Friday, March 27, 2015

Diane's quilt and Windmill class at Burkholders

Last night I received a lovely email from Diane Fulton from Wisconsin. She used the silk solids and pieces of Indian prints from her stash.
She writes, ''It was definitely a departure for me, but I sure had fun!  I'm not done with the book yet, I have a few other things in mind.''

Thank you, Diane for sharing your quilt!

I love her color choices. I think the bright solids and dark backgrounds play well together, don't you? Diane did quite the fusion with Indian prints and African colors.
''Triangles'' Quilt made by Diane Fulton inspired from Cultural Fusion Quilts

If you have a quilt you are working on from my book and would like to share, please send me an email. I will be happy to post it here or on Cultural Fusion Quilts blog. If you would like to be blog about it yourself, even for a post, I will be happy to send an invite. You can write about your process. I would prefer to hear about it in your own words. 

I also wanted to let you all know, I will be teaching a class at Burkholders fabrics on Wednesday, 1st April. This is my first class since the release of the book. It is going to be held at the Cocalico Quilter's Inn.  Come join me!!!

There are few spots left, if you are interested, please click on the link and click on classes.

Thank you all for reading the post from yesterday. It meant a lot to me.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

28 Years

It still seems like just yesterday. My father used to stand in the balcony of our home facing the Arabian Sea. He loved standing out there, leaning over the railing and think. Sometimes I would stand next to him. As a little girl, I wondered why he was always thinking and about what sorts of things. He was a quiet man and a deep thinker. I understand it now as an adult. Sunrise and sunsets have a special place in my life. Changing colors of the landscape keeps me focused and grounded. In those moments, there is utter silence in mind and around me.

Sun setting behind the Olympic Peninsula

As a person, he liked his space and nature. I imagine growing up in a countryside near farms and river had everything to do with that. He loved growing potted gardens in our small balcony. I can still smell the marigolds, jasmine, roses and the fish fertilizer all just the same! My mother used to get upset when he brought the fish fertilizer home. We did not like the smell either but he used it anyway to make his garden bloom. Birds would make nests in the pots and it would be difficult to water the garden. Every spring we watched the babies learn to fly as if there was a private screening of an episode of National Geographic Channel.

I always thought he and I had a special bond. As I grew older, I learned that he was the only caregiver to my siblings and my mom when she gave birth to me. This was not a very common thing in Indian culture. I feel special just thinking about it. As much as I like to believe he loved me more, that is just not true. My siblings may beg to differ!

Sometimes I think I am very much like him. Growing up, I preferred sitting in our quiet living room,  draw and color while my siblings went out to play. I filled up every blank paper I got my hands on with sketches and rolled it up as my personal collection of art. I still find myself spending hours alone, working on my quilts, perfectly happy and entertained.

He was proud of my art. So much so that he would take my work to show off to anyone who would care. It was embarrassing at times but he did it anyway. No one who entered our home, left without seeing what I had been doing that week. He encouraged me to be the person I was supposed to be. Going to art school wasn't a right move for my future according to many, but he saw me there.

"Sunset" from Cultural Fusion Quilts

My father passed away 28 years ago today. I was 23 and it had been only couple of months since I had left India for this country. I spent many months/years feeling sorry for myself that he did not get to see me grow up. As an adult, a wife, a mother and as an artist, but that's how it was meant to be! 

My book is a tribute to my father. He taught me the most important lessons of life in relatively short time we had together. "Sunset" quilt means a world to me! I almost did not include it in the book just to keep it for myself but at some point during the process of writing I realized, I already have the most amazing, living reminder of him.


Exactly eight years later on the day of his passing, Kavita was born! My mother was with me to help with my boys and the new baby. My baby turns 20 today! I am not sure where the years have gone by!

Kavita is a tree-huger, philosopher, artist and writer, bust most of all a deep thinker and she has her thinking bun to prove it! 

I have always missed his presence but I have never been sad on this day since Kavita's birth.
For I have experienced the best sunsets and sunrises in my life. 

An early morning walk on the trail in Redmond, Washington
No matter where I am.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

A little bit of India

I thought a week and half in Seattle had faded away most of my memories of India. But then yesterday I transferred my pictures into the computer!  The trip was an incredible learning experience on many levels.

Most encouraging part of the trip - Seeing quilts in person which validated my point of view in the book and meeting with the people who make them.

I had the opportunity to meet with a family who earns their living making quilts. Families of three brothers living in one farmhouse.

Farmhouses in the region of kutch, Gujarat are clusters of one-room mud-huts with a large open courtyard in the center. People were so warm, they smiled ear to ear! They were happy to show off their homes and offer us food fresh from the wood-burning stoves, also made with mud!

Here is the picture of a quilt made for personal use. It is finished with thousands of little stitches, made with most humble fabrics - The fabrics most quilters in the west would probably think are not worth the time. 

But for the villagers in Gujarat, India it is an absolute necessity. Desert cold can be brutal. Wood burning stoves and fire pits are the only source of heat for most of the rural homes. Each member of the family must have quilts to sleep on and cover themselves with.

If the thin sari fabric wears out at some point in time, there is always a plan B!

Patch it up and make it part of the quilt. New layers of  thin saris are added as old layers wear out and quilts get heavier with time.

The reality is, they make beautiful quilts with the mix of new and old fabrics. To improvise is not a style, it is a way of living. They must use the fabrics they have for personal quilts and purchase new fabrics for quilts worthy of consumer markets all over the world to earn the living. As beautiful as that indigo quilt is, I was sadden by the fact that the quilt looked perfect! Perfect in placement of fabrics, colors and stitching.. One look at it and I was done seeing the whole quilt!

As far as future of quilting in India goes, conversations with quilt making community were a mix bag of happy and sad.  I must write all that down before I forget.

I so badly wanted to buy one of their quilts and bring it home. I asked if they would sell one to me.. The one with all the mistakes and imperfections, one I could use as my inspiration board forever!

The answer will surprise you.. A flat out "NO" with tremendous pride!

The explanation was simple - Quilts for their personal use were either given to them as wedding gifts or were made for future events like wedding in the family or birth of the child. A 65 years old woman showed me the quilt she had brought with her when she wedded her husband.

They showed us stacks of personal quilts neatly folded and stored under a large sheet. They were for the relatives and guests who often visit from other villages. To keep them warm, to show their respect and to show off their artistry.

The real truth for not selling the quilts, this woman explained, "Our ancestors said to never sell Godharis."  

I came away with a beautiful experience. During our seven hours' car ride to the city, all I could think about was when will I return next.

Three hours with them were just not enough, but they gave me a lot to ponder over.


By the way, if you missed my earlier post, I will be lecturing and teaching at MAQ this summer. Click on the link below for more information.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Mid Appalachian Quilt Conference

I will be presenting a lecture and teaching three classes at Mid-Appalachian Quilters conference at Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. 

My focus will be on teaching the techniques to make free-form blocks with cutting in layers and sewing gentle curves and encourage individual creative thinking and explore the designing process. 
Registration is now open! 
Click on the link below for the complete list of classes and to register for classes.

Here is the list of my classes.

118  Windmills on Friday, 10th July

  • Instructor:  Sujata Shah
  • Project Size:  Approx. 48 ½" x 48 ½"
  • Skill Level:  Beginner
  • Method: Curve piecing, Free-Form blocks
  • Project Rating:  Easy
  • Sewing Machine:  Required
  • Description:  Inspired by the windmills of Pennsylvania farms and Sujata's childhood memories of paper pinwheels, Windmills is a beginner-friendly project. Participants will use a simple five step process to make an art quilt with free-form traditional blocks. With easy-to-follow instructions from the book Cultural Fusion Quilts, this class is designed to focus on cutting curves through multiple layers of fabrics, and sewing curved seams. Individuals will construct blocks resembling an appliqued leaf using a carefree and fun technique. Participants will also explore possibilities of various layouts by changing the orientation of their blocks.
    Participants are encouraged to review the examples of quilts provided for this class before selecting the fabric for this project.
  • Skills Taught: Free-Form blocks using gentle curves in both cutting and sewing.

  • Additional Class Fees:  $28 for the book, "Cultural Fusion Quilts".


218  Hourglass Twist on Saturday, 11th July

  • Instructor:  Sujata Shah
  • Project Size:  Approx. 62 ½" X 62 ½"
  • Skill Level:  Beginner
  • Method: Machine Pieced
  • Project Rating:  Easy
  • Sewing Machine:  Required
  • Description:  The free-form hourglass block may look simple but it has a unique twist: with overlapping and mismatched points, it creates negative and positive space. Adding curves to cutting, sewing, and final trimming of pieces makes the quilt-making process engaging and unpredictable until the last stitch. Explore the endless possibilities that can evolve from this humble, traditional block. Combinations of curved and straight lines create movement and texture while creating perfect balance. In this class, participants will learn the basics of free-form blocks from the book Cultural Fusion Quilts. They will choose to either follow the pattern or manipulate the design presented during the class to create their own unique version of the quilt.
  • Skills Taught:  Free-form blocks
  • Additional Class Fees:  $28 for the book, "Cultural Fusion Quilts".


 318  Peppermint Pinwheels on Sunday, 12th July


  • Instructor:  Sujata Shah
  • Project Size:  Approx. 64" x 64"
  • Skill Level:  Beginner
  • Method: Curve piecing, Free-Form blocks
  • Project Rating:  Easy
  • Sewing Machine:  Required
  • Description: Inspired by folk art applique flowers, Peppermint Pinwheels is a perfect spring or summer project. One might ask: is it possible to make a pieced block with curved flower petals without any patterns or template? The answer is, yes! This design focuses on cutting multiple curves through layers of fabrics and sewing the pieces into free-form flower blocks. Participants will follow instructions from the book Cultural Fusion Quilts and construct blocks resembling large appliqued flowers with appliqued centers. The process is easy to learn and quick to reproduce. Sujata will share many tips on making free-form blocks and offer many suggestions for color combinations and layouts during the class.
  • Skills Taught: Cutting in layers, Organic Piecing, Free-Form Blocks
  • Additional Class Fees:  $28 for the book, "Cultural Fusion Quilts".

I am excited to be part of this event. I hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 5, 2015


Oh what a way to re-enter my life!

I am not talking about the snow this winter! I have a lot to share about my travels in India but currently I lack focus.

The only goal I have is to focus on my eldest son Gautam's recovery from a health scare. He had caught a bug while he was in India and we thought he had fully recovered from it before returning home. The day after I arrived in Philadelphia and hardly got to the unpacking of my bags, I got a call from him. He was still struggling to recover and the doctors were still running tests.
His diagnoses - Typhoid Fever.
I got on the plane to Seattle the very next day to see him and help him recover.. After loosing 20+ lbs in a relatively short time, I am happy to say that his health is on the mend.

It has been seven weeks of being away from home. One more week before I finally will be home and back to normal routine. My bags are halfway unpacked and I am so anxious to get back to the normalcy of life. That means, cooking good meals for my husband, make new quilts, hanging the art I bought from India and sharing my book through workshops, book signing events and speaking at all the guilds I have been invited to.

I managed to teach one workshop in India which was a lot of fun. It was nice to see women in India excited about quilting. I can not wait to see the pictures of their projects.

I had to postpone the book signing event at Burkholders fabrics and lecture at Brandywine Quilters' guild due to these unexpected travel plans. But there are lot of teaching and speaking events I need to share with you all. So stay tuned, I will post the new dates in my next post.

And now another important matter.

If you won the book during the blog tour for my book and have not received it, I apologize for the delay. I was told today that your book is on it's way. Thank you for your patience.

If you are a reader from Australia, please let me know if you have spotted my book at your local quilt shop. If not, I need to fix that.. I know you all improv quilters out there are going to want my book. I have been away for so long and so soon after the release of Cultural Fusion Quilts, it seems like I am just starting out!

While I am in Seattle, I am going to make the best of next few days. I will be at QWNW today between 10:00 and 12:30 to catch up with old friends.. If you are in the area, Please drop by to say hello.

No matter what the circumstances are, it's good to be back home!