I had a rollicking time on the beach and I think my husband enjoyed the show too. My heartfelt gratitude to my buddies Uma and Sabine for being there for me regardless of how many ever times I made an ass(!) of myself. I feel blessed. Hugs.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

The Bikini Project - Part 1

(Excerpt from my one and only journal entry dated 30.08.2011)

Quick, quick, I need a notebook. And I need it quick.. before the idea, quicksilverlike, slips from my head. No, I think its the enthusiasm though thats more quicksilverlike, difficult to hold on to. So yeah, I need a notebook BEFORE I lose track of this latest brainwave of mine and along with it, my newly found enthusiasm. Quickly.

I manage to lay my hands on Jos' old, half-used (half-empty?) Math notebook from Class 7. This will have to do. I have decided to write a journal and this will be my precious journal..where my thoughts will manifest into words, where I shall find the strength and the hope to stick with my project, and where I shall bury my face on the days the going gets too hard, for I know it shall be hard and I am not entirely sure I can do it. For I (tapping spoon on glass), have embarked on the highly ambitious  (drum roll..) 'Bikini Project' ! 'Ambitious' seems like a good adjective. A worthy adjective for a worthy project, though a lot of other wannabe adjectives also come to mind. Like foolish, stupid, impossible, unnecessary, medically unsafe, violates-the-laws-of-physics, etc.

Of course I would've like a nice looking notebook for my journal instead of this tired looking excuse for one. In fact, when the whole idea of keeping a journal was still on the fringes of my thoughts, thats what the accompanying pic in my head looked like - a beautiful hard-bound notebook with smooth, creamy sheets smelling delightfully of fresh paper and faint perfume, with a whole page for the index, and the cover a lovely blue-green.. ..of the sky and the sea, and peacock feathers and butterflies, and memories. But then who keeps notebooks like these at home, lying around waiting patiently in a drawer for its day to come? Since my urgency in starting the journal was absolutely absolute, I settle for the Math notebook. Well, half a notebook, in any case. In fact, I think the purpose of this notebook was verily that. It was half-filled with struggles of my my li'l Jos and its blank pages were waiting for the struggles of her mom. Everything has a purpose, you know. And being witness to OUR struggles was this notebook's purpose of existence..a purpose I shall be glad to be of assistance to fulfill. Just as I hope it'll be able to help fulfill mine.

Well then, we have a notebook, a germ of an idea and a name for it. 'The Bikini Project'. Hmm..I like it. I think. The title, I definitely like. The project..well yes, that too. I think. Not sure if the idea is that great though. I mean, it seemed brilliant last night, when I'd hit upon the idea. 20 hours later it seems to have lost some of its brilliance. A lot, actually.

(To be cont..)

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Milky Way

Here's another quilt for another aunt, quilted sometime ago but the documenting left for another day. Today. Calling it 'Milky Way'. Looks apt, no?

'twas my first try with curved seams.


For those of you who asked for a tute, see if this helps:

Step1 - Choose 2 coordinating/contrasting/absurd main fabrics. Prints/solids/whatevers. Add a couple more for borders if you like.

Step 2 - Lay the main fabrics (A & B) right side together and pin baste to avoid shifting. 

Step 3 - Mark 4 dots at irregular distances on the top edge and identical ones on the bottom edge. Draw smooth waves connecting the corresponding dots the across the length of the paired fabrics and gently cut along the lines. (I did 4 such cuts, giving me 5 sections of wavy strips. But you can do more if you want a smaller grid) Be careful to not disturb the placement of the strips. You can number the strips on both fabrics if it makes your life easier.

Step 4 - Remove the pins and gently separate out the 2 fabrics. Now replace every alternate strip of fabric A with its sister strip of fabric B. This will give you two similar but not identical Sets 1 & 2.

Step 5 - Now gently sew the strips to make 2 separate sets. No tugging, no pulling. Its easier to sew accurately if there are points to match at short intervals. I just drew 1" cross lines with tailors chalk. You can see them if you look closely inside the 'O's.

Step 6 - Now again draw gentle waves, this time across the width of fabric. On both Sets 1 and 2. Now this is where I got lazy and did a stupid thing. I cut it into 4 cross sections instead of 5. Remember you need an odd number of cross sections for this to work. 

Step 7 - Again, number strips, replace alternate strips on Set 1 from Set 2, sew. You dont need to mark points to match this time coz you have the previous seams doing the job. On sewing, you will end up with finished panels 1 & 2. Now all you gotta do is sew the two panels together and voila !

You see the part in the middle where the grid is kinda elongated? Thats coz of my blooper with cutting an even no. of cross sections instead of odd. Oh well, one lives and learns. Or is it learns and lives??

Step 8 - Well, the tute part is over. The rest is just to accommodate all the excessive photography that I seem to have done. Anyways, step 8, add borders as per your fancy, prepare sandwich and quilt. I quilted 1/4" along either side of every seam.

Step 9 - Attach binding. Or just roll over the backing to the front and top stitch it in place.

Step 10 - Photograph quilt. More than necessary. Most important part of the entire quilting thingamajiggy :-).

Step 11 -Bundle it with much love and send it off to whoever you made it for. Coz thats what quilts do. They take our love and all that is good with this world to their new owners.

Step12- Blog about it ! Be sure to include all cute puppy/kitty/budgie pics.

Happy quilting ! And all the associated joys.

Saturday, 10 November 2012


Oi, here's a quilt that I made about 9 months back but forgot (?) to document and blabber blog about (!!).Its called 'Lanterns' and was made for my 15 year old daughter's friend, also 15. Its a simple quilt, with very simple snowball blocks and came together very quickly. 

The backing is pieced with leftovers of the lantern fabrics.

And since I am forbidden from sharing the story behind the quilt by my daughter, I shall share some 'before' and 'after' moments instead..:-)..


This is the beautiful kitchen of my lovely friend Sabine. Its where I go when I need a good shoulder over tea, a good laugh over wine, a good machine when mine betrays me. Over tea OR wine. I'm not picky.

During :

Yep, thats the lovely lady on the left and me on the right slapping on some binding. 

We lit a bonfire in a broken recycled flowerpot on the terrace (Sabine, don't kill me!) and had some tea by the makeshift fireplace. Or was it wine? The tea makes it hard to remember. 

After after:

Ah ok, it WAS wine. See, thats why we need to document stuff.

Cheers !!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Rainy Day Quilt

I've been a bad girl. And I haven't updated my blog in a while. Like someone recently remarked, "I love chaos. Till it tires me and then I love routine. Till it bores me and then I love chaos" ! Story of my life.

Well, here's my latest finish, The Rainy Day Quilt, which quite obviously had its beginnings on a lovely rainy day a year back. (Yes, a year back!) After some starts and stops over the past year (mostly stops), it finally made its journey from the UFO to FINISHED pile. Am happy to report that even as I type, its on its way to the recipient, a dear friend's mom whom I call Aunty.

Too bright you say? Well, I did call and ask my friend what colours her mom would like only to be told that Aunty wears only very muted and soft colours. So I tried putting together a very low volume palette for her. But something inside screamed, 'wrong, wrong, wrong'. I should tell you a bit about this lady in question. She is an amazing woman in whos path Life has tried to throw every kind of googly. She has dealt with each blow with quiet strength and amazing grace, qualities I admire HUGELY. But I think that the sadness that such tragedies bring to our lives, somehow seeps into our daily colours and I wanted something bright and absurdly happy for her. So.

What, not bright enough you say? Well, I did try to mute it a bit by adding a border of tiny pastel roses and a not overly bright backing. Just in case, you know :-).

Did some FMQ, outlining the fussy cut roses and doing some leaves and tendrils on the chequerboards.

Ok, ok, I TRIED some fmq. The odd shapes make me smile :-).

Did some waves on the border..some hot pink binding..

..and bundled it off with lots of love to dear frail-looking-but-super-strong Aunty to be used as a pick-me-up in hard times and a superwoman cape in others.

Spread the love people ! Hot pink rules !!

Btw, did you know good girls go to heaven? Bad girls go everywhere.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Happy Birthday !

Its a year since I started my blog.

Life goes on. Some seeking True North. Some not.

I shall go have some chocolate.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Star of Africa Bee Blocks

It was May's turn to be Queen Bee of the Star of Africa Bee of which she is also the founder bee. May, who blogs at 'Confessions of a fabraholic', wanted a block in pinkish tones representing anything from your country that one would be likely to shoot pictures of. Ha Ha easier said than done ! Everything here looked tired and commonplace :-(.

I once read somewhere - To travel, you don't need new places, just new eyes. True dat. So I got myself a pair of new eyes and looked around to see what would May find interesting enough to shoot here. And sure enough, even ordinary day-to-day things and places took on a new and interesting life when viewed with a fresh pair of eyes. She said pink and I thought of the lovely latticed windows of Jaipur, the pink city, intricately and lavishly carved out of pink sandstone. So, here's my block for May - 'Jali' window of Jaipur, with clear blue skies beyond.

Its been sent off to Germany. I hope you like it May.

Btw, time flies. Like an arrow. In case you didn't already know. Soon it was time for Jen's block. Jen, who blogs at Quilter in the closet, came up with an interesting idea for her blocks. She wanted animal blocks (real, made-up, whimsical, any sorta animal she said) which she was then planning to turn into a picture book for her 3 li'l kiddos. What a fab idea I thought. Kids love animals. Put them in jars and they love them even more! The animals, not the kids. So I made three bug jar blocks for Jen's kiddos framed with the brightest solids I could find. Added a bit of gold 'zari' for the ledge. We Indians love our gold zari borders on our silk sarees. Even today, the best zari is made from drawn silver, covered with gold and then woven with silk.

So, here are my blocks for Jen. I reckon every kid absolutely needs an egg juggling rabbit, snorkeling frogs and some grinning geckos.

To repeat, Time flies like an arrow. Maybe I should put the Time flies in a bug jar too?

Friday, 31 August 2012

Bee Desi

In case anybody's missed me, I've been a bit caught up with my fabulous quilting group, Desi Quilters. By some lucky happenstance, a group of highly talkative excited and talented women have found each other through the world wide web and there's been a lot of sharing and caring, both quilting and otherwise. The action happens in our 'drawing room', the Desi Quilters' facebook page. The group has a lot of activities going on and  one of them is the BEE DESI. Its a bee of 12 members and I am one of them. Have enjoyed making blocks for my fellow Desi Bees the last 2 months.

For Vidya2

For Veena

The popularity of the BEE DESI can be inferred from the fact that even the 2nd one is full and registrations are now on for the 3rd Bee. Do join our group if you'd like to participate in a quilting bee.

Btw. here's a block I made for my very first bee elsewhere, but unfortunately, that hive didnt last:

So, life'great..everything's buzzzzing ! Enjoy !

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Happy Independence Day !

In commemoration of India's 66th Independence Day, the rules for the August challenge on the 'funnest' quilting group Desi Quilters were:

- Make a mini not larger than 12"x12" in the tricolours of the Indian Flag, using pieces not larger than 1.5" finished.

Ever since  fellow DQ Madhu has been showing off her miniature blocks, I've been wanting to try out a mini.  Also been wanting to try out her (supposedly) easy method of making multiple HSTs in one shot. This then was the perfect opportunity to do both. Madhu also very generously shared tips for first time mini-makers like moi :

1.Rough calculation: 12x12 block =144sq inches.
1.5 " maximum size piece if square =2.25sqinches.
Therefore, minimum 64 pieces in a 12x12 block. If the pieces are not square, numbers go up!
Therefore: Plan your block size accordingly, ladies!
Therefore: Don't think, " It is only a mini"

2.Stitch big, cut down to size! can trim your seams to less than 1/4" before pressing. Reduces bulk.

4.Very very important to press ( just press, not move your iron along the pieces, beginner quilters) before joining the next piece. It is difficult to press later - can distort the block.

5.Do not use soft, limp fabrics. Very difficult to work with. Edges fray. Use starched fabric.

6.Very accurate measurements are a big blessing. In small pieces, small errors in measurement look huge! The beauty of a mini- quilt is its perfection

7.Take your time over it! Go slow! Challenge yourself! Even if you have to join a 100 pieces in 30 days, it is less than 4 pieces in a day!

8.‎6x6 is doable - it is just 36 sq inches. 7x7 becomes 49 and 12x12 is 144! Another thing I should have added: you'll be cutting your pieces bigger and trimming them down to size, right? Press them BEFORE you trim them down, not after. So that any distortion during pressing is taken care of.

9.English paper piecing works great with miniatures. As does paper foundation piecing. Perfect blocks every time!

10.Btw, true miniature artists use a trick for accurate length of seams: they count the number stitches! So 14 stitches may be the length of a particular seam! 

So, armed with her tips and a blank clear head, I pull out some pieces of saffron, white and green fabric. I do not yet have an idea of what I am going to make, but then, when has that ever stopped me from doing anything? 96 pieces and each li'l square of 2 HSTs not more than 1.5"...after some this-ing and that-ing, here's what I came up with for my entry for the DQ August '12 Independence day Challenge..

Started with a 2" grid on fusible paper fused to 3 pieces of roughly 6"x12" fabric..

Paired them and sewed on either sides of the diagonals..

And chopped them up..

And I have still have no idea where this is going. I know I need to sew back all those li'l HSTs, but how? Random piecing or planned? Random? Or planned? Random? Planned? Aaargh..!!

I try a li'l random..

A li'l planned..

Then settle for this..I love it btw

Some straight line quilting around the pinwheels and some fancy stitches along the diagonals..

Some hand sewn binding..

And I'm all done !

I chose the lotus design for some of the quilting lines, lotus being our national flower and all..didn't think it'd end up looking like the BJP flag!

Love it all the same. So does Max.

Happy Independence Day folks! Jai Hind !!