Nearly Insane…Nearing the Finishing Line…Blocks 40 to 46

It is Row 7 today, in my series of posts on the progress of my Nearly Insane Quilt,  based on a 19th century quilt by Salinda Rupp... I have now less than 20 blocks to finish! The blocks are all set on point, with 7 and 6 blocks in the alternating rows.

The blocks are 6″ square and except for a few, foundation paper pieced by me.  I drafted all the patterns for FPP on the free Quilt Assistant software, based on patterns in Liz Lois’s book, which contains only line drawings of the finished blocks.

Most of the fabric used is Summer Breeze 3  (with a fat quarter bundle of matching solids) by Moda Fabrics, and the Dutch Garden 2 Collection by Boundless Fabric. I also used a couple FQs in blues and greens plus a jelly roll of yellows I had in my stash.

Nearly Insane Block  40

Number of pieces: 29

Level of Difficulty: Easy. This is one block where I made some changes from Salinda’s original block, adding those diagonal strips in the corner pieces. Now I wish I hadn’t.

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP)

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 40
Nearly Insane Block 41

Number of pieces: 31

Level of Difficulty: Moderate.   This basket block was another which would have been easier to English paper piece or even  machine piece with nesting seams. But it gave me a great opportunity to use up that pretty soft blue, lage floral for the background.  All in all, a very pretty block!

Technique: Foundation paper pieced with handle of the basket appliqued.

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 41
Nearly Insane Block 42

Number of pieces: 120

Level of Difficulty:  Difficult…hmm…moderate? 120 pieces in a 6″ x 6″ block and so many points! I love this particular block and have made it into an 18″x 18″ cushion cover too!

Technique: Foundation Paper Piecing

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 42
Nearly Insane Block 43

Number of pieces: 88 pieces

Level of Difficulty: Difficult, as a lone star block is. So many y-seams and then the 8 seams meeting at a point in the centre…I tried (unsuccessfully) fussy cutting the strips for the diamond pieces, succeeding only in the centre.

(Arguably) the prettiest block in the quilt!

Technique: Strip pieced the eight bigger diamonds and then machine pieced them together. Also machine pieced the 4 corners and the triangles to the star.

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 43
Nearly Insane Block 44

Number of pieces: 84

Level of Difficulty:  Truly insane block! With four 8-point stars and 32 y-seams! And to add to my woes, I kept losing the pieces, despite doing my best to keep track of them.

Technique: Foundation paper pieced the centre strips and English paper pieced the stars.

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 44
Nearly Insane Quilt Block 45

Number of pieces:44

Level of Difficulty: Moderate, because of the huge(!) 1″ pieces.

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP) and machine pieced.

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 45
Nearly Insane Quilt Block 46

Number of pieces:37

Level of Difficulty: Easy–another log cabin block, this time with a star in the centre! (Compare with Block 11 and Block 76)

Technique: Regular machine piecing

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 46

Would you say this was the prettiest row so far? In case you have not seen my earlier updates, click the links for each row below:

Row 1 ( Blocks 1 to 7)

Row 2 (Blocks 8 to 13) 

Row 3 (Blocks 14 to 20, with a couple missing)

Row 4 (Blocks 21 to 26)

Row 5 (Blocks 27 to 33)

Row 6 (Blocks 34 to 39)

 

 

 

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Nearly Insane…Nearing the Finishing Line…Blocks 34 to 39

In  my series of posts on the progress of my Nearly Insane Quilt,  based on a 19th century quilt by Salinda Rupp , here is Row 6. I have now less than 20 blocks to finish! The blocks are all set on point, with 7 and 6 blocks in the alternating rows.

The blocks are 6″ square and except for a few, foundation paper pieced by me.  I drafted all the patterns for FPP on the free Quilt Assistant software, based on patterns in Liz Lois’s book, which contains only line drawings of the finished blocks.

Most of the fabric used is Summer Breeze 3  (with a fat quarter bundle of matching solids) by Moda Fabrics, and the Dutch Garden 2 Collection by Boundless Fabric. I also used a couple FQs in blues and greens plus a jelly roll of yellows I had in my stash.

Nearly Insane Block  34

Number of pieces: 33

Level of Difficulty: Easy star block. Salinda has a number of these; however, she added interest by sewing up different centres for each. On my part, I did some fussy cutting to prettify them. (The temptation to substitute these blocks with more interesting and complicated ones was great but I did manage to resist it).

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP).

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 34

Nearly Insane Block 35

Number of pieces: 64

Level of Difficulty: Moderate. I do not like to foundation paper piece hour-glass QST blocks ( nor pinwheels, for that matter!) They are much easier to machine piece with nesting seams.

Technique: Foundation paper pieced.

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 35

Nearly Insane Block 36

Number of pieces: 79

Level of Difficulty:  Hmmm…moderate? 79 pieces in a 6″ x 6″ block! The four-patches are also easier machine-pieced than foundation pieced. Lots of triangles and lots of points to match.

Technique: Foundation Paper Piecing

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 36

Nearly Insane Block 37

Number of pieces: 97

Level of Difficulty: Moderate.  Though it has 97 pieces, not too many points to match; it is quite a pretty block too.

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP)

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 37

Nearly Insane Block 38

Number of pieces: 45

Level of Difficulty:  Easy, easy! The fussy cutting and high contrast make it quite a delight to look at!

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP)

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 38

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 39

Number of pieces: 29

Level of Difficulty: Easy and whimsical! Another one where I used up my larger prints.

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP)

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 39

 

I think I may be able to get back to quilting pretty soon. My sciatica seems to have improved dramatically with the Kerala Ayurveda Oil Treatment I am taking! In the meanwhile, in case you have missed my earlier updates, click the links for each row below:

Row 1 ( Blocks 1 to 7)

Row 2 (Blocks 8 to 13) 

Row 3 (Blocks 14 to 20, with a couple missing)

Row 4 (Blocks 21 to 26)

Row 5 (Blocks 27 to 33)

 

 

 

Nearly Insane…Nearing the Finishing Line…Blocks 27 to 33

My sciatica pain is not yet gone, and that keeps me away from the sewing machine! So I continue my series of posts on the progress of my Nearly Insane Quilt,  based on a 19th century quilt by Salinda Rupp... I have now less than 20 blocks to finish! The blocks are all set on point, with 7 and 6 blocks in the alternating rows.

The blocks are 6″ square and except for a few, foundation paper pieced by me.  I drafted all the patterns for FPP on the free Quilt Assistant software, based on patterns in Liz Lois’s book, which contains only line drawings of the finished blocks.

Most of the fabric used is Summer Breeze 3  (with a fat quarter bundle of matching solids) by Moda Fabrics, and the Dutch Garden 2 Collection by Boundless Fabric. I also used a couple FQs in blues and greens plus a jelly roll of yellows I had in my stash.

These are the seven blocks from the fifth row :

Nearly Insane Block 27

Number of pieces: 16

Level of Difficulty: Difficult. A number of y-seams there plus the eight seams meeting n the centre! I also attempted some fussy cutting there! The block could probably have been prettier with more of a contrast; but I do like the soft colours too.

Technique: English paper pieced and hand-pieced

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 27

Nearly Insane Block  28

Number of pieces: 69

Level of Difficulty: Easy… despite the fair number of pieces. Again I did some fussy cutting for the corner pansies.

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP).

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 28

Nearly Insane Block 29

Number of pieces: 45

Level of Difficulty:  Easy. Took me longer to cut the striped triangles ‘just so’ than to piece the block.

Technique: Foundation Paper Piecing

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 29

Nearly Insane Block 30

Number of pieces: 34

Level of Difficulty: Easy.  What a delightfully whimsical block this is too.  I quite love it.

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP)

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 30

Nearly Insane Block 31

Number of pieces: 24

Level of Difficulty:  Easy. Not my favourite block and I just might end up re-doing this one. I do believe it needs more contrast to work.

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP)

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 31

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 32

Number of pieces: 58

Level of Difficulty: Moderate: Has a lot of points to match, so I would call it moderate. The plentiful half square and quater square triangles also meant there were several templates in the foundation paper piecing pattern. But it a pretty block, typically Ruppish, where she put together whatever she had at hand to make it add up to 6″!

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP)

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 32

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 33

Number of pieces: 28

Level of Difficulty: Easy but pretty. The larger pieces gave me the opportunity to use the larger prints from the Summer Breeze 3 collection.

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP)

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 33

 

In case you have missed my earlier updates, you can see

Row 1 ( Blocks 1-7) here   ; 

Row 2 (Blocks 8 to 13) on this post.

Row 3 (Blocks 14 to 20, with a couple missing) are to be found on this post

Row 4 (Blocks 21 to 26) can be seen here

 

 

 

 

Nearly Insane…Nearing the Finishing Line…Blocks 21 to 26

Here come the blocks from the fourth row of my Nearly Insane Quilt,  based on a 19th century quilt by Salinda Rupp... I have now less than 20 blocks to finish and I have started sharing the finished blocks in a series of posts, row by row! The blocks are all set on point, with 7 and 6 blocks in the alternating rows.

The blocks are 6″ square and except for a few, foundation paper pieced by me.  I drafted all the patterns for FPP on the free Quilt Assistant software, based on patterns in Liz Lois’s book, which contains only line drawings of the finished blocks.

Most of the fabric used is Summer Breeze 3  (with a fat quarter bundle of matching solids) by Moda Fabrics, and the Dutch Garden 2 Collection by Boundless Fabric. I also used a couple FQs in blues and greens plus a jelly roll of yellows I had in my stash.

These blocks are particularly pretty; I think Salinda was becoming more and more adventurous as she made newer blocks.

Nearly Insane Block 21

Number of pieces: 25

Level of Difficulty: Easy, but isn’t it pretty? I enjoyed fussy cutting those beautiful pansies.

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP)

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 21
Nearly Insane Block  22

Number of pieces: 133

Level of Difficulty: Difficult… it did have a lot of points to match…And one thing I would never recommend is making a pinwheel with paper piecing!Not only did I join a couple of them the wrong way, there is such a huge bulk in the centre that it is impossible to get a nice point there. FPP is also wasted on 4 patches! Easier piecedthe regular way.

(Did you notice I actually tried to fussy cut those flying geese?)

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP). I recommend regular machine piecing for everything but the flying geese !

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 22

Nearly Insane Block 23

Number of pieces: 45

Level of Difficulty:  Moderate, only because those narrow 1/4″ strips were so fiddly!

Technique: English Paper Piecing and hand-piecing, as I did not have a sewing machine when I did this one!

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 23
Nearly Insane Block 24

Number of pieces: 89

Level of Difficulty: Difficult for two reasons. Firstly, lots of points to match and secondly, one of the more difficult ones to draft as well as piece, as the flying geese are not all the same  1:2 ratio!

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP)

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 24

Nearly Insane Block 25

Number of pieces: 87

Level of Difficulty:  A very unusual block! The centre 3″ x 2″ portion contains such tiny pieces as compared to the huge outer pieces!

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP)

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 25

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 26

Number of pieces: 32

Level of Difficulty: Easy.

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP)

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 26

In case you have missed my earlier updates, you can see

Row 1 ( Blocks 1-7) here   ; 

Row 2 (Blocks 8 to 13) on this post.

Row 3 (Blocks 14 to 20, with a couple missing) are to be found on this post

 

 

 

 

Nearly Insane…Nearing the Finishing Line…Blocks 14 to 20

This is the third in my series of updates on my Nearly Insane Quilt, based on a 19th century quilt by Salinda Rupp... As I have now less than 20 blocks to finish, I have started sharing the finished blocks in a series of posts, row by row! The blocks are all set on point, with 7 and 6 blocks in the alternating rows.

You can see Blocks 1-7 here    and Blocks 8 to 13 on this post.

The blocks are 6″ square and except for a few, foundation paper pieced by me.  I drafted all the patterns for FPP on the free Quilt Assistant software, based on patterns in Liz Lois’s book, which contains only line drawings of the finished blocks.

Most of the fabric used is Summer Breeze 3  (with a fat quarter bundle of matching solids) by Moda Fabrics, and the Dutch Garden 2 Collection by Boundless Fabric. I also used a couple FQs in blues and greens plus a jelly roll of yellows I had in my stash.

There are two blocks yet to be done in this row, so I have only five blocks here instead  of seven.

Nearly Insane Block 14

Number of pieces: 25

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP)

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 14
Nearly Insane Block 15

Number of pieces: 35

Level of Difficulty: Easy, but did have a lot of points to match…

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP)

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 15
Nearly Insane Block 17

Number of pieces: 121

Level of Difficulty: Difficult.

I found this the most difficult block in the 80 odd that I have pieced so far in this quilt. Not only were there dozens of points to match, it also had rectangles, which are not very easy to foundation paper piece. When I was cutting the fabric, I didn’t realize these were rectangles, so all my fabric was cut wrong! I had also drafted it as a series of ‘square in square’ templates, and matching the points was quite a task. The least bit of discrepancy appears quite glaring when the pieces are so small. So I resorted to hand-piecing at assembly time.

Technique: Foundation Paper Piecing and hand-pieced. I would suggest hand-piecing or English paper-piecing for this one!

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 17
Nearly Insane Block 19

Number of pieces: 44

Level of Difficulty: Easy, but lots of points to match again. This block was one of the more difficult ones to draft, as the pieces are set on point!

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP)

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 19
Nearly Insane Block 20

Number of pieces: 40

Level of Difficulty: Easy. A very unusual, but very pretty block.

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP)

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 20

 

 That leaves Block 16, which is almost totally improvised, made with all the scraps Salina was left over with, I am sure. So I have also kept it for the last. Block 18, on the other hand, has 229 (yes, two hundred and twenty nine!) pieces and is next on my list. Cutting the pieces took me over four hours! So, let’s see when I can get around to it. Meanwhile, here is happy quilting to all you quilters out there!

 

 

 

 

Nearly Insane…Nearing the Finishing Line…Blocks 8 to 13

Continuing the update on my Nearly Insane Quilt, based on a 19th century quilt by Salinda Rupp... As I have now less than 20 blocks to finish, I have started sharing the finished blocks in a series of posts, row by row! The blocks are all set on point, with 7 and 6 blocks in the alternating rows.

You can see Blocks 1-7 here.

The blocks are 6″ square and except for a few, foundation paper pieced by me.  I drafted all the patterns for FPP on the free Quilt Assistant software, based on patterns in Liz Lois’s book, which contains only line drawings of the finished blocks.

Most of the fabric used is Summer Breeze 3  (with a fat quarter bundle of matching solids) by Moda Fabrics, and the Dutch Garden 2 Collection by Boundless Fabric. I also used a couple FQs in blues and greens plus a jelly roll of yellows I had in my stash.

So here comes Row Two, with six blocks!

Nearly Insane Block 8

Number of pieces: 148

Level of Difficulty: One of the more difficult blocks, with lots of pieces and lots of points to match! But this block also symbolizes what I love about this quilt. Salinda did not worry about the directions of the HSTs; it is the whimsy that makes this quilt so charming.

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP)

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 8

Nearly Insane Block 9

Number of pieces: 76

Level of Difficulty: Moderate, mainly because of the number of pieces.

Technique: Hand-pieced (because I did not have a sewing machine at hand when I did this one.

Nearly Insane Block 9

Nearly Insane Block 10

Number of pieces:  25

Level of Difficulty: Very Easy! I think Salinda needed to do a few really easy blocks after 8 and 9!

Technique: Foundation Paper Piecing

(The fabric here, other than the green, is from the Dutch Garden Collection.)

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 10

Nearly Insane Block 11

Number of pieces: 24

Level of Difficulty: Easy log cabin block with a little bit of fussy cutting for the centre 4-patch. But how very pretty it is. There are two more similar log cabin blocks in the quilt; #46 has a star in the centre and #76 has a square.

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP)

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 11

Nearly Insane Block 12

Number of pieces:

Level of Difficulty: Easy. Another whimsical block where Salinda just just pieced whatever small bits of fabric she had at hand. I love it!

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP)

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 12

Nearly Insane Block 13

Number of pieces: 9

Level of Difficulty: Easy. This has to be the simplest block in the quilt, identical to Block 78 except for the width of the strips, I think.

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP)

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 13

So that takes care of Row 2.  Check back to see how Row 3 is progressing!

 

 

 

 

 

Nearly Insane…Nearing the Finishing Line…Blocks 1 to 7

An update on my Nearly Insane Quilt, based on a 19th century quilt by Salinda Rupp, has been long overdue. As I have now less than 20 blocks to finish, I’ll start sharing the finished blocks in a series of posts, row by row! The blocks are all set on point, with 7 and 6 blocks in the alternating rows.

The blocks are 6″ square and except for a few, foundation paper pieced by me.  I drafted all the patterns for FPP on the free Quilt Assistant software, based on patterns in Liz Lois’s book, which contains only line drawings of the finished blocks.

Most of the fabric used is Summer Breeze 3  (with a fat quarter bundle of matching solids) by Moda Fabrics, and the Dutch Garden 2 Collection by Boundless Fabric. I also used a couple FQs in blues and greens plus a jelly roll of yellows I had in my stash.

So here comes Row One, with seven blocks!

Nearly Insane Block 1

Number of pieces: 35

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP)

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 1

Nearly Insane Block 2

Number of pieces: 21

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Technique: English paper pieced (because I did not have a sewing machine at hand when I did this one.

Salinda Rupp Quilt Nearly Insane by patchworkofmylife Block 2
Nearly Insane Quilt Block 2

Nearly Insane Block 3

Number of pieces:  37

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Technique: Foundation Paper Piecing

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 3

Nearly Insane Block 4

Number of pieces: 33

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP)

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 4

Nearly Insane Block 5

Number of pieces: 40

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP)

(The blue fabric here is from the Dutch Garden Collection.)

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 5

Nearly Insane Block 6

Number of pieces: 21

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP)

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 6

Nearly Insane Block 7

Number of pieces: 36

Level of Difficulty: Easy (though did have a number of poiunts to match!)

Technique: Foundation paper pieced (FPP)

Nearly Insane Quilt Block 7

Aren’t they pretty? I am so totally in love with this quilt.

 

 

 

 

 

The Broken Wing: The Crane Quilt

A miniature silk quilt completed in 2018, for Andy Brunhammer & Jim Smith’s Hope Project.*

Patchworkofmylife crane mini quilt
Pieced origami quilt block

The beautiful cream colored silks were a gift from Tina Katwal of The Square Inch, Chennai!

Patchworkofmylife crane mini quilt
10 cranes were pieced in pure fine silk on a textured raw silk background; the smallest 1” and largest 3” big

Patchworkofmylife crane mini quilt
The hand quilted rows are 1/8” to 1/10” apart.

The cranes are lightly trapuntoed and outlined in silver thread.

Patchworkofmylife crane mini quilt
Weeds made with unraveled silver thread embroidered in to add interest to the background.

Patchworkofmylife crane mini quilt
The smallest, leading crane has a broken wing…giving the quilt its title.

Patchworkofmylife crane mini quilt
The finished cranes mini quilt ‘The Broken Wing’

Ready to hang…

*The Story of the Hope Project:

I quote Jim:

A couple of years ago a Facebook connection was making Cranes quilt blocks, and I learned that he was making 1,000 Crane Blocks. I asked him about his idea and why did he feel inclined to make the 1,000 Cranes. 
I had read about the young  Japanese Hiroshima victim, Sadako Sasaki  and her challenge to herself about attempting to fold 1,000 Origami Cranes. The tale spins in different directions whether she survived her goal before she passed away from complications attributed to the nuclear explosion and sickness

I then asked Andy if he was willing to, between quilt projects, to possibly create Crane paper-pieced blocks from leftover scraps. I told him that I had an idea of designing and creating, once we reached 1,000 Cranes, a possible series of Cranes Quilt panels that we could donate to a children’s hospital. 

Andy agreed. I created a pattern. At the time we were asked by a friend of ours, Melissa Helms, to design a quilt for the 25th Anniversary for a children’s cancer society...

And so the Hope Project was born, which I joined in.

The Hope Project was premiered at the UUC Octagon Art Center in Clearwater, Florida in January this year. Five of the 40 odd quilts made by Jim and Andy were also recently shown at Houston 2019. They eventually hope to donate their collection to a Pediatric Cancer facility/ organization/ hospital…

Who’s The Prettiest of Them All?

I bought this panel of the Frozen princesses To make a quilt ( or wall hanging) for my grand-niece who is a great fan of the two!

The Frozen Princesses Anna and Elsa are my grand-niece K’s favourites!

She was due to visit us and I thought of a quick gift for her. But how boring would this be!

So I came up with this idea.

K goes to the centre of the panel, while the other two look at her admiringly.

I printed her face on a printer-ready fabric sheet after calculating the size I would need to make it.

Everything got more complicated than necessary because I planned to put K on the right side. I cut out the pink princess ( is that Elsa or Anna?) before I realised that that would make my darling Princess K an ‘outsider’ because the other two had interlocked arms.

So I disengaged their arms and locked them with Princess K’s who moved to the centre. Ah, that’s the way I like it. The Disney Princesses look at her admiringly ( and a bit enviously?). The Resident Consultant did not think much of my original idea of a silver dress for his Princess. So I retained the silver yoke and made her blue dress from…a rayon grocery bag! ( Jaipur is a big exporter of women’s clothing. With single use plastic being banned in India, our shopkeepers are using bags made from export-surplus fabric and export-reject dresses).

The quilting was kept to a minimum. ( Also because I had just over a couple of hours for the quilting and finishing). I folded the lighter pink border to the back of the quilted piece, leaving the darker plum inner border to frame the quilt. No binding. The top border became the sleeve.

Not that my Princess minded the short-cuts taken to finish her portrait! She couldn’t believe what she saw.

“How? wow! how? wow…”, she exclaimed!

And here is the Princess herself, posing with her quilted wall-hanging.

Princess K loves her quilt!

Now that done, I have to decide what comes up next!

The Baroda Bayadére: A Painted and Quilted Miniature Portrait

The Baroda Bayadere

The Legend

I love to browse through antiquarian books and read stories of the India that was….

One day, I was flipping through the e-edition of a profusely illustrated book written by Louis Rousselet, a Frenchman who travelled from 1864 to 1870 to the numerous kingdoms that dotted Central India and was treated as an honoured guest by the rulers. In June 1865, he reached Baroda in West India and was received with great pomp by  the Gaicowar Maharaj ( as the king liked to be called). I was reading his account of the grandeur of the palace, when I came to a sudden stop on page 99, captivated by the young dancing girl who stared back at me.

She and her companions had intrigued Rousselet too. He writes

Several young and pretty dancing girls, covered with trinkets and attired in thin chemises, mingle with the strange and motley crowd that fills the palace. These are bayadéres, or dancing girls; who have perfect liberty to go wherever they please. They enter the king’s apartments, seat themselves on the floor, and converse boldly with persons of the very highest rank. This singular privilige accorded to the bayadéres is of very great service: their presence makes up, in some slight degree, for the absence of the ladies shut up in the zenana.

At evening the strains of lute resound on every side; the chambers and terraces are illuminated, and brilliant circles are formed around these charming nautchinis, who give quite a vestal aspect to the palace songs and dances… (while) the king and his ministers …discuss State affairs...

The bayadére has been beautifully captured in this print made from a wood engraving.  Not in a a thin chemise, but covered from top to bottom in voluminous folds.  As I looked at her, it was there, the proud and confident bearing that the Frenchman refers too. But was there something more? A hint of pain…and a resigned acceptance of her fate? Was there amusement at the ways of the world in the slight curve to her pouting lips? This young girl, about 15 or 16 old, was after all, no more than a concubine. Just a little better than a slave in the palace. Available to whoever fancied her. Was she really free to move out of the palace? What went on in her mind as she posed for the white man who sketched her? Her eyes spoke to me and called out to me to bring her alive!

The Preparation

About the copyright: I spent several days trying to establish who owns the copyrights to the image. The book itself has been re-printed several times, including by an Indian publisher some 10 years ago. I wrote to the latter but got no response. Some stock image websites carry the image, and one site has even sold a print  from the original wood engraving. But it is clear from the general information available online that because of its antiquity, the image falls in the public domain.

I enlarged the picture on my laptop, removed the background on MSWord and prepared the vector image on CorelDraw.

The enlarged vector image of the bayadére

While I debated how I wanted to create her (it was certainly not going to be a black and white image), I did two miniature quilts based on prints from the same book! You can see the Pali Darwaza that he visited before he came to Baroda, in a previous post. From Baroda he travelled to the Rajpootana (Rajasthan today) traversing through the dreaded Bheel country, where the wood engraving for this cenotaph, the tchatri of Tintoui, was made.

By this time, I was getting around to the idea of doing a miniature for my bayadere too and I started work on her from the A4 size image I had made.  Finally, I would combine my two loves, painting portraits and quilting!

The Process

I trace the outline of the girl on tracing paper, using an Iron On Transfer Pen acquired on my last visit to the USA. I am not very happy with it, as it is not as fine as I would have liked it to be. But it serves my purpose. I transfer the image twice, once on to the cream coloured background fabric and then just the upper garment–the odhani (stole) on pink damask silk fabric. The face is traced separately on cream coloured quilting fabric–just the eyebrows, pupils and mouth to act as a guide for placement of the features during painting. Then is traced the left hand that peeps from under the sleeve and the foot that ventures out from under the ghaaghra/ lehnga (long skirt).

Baroda Bayadere patchworkofmylife 2019
Tracing the image outlines and main features of the face with an Iron-On Transfer Pen on Tracing paper.

The Bayadere Comes Into Being

I use Inktense pencils and a  000 size brush to  paint the face.

Starting to work on the face with Inktense pencils. It is about 1.25″ long

…and the folds of her odhani.

Baroda Bayadere miniature quilt, Patchworkofmylife 2019
I am happy with the initial painting. Details will come in with the quilting.

I want  a suitable setting for her and browse the net for images in public domain. I settle for this image of a stone screen door in Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi. It will take forward the story of my Bayadere beautifully!

Baroda Bayadere - patcworkofmylife miniature painte/quilted portrait
I am not willing to waste time on painting this elaborate screen, so I scale it to a suitable size and print it on commercially available printer-ready fabric.

 I experiment placing the screen on the background fabric using this stabilizer by Floriani that I had read about and bought. You just iron it onto the back of your applique piece and hand press it to the background! No pins required and nothing messy like glue. It works beautifully well and the finished piece is not stiff. You can easliy peel it off and adjust the placement on the background.

I then iron on the tracing of the full outline of the girl on the background.  Time to start working on the ghaaghra/ lehnga (long skirt). I  rummage through my silk and brocade scraps. I find the perfect pink brocade for the tiny pleated sleeves that peep from under the odhani and decide I like the black brocade for the ghaaghra. I do not have enough of it, but let us see how we will get around that!

I rummage some more and find gold fabric that can work for the petticoats peeping out from under the ghaghra. Working with these fabrics is not easy as they are stiff and I want real folds to mimic those on the original. Moreover, I cannot afford any raw edges, as the fabric frays; so I add misty fuse under the gold fabric to stop the fraying. The ghaaghra is hand-stitched to the background with a hemming stitch. I am lucky to have a part of the selvedge in my scrap and that will work great as a border of the ghaaghra. I also add black tulle to the shadowed areas, but that doesn’t work for me and I end up painting in shadows with black. Making the ghaaghra and petticoat to my satisfaction takes me the better part of a day!  I later work more on it,  but we’ll come to that.

I then trim the odhani from the fabric on which I had painted it, along the outline, and glue it carefully to the background, matching the outline. The face is similarly trimmed to size and glued to the background.

Everything is in place. The neck is not fully trimmed and she is yet to put on her ‘trinkets’ .

Learning: Painting on a separate piece of fabric and then attaching the piece to the background allows one to make mistakes and rectify them. However, it would be better to trim the to-be-appliqued piece about 1/8″ beyond the final outline. Stitch on the outline with the applique in place on the background and then trim it to size. Then the stitching line is exactly where it is meant to be. But do remember where your final stitching line is meant to be!

Once everything is in order, I can go ahead and stitch  it down with invisiible thread.  I paint in the jewellery on her neck and ears. This is where I make a mistake, which I realised  only after finishing the quilt… I forgot to trim the neck and my Bayadere has a fat neck, which I plan to recify now. I do remember not to stitch down the ghaaghra, for I have plans for it.The whole picture looks a bit flat as I finish it. I add a double layer of polybatting and a sheet of foundation paper by George Siciliani to stabilize the piece under the girl and the odhani, and carefully quilt in the folds of the odhani and outline the jewellery to give it depth.  The foundation paper tears away and my girl looks lovely after the trapunto! I now ease in more batting between the folds of the ghaaghra and background fabric using a huge needle, to shape her leg under the garment.

Face and odhani folds after the trapunto

I have a brilliant idea for the background. I have found the perfect fabric for the backing; the print is similar to the pattern on the screen behind the girl. I use fusible fleece gifted by my friend Jaya Parker and prepare the sandwich. I plan to quilt it from the back, following the printed pattern!

But before I start doing that, I have to do something  to make the back more interesting. I attach a piece of the background fabric on the back just behind the screen. I now quilt it, so that I have a screen at the back too.  I   consider painting in the stone trellis on the back, but am wise enough to leave it for the end. You will soon find out why.

I then quilt the rest of the background from the back.

Tha back of the quilt

The backing fabric is a perfect match to the stone screen

The screen is quilted rom the front and background from the back.

I am enjoying the free-motion quilting …and zigzag quilt the shadows around her, intensified with Inktense colours.

I quilt the line under her brows and the line of her mouth and chin. The trinkets, of course!

I even dare to quilt the tiny face. I then have fun with a a wooden toothpick and sculpt the contours of her trapuntoed face!

Finally, the shadows behind the girl are quilted and the shadows in her ghaaghra are quilted in too. She is done, except for the floor! I consider adding a shadow of the screen door and play around with photopaint to get an image I can work with.

Playing with the screen door image to get a shadow.

But I decide it is too much work! A quilter friend, Sobana, shows me images of receding tiles in a quilt and asks how it is done. I decide to experiment.

The receding tiles floor.

Are we done now? What about the binding, label and sleeve?

Finishing The Quilt

This actually deserves a post of its own. The binding and sleeve are simple enough; I stitch the sleeve into the binding on the top edge. But that hides my lovely arched door at the back and I am glad I did not spend time painting it.

More importatly,  I want to keep the story of my bayadere with the quilt and even more importantly, I wished to incorporate somewhere on this quilt, the heart-warming impromptu poem written by my friend, Suranga Date, when she saw the quilt being made.

Some old souls
still wander,
stunned at a changing world,
clutching at memories
as they watch
fabrics and clothes being abused;
not for their own exposure
but the wearers.

And then one day,
they watch
as a honeyed artist,
recreates them;
so much attention
to the odhani design,
folds and design stitched in;
the beauteous ghaagraa
living voluminous in black and gold,
the gold petticoat folds
peering at the base,
typically unsuccesful at covering the feet.

In her world,
it is not the done thing
to speak with words;
It is the eyes
that say them.

So few have receptors
in their brains for these visual words;
It takes a Madhu Mathur
to see and hear them…

She smiles.
This was exactly how it was.

The Frenchman tried,
but this one seems to succeed more.
Perhaps it has
something to do with Jaipur,
and its old Gayatri connections
to Baroda.

She smiles a bit more.
It has more to do with
everything coming
from the artist’s heart.

A big one at that!

Isnt it beautiful? I  consider various options and end up doing this!

I  design the label with the original bayadere image and its source printed on it.  I also write down the story of this quilt in a separate text box. The third text-box  contains Suranga’s poem. These are adjusted on a letter-sized page and printed on fabric.

I print the label, the legend and the poem on a printer -ready fabric sheet

The three boxes are lined with fabric individually to take care of raw edges. I start attaching the label as a pocket with the top edge left open. The plan is to insert the legend of the quilt and the poem inside the pocket. But with one edge of the pocket-label hand-stitched down,  I have another brain-wave. I stitch the bottom edge of the strip containing the poem inside the top edge of the label! No chances of the poem getting lost.

Am still undecided with what to do with the legend. And then comes the solution.

The legend is stitched to one side of the poem strip, which in turn is stitched just inside the label pocket.

The legend is folded over the poem…

The poem strip is neatly folded

And slipped inside the label pocket! Safe for as long as the quilt!

The Finished Quilt

So this how the quilt looks from the back.

The back of the quilt.

And here are images of the front.

The folds of the odhani and the ghaaghraa…

The folds of the odhani and ghaaghra

The details of the fabric manipulated for the ghaaghra…

Highlights in terracotta to add depth to the screen.

Just how big is the figure? About 6″ from the top of her head to the lehnga edge.

A

The quilt is 15″ across.

And her, finally, is the finished quilt!

The Baroda Bayadere – the completed quilt.

I hope I have been able to do justice to the Baroda Bayadere! She looks a bit older here than in the book, but that is understandable, she is older now! She also smiles a bit more in my quilt than she did in the wood engraving of the stranger.  That was unintentional. Perhaps she likes me better?