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Sunday, 28 July 2019

Handloomed quilt pattern – the khadi collaboration

Earlier this year I was reading instragram posts by Liz – from Woven Stories Textiles – as she travelled around India sourcing fabric. One of her suppliers in West Bengal was lamenting that he needed to find new markets for his textiles. I loved the vibrancy of the fabrics that Liz had been posting and there's something about a textile tradition that has been carried out for generations that really speaks to me – possibly as someone who has very tenuous roots both personally and culturally.

So, it sparked an idea, and I contacted Liz to see if she would be interested in a quilt collaboration.  Wonderfully, she said yes. We communicated back and forth online and settled on a pattern.  Liz sent fabric samples, but in the end, I decided I really needed to see and touch ALL the fabrics, and so I boarded a flight to Perth. I'm so glad I got on that plane as Liz's fabrics are divine.
The quilt design is made from khadi cotton. To be true khadi, the fabric must not only be handwoven, but hand spun as well. This is the local, everyday fabric – it has texture, rich colour and the hand of the weaver woven into every piece. I live quite close to the place where I studied textile design, so I spent quite a bit of time researching the textiles of West Bengal, and India more generally, in their library. One book that particularly interested me was about modern Indian designers who were taking their textile traditions in new and exciting directions (Tradition and Beyond: Handcrafted Indian Textiles). In the end, that's what I decided to do – not do a design based on a culture that's not my own, but rather a quilt that honours the weavers as a modern take on the weave structure and makes the most of those vibrant colours.

I made a sample, that I took to WA with me, but once confronted with all the colour choices, things became difficult – honestly, how to narrow things down to just a couple of colourways was a killer. Thankfully, my lovely Instagram followers helped out, and in the end we settled on 'Flower Market' – bright pinks, oranges and yellows – which I made the throw in, and 'Spice Alley' which has the red- and yellow-browns and became the cushion.
The quilt pattern comes in throw and cushion sizes and is sewn together in strips, forming columns – rather than the usual rows. The sets of strips are then cross cut and sewn back together to form the woven pattern.
I quilted the cushion following the lines of the warp and weft pattern design, but used a diagonal pattern meeting in the focal point of the large solid square for the throw. Either way, the texture comes up brilliantly on the khadi.
Liz will be at the WA Craft Show on 2, 3 and 4 August with the throw and the cushion, along with kits she's made up in both colourways that include the pattern. Naturally, if you want to make up your own colour combination, you can buy the pattern separately. Liz's online store is here if you want to take a look at the other colours she has in stock.

The pdf pattern will go live from Monday 5 August and I'll come back and pop the link up when it is. I can't wait to see what you all do with it!

#handloomedquilt #stitchandyarnquilts

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