Home Chennai Shopping The patchwork brigade

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    Chennai’s climate and quilts are decidedly a mismatch. Yet quilters have gotten innovative and enticed customers with lighter designs, some for decorative purposes, and the option to customise. We introduce you some of the busiest quilters in town.

    Tina Katwal: wall art
    Tina Katwal, 41, is a self taught quilter who insists that people prefer quilts as home decor. Katwal, who hails from Himachal Pradesh, made Chennai her home 20 years ago. Initiated into the industry three years ago, she works on her Bernia B3 80 sewing machine. Her  Facebook page, Quilts of love, has over 760 likes. Her quilts can be hung on walls as well. For Christmas, she says, clients prefer wall quilts in red, green and gold with nativity scenes or other Christmas stories. Her favourite piece of work is the one she made for her nine-year-old daughter. “She wanted the image of a wolf howling at the full moon and jars filled with eyeballs, frogs, fish and butterflies,”laughs the artist.
    Price from Rs2,000 onwards. Details: 9551655776

    Sudha Sekhar: recycled saris
    Sudha Sekhar has been quilting for the past five years, but took it commercial three years ago. A math geek, Sekhar employed her free time to learn quilting on the internet and it paid off. “My love for mathematics created an interest in this art. Quilting is based on calculations. If a .78 of an inch goes wrong, the entire piece will not come out the way you want it to,” says Sekhar. “There are two types of quilt designs,” Sekhar explains, “traditional and modern. Traditional quilts are tricky as the designs are intricate. The points and angle measurements need to be accurate. Whereas, you can work on abstract themes for modern quilts. There are no set rules for them,” admits Sekhar who enjoys creating pieces for special occasions. “I recently got an order for a customised piece. A client from Delhi gave me six of her old silk saris. I will be making patch works on the quilt with the saris,” says Sekhar, 34, whose Facebook page Madras Motifs has over 520 likes. Sekhar also makes quilts with origami pieces stitched on them. “The origami elements add a three dimensional effect,” she says. Along with her quilts, Sekhar gives her customers free add ons like a matching pillow case or a table cloth.
    Priced from Rs3,000 onwards. Details: 9444940188

    Jennifer Datta: kantha advantage
    Jennifer Datta’s quilts were inspired by the story of women in West Bengal, who used to sew clothes together to make blankets for their children. “They are called Kantha blankets. Back then, layered muslin fabric was stitched together with coloured threads. Today, Kantha is a dying art and quilts have become a lifestyle accessory for homes. Though at its infant stage, Chennai is a booming market for quilts,” says Datta, 38, who runs Ami, a lifestyle brand, and works with artisans from Rajasthan for designing quilts. Datta’s clients are interested in dohars, literally translated as ‘two sheets’. “You can call it a thick sheet. It is made of a fabric called malmal. It suits people who are allergic to woolen covers and it gets softer with each wash,” she says. Datta vividly recalls a client in Delhi who wanted to give her daughter a wedding gift. “She had a cream sari with a golden border and wanted the sari on a quilt. So I made a dull orange quilt and used the sari to make a golden border,” says Datta, who also designs quilted cushion covers with velvet patch work.
    Priced at Rs1,900 for dohars and Rs3,500 for quilts. Details: 8939031000

    Naomi Nicholas

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