Quilting Stories – Participant Interviews

Extracts from interviews conducted with each of the participants by LOkesh Ghai in Vadaj, Ahmedabad following the completion of the six quilts commissioned as the first phase of the ongoing project Quilting Stories.

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Maker: Vishali

Film: Titanic (1997)

Description: “When the ship (Titanic) breaks and falls in the sea it is the small boats that saved people. In the film the person who made the ship thought it will never sink. Fortunately the boats were put on the ship as a safety measure. The quilt depicts these life saving boats.”

Vishali draws the attention to small things in life.  She chose the film as she likes the vastness of the sea. Most of the fabrics for the quilt were bought from the tailor scrap bag and some of the fabrics were bought from the local vegetable market where fabrics are sold by weight.

Vishali enjoyed working on the project. She had not thought that she could take inspiration from a film and make a quilt. She added, “I had never done this before!” It took Vishali almost a month to make the quilt along with my tailoring course. It has been six months that I have been enrolled in this course. Everyone in my class liked my quilt and complimented me. I would like to make a quilt on another movie, this time I would like it to be for children, perhaps based on Tom and Jerry.

Vishali adds that the back side of the quilt could be read as the texture, the flora and fauna inside the sea.

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Maker: Dahiben

Film- Mugle Azam (1960), (2004- colour version)

Dahiben recreated the thousand-mirror reflection, one of the iconic dance sequence of Indian cinema with the legendry Madubala playing as Anarkali. On the border of the quilt, Dhaiben appliquéd forms in shape of the brick wall behind which Anarkali was buried.

Dahiben saw this love story just before her marriage and it has stayed with her. Dahiben acquired most of the fabric for the quilt from the tailor. She says, “I enjoyed making the quilt, as it was fun remembering one of my favourite films. It took me almost two months to make this quilt. I would like to make another quilt; I will think what it will be… My son says that I could make many such quilts and we could purchase a new house with the money we earn from it.”

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Maker: Shantiben

TV series Mahabharat (1988-1990)

The quilt depicts the game of Chopad. There were the characters of pach (five) Padavs, there were the Kauravs, there was Drapudhai. When they all started playing Chopad; Drapudhi was at stake in the game. Pandavs lost the game and Drapudhi was lost. Six kodis (sheels) are depicted in the centre.

Shantiben says, “I like fabrics with different kinds of patterns. Hence, I chose the flower print fabric.

I bought the fabrics from different tailors. The back side of the quilt has a printed pattern that looks like a mirage it is beautiful, hence I chose it. I enjoyed making this quilt and through the quilts I tell about different kinds of people in the world. My children complimented me; they said mum you made such a nice quilt with scraps. I would like to make another quilt, something fresh this time. ”

It took Shantiben one month to make this quilt.

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Maker: Miraben

Film: Ideryo Gad

The film is about wedding. Miraben says, “At wedding the grooms relatives sing a song that we won the bride. There are peacocks in the film. I have depicted mandap that is the central space during the wedding. I chose the shiny fabric from tailor as in a wedding is all about celebration!!”

The flowers in the quilt are symbolic of chandelier. The back side of the quilt is machine stitched by Meraben using scraps of pervious quilt. The front and the quilting is hand stitched. Meraben is particular about quality and does not hurry while making anything. It took her almost two months to complete the quilt. Meraben has already started two new quilts after completing the two. She added that she would like another quilt with flowers, on traditional format of laddu (ball shaped sweet).

Responding to her sister Dahiben’s new quilt Meraben made a new quilt. Miraben says, “The quilt could be part of gift in our family. For my daughter’s wedding I made eleven quilts as a gift.” Miraben also liked the ship idea made by Vishali so much that she could not resist to make another quilt responding to the quilt based on Titanic.

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Maker: Rashmiben

Film: Bajirao Mastani (2015)

Bajirao Mastani is one of Rashmiben’s favourite films. For those who know Rashmi can tell that the film has some parallels with her film. Rashmi went against her parents will and had a love marriage. Rashmi says, “I like the song nazar lagi… I like the fact that the film is inter religious love story, I love the script, and how Bajiro gave women respect is wonderful. In the quilt, I have made the Bundelkhand fort where Bajirao plays with the sword with Mastani. The pointed triangles are the edge of fort walls. The bow and arrow in the quilt are symbolic to Bajirao and Mastani. The backdrop is blue fabric like clouds seen from a distance. The top is like a decorative welcoming toran. In back side of the back I have taken mustard colour, this is a prominent colour in the film and it is a contrast to the front.”

It took Rashmiben one and a half month to complete the quilt. The quilt is a combination of hand and tailoring machine stitching.

Rashmiben would like to make more quilts, base it on a movie again. A comedy next time!

Rashmiben happily adds that while she was thinking of making the sword with stripe fabric, but one her husband’s suggestion she made this in plain fabric and give detailing to it.

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Maker: Deviben

Film: Navrang (1959)

According to Deviben, “I took this film as it is so colourful. I can use as many colours I wish in my quilt too. It is the most imaginative film I have ever seen. I have made a pot, the heroine in the film dances with pots on her head in a moon (half moon) lit mid night (mid night as a half night).”

The back of the quilt is full of colour stripe. Deviben elaborated that colours stripes were collected by her from various quilt makers. The quilt makers had used scarp fabric to make quilt and it was the scrap of even those quilts! This is the reason why some of the strips are very narrow

The front of the quilt is all hand stitched together and back is machine stitched. It took Deviben over two months to make the quilt.

Deviben enjoyed making the quilt so much that she excitedly showed it to her entire neighbourhood! Deviben’s son wants his mother to make a quilt for him too.

Deviben shared, “I took the fabric form the dagla wale, a lady sits on the corner of the road and sells the fabric by weight. I bargained a good price for the fabrics. But I have to re-visit her several times to find the colours of my choice.”

Deviben showed the quilt it to her students where she teach. He students too want to learn how to make the quilt from her. Deviben would like to make another quilt on a classic Hindi film such as Pakeza or Anarkali.

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