Sunday, September 13, 2020

Kalamkari textile workshop with Kirit Chitara at the Selvedge World Fair

The world gets smaller every day! This is especially true now, with the aid of technology. 

Through the dedication, hard work and forethought of Polly Leonard and the team at Selvedge Magazine, paired with Zoom technology, I was able to attend the Selvedge World Fair 2020A Celebration of Cloth, Culture and Creativity—to take a virtual workshop with Kirit Chitara on kalamkari painting. It was amazing and eye-opening, to say the least.

Issue 93 of Selvedge magazine and page spread featuring kalamkari textiles.

Kalamkari textiles
I was introduced to kalamkari textiles by Rohni Sandhu, the owner of Diamond Textiles. Diamond Textiles is a fabric company that specializes in authentic world textiles... not reproductions that are printed on a base fabric to "look like" various woven, dyed or printed techniques like ikat, serape and kalamkari

One of my Make Nine 2020 projects is to make something with yardage I have of this beautiful textile. The kalamkari prints [from Diamond Textiles] that I have (shown below) are block printed by hand with natural dyes. 

Hand block printed kalamkari cotton fabrics from Diamond Textiles.
Natural dyes: madder and indigo.

The virtual kalamkari workshop with Kirit Chitara—an artisan from India whose family has carried on this tradition for eight generations—focused on the Mata-ni-Pachedi hand painting kalamkari process. With the assistance of an interpreter, Kirit explained the history of this 800 year-old art and the meaning behind the images of the mother goddess, animals and flora depicted in the scenes. 

Kirit paints the colors by hand using a sharpened bamboo stick.

Generations of kalamkari artisans
Starting when he was a young boy of 5, Kirit learned how to draw the images by watching his grandfather and father. The workshop participants watched Kirit create an entire scene (with pen and paper, for ease in capturing on video) before our eyes. There was no sketch, tracing or pencil guidelines that he followed. Starting with the mother goddess, then adding mountains, water, sea creatures, animals and other figures... the drawing was a total stream-of-consciousness from the story in his mind through his hands to the ink on paper.

The start of the drawing.

Progress on drawing the goddess.

Natural dyes
The colors in the images and the background of these textiles are created with natural dyes—madder, indigo, turmeric, iron, pomegranate, etc. The drawing, painting, mordenting, dyeing and washing processes are extensive. Depending on size, a piece can take anywhere from 1-1/2 to 8 months to complete. 

Various seeds, roots and minerals used for natural dyes.

Questions from worldwide participants
People from all over the world attended this workshop. Selvedge, the host of the event, is based in London, England. Judging from the various accents of the attendees, people from several countries and continents were able to attend virtually. 

When asked, Kirit replied that his favorite parts of the process was coming up with the narrative and doing the drawings. He also enjoys adding the details to the images. He said, "the filling-in process is tedious," at which we all chuckled. When asked if women did any of the painting or drawing of the kalamkari, he responded that the women do the more tedious parts—like the filling-in of outlined areas and backgrounds.

Kirit Chitara, kalamkari artisan from Gujarat India,
at the virtual workshop.

Kirit showed several of his kalamkari textiles (like the one below) during the workshop. Pieces made by Kirit and other textile artisans participating in the Selvedge World Fair can be seen and purchased on the Selvedge website. The kalamkari items start on page 12.

Close-up of one of the kalamkari textiles made by Kirit Chitara.

Kudos and thank you to the Selvedge magazine team for coordinating and hosting this virtual event! The lectures, workshops, show-and-tell sessions, and the streaming video at the weaving village were full of information about textiles, culture and the creative artisans and entrepreneurial businesses involved with preserving, sustaining, supporting and sharing these textile traditions.

With a 6:45am login, a freshly brewed cup of coffee in hand, I was able to participate in this amazing, worldwide textile extravaganza in my own home in the US. It doesn't get any better than that!


Monday, August 31, 2020

Stitching Success Tracker indicates a productive August

As the month comes to a close, the August Stitching Success Tracker indicates another full month of stitching... machine piecing for the 100 Days 100 Blocks project, English paper piecing Glorious Hexagons, a Saturday spent free-motion quilting a charity quilt, and a Make Nine finish.

August 2020 Success Tracker

Fourteen EPP hexagons completed
Hand piecing EPP [English paper piecing] blocks has become addictive! I've found this to be an easy project to pick up for small increments of time... to baste fabric bits around a couple of paper templates is satisfying and productive. It's also proof that by spending a few minutes each day, a lot can be accomplished. Fourteen 6" hexagons were completed this month. 

Fourteen EPP hexagons completed in August.

Two recent favorites...

EPP 6" hexagon block with fussy cut bunnies.

EPP 6" hexagon.

And this is a free-motion quilted cuddle quilt to support my guild's community service project.

Free-motion quilted cuddle quilt.

After basting a few paper templates this evening, I will color in the August 31 space on my tracker.


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Kantha stitched zipper bag, Make Nine finish

Checking this UFO off the list! 

One of my Make Nine 2020 goals was to complete a UFO [unfinished object]... I had many to choose from, to be sure. Since the soothing, repetitive nature of hand stitching has become a mental salvation from the news grind about Covid-19, this kantha stitching project was easily revived from the UFO pile. 

So this is my seventh Make Nine 2020 UFO finish—a kantha and decorative stitched zipper bag.

Kantha and hand stitching zipper bag.

Kantha stitching and hand embroidery
This piece was started sometime in 2018 with the hand embroidered Sunshine Girl. My fabric of choice for hand stitching is a yarn-dyed woven from Diamond Textiles. Over the span of 2+ years, the kantha stitching slowly filled the background areas, using up random, single strands of colored embroidery floss. The needle effortlessly glided through this yarn-dyed fabric to create lines of multi-colored dashes and texture.

Filling the background with kantha hand stitching.

When Little Miss Sunshine was finally completed, I wasn't sure what to do with her... a pillow? a small table topper? a wall hanging?


Better yet, something more functional... for every day use: a zippered project bag. 

Complementing hand stitching with decorative machine stitching
Now, the Little Miss Sunshine bag needed a second side. For this, I took quilt blocks from last year's 100 Days 100 Blocks project and patchwork bits made with Diamond Textile's yarn-dyes and pieced them together. This patchwork was thread embellished by machine with 12 wt Spagetti thread from WonderFil Threads and the built-in decorative stitches on my sewing machine. It was fun to experiment with the decorative stitch patterns!

Auditioning decorative stitches and thread colors.

The pieces were then ready for bag assembly...

Pieces ready for bag assembly.

Inside lining with pockets
Pockets were included in the lining (a floral print from the Charleston collection from Art Gallery Fabrics)—with a 3-step zigzag stitch to coincide with the outside.

Pockets with decorative stitching in the bag's lining.

Zipper installation
The instructions from Sam Hunter's Chunky Wee Zippy Pouch pattern and a zipper pouch tutorial from Noodlehead helped with the zipper installation. 

12 wt Spagetti thread [WonderFil Threadsfor decorative stitching.

The finished bag is approximately 12.5" x 13" and has a boxed bottom. 

Zipper bag: Kantha hand stitched side.

It's currently holding my English paper piecing hexagon project. 

Zipper bag: Machine pieced side with decorative machine stitching.

A completed UFO for a WIP [work in progress].

Check one more item off the (loooong) UFO list.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Holey Moley, "Small Things" are hexie-licious perfection!

Have you tried fussy cutting?

On a recent visit to Front Porch Quilt Shoppe (Ozark, AL), I purchased fabric from a Lewis & Irene collection called Small Things PetsHoley moley hexie-licious, Batman! These prints are fabulous for English Paper piecing [EPP] and fussy cutting!

Six-inch EPP hexagons and Small Things Pets fabric from Lewis & Irene.


Lewis & Irene Small Things fabric collections
Did you know that every year, Lewis & Irene releases two "Small Things" fabric collections

Yep, one in the Spring/Summer and another in Fall/Winter. My latest fabric acquisition are prints from the collection called Small Things Pets. I got a fat quarter of the dogs, cats and birds... but there are rabbits, guinea pigs and turtles, too!

Block 5 Caroline: fussy cuts from Small Things Pets [Lewis & Irene].


Patterns, paper pieces and helpful tools
My EPP blocks are 6" hexagons from The New Hexagon book by the queen of contemporary EPP, Katja Marek. Or look for her latest book, The New Hexagon 2

The paper pieces that comprise these 6-inch blocks are 1" hexagons and companion shapes from Paper Pieces. You'll also want to get the acrylic fussy cut finder templates for previewing images for your fussy cuts. Using precision-cut papers and acrylic templates makes the piecing more successful and the process more enjoyable for you! 

(Besides, do you really want to spend your time measuring and cutting geometric shapes from card stock... that may or may not fit together properly... or have fun with the fabric? I know my answer.)

Block 13 Judy: fussy cuts from Small Things Pets [Lewis & Irene]. 
Glow-the-dark stars fabric from Light Years [Lewis & Irene].


Create a story to go with the fabric images 
I finished this block yesterday... pulling fabrics from Lewis & Irene collections Whatever the Weather (squirrels and mushrooms), Light Years (shooting star) and blenders from Suede [P&B Textiles] and Canvas [Northcott]. Two squirrels play and chase each other amidst the mushrooms. A shooting star streaks across the sky. 

You could combine various images in your patchwork to tell a story. You could create a whole English paper pieced scene with these little cut-outs!

Squirrels chasing each other through the mushroom patch.

In addition to the Small Things collections, many other fabrics from Lewis & Irene lines have smaller scale images that are conducive for EPP and patchwork. 

The bird in the center of this block is from The Hedgerow.

Block 48 Jeannie from The New Hexagon book.

Wooly socks, mittens and snowmen are from Whatever the Weather.

Fussy cut images from Whatever the Weather fabric collection.

The bunnies from The Water Meadow await the next EPP block.

Fussy cut hexagons.


Small Things Crafts
coming soon!

Now that you know the possibilities for small things, be on the lookout for the next Small Things collection—Small Things Crafts—coming to quilt shops this September. There are images for quilters, sewers, knitters, painters and all kinds of crafters and makers.

So, don't stress the "small things"... make holes and use them in your next fussy cutting project!

Fussy cut images from The Water Meadow fabric.


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