Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Day 31 - 31 day blog writing challenge - 2020 sewing goals

2019 has been a phenomenal year. Its been an year in which I have shone! But yes, I'm totally ready to rock 2020 too!!! What am I planning in 2020?

Here are my sewing goals for 2020

  1. Get the ABOUT face Certification Program going. Have at least 10 teachers teaching the technique all over the world.
  2. Work on series of abstract art quilt that are inspired by the different traditional quilt making styles of India
  3. Enroll into some formal education in quilting (Masters or maybe doctoral?)
  4. Start Mentoring program for new quilters in India
  5. Make at least 4 modern quilts to enter into QuiltCon
  6. Write 6 quilt patterns and send them to different magazines
  7. Release video workshops for Siddi quilt inspired mini quilt, Godhadi inspired mini quilt and ABSTRACT expressions. 
  8. Start YouTube channel
  9. Consolidate features and put them all in one place on the blog website
  10. Put up products on the Etsy shop

What are your sewing goals for 2020?
Monday, December 30, 2019

Day 30 - 31 day blog writing challenge - My first 2020 project

This project has been on my mind for a while now. It is not an actual physical quilt, but rather an online training program. The main difference between this and the others is that this is meant for teachers!

Yes! I am training teachers to teach my ABOUT face portrait quilt technique worldwide. It is my claim that it is the FASTEST METHOD IN THE WORLD to make portrait quilts. Students often finish and take home a two-color portrait quilt (finished with quilting and binding) in my 12 hour classes.

The main reason behind doing this is that I would like to spend more time with my son for the next few years. He is in the 8th grade now and in India  we have board exams in 10th and 12th grade. Both these exams are crucial for his career and I would like to be there more for him. Currently my teaching schedule takes me away from him a lot and I would like to prevent that.

The best way to do that was to train other teachers to officially teach my technique, not just in India but all over the world.

Here's what the teachers get in the program :
  1. A personalized PDF copy of my eBook ABOUT face. This copy will have the teacher's name on the back cover with a note that they are a Registered Teacher for this technique. These ebooks are meant to be distributed tostudents in class. Teachers will not be charged any royalty on these books. If they want, they can also print these books for use in your class. They will also get one-on-one guidance to learn the technique themselves if they have not learnt it before.
  2. A Teacher's Guide in PDF format. This Guide will take them step by step through building their class schedule. This guide will prepare them to teach this class in FOUR different versions - A short 3 hour class, 6 hour class, 12 hour class (my most popular version) and also an Online class.
  3. There is no limit either on the number of classes they conduct or the number of students that they teach during their registration period.
  4. Their name will be listed as a Teacher in the ABOUT face Teacher's directory on my website.
  5. They have an option to pay YEARLY or ONE TIME non-refundable registration fee.

If you think you are interested in being a registered ABOUT face teacher, do get in touch with me. Just drop me an email and I will send you other details.

What is going to be your first project of 2020?
Sunday, December 29, 2019

Day 29 - 31 day blog writing challenge - Latest project

To be really honest I have done very little quilting since the studio flooded in August this year. I have concentrated  on my new blog and taken it from concept to actually writing a bunch of posts and getting the blog up.

But I did finish one quilt. It was made as wedding gift for a bride and was ordered by her mother. A double wedding ring quilt in the most wonderful colors.

My wonderful friend Ashwini and me did a lot of brainstorming about how to get precision in the quilt. 

Both of us were not sure about our piecing skills. So we decided to improvise and we appliqued the entire design on the quilt! Ashwini was the one to do all the applique

 I was the one to quilt the huge 96" x 96" quilt on my Bernina 710. But it turned out fabulous! We have one more version of this one in the making at the moment.

What was your recent project?

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Day 28 - 31 day blog writing challenge - Skill I want to improve

For the last 10 years that I have been teaching myself quilting, there are so many skills I have learnt. Especially when it comes to quick and easy solutions to get complicated and difficult looking results!
But I do feel that while doing this, I have let the traditional part of quilting slide by. I would definitely want to improve those skills.

I want to do more work with my hands. I want to improve my hand applique and hand quilting. After working on a humongous project for close to an year I have been yearning for some meditative work and for the past few months been doing a lot of hand quilting. I would like to have skill at par with the traditional godhadi makers around me.

What is that one skill that you want to improve?

Friday, December 27, 2019

Day 27 - 31 day blog writing challenge - Techniques to try

Over the past 10 years of quilting, I have made a  whole range of quilts and tried almost every sewing technique under the sun, but there are some things that have been elusive.

There are some things I have never had the courage to try - maybe because they sound too complicated or time consuming. But here's a list of five techniques that some day I would like to try

  1. Cording
  2. Precision piecing
  3. Hand quilting with rocking the needle
  4. Hand  applique
  5. Curved piecing with precision
What are the techniques you want to try? 
Thursday, December 26, 2019

Day 26 - 31 day blog writing challenge - Favorite sewing foot

I love my Berninas - both Emily (330) and Ross (710). While I was using the 330 I never thought I needed to upgrade. I only bought the 710 for its extra throat space. I never knew I was going to fall in love with somethign else. I was gifted the BSR by Sabine Schiner of Bernina and apart from it being a generous gift, I did not think anything about it.

I never even considered buying a BSR - Bernina Stitch Regulator and if it not were for Sabine, I would not have even used it.

But using the BSR was life changing! I love how  even my stitches come out when I use it. It makes free motion quilting not just look good but actually feel effortless.

The BSR is the one foot that I now cannot live without.

What is your favorite sewing foot?
Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Day 25 - 31 days blog writing challenge - Show us your scraps

First, Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates it. I wish you happiness always!
And now coming to today's prompt - show us your scraps!

In my studio I do not throw away ANY scraps. I use even the tiniest pieces in making many of my quilts - even the Shivarajyabhishek quilt. And I usually sort them by color and keep them in clear bins.

how do you store your scraps?

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Day 24 - 31 day blog writing challenge - State of my work table

I'm not a very tidy person be default. And a few years back, you would have always found my work table messy on any given day. But like I said earlier, recently I have been inspired by minimalism and have been enjoying downsizing my possessions.

I also had to move my studio back home so I have to keep it a lot neater than I used to. So this is what my desk looks like right now!
And this is what it looks like on the other side.

All those who knew me in my messy years find it hard to believe, btu my home office is actually this way at the moment!!!
What's your desk looking like today?
Monday, December 23, 2019

Day 23 - 31 day blog writing challenge - Prewash or not?

I am not a prewasher by choice! If I can get away with it I do not prewash my fabric. I only prewash if the fabric bleeds.

I use a lot of Indian fabric in my work. And a lot of it bleeds. I used to irritate me till I came to know that  when organic dyes are used to dye cotton fabric, it bleeds. If the dye doesn't bleed or the fabric doesn't fade after washing, the dye has chemicals in it. Since then, I have been really positive about fabric that bleeds.

A friend introduced me to this trick. She told me to rub a wet wipe on one corner of the fabric to see if the color bleeds. If it does, prewash the fabric. If not, go ahead and sew! I loved this tip. But I also combined this tip with one my Father-in-law used. He soaked my Mother-in-law's cotton sarees in a mixture of Water, salt and jaggery. It sets the dye in. I do that every time with Indian fabrics.

I also do not prewash if the quilt I am making is an art quilt. Art quilts are usually not washed. So the chance of them bleeding color is very rare.

Are you a prewasher or not?
Sunday, December 22, 2019

Day 22 - 31 day blog writing challenge - What I listen to / watch

Its day 22 of the 31 day blog writing challenge hosted by Cheryl! And I'm still going strong.
Today's prompt is about what I listen to / watch.

What I am listenign to or watching usually depends on a number of factors. When I am working on a quilt that has a lot of repetitive work, I usually watch documentaries or go back to my favorite shows. When I was working on the Shivarajyabhishek quilt, I started first by watching all 10 seasons of FRIENDS, then I watched 15 seasons of Greys Anatomy, then I watched Young Sheldon, then I stumbled upon one of the conspiracy theory documentaries about 9/11 and I just got sucked into a blackhole and saw almost all of the ones that were there on YouTube at that time. When I am working, I am usually just listening and look only if something intrigues me. I also watched a lot of episodes of the Dr Phil show. It was just so entertaining.

When I am doing my housework, I usually listen to Podcasts. I am not a music person. I prefer listening to someone speak rather than listening to music. I usually binge listen to podcast too. And I go through phases. I was in a "Grow my business" phase and  would listen to Explore your Enthusiasm or Goal Digger. Then came the "Take acre of my health" phase and I listened to Jillian Michaels or Evolve with Emily, I realized that I listen to Pat Sloan or Abby Glassenberg usually just before and after I head to the US for Quiltcon.

Right now I am on a minimizing spree. I actually made list of the minimum number of clothes I think I can survive on (it was completely unrealistic) doubled it and put them in one of the two cupboards I use. Everything else (including shoes, bags and accessories) wend into the other one. I plan to keep the second one closed and not remove  anything from it unless I specifically need that item (not "I need a white shirt", but more like "I want to wear the white long shirt I bought from M&S"). I did the same with my makeup as well. I am goign to review my system same time next year and then just ask my maids to take away ALL clothes and accessories  from my other cupboard. If I haven't used it in ONE YEAR, its not worth keeping! My special clothes like my wedding sarees are in a different cupboard. Believe me if I have 3 cupboards full of stuff, I need to downsize! So to inspire me and keep me motivated, I am listening to Spark Joy,Simplicity Parenting and Cohesive Home. I am also watching minimalism inspired shows and house tours  (they are my favorites) whenever I get time.

What are you listening to or watching right now?
Saturday, December 21, 2019

Day 21 - 31 days blog writing challenge - Top 5 gift ideas

This is usually the time I start making my wish list. My birthday is coming in about 10 days and I like to make this list every year. Sometimes I put it on my blog, sometimes it stays in my journal.

So here are 5 gift ideas for me!!!

  1. Gift card - It could be for Amazon, Pepperfry, Fabindia, Shoppers Stop, Project Eve, Mark & Spencers or (in the US) Fat Quarter Shop, Cherrywood Fabric, JoAnns, Michaels, Macy's, Staples, Bath & Body, Ikea, Target, or any wonderful Etsy store
  2. A house plant - I am in love with plants. I used to be the person who could kill a cactus. But not only do I now  have a lovely balcony garden, it is thriving! A little addition to it would be awesome.
  3. A journal - I love my journals. And any new addition to my collection would be great. Just make sure that it is either a grid one or a dotted one.
  4. Essential oils - I recently started using essential oils and I love them. I removed all toxic cleaners from my home and started making them myself. I even got a diffuser and use it every single day! My personal favorite is the combination of Lemon and Lavender. I even have a spray bottle filled with Vodka + Lemon oil + Lavender oil to use as a room freshner!
  5. Flowers - I love flowers! Emily sent be a  wonderful bouquet on the day of my workshop at QuiltCon and I realized that it was the first time I had been delivered flowers! Rohit has given me flowers, but that has always been in person. We do not have flower delivery system in Sangli so have never received them by mail! But I love getting them in person too. I usually dry out one of them from a bunch and keep it in one of my journals. It reminds me of the person who gave it to me!!!
What is on your gift idea list?
Friday, December 20, 2019

Day 20 - 31 day blog writing challenge - Proudest achievement

2019 has been my year of achievements. I have had so many wonderful opportunities in this year. First I thought that finishing my 210" x 86" quilt would be my proudest achievement. But when I thought about it a little lore another moment came to my mind.

It was in 2015. It was my son's 10th birthday. He wanted a Toy Story theme party. But I was on the other side of the world, in Savannah, GA  standing on the stage to give my first lecture to an international audience. I was just expecting a few friends to be there. Maybe a few more people were present in the auditorium when I reached. But by the time I was ready to speak, the auditorium was full!!!

That was the day I got the biggest opportunity of my life. I was speaking to the Quiltcon attendees and my topic was "Quilting in India : a Review of Siddi Quilts of Karnataka, Godhadis of Maharashtra and Contemporary Quilt Making in India. I had the opportunity to take a part of India's culture to an international platform. The opportunity to make the humble Godhadi glamorous.

To start where I started - an unknown quilter in a quaint little town in India, the name of which people in this industry had never heard, and to reach that platform in itself has been a huge achievement.

I really thank  the Modern Quilt Guild for giving me that opportunity.
Thursday, December 19, 2019

Day 19 - 31 day blog writing challenge - On the design wall

Its day 19 of the challenge and the topic is On the design wall!!!

When I had my dream studio, I had a whole big design wall. And I totally loved it. That is where I 'built' my modern Sue quilt. And also a few of my other quilts.

And then when I started working on Shivarajyabhishek, I made a HUGE design wall (8' x 8') to use.

Currently I do not have a design wall in my studio. Neither am I working on any project in the pipeline. But I do have a Pinterest full of ideas in my head!!!

What is on your design wall?

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Day 18 - 31 day blog writing challenge - "If I could sew with..."

Today's prompt is so interesting. I could actually apply it in two different ways, so I will.

1. "If I could sew with ..." What version :
I wish I could sew with a bobbin that would not need refilling. I wish it had a white spool of thread that would go through a "printing unit" where you could select a color and the thread would just be dyed that color as  I sew! Wouldn't that be fantastic?

2. "If I could sew with..." Who version :
It would have been so much fun to sew with Emily! We 'met' each other online through our blogs. She was my partner in one of the Doll Quilt Swaps (then on Flickr). We quickly became friends chatting almost every day (early mornings for me and bedtime for her). We met IRL at QuiltCon 2015 and there has been no looking back. I wish I could just spend a couple of days every week / month sewing with her!

So What or Who would you sew with???
Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Day 17 - 31 day blog writing challenge - Favorite Sewlebrity

I have always loved Angela  Walters!!! I was in love with her quilting even before I went on my maiden solo trip to the other side of the world in 2015 for QuiltCon.

And then, I met her. I attended her lecture in Austin and she was absolutely awesome!

I was so excited to get a picture with her that it came all blurry!!! I guess I should have asked someone else to click a picture. This is one of the best memories from Quiltcon.

Then came QuiltCon 2017 and she was the featured speaker! I attended that lecture and it was ENTERTAINING. She is so good! I even asked her a question and she was witty and informative with the answer. I just adore her. 
So this time I remembered the picture from last year and asked someone else to click our picture! But I guess everyone is super excited around her, because that one ALSO came out blurry. Well, not as bad as the first one. 

I think at the 2020 QuiltCon I really need to get a good picture with her!

Who is your favorite sewlebrity?
Monday, December 16, 2019

Day 16 - 31 day blog writing challenge - Why do I sew?

Today is day 16 of Cheryl's 31 Day blog writing challenge  and today's prompt is a question I have pondered on a lot in recent days.

Why do I quilt?

I stumbled upon quilting accidentally. I never thought I would take it up as a full time profession. So when I came to that decision in 2014, I surprised even myself. Though quilting has given me a lot of things - passion, medium of expression, sense of achievement, purpose in life, wonderful friends, fame, opportunities and so much more. The one thing missing was making up for the income that I was loosing in a full time job.

Quilting in India did not pay as much as it does in the western counterparts. Here when something is handmade, it is  expected to be cheaper than the mass produced item. Things  have been changing and now I am at a comfortable position financially too.

When I finished making the Shivarajyabhishek quilt, I spent a lot of time thinking about my purpose in life, where I am heading. I always have had an empty feeling after completing a project. This project was so huge, the vacuum was  even larger! For some time, I even stopped sharing anything on social media. I spent little to no time in my studio and was wondering if my purpose in life has been achieved and I should stop quilting and move on to something else altogether.

But then I got an opportunity to speak at an event in Pune. You can watch the video here. Though the talk is in Marathi, it has English subtitles. When I was working on the script of my talk, I did a lot of retrospection and realized there is so much more to do!

I have a burning fire inside of me that is fueled by quilting and nothing would make me give it up.

So why do you sew?
Sunday, December 15, 2019

Day 15 - 31 day blog writing challenge - Earliest sewing memory

My earliest sewing memory is not my own, but my grandmother sewing. Hers is the sewing machine I inherited and it got me started on a path that I have absolutely enjoyed every moment of.

I remember the cookie tin filled with her sewing supplies. It was kept in a metal trunk in her living room along with her valuable glass crockery. She had just a 2 room house, so the trunk was used to store anything that was valuable / fragile. The first time I saw the tin, I remember thinking cookies! But then, I opened it and was really disappointed. 

Out of everything in that tin, one thing caught the attention of about 5-6 year old me. It was a spool of thread. I clearly remember being fascinated by the way the thread was rolled on it. I unrolled a little and tried putting it back. I could not and ended up unrolling a little bit more. In the end I just gave up and rolled it as I could and kept it back hoping that she would not know I touched it. I do not know if the knew, but she never said anything. 

I really wish I had had more time with her. Especially during the years I have been quilting. But she passed away before I started to quilt. And I miss her immensely.

What is your earliest sewing memory?

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Day 14 - 31 day blog writing challenge - Show us your fabric

I have had my dream sewing space, twice. And both the times I had the PERFECT fabric storage solution that I wanted.

This is from my old studio.

My fabric as first sorted by Indian and designer fabric and then further by size and then color. It was a wonderful space with lots of open shelves and I used a lot of corrugated boxes to store my fabric. I then switched to clear plastic bins.

After this came the downsizing. I moved all my fabric into plastic bins and put them under my cutting table.

This worked well for about seventeen minutes! And then I renovated my studio. Now I had a designated storage area (that was kind of hidden from the entrance) where I could store my fabric in large metal cupboards.

See those large metal cupboards behind the white shelves? Thats where all my fabric was stored.

And then, floods!

The lower 3 shelves of the cupboards were under water for 6 days. The fabric was beyond salvaging. And I had to throw most of it away. So my fabric stash has gone down by over 50%. Unfortunately, most of the fabric I lost was designer fabric that I had collected over the years. All my haul from QuiltCon 2019 was gone.

So now, the cupboards are almost empty. I have moved into my home office and have not taken all my stash upstairs. I only bring along fabric for the project that I am working on and keep it in the lower shelves of my book case.

So what do I want my fabric to look like?

This sewing room is just like my dream one. It belongs to Dawn Hansen from Olabelho. I love her space and I definitely want my stash to be like hers!!!

I want to see your fabric too. Cannot wait to hop over and see!
Friday, December 13, 2019

Day 13 - 31 day blog writing challenge - Least favorite color

Honestly there is not a single color in the world that I do not like. All of the colors are beautiful if you look at them individually.

I feel it is more some 'combinations' that I do not like. I like sets of colors that have a higer contrast. If I put together colors of the same shades, I dont like them as much.

A whole bunch of muddy colors put together is definitely something I do not like.

What is your least favorite color?
Thursday, December 12, 2019

Day 12 : 31 day blog writing challenge - Favorite color

When I look back at my work, I realize that I use a lot of color in  my quilts. I love them to be bright and cheerful. So finding out the one color that was my favorite was  a difficult task.

But then I decided to work it out the other way. I decided to ask myself "What is the one color without which I feel the quilt is  incomplete?"

And I got the answer - Yellow!

Yellow is my favorite color. You will see me wearing it often.

And also around my home a lot.

So what is your favorite color?

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Day 11 - 31 day blog writing challenge - Most impactful class

It was at QuiltCon 2015 - my first QuiltCon! I was  ready to sign up for a bunch of lectures and classes, but by the time I went online to select what I wanted, everything I wanted was sold out.

This class was 4th or 5th on my list. Only because it was about curves and they scared  me. I signed up for it and then forgot all about it as I sulked that I did not get into my  favorite ones.

I had not read about Sherri Lynn Wood before that, did not have her book. I just went into the class with absolutely no expectations.

In the first 15 minutes I knew I was going to love it! She spoke about grounding, meditation and about how improv quilts are similar to our improv moments in life and I was hooked!!!

I enjoyed my 3 hours in her workshop (I had to leave mid way as I was totally double booked) so much that I went and bought her book immediately.

This class taught me to think differently! And it totally changed my attitude towards improv pieceing!
Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Day 10 - 31 days blog writing challenge - Top 5 books

I love to read! So I love today's prompt too.

I read a lot of Fiction as well as non-fiction. Today I am going to share with you 5 books from each of these categories that I absolutely love - Quilting, Fiction & Non-fiction

  1. The Practical Guide to Patchwork by Elizabeth Hartman 
  2. Double Wedding Ring Quilts by Victoria Findlay Wolfe
  3. The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously by Sherri Lynn Wood
  4. The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting: Long-arm and Sit-down - Learn When, Where, Why, and How to Finish Your Quilts by Angela Walters & Christa Watson
  5. Tula Pink's City Sampler: 100 Modern Quilt Blocks by Tula Pink
  1. Harry Potter Series by J K Rowling
  2. The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
  3. A Stranger in the Mirror by Sidney Sheldon
  4. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
  5. Still Alice by Lisa Genova
  1. Playing Big by Tara Mohr
  2. The Champagne Diet by Cara Alwill Leyba
  3. The 5 AM Revolution by Dan Luca
  4. Unplug : : A Simple Guide to Meditation for Busy Skeptics and Modern Soul Seekers
    Suze Yalof Schwartz and Debra Goldstein
  5. Becoming by Michelle Obama

What are your favorite books? 
Monday, December 9, 2019

Day 9 - 31 days blog writing challenge - Favorite Tip

Its Day 9 of the challenge and I'm still going strong.

So what is my favorite tip?

I had this bad habit of not being able to accept a compliment about my quilting. When people told me my work was good, instead of accepting it, I would start talking to them and pointing out my mistakes. Sometimes, they were actually totally oblivious to those.

A few years back I exhibited my work at a local gallery. And while I was preparing for the exhibition one of my friend pointed out this habit to me the night before the exhibition and told me that I have to learn to accept a compliment. She even took time to walk with me through the 88 quilts that I had displayed there and complimented me on every single one of them while I suppressed my urge to 'show off' the 8888 mistakes I had made in them.

So far, I have found that to be the most liberating tip I have ever received from anyone! And kudos to my wonderful friend for telling me that. You know who you are and also that I love you!

What is your favorite tip for me?

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Day 8 - 31 days blog writing challenge - Skills I wish I had

Today is day 31 of the 31 day blog writing challenge hosted by Cheryl and I just love today's prompt!

Skills I wish I had! That line itself made me take a paper and pen and make a list! I am working on some of them, but there are some that over these years I have accepted that I will always lack.

1. Time Management. I wish I was good at it. I mean really good. I had almost got the hang of it (or so I thought) but then life happened and everything spiraled out of control. I feel like I'm clutching at straws right now. But I am working on it, one thing at a time. So right now, I'm only focusing on getting up at 4 am (I had slipped to 5.30 and then sleeping again after Aadi left at about 7).

2. Cooking. I have said it multiple times here on my blog that I really wished I had cooking skills. Sure, I am good at making some things - I can make a wonderful Caramel Custard, a BBQ Chicken, a trifle pudding, or even the traditional Puran Poli. But I do lack in what I call the everyday cooking category! I wish I was more skilled there.

3. Patience. I know a lot of you will say, I made the HUGE quilt with 20000 pieces, I must have some patience, but honestly, I know I don't. Ask Aadi. He will point it right out.

There are so many more, but these 3 take priority over anything and everything else. What are the skills you wished you had?

Why Quality Matters?

“Why don’t you use cheaper material to make my quilt?”
I get asked a lot of variations of this question when I take custom orders and my customers hear the price I am quoting.
I have already done a post about pricing, if you haven’t read it, I urge you to go back to it and read.
When I started quilting, I knew nothing about sewing machines, thread or fabrics!!! It took me a long time and a lot of hard work to figure out what works best for me. One by one, today I will explain why I wont use something that is cheaper to make something for you. It matters to me that you all understand it. Because, I believe, it is important.
First up : Sewing Machines!!!
I had my grandma’s treadle – Durby –  and I was absolutely happy with it. I thought I had the best machine in the whole world. Then I bought the Bernette e56 – Betty- and I was on top of the world! Of course it had to be the best sewing machine in the world! I paid a lot of money for it! But then I got the Bernina 330 – my awesome Emily – and I realized how much better my stitching got with the better machine. Yes, I had a lot of experience by then, but also yes, the machine made a difference, Once again I thought I would never need a better machine than that! So when I ultimately found my soulmate Ross (My Bernina 710) I do not expect him to be the best machine in the world! I know that before I know it, I will be thinking about an upgrade. I have used a lot of different brands, but the hassle-free operation and maintenance of the Bernina plus its user-friendly interface has made me stick to it long before I became the Brand Ambassador for them.
Second : Threads
It was the same with the threads. When I started out, I just bought ‘thread’. I didn’t even know there were any other factors apart from colour to consider! But 5 years in the quilting world has made me a lot wiser. I have tried A LOT OF threads. Right from unkown local manufactured spools to my latest obsession, Aurifil. I used to have a lot of tension issues and blamed my sewing machine before I laid my hands on this awesome made-in-Italy-Egyptian-cotton spool of goodness. Its not that I do not use any other brands, I do. But I only do so if I do not have a spool of Aurfil in the colour and weight I need. After I used Aurifil for the first time in September 2012, I realized what I should look for when I buy a spool of thread. Its not just the colour. It is the way it has been woven that determines if I am going to break it often or have tension issues. I started looking at all the threads I use differently. I prefer cotton, mainly after I had to iron a totally crumpled linen pouch on a ‘cotton’ setting on my iron and doing so just burnt all the poly thread that I had used to do the quilting! I also need to be sure that the colour of the thread does not run! I learnt that one from experience too! A beautiful pink-grey quilt for a little girl has shocking pink ‘highlights’ throughout the quilt! When I use Aurifil I do not have to think about all the issues. I know that they have been thought of, by the company!
Moving on to : Fabrics
Fabric is, of course, my favorite of all the supplies i need to make a quilt! And yes, it is the most important one and also plays the major role in making a quilt what it is.
When I started out, like I have said a million times before I didn’t know anything about fabrics. In fact I started out as an ‘up’-cycler! I took old clothes and made them into something useful. I got to play with a lot of different fabrics. With every item I made (it was not just quilts then) I learnt a little bit about what I should do and what I should not. It was a long road filled with many failed attempts. But in the course of 5 years, I have come a long way and today I can tell the quality of fabric by feeling it.   I had seen a lot of people do that in a fabric shop before I started quilting, I did it too, but never really knew what they (or I) were doing. But now i can.
I prefer buying solids here in the local fabric shops. One – they come in a lot more colours than the branded ones. And two – its easier and better to match colours to actual fabrics than to screen images. I usually take along a few wet wipes. I rub them onto the fabric in a discreet corner to test for colour fastness. Indian fabrics are notorious for bleeding colours! I have observed that the Umaid mills Poplin usually runs less. But any brand I buy, its the pinks and the turquoise ones that bleed the most. So I usually soak them in colour fasterners. My FIL used a mixture of Salt and Jaggery. I have tried that and it works as good as the store bought colour fastners.
I buy a lot of prints here in India, but I love the designer prints that I order online. For prints that I buy in India, I always check for mis-prints. That seems to be an issue with a lot of cheaper print fabrics available. Also a lot of it is garment weight – that is a lot lighter than I need for quilting. So I have to take all these things into consideration when I buy fabric. And price is the last thing on my mind when I do that.
I want my customers to love my quilt as much I do. I spend a lot of time thinking about the quilt and dreaming about how i will make it and what it will look like. It feels like nurturing a baby! And like any other parent I only want what is the best for my baby! I cannot compromise on the quality of the supplies that I use. If you are a dear friend or a returning customer, I sometimes will compromise on the ‘making charges’ of my quilt to make it more affordable to you, but NEVER on the quality of the material.
Even if you are okay with it, I am not!
And I will NOT use cheaper material just so that a lot more people can buy it.

A habit I wish I did not have

We all are our own best judges. Everyone has that one habit they wished they did not have. Here’s mine.
I am a very open person. I normally do stuff right from my heart. I love to connect with people and I want people to love me. I end up being a people pleaser.
I find it very hard to say NO. And I end up taking more than I can handle. I really wish I could stop saying YES to everything that anyone asks me to do.
Even my son knows that I end up saying yes to everything that is asked of me. Why else would he answer “My Mom!” when his teacher asked in the class, “Whose parents have extra time on hand to help out with the PTA?” And that too at a time in my life when he knew I was struggling to find that fine balance between the two major aspects of my life – Family and Business. He had seen me juggling my work, putting on the occasional acrobatic hat, when I had too much going on at both ends. I was striving to do everything for everyone. And ended up not even realizing I did not have time for me.
Even on my Business front, I had taken up too much. It was not a business then, but a hobby. But that did not need any less time. I was travelling all over India teaching, plus writing a blog, writing patterns, making quilts, making small stuff to exhibit and sell at a craft fair and trying to help other women grow their passions into profits! No wonder I never felt successful during that time. I was doing too many things and none of them up to my own expectations. 
I was always disappointed in myself, as a wife, a mother, a daughter, a daughter-in-law, a sister and also as a mentor, a teacher and an employer. I had hired two women to work in my studio but I did not have enough work for them, while I was complaining that I had too much on my plate.
I started meditating in January. I started with just 2 minutes of guided meditation and it has helped me a lot. Today I meditate for 15 minutes when I wake up and 15 minutes before I go to bed. Since started, I got my thoughts streamlined. That is what helped me realize that I was trying to be everything that everyone wanted me to be, except what I wanted to be.
That prompted me to make conscious efforts to start saying no. I honestly tried to say no, when I was not sure I could do something. I could not do it every time, but whatever little progress I made, it made my life a little easier.
I still struggle with the habit. Even today, I find myself saying YES to a number of things that I should avoid. I actually have a physical difficulty while saying NO! The other day, I knew my day was completely packed and that I did not have even one spare moment but when my Mother-in-law asked me to pick up something from the town for her, I said YES, even before I could make myself say NO! That time my mind was screaming NO! But my mouth had a different mind altogether! And not that she had to have it brought that day! It was a task that was not on priority. It could have waited a couple of days! Only if I had said NO!
I am looking at the big picture and trying to say NO to one thing everyday. That helps me feel good about myself. My goal is to say NO to 5 things every week (at least). Do I do it? Not every week. But at least I’m training my mind (and my mouth) to say NO!
What is the habit that you wish you did not have?

Brands that I endorse

I represent three popular brands as an ambassador at this moment – BERNINAAURIFIL and HAVELS SEWING and I have very strong reasons to do that.
The first brand that I endorse is BERNINA, and I have been doing that even before I became their Brand Ambassador.
My association with BERNINA India began when I was finding out my options to buy my first sewing machine in March 2010. I had saved up 10,000 Rupees (about 200$) to buy a sewing machine. I thought I had a lot of money – the local alternatives were around 4,000 Rupees. I filled up an inquiry form on the BERNINA website. Within about 2 hours, I got a call from Mr Ajay Gupta, of BERNINA India. 
It has been many years since this conversation. So my memory might be fuzzy. But this is the gist of the conversation. Please do not laugh at my naivety (NOT stupidity).
Me : “Hi! I want to buy a sewing machine. And I think the BERNINA 550QE is best suited for my purpose. Can you please tell me the price?”
AG : “Sure. It is about 1,50,000 rupees.”
Me : (Blank… and thinking – Seriously! It costs more than a car – the Nano was 1,00,000 Rupees at that time) “…..okay… do you have anything cheaper?”
AG : “Sure. We have the…”
Me : “Anything still cheaper?”
Now this went on for a while. We stepped down one by one machine. 
Me : “Okay, I do not have a large budget. Do you have anything for 10,000 Rupees?”
AG : “Not in the BERNINAs. But we do have a BERNETTE in that range. The e56.”
Then he went on to tell me the features of that machine and ALSO the comparison between this one and other brands at a similar price point. At no point did he insist that I buy a more expensive machine.
I thought to myself, this guy truly knows what he is talking (and I don’t). So I should just go with what he recommends. 
Turns out, it was the best investment I ever made. I got not just a sewing machine, but also a friend, almost an elder brother, who has been a huge support in my journey as a quilter. He has believed in me even before I did! He has shared his knowledge to help me grow. He has never held anything back. He has always been open to suggestions from me and my quilting community and he also took them seriously. When we talked about not having a place where we could come together to sew, he started the BERNINA Creative Center in Mumbai! 
It was in 2014 that I was officially made the Brand Ambassador for BERNINA. Since then, I have got numerous teaching opportunities all over India as well as international recognition as a representative for the brand.
I endorse this brand of sewing machines, because I love them. Their interface is user friendly. The operation is smooth. And the machines are workhorses. They are tough too, both of my machines – the 330 (Emily – which was a gift from BERNINA) and the 710 (Ross) survived a leaking roof that soaked them through to their cores. If anything else had not convinced me to be a BERNINA fan, that incident surely did!
Next up, AURIFIL.
My association with AURIFIL started with an email I sent to their Brand Jedi  – Alex Veronelli. I had come across a lot of bloggers saying that they got some free thread from him for hosting giveaways on their blogs. I mustered up some courage and wrote him an email. I think I had something like 75 followers for my blog at that time. He was super generous and sent me a whole bunch!
After that, he has always supported my blog and the wonderful community of Indian Quilters by sponsoring giveaways in our Facebook Group.
When I started writing my eBook- ABOUT face, I was looking for a subject for the quilt on the cover. I wanted someone well known and well-liked by quilters all over the world. Once again, I wrote him an email, asking him if he would be interested in being a subject. I was half expecting him to decline softly. So when he said yes, I was overjoyed! 
I met him at QuiltCon 2015 for the first time. We met like we had always been friends! I handed over his portrait to him then! I was glad that he liked it! I have got numerous messages from quilters all over the world telling me that they saw the portrait at one of his lectures!
At the end of 2016, the Aurifil Design Team for the 2017 Block of the month was announced and I was overjoyed to find a place in it! I made a block for them and you can find the block, instructions and my interview on the Auribuzz blog.
When the AURIFIL artisans program was announced, I applied to be on it and was selected  to be one of the 45 fabulous quilters to represent AURIFIL worldwide. I still cannot believe I am actually sitting among a lot of awesome quilters that I have admired and followed since I began quilting.
I love AURIFIL because the thread is precious. It is the softest cotton thread (they also make wool, poly – for long arm – and mono-filament thread). The range of colors is simply marvelous and their intensity is superb. They are perfectly wound and have uniform thickness. If at any time, I have trouble with my spool, all I have to do is drop a line to Alex (even when I was a newbie quilter) with the spool number and the batch number on it and he makes sure that my spool is replaced! 
I am an AURIgirl and proud to be one!!!
And now, my recent endorsement – HAVELS SEWING.
I was first introduced to Havel’s, on my maiden trip to the USA in 2015 for QuiltCon. I was the person who had traveled the farthest for that convention! When I was going through the various booths, I stumbled into a lovely Pink booth with an equally lovely lady sitting there. I don’t remember her name, unfortunately, but she was one of the sweetest person I had ever met.
She called out to me asking me if I was the one who had traveled the farthest. She was totally astounded to hear that I had traveled for over 36 hours just for QuiltCon. I was browsing through their scissor collection and she insisted that I take the two that I had selected to buy as a gift from the company. I was overjoyed. But that was only what I felt at that moment – the joy of getting a freebie!. The real fun started when I reached home.
Before that, I had not used a branded pair of scissors. I did not even get a Fiskar’s in my local market. Neither was I aware of any scissor brands out there and the fact that I should be using a branded one! So fast forward to the day I went back to my studio after coming back from the USA. I had taken some time to put away all the stuff I bought on my trip  (and it was a lot). So when I wanted to cut some fabric, I thought, “Let me use that new pink scissors.” I had no idea my life would change with that one snip!
I cut into a piece of fabric and my brain went, “Whoa!!!” It was so much easier to cut fabric when you’re using a good pair of scissors! I had NEVER even given it a thought! I was having trouble with cutting my fabric, my hands used to ache after finishing large projects and sometimes, the scissors were so bad they did not even cut straight lines! But I always thought that is how cutting with scissors is!
Once I started using my ‘pink’ scissors I absolutely loved them. At QuiltCon 2017 (Savannah) I got a ‘pink’ mat for being a Super Volunteer! The mat was smaller than the one I had so again, I was not very keen about it. But I decided that before I gave it away to my friend (I had already promised her the mat) I will use it once. I absolutely loved it!
I did not want to give the mat away to my friend, but I did not go back on my words. I got in touch with the company and told them that I loved their stuff and that I would be glad to represent them! They agreed and very soon I was the owner of a larger ‘pink’ mat that now dominates my studio! I also have a whole range of products – scissors, seam rippers and the most fantastic cutting system! I totally love all my Havel’s products because they are durable (my scissors from 2015 work absolutely fine) and pretty too! They are also precise. The mat is thicker and the surface is so much better than my old mat. I absolutely love all my Havel’s products. 
I must clear something right away. I am NOT paid by any of the companies above to endorse their products. They do send me samples to try out and use. But ONLY if I like what I am using do I have to recommend it. My relationship with all these three companies has been that of friendship, rather than business. They have been a part of my life for years before I started representing them.
I enjoy my position as an influencer in the quilting community and also take it seriously. So unless I would spend my own precious money and buy the product (if I needed it) I will not recommend that you do the same! So when I recommend a product, you can be sure that it is not because I have any benefit behind the scenes but rather because I believe in its benefit in our lives!