4 things I learnt at the India Quilt Festival

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Chennai recently played host to India’s first ever Quilt Festival (IQF2019)

The last weekend of January, 25th to the 27th, , saw Quilting aficionados from various parts of India and the world  make their way to the capital city of Tamil Nadu.

We have the Quilt India Foundation to thank, not only for this wonderful festival but for the desire to revive Indian Quilting and shining the spotlight on it.


Partnered by USHA International Ltd , among others, the Festival had Quilt shows, competitions and exhibitions. Workshops, in traditional and modern quilting, and the opportunity to see and learn some of the latest technologies in Quilting.USHA_Board_SirimiriI couldn’t take my eyes off the stunning quilts on display at the exhibition, each a work of art by itself. I imagined the hours and hard work that must have gone into creating each of these, and sent a silent salute to their makers. Seeing them whetted my appetite for the workshop to be held the next day.

I came away enlightened after attending the workshop I did, with myths busted and misconceptions cleared. What did I learn? Read on to find out.

Quilting has come a long way

The word Quilting means three layers of cloth attached together. Click To Tweet

Quilting is an art form that has been practiced for centuries. Traditional quilting meant sewing together varied scraps of cloth to form a quilt, usually in the form of bed covers, comforters and bags. In some traditions the women of the house begin sewing a quilt when a girl child is born, and present it to her on her wedding day. Attending the India Quilt Festival made me realise that Quilting has moved far beyond the traditional sewing.

Quilt_Pat_Archibald_USHA_SirimiriPainted Figures on Fabricby Pat Archibald, was the workshop I attended. We were handed a kit before the start of the workshop and I peeked inside to see what it held. Besides the expected swatches of cloth I saw Water colors, Sharpie Pens, Stencils of drawings and a sheet of something that looked like paper and felt like cloth. How were these related to Quilting, was the question on my mind? Kit_USHA_SirimiriThe warm and lovely Pat Archibald showed us just how, in a day long workshop.

Pat is an artist from Edinburgh, Scotland and an Occupational Therapist turned award winning prolific Quilter.

All the material in the kit that I was so curious about, it was used to paint figures on Lutradur (the sheet that looked like paper and felt like cloth) which we later transferred to cloth and sewed on. A novel experience.


USHA Janome Sewing Machine

As a school girl, I was a part of the minority who looked forward to attending Sewing Class. Since then I have only ever used a manual Sewing Machine.

If you enjoy sewing you will know how important a role a good machine plays.

When the compact USHA Janome Automatic Sewing Machine was placed in front of me, I was intimidated. How am I going to use this thing, was my thought. I found out just how well in the next few minutes.


Quilting requires continuous stitching, of various types. The USHA Janome delivers.

With a tiny light shining over the area you need to see, a foot pedal that leaves both your hands free to handle the cloth, and more stitching patterns and designs than you can imagine exist, this smooth beast makes Quilting, and stitching, such a joy! The biggest kick I got out of the USHA Janome was, I didn’t have to thread the needle, the machine did it for me! And a wrong stitch wasn’t permanent, I could reverse it! Automatic, indeed!

Quilting is not only for the older generation

It is a myth that Quilting is for Senior Citizens or only for those who have time on their hands and/or nothing better to do.

We had an 11 year old participant in our workshop and her quilting skills left us amazed! 

The one day I spent learning Quilting made me realise what a calming, therapeutic and exciting  process it is. You lose yourself as you go about the various processes Quilting has. You have no idea where the time flew and you realise that you have thought of nothing except what colour to use next or what fabric looks best. It is immensely soothing. The exciting bit comes in when your creation comes to life in front of you.Quilt_USHA_Pat_Archibald_SirimiriSo this is what I learnt at the India Quilt Festival 2019. In case you missed it, 2021 is your next chance to visit. Stay tuned!

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