A passion for the needle

A passion for the needle

Unique Hobbies

A passion for the needle

It doesn’t take more than a colourful quilt or cheerfully-patterned bedspread to add an air of warmth to any room. This, at least, is Rosemary Anand’s philosophy.

 This seamstress picked up the needle at the age of 16 and once this developed into a full-fledged passion, she realised that she was accumulating more scraps of fabric than she knew what to do with. Since she couldn’t bring herself to throw any of them away, she decided to put the mismatched scraps to some constructive use — she began to incorporate them into bedspreads and quilts.

“I learnt to sew because I wanted to make my own clothes,” she recollects. “It began during the holidays after our tenth-standard exams. A lady down the road from where we lived taught a group of us how to sew.

It started with clothes for myself and then, for my children. My first quilt was made in 1978 — it was the result of all the sewing that I was doing for the kids. I had accumulated heaps of scrap, which I then converted into a patchwork quilt, creating a happy memory of  their childhood days.”

The first quilt Rosemary made taught her just how much could be done with leftover scrap. She continued to make quilts and the occasional bedspread, trying out different techniques and experimenting freely with patterns. “My daughter asked for a quilt when she was 12 and that one is now being used by my granddaughter.

 I also made a Christmas quilt for a friend — this had a Christmas tree in the centre, surrounded by blocks of little things related to the festival, like holly, candy canes, bells, candles and reindeer. The border of the quilt was made up of several small Christmas trees,” she says.

The process of putting together a quilt is a painstaking one, which requires patience and precision. “There are three layers to any quilt — the top, the polyfibre filling and the backing. Once the top layer of patchwork or embroidery is complete, a particular thickness for the filling is chosen, depending on whether it’s to be a warm quilt or a thin bedspread. The backing comprises plain fabric in one of the colours of the top layer. All three layers are taped  to the floor and then basted  together — it’s a fairly long and tedious process,” explains Rosemary.

Not surprisingly, she now has a few favourites among the many quilts she’s made. “There’s a pale green one I made for a grand-niece of mine, who happens to be a cat-lover and a vegetarian,” she laughs. “I also love making heirloom quilts — that is, quilts made with the old saris of relatives.

Many people don’t want to throw these saris away because they might have belonged to a grandmother or aunt who was very close to them, but who now can no longer wear them. So, they give them to me to recreate. Contrasting or complementary silk  is added to the sari and then, it is hand-embroidered to create an elegant bedspread.” Other favourites include a pair she made for twin boys — one with frames from the movie ‘Cars’ and the other a jungle scene.

   She’s also experimented quite successfully with other ideas, creating whole lengths of fabric for cushions, curtain borders and sofas entirely out of patchwork. Although her quilts — many of which are in bold, bight shades — suggest that she’s partial to bright colours, she’s very fond of whites and off-whites as well. “I once made a quilt entirely out of different shades and textures of white,” she recalls.

 “Each patch was joined to the next with a thin gold border.” Other quilts boast of rich, complementary colours. For instance, one of them includes blocks of bold shades of red, green, blue and pink against a gold and black background. The overall effect is fairly striking. In terms of fabric, she admits that she has two staples — raw silk and pure cotton.

At the end of the day, making quilts means one thing to her — a way to preserve memories. “Life’s kaleidoscope of precious memories can be captured through the fusion of little scraps and patches, courtesy the humble needle, thread and thimble,” she concludes.