I should have started quilting at least fifteen years ago instead of just three years back. My sister who was visiting me from US and who knew I had inclinations towards crafting and sewing gifted me with booklets and books about piecing and quilting. I did peruse them but most of the stuff was Greek and Latin to me. It all seemed so difficult and I was sure I was not cut out to cut so many little pieces. I zeroed in on the crochet pattern and household sewing books she gave me and learnt to make baby socks and booties and frocks for the kids in my extended family and made doilies and other decorative stuff for my home. The books on quilting just got an occasional dusting and languished in my book-shelf. A few years back I was forced to take to pieces a patchwork quilt that was gifted to my step-daughter and put it back together. It was just three layers of sheets with the top being patchwork. With still no clue about the tricks of piecing I just put together assorted squares and machined a design over them to keep the layers together. I still use this ‘quilt’ as it is light weight and suits the chilly nights that we get here.
When I stumbled upon quilts in the internet, I was captivated by the designs and colours and the beauty of every quilt I saw. Honestly I don’t think I have ever seen an ugly quilt. I made up my mind to try my hand at it and picked a design from Quilter’s Cache by Marcia Hohn’s called Sunny Lanes. With still no precise idea about the need for precision I launched into cutting out my blocks and putting them together. There was a long lull in the process when I found I did not have suitable fabric for a particular piece. Practically a year later I picked it up when I found dh struggling to ward off the cold with two sheets that kept slipping off. I hand quilted it and found I had made something I could show off proudly. No, the corners did not match nor the blocks and it was totally scrappy as I did not have the confidence to buy new fabrics. But it came together beautifully in spite of the faults and kept dh warm. He rarely uses anything but that quilt. The only drawback to that quilt was it was not big enough for two but that became an incentive to make another quilt large enough for the two of us.
My next quilt was not a pieced one. I made it for my step daughter’s year old son. They lived in Boston and knowing how severe the winters there could be I thought it would be an ideal gift. It started out as an appliquéd top with farm animals and birds starring in it but soon it snow-balled into a farm theme (Dh and I live on a farm, a mango orchard to be more precise) and two-sided at that. A day and night on a farm with celestial bodies and Old MacDonald’s animals featuring in it became too complicated to be appliquéd and I painted most of it with fabric paint using appliqué where I could. It is treasured by my step-daughter and she claims she will bring it back to India when she relocates even though it may be too warm for the city she will live in.
When the quilt bug bites one stays bitten I guess. This year I did what I should have done first – joined a class to learn piecing techniques – Craftsy’s BOM. It has been an eye-opener and I have learnt all the things I did wrong in the first two quilts. No regrets though as I consider it a learning experience. We have done nine months of different techniques and I have made enough blocks that by the end of the year would become a quilt. (I have added the pictures to my album to avoid too much clutter here.) One of the blocks involved English Paper Piecing and the class discussions introduced me to Hexagons and the beautiful Grandmother’s Flower Garden. I browsed the net looking at pictures and each one that I saw made me certain that this was one quilt that called out to me. And brought me to this site too. So here I am with a bunch of flowers finished and hundreds more to go. And in all this I still have not machine quilted anything. That is a jump that I am yet to take. But I will learn it too. I have a Juki the best gift given me by my husband and it makes sewing so easy.
Quilting is not a craft that is popular in my country – not at least in the way it is in North America. What goes by the name of quilts here are rarely pieced and are mostly layers of fabric stitched together – very often used cotton sarees and hand stitched. So it goes without saying that it is a struggle to buy all those nifty gadgets and rulers or the right fabrics to make a quilt. And living in a remote corner of the country with no access to even the few things that could make a crafter’s life easy makes quilting an expensive and difficult to pursue craft. But I do not repine. Everytime I really need something, somebody or the other offers to get it for me – a friend or a family member or sometimes practically a stranger. Or I learn a way of making do, as did perhaps the original settlers in North America. If they could make quilts without square rulers so can I.
Whenever I visit this site I watch the slide show of photos, each a testimony to the skill of the members here. Exquisite, stunning, beautiful – these are the words that spring to my mind and I swear to myself that I will get there – or at least close to it someday.