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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.

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Comment by Sobana Sundar on October 1, 2012 at 10:57pm

Amanda In other words I have been switching from one craft to another. But honestly I love crochet but can find people to wear what I make - kids are so fashion conscious and I dont want a house full of doilies. In fact  I have not taken pictures of many crochet runners and covers. I also like embroidery freestyle and cross-stitch and am planning to smock a frock for my grand-niece. not so talented as very interested in all crafts.

Yes the net is a wonderful resource. I have learnt so much from the net.

Comment by Amanda Best on October 1, 2012 at 10:27am

I also loved reading about your quilts and how you started, Sobana. Thanks for sharing. I looked at your other picture's and I am amazed at the variety of things your have made and how talented you are! I am glad that you found your way to quilting. I started quilting when I was 17,knowing none of the rules and not knowing anyone who crafted anything, so I had to do the trial and error approach to everything. I didn't get serious about quilting until about two years ago, and after that, the internet, (which I had no use for before) has become such a valuable, entertaining resource.  I am so happy to have found all these smart, friendly people to talk to. Good luck with all of your projects you are a talented lady, and I am sure your progress is going to be a continued success!

Comment by Sobana Sundar on September 30, 2012 at 10:32pm

Terry - Thank you so much.

Shannon - You were lucky to have that kind of personal coaching. But then isn't that practically what you are doing with me for smocking? I guess the only way we repay someone is to help someone else along!

 Oh and I am glad you like my cross-stitch. I still have a few on my 'to do' list but right now they have taken a back seat to quilting.

Comment by Shannon/UT on September 30, 2012 at 8:29pm

Sobana,

I love your quilts!  I too am captivated by color--probably more so than acutal patterns.  It sounds like to me that you're being hard on yourself about matching points and corners.  I couldn't do that for YEARS--until a lovely retired lady in my neighborhood took me  under her wing and gave me lessons once a month for an entire YEAR.  I too am very grateful for those lovely women who share their handmade traditions.

 

BTW, your handwork and embroidery is beautiful--well nigh enviable in the US.  Now everyone relies on embroidery machines (except those like me who can't afford to own one).  Keep up your art!  It is beautiful.

Comment by Terry F on September 30, 2012 at 12:44pm

I love all of your quilts Sobana!

Comment by Sobana Sundar on September 29, 2012 at 2:05am

Cindy. You are very generous. I had a peek at your quilts and am stunned to see both the number and the quality of your quilts. Yes the best thing about the internet is the people you meet and the things you learn.

Comment by Cindy on September 29, 2012 at 1:20am

You are an inspiration to many, Sobana. I enjoyed reading your post and will be checking out your other pictures as well. The internet has truely opened up so many opportunities for us as quilters and crafters. We have been able to learn things we wouldn't have been able to otherwise and, best of all, we have 'met' people we would have not otherwise been able to meet. The friendships that have been found through this site alone are many. I too live in a remote area where there are very few people and rely on this site for my connection to other quilters. It has been invalueable to me. I look forward to hearing more about your quilting and life in India.

Comment by Sobana Sundar on September 28, 2012 at 10:50pm

Aida - Thank you for the compliments. All of you quilters are inspiration enough to get me going.

Prairie Quilter - Thank you for reading and encouraging.

Comment by Prairie Quilter Jan/NE on September 28, 2012 at 12:47pm

I enjoyed your quilting journey story.  So glad you shared your pictures and experience with us.  We'll look forward to more posts from you.

Comment by AidaCJ/NH on September 28, 2012 at 10:05am

What a wonderful story!  Looking at the photos, your crafts are fantastic! And it's true, you need not have all the gadgets and gizmo's that modern quilters have.  You just need time and the perseverance to get a project going. 

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