Sunday, 5 February 2012

My first quilting workshop!!

Good things lead to more good things. Soon after finding the India Modern Quilt Guild (IMQG), I find BuDa Folklore, an Organization run by the fiesty Savita Uday, started with an aim to understanding and recording native language, oral tradition and folk culture in and around Uttara Kannada district in Karnataka, India. It promotes experiential learning, preservation of traditional knowledge systems and sustainable development of indigenous communities and the environment.

So what's this gotta do with quilts? Well, BuDa organizes workshops, internships and study tour programmes, and, as luck would have it, they had JUST announced a 3 day quilting workshop in the traditional quilting style of the local communities of Honnaver. Serendipity! 1.Its a quilting workshop. I've never attended one..only been (darkish) green with envy reading other peoples experiences on their blogs..yay!! 2.Its in the traditional style..what a superb opportunity to learn this fading art and that too from Nirmala-akka who is probably the best in the world at this..yippee!! 3.Its a 3 day thingy at Bangalore..I could do with that break..yay yay yippee yippee!!

And so I went. And since I am dying to show what I made, here it is :-)..

We were 5 participants, with day jobs as varied as an advertising professional, a software engineer, a corporate lawyer, a manager and a businesswoman. 2 were total newbies, 2 had some experience in embroidery and sewing, and then there was me. Suddenly, I was the most experienced person in a group at quilting!! Barring our teacher, the sweet sweet Nirmala-akka, of course, who's been making quilts for the past 20 years :-). So with a small puja, we started our endeavour to learn this unique form of hand quilting from an unlettered lady who did not even speak our language (and mind you, between the 5 of us, we knew at least 9 languages!)

To give you a brief idea about this quiltform, it is made exclusively from used scraps of cloth and whatever is at hand. Used cotton sarees are used for backing as well as multiple layers of the same for batting. The sari border is first separated and the backing and batting-layers arranged to the desired size. The border is then attached all around this topless sandwich with small, even running stitches. The quilting lines are spaced 1/2" apart and go round and round and round and round the square/rectactangle sandwich. Kubbis (sparrows!) are attached to the four corners and give the quilt an instantaneous, joyous look.

Typically, a Gali Patta (Kite) motif is made on a white background on all four corners of the quilt. This motif can be adapted to be huge or tiny depending on the size of the quilt.

So the corner white cloths, the colourful scraps, AND the motifs are all quilted simultaneously with each progressive row (round?) of stitches. And stitch by stitch, row by row, round by round, magic happens...

Holy Scrap! Aren't they beautiful? Magic, right?

I think I shall do a couple more posts on the workshop. There's still so much more to tell. And show. So, until then,

Happy quilting!


  1. Great to see your pictures from the workshop. It's beautifull to share your hobby. It's nice to see you sitting on the floor. Can I use that photo on my weblog?? Because it's a big contrast with the bee in Holland. It's very cold this winter, it's freezing -20 degree so everyone were's very warm clothes

  2. Hey Tina, What a great find! Also so authentic to Indian art and culture. Love the quilt pieces you have made.

  3. I love the pictures, what a great experience you got from the quilting lady, Nirmala-akka...the quilt you made and the ladies' are all beautiful!

  4. Dear Tina, Great you could add this traditional yet fading technique to your quilt kitty. Attending such workshops would help you so much in your journey forward. And indeed your workshop experiences were a great read. Looking forward to hearing from you more

  5. Wow have had such a terrific time...Thanks for sharing with such detail. The pictures make it so much clearer. It would be interesting to know what thread and needle she used. Did you use a thimble? I have never done any machine quilting myself, but have only done hand this looks just what I would love to learn to make. Hopefully there will be another workshop!
    Look forward to more posts!

  6. wow...that was an amazing nice to read about this folklore Indian craft...never knew something like this exist. looking forward to know more about it..

  7. Wow Tina..I am darkish green with envy now..I wish I could attend the workshop. It sounds like you had a fabulous time there. I always love Indian traditional craft (esp. quilting and hand embroidery) and would love to learn one my self. Thanks for sharing this with us. I do look forward for your next post and photos:)

  8. I too, am green with envy! What a wonderful opportunity and experience! What I wouldn't give to have gone too. I just love that you are one more student of this art form, and I hope you pass along the knowledge of the craft to insure that it makes it through another generation and is not lost. Truly wonderful!

  9. I envy you ladies creating such beautiful things! Well... God has given you such delicate and long fingers to hold such small needles...! Not only I wonder how colorfully one can dream between such lovely quilts but also appreciate the involvement in making such splendid and artful things...

    Best wishes to all of you and trust more people will learn this art!

  10. oh my goodness! I just found your site and this posting, and those quilts are fantastic!!!makes me want to come to India just to take this class!

  11. its really interesting.can i know when the next workshop happens?would like to learn the technique.

    1. Hi Ranju, could email you so replying here. Next workshop is sometime in Jan'13. Suggest you join our facebook page 'Desi Quilters'. You'll find a lot more info there.