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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29 thoughts on “4 things I learnt at the India Quilt Festival

  1. This must’ve been one fun learning experience, M!
    I love the lady you drew. You enjoyed sewing in school while I haven’t once gone close to a sewing machine in my life!
    The USHA machine is sure a treasure. Wish to learn sewing on it someday.

  2. I loved sewing as well! This machine is awesome! I remember the time when mom taught me to sew ( Usha) of course! I was tired of the whole threading and removing wrong stich by hand process.

  3. This is something I heard for the very first time. Sound interesting and looking at the pics and reading your description, I’m sure you had a learning experience. Thanks for sharing it with us too.

  4. Wow this is so interesting. I have never tried my hand at this activity and it seems like this was the ideal place to learn everything about quilting.

  5. This post reminded me of the time when I used to sew on my old USHA sewing machine that belonged to mum….This new Janome machine looks not only cool, but so classy and is really sophisticated! Quilting on such an easy-to-handle machine must be such fun! And, I can understand how much calming this activity must be! Good for you, Mayuri!

  6. 11-year-old participant in the workshop, amazing! Quilting is an art, though I have never done sewing, but somehow these artistic creations have left me thoughful about the whole Sewing and quilting industry. Great Mayuri!

  7. I love quilting and have made several and gifted them away. My new project is a patchwork. How lovely you attended this quilt festival, Mayuri. I was following your updates on Instagram and I confess I felt a tiny bit envious–I didn’t even know about this event. Still, great to see your photos. Love your work–the lady looks fabulous. I have an Usha sewing machine that I got in 1975 when they first introduced their “sleek” model. 🙂 Thanks for this wonderful read!

  8. My mom use to sew different designs and it was very interesting to learn. Unfortunately, I have never heard about this India Quilt Festival. I will definitely try to participate next time.

  9. Wow this is very interesting and I have heard first find about such quilt festival good to hear that kids are even participating.

  10. this seems to be fun to learn, a quality experience I must say. I love sewing, it is like a therapy for me. Usha is the most loved brand when it comes to excellent sewing. this machine is gold.

  11. My mum had an USHA sewing machine. She made so many things with it including pillow covers, tablecloth etc. I was in awe of the sewing machine you’ve shown. So nifty and perfect for novices like us. A unique and learning experience this was for everyone.

  12. Usha Janome is so beautiful I must say. The new design of the machine is really nice. With digital display and new technology the entire machine has become new. I have been seeing usha sewing machine in our house since childhood.

  13. Wow this festival sounds so interesting. I have never tried my hand at this activity. It must be amazing experience there to learn.

  14. Someone truly said, “learning is fun and it never ends”. You had so much fun knowing about all these I’m jealous now. I love sewing, I wish I could attend this. Hehe, but you have written the post very nicely.

  15. It’s very interesting. I didn’t know about this festival. I love quilts and the comfy feeling it gives. Am going to visit the next round surely.

  16. Never knew there is so much to quilting! My grandma used to make some quilts to be used as comforters… Glad you enjoyed there…
    And usha sewing machines are really good! We have them!

  17. It is clearly visible that Quilting in India has reached to a completely different level, loved the blog so well written and to the point, I so wish I could be there at the event, it definitely sounded damn interesting in the blog.

  18. I had no idea about such fest but it’s something I would like to attend next time. I have had great memories with USHA sewing machine as I love diy. Thanks .

  19. I love sewing and provide an outlet to my creativity once in a while, specially before Diwali, when our little kanha needs a new dress too and the sofa cushions need new covers. I have been pestering my mum-in-law to buy a new automatic machine and replace the old manual one. Your article entices me to pester her some more.

  20. I love sewing and creating stuff! It is so interesting and thankfully I have a sturdy sewing machine at home to do that. Though I have never tried quilting, I would love to sometime soon.

    Looks like you had a fab time, Mayuri! Looking forward to more of your creative works 🙂

  21. This post was enlightening for me. I never knew quilting could be an art. I liked that sewing machine. My mother’s Usha sewing machine was enchanting for me as she stitched dresses for herself and for me and much other stuff of use in the house. I, however, have not a bone dedicated to sewing.

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