The patch-perfect work

Quilt making

The patch-perfect work

Covered in dust bunnies, memories of your past lie forgotten but once in a while, when it’s time for a spring clean, they emerge, wielding whips of nostalgia that hit you relentlessly until you’re aching in places you didn’t even know you could. Baby clothes, old blankets and memory-stained shirts... Everything you couldn’t throw away but have no space to keep, can be converted into something useful — quilts.

Compact and utilitarian, these memory quilts are an easy way to store precious memories, which is why many people in the city are taking to the craft. Chitra, Prachala and Varsha, co-founders of an upcycling business called ‘Reinvention’, specialise in making such quilts. Narrating how they came up with the idea, Chitra says, “I had a lot of baby clothes and toys; while most of the items were given away, I couldn’t part with my son’s baby clothing. They held memories that I didn’t want to give away. So I came up with the idea of making a quilt with all his old clothes.” At the time, she didn’t know they were called memory blankets but when she showed off her work on Facebook, people loved the idea and asked her to do the same for them.

It’s not just memory quilts that are becoming popular. Instead of buying expensive and unremarkable quilts, many have opted to customise their own with patterns and designs of their liking. Archana Ramachandran, one half of ‘Goobay Jodi’, started ‘quilting’ 2 years ago. After many YouTube tutorials, she learnt the art of sewing patterns and layers. “I always wanted to craft but I didn’t expect to love sewing this much,” she says.

While Archana mainly uses simple geometric shapes, Manjul Menon and her daughter Manini, founders of ‘BEAD Social Enterprise’, experiment with colours and weaves. “We started tailoring when a woman who’d been abandoned by her husband and had 2 children to care for, approached us; she only had a sewing machine. It started with home linen and moved on to quilt-making. We make 2 types of quilts — one for donation purposes and the other, for sale. The first category is made from donated bed linen, curtains, towels and saris. They are usually cotton and come in attractive colours and designs. The second category is targeted at people who don’t want ‘charity’,” explains Manjul.

Each quilt has at least 3 layers which makes sewing them harder. Archana sews the patterns by herself but gives the final sewing work to a tailor. Chitra also mentions that it takes a lot of time to put together everything. “One of the challenges is to make a sturdy quilt out of secondhand cloth. We try to use every piece of cloth the best we can,” she adds. At ‘BEAD’, thick quilts are stuffed with faded or damaged cloth while the rest is used as the cover. “The top layer is made to look attractive and the bottom layer remains plain,” says Manjul.

It’s not just saris and blankets that can be used to make quilts. Chanjeev Kaur, founder of ‘Crochet and Colours’ on Facebook, makes unusual quilts: “I crochet quilts. I use the quilting patterns but work with materials like acrylic fibre or anchor thread,” she says.
Many of these people also customise and personalise orders, aside from memory quilts.

“We take a small number of orders, from either someone who wants to reuse their saris or get a memory quilt made using a beloved’s clothes,” says Manjul. Doesn’t snuggling seem much more appealing now?

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