The Portrait Quilt : A Final Reveal

5:59 AM

It was a hundred years ago that the story of this quilt actually started...

It is the story of Krishnaji Shripad Dandekar - or Dada-ajoba (Big grandfather) to our family now.

In a small town, Sangli there lived a young man who was a mechanic and repaired bicycles (there were so few cars then). One day he fell down into a well and broke his leg. After that he could not go back to be a mechanic - the medical treatments were not yet so advanced and  a fracture meant a broken bone for life!

But he did not give up! He was strong, not strong physically, but by nature...

He decided to start his own business. He was innovative when he decided to start selling lantern glass! Typically an oil lantern glass would break pretty often and people would rather not buy the whole lantern just for that! He found a place on Ganpati Road (now a bustling main commercial street in the town, but then a small lane that went to the city temple.) an sat on it with his small "shop"

But soon the business grew. He made a lot of additions to it. He built a house - a two-storeyed house - at the very place he used to sit on a piece of burlap.

During the independence struggle, his son became a freedom fighter. He was even imprisoned at times. But Dada-ajoba never let his spirit die.

Soon after India became independent. It was a moment of joy and celebration for the entire country. But almost immediately after it, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. The culprit was Nathuram Godse. This caused a communal violence all over India and Dada-ajoba's house was burnt down. It must have been a traumatic event, but Dada-ajoba just became even more stronger. Looking at the still smouldering ashes he decided to build a three storeyed house in its place! AND HE DID!

He worked harder (not to forget that he was almost 45 years older than he must have been when he started his business) and built a three storeyed house in the very place! The house stands tall and proud today as a salute to the hard work, innovation and never-say-die spirit of the person who built it!

I am proud to be a part of this family. Every true Dandekar has the traits of Dada-ajoba. Today the business has grown many-folds - we have come a long way from selling lantern glass. We sell building materials, generator sets, cement, steel, agriculatural products and now - Laptops! But the streak of character remains. And I feel that it is due to that character that "Dandekar = trust" equation exists. We have loyal customers who have been with us for 2 generations , or more!

Next year - 2013 - we will be celebrating the centenary of our business : M/s P. K. Dandekar. I had always admired dada-ajoba and wanted to do my little bit in paying respect to him...

I decided to make a portrait quilt to celebrate his spirit!

This was a daunting project. I was perpetually scared I might not be able to do it right. I was scared that it might end up looking totally different. But I decided to give it a try nevertheless!

And here's  the result... My first (there will be many more to come, I'm sure) portrait quilt!

I raw edge appliqued all the pieces together to make this one... I used about 15 different fabrics in shades of grey for it. I used Kona Cotton (a half yard bundle of Silent Cinema), Bella Solids (assorted) and local cotton fabric.

The fusing was done using Pellon Fusible # 805

I top stitched the pieces down first and then quilted it with lines that I'd have done the sketch with.

I used Aurifil thread to quilt it. #2615 for quilting the background, # 2605, # 2612, # 2630 and #2620 for top stitching the pieces and #2692 for the sketching line - quilting (all wt 50). In the entire process of going through multiple layers - I also used Pellon to baste the quilt so the layers were : Fused piece (sometimes more than 3 overlapping each other) - Pellon - back fabric - pellon - batting - pellon - backing - there were only 2 incidents where the thread broke! And both the times the needle broke maybe because i was tugging the piece while quilting!

I quilted it on my Emily! (Bernina 330) And she sure did a great job!

Quilt stats :

Quilt Size : 32.5 " x 48"
# of pieces fused : 3488+
Batting : Cotton
Techniques used : Raw Edge applique and Free motion quilting.

I'd love to make many more portrait quilts. Making this quilt was a satisfaction in itself. It made me think, as I traced, cut and fused each piece about myself and I feel I learnt a lot from the process.

I'd really like to thank Sandra Bruce for being the inspiration to make this quilt. Had it not been for you, I would not even have attempted it!


Yes, I'm proud to have made this!
Proud to be a part of the Dandekar family!


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