Photo by Fahim Siddiqui/White Star
Photo by Fahim Siddiqui/White Star

The decorative art of quilting has been greatly neglected over generations; once upon a time women could be easily found huddled together, quilting covers for various family members and for celebratory events. Today, the fact that it is quite a time-consuming process and it can cost an arm and a leg, most people rely on buying quilts commercially.

The Piecemakers’ Guild came together on Friday at the Alliance Française de Karachi to let the public know that the art of quilt making is still alive and kicking with ‘The Quilt Show 2018’. There were various quilted items on display that embodied several themes and several colour palettes.

Samiah Ahsan Zia, co-founder of The Piece­makers’ Guild, spoke about how she and the other women in her family from previous generations grew up around women who didn’t go out to work but kept themselves busy. “I never saw my mother sitting idle and when she was done with the housework she could be found sitting with a needle to quilt or was busy doing crochet. This left a lasting impression on me.”

At one end of the display, there were plenty of quilts with geometrical designs. As you kept browsing you came across themes quilted with the help of intricate needlework. There were large quilts as well as smaller ones for babies that had different animals and their young quilted in a bright amalgamation of colours. There were fountains and enchanted gardens interpreted in different ways in the pieces displayed.

One category was of the Ugly Fabric Challenge in which members had to take a piece of “ugly” fabric, with a specified size, and turn it into something beautiful. Needless to say there were some interesting ideas taking shape.

Members of the guild had also been given a challenge to use quilting to depict Mughal art and then the best from among the entries was declared. In this category, first prize went to ‘The Framed Bird Sings” by Samina Qureshi.

Qureshi who is also a co-founder spoke with much love and passion about the painstaking yet rewarding process of quilting. “This is one of the greatest forms of therapy. It allows you to relax and to calm yourself in this busy life and it’s a great way to meet friends with likeminded interests.”

The Piecemakers’ Guild also participated in the Karachi Biennale in 2017 where their project involved using discarded cable reels and turning them into art installations. Their reel was titled ‘Heroines not victims’ which was designed and crafted as an ode to Pakistani women and their resilience.

The Quilt Show 2018 will be open to public on Saturday from 10.30am to 7pm.


Originally published in Dawn, April 14th, 2018

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