Quilting has always been a part of life in India.
Kantha, one of the world's oldest forms of embroidery, originated in India. Among the meanings of the word Kantha in Sanskrit is rags, a reference to the fact that traditional kantha embroidery was made up of discarded fabric.
Apart from Bengal’s intricate kanthas, almost every part of India has a rich and living quilting tradition: Koudis of Karnataka, resplendent gudris of Rajasthan, the intricate Indo-Portuguese quilts of Goa, the quilted palampores, the ledras of Jharkhand, the razais of UP, the dharkis and godris of Gujarat and Odisha’s appliques.
Women used these embroidering techniques to create quilts for their families, and stitch fabrics and garments such as sarees, dhotis and handkerchiefs. They used symbols derived from nature, art and religion as motifs while converting old clothing and bedsheets to warm quilts for the winter. It was an age old recycling and up-cycling method.
Today, quilting has seen resurgence across the world. It's the retro-chic hobby that's popular on Instagram and serves to connect people to the past, preserve memories and create new sewing techniques. Armed with digital tools, sophisticated sewing machines and social media, quilters create everything from bags to rugs to runway designs to high art that can be hung on walls.
India has caught on to the trend. Hand quilting is in vogue here, and so is the trend of converting old silk saris into heirloom quilts.
And in Chennai, three women are getting ready to organise and host India's first Quilt Festival in 2019 that will celebrate the quilting tradition in this country.
The India Quilt Festival 2019 will be held in Chennai from 25–27 January, 2019. The organising body, Quilt India Foundation, comprises Tina Katwal (Proprietor of The Square Inch), Varsha Sundararajan and Deepa Vasudevan.
“This is history in the making. Be a part of it,” says Katwal. “You can enter your Quilt in the competition. You could be a sponsor or just visit the show.”
India Quilt Festival is the first of its kind show to be hosted and conducted in India. Running on the lines of other Quilt shows in USA, UK and Dubai, this promises to be a unique experience to Quilters and Sewists in India and guests from overseas.
The organisers say the festival aims to revive Quilting in India, promote Quilting as an art form and a commercially viable craft, provide a common platform for Quilters in India and bring Indian Quilting to the International scene.
The Festival includes a Quilt Show, for which competition entries are invited in the following categories:
- Theme – Dance of the Peacock
Attractive prizes will be awarded for all categories of competitions, plus awards for Best Hand Quilting, Best Machine Quilting, Best of Show, Judges Choice and Viewer’s Choice.
The highlights of the India Quilt Festival will include curated exhibits from museums around the world, traditional quilt makers from India and abroad, classes, lectures, trunk shows and textile tours that include sightseeing and shopping.
A festival brochure will soon be released, and the festival will also feature a record making attempt.
A release from the organisers said the event will be a “fabulous occasion to bring the textile arts closer to the general public. This festival will also be a valuable opportunity for people to learn from experts. We will bring the suppliers closer to the buyer. This will be a platform for networking and customer sourcing opportunities for manufacturers and sellers of Machines and allied sewing/ quilting/ embroidery related businesses. We will also have a Makers' Market with stalls showcasing and selling hand crafted products.”
To email the organisers of the India Quilt Festival, write to: firstname.lastname@example.org