I’m Designer, Author, Talk Show host Pat Sloan.
This year we are celebrating the rainbow of colors in our color wheel. Each designer is assigned a color to create their block in.
Now we land on True ORANGE, such a happy color and no better person for this than Shruti Dandekar! I have known her as an online friend for many years. She is a quilt designer that embraced the internet early!
Shruti and I chatted on my talk show 7/18/16, take a listen
Fabric combos swirl around the color wheel for our Aurifil Design team this year! I love seeing the combinations all together!
Shruti is absolutely brilliant with portrait quilts. A few years ago, she asked our very own Alex Veronelli if she could create his portrait. Her finished quilt is brilliant! Shruti teaches her portrait quilt technique both in her book and workshops taught worldwide.
Missed a month?
Remember we have a Challenge portion of our Designer of the Month interview.
Each month we select one random winner to receive a 12 spool BOX of Aurifil threadfor just making the challenge block and sharing it at my website! (details at the end plus last month’s winner!)
Let’s get to know Shruti!
Where do you live and what is your favorite spot there?
I live in Sangli a small quiet town in the southern part of Maharashtra State in India. I love the town that I live in even though I don’t get any of my quilting supplies here! It’s a safe place to bring up a child and everyone knows everyone around here! My favorite place in town is actually my home! And especially my Living-Dining room which has one wall filled with the Mario Miranda painting that I painted two years back! He sketched for our school textbooks and I have been a fan ever since! That painting is usually a backdrop of all my selfies at home!
When was your FIRST quilt sighting?
My first quilt sighting must have been the day I was born! My grandfather had made a lot of tiny quilts for me – I was his first grand child! My grandma also made some – but she made the clothes and knitted me sweaters! I grew up visiting them every holiday. Saw them working on their crafts – my grandma knitting to sell, but my grandpa only when he had time. I never thought I would take up anything “sewing machine related” as my profession! It was in 2009 when I was bit by a mosquito and had Chikungunya – it left me with painful joints for over six months, just getting out of bed was an ordeal in itself! I started out by upcycling old clothes – making them into bedspreads, cusion covers and anything that came to my mind – still not sewing myself. Around the same time, I inherited my grandparents’ sewing machine. I started playing with it, with a LOT OF help from my cook – I didn’t (still don’t) know how to thread it and she would do it for me – and taught myself to sew.
I started looking for an upgrade to a sewing machine – I was tired of waiting for my cook to come every day only to thread it! – and that’s when I came across Elizabeth Hartman’s blog (she had written a review of her Janome). She made it all look so simple (which it wasn’t) and doable (which it was – only because of her instructions). I started following her instructions and tutorials. I even sent a bunch of emails when I was stuck (and she so sweetly replied to them – I did not know how big a blogger she was at that time or I might have been scared to approach her). I taught myself how to quilt gradually and then there was just no looking back!
The quilt in picture is my Ooops! Paintbox Quilt. I call it “Ooops!” (most of my initial quilts names have that prefix) because I made so many mistakes in it! I made the quilt when I had no Rotary Cutter or mat. I marked each piece and cut it with scissors. I did all the cutting when my mother was in the hospital following a (wrong) diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer (It turned out to be a fibroid! But those four days before the reports came were overwhelming). The quilt is special to me. I gifted it to my brother and am so happy to see it being used!
Did you have a career prior this, what was it?
Oh yes! I was an architect (I still am, but…) like I wanted to be ever since I wrote an essay in my fourth grade – “When I grow up I want to be…” It had been a dream that I had set out and achieved. I was enjoying my life. I had a good salary and wonderful workspace and an excellent boss who later went on to be my mentor! I actually took up quilting on what I thought would be a sabbatical! It was around 2014 that I realized I was never going back to my desk job again! Apart from quilting, I have dabbled in numerous artsy stuff! I have painted walls in my home with murals (the current one is the most elaborate), I have painted, sketched and even written poetry. I have even been an editor for a novel!
Have you had a ‘light bulb’ moment in making?
Oh yes!!! I have had many of those! But my most memorable “light bulb” moment was when I used a cutting mat for the first time! I live in a place where I do not get any quilting supplies. At that time, I lived in a country where you did not get cutting mats and rotary cutters. I had managed to hunt down a rotary cutter – looking back, it was a pathetic piece of item that never did anything more than ‘mark’ my fabric. I, as an architect, had always used a (paper) cutter on glass. So that’s what I did. I used a rotary cutter on glass. (No wonder my fabric was not being cut properly). I just thought the idea of cutting with a rotary cutter was all hype and went back to marking and using my scissors to it. Then my brother visited USA and brought back a (good) cutter and a mat! That was a whole new world for me! I actually cut up all my stash (which wasn’t all that much and mostly consisted of old clothes left over from my upcycling days) into 5” squares just because I was happy with the rotary cutter!
What does your studio look like, and what would you change in it?
OH! I have been very lucky! I had a wonderful studio in my backyard! A few months back, though, I had to shift it into a smaller cottage. My dream studio roof developed a leak (right on top of my sewing machines) and the investigation revealed a problem in the foundation. Repair work needed for that is completely out of my budget so I decided to move into my current studio.
I like to use the space as it is for a while before deciding how I want it to be. So I will be using my studio as it is for a few months before I make any changes to it. But right now, I definitely want a window in front of my sewing machine, white walls and a change of flooring (this one is rough stone and the pins stuck in it don’t come out easily – don’t ask me how I know this) – I prefer tiles. So when I am sure what I want and how I want it, I will do a big reveal of my studio!
Do you have a GREAT tip?
I do not sort fabric anymore!! I find that to be pointless. I don’t normally look for fabric by colour. Sometimes I look for it by print theme. Sometimes I am looking for a specific designer! So now, I just put it all together. I just separate my imported designer fabric from my local fabric.
Also, I clean up my studio after EVERY project! I put everything back into place. I find my mind is more peaceful that way and I function better.
But the main thing I would love to tell everyone is do not be scared of trying something new! It could be intimidating or outright scary, but whether you can do it or not cannot be said unless you try it! So pull up your pants and Just Do IT!
What are your 3 favorite colors of Aurifil thread?
My three favorite colours of Aurifil are Natural White(2021), Lobster Red (2265) and Black (2692). I find myself going back to these every single time.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Definitely! I was a speaker at QuiltCon and I spoke about “Quilting in India – A review of Siddi Quilts of Karnataka, Godhadis of Maharashtra and Contemporary Quilt Making”. When I researched for the lecture, I had never expected it to burn inside me a desire to explore more about the regional quilting styles of India. I gave in to my desire and am planning on travelling into the depths of my country and exploring the local quilting styles. There is so much diversity in culture in India – the dialect changes every 50 kilometer – and that runs true for quilting too. Just in Godhadis there are so many different styles! I want to explore these different types of quilts, document them and create an exhibit! I have started a crowd funding project for these. You can help me by making a contribution, helping me find places to exhibit it (after the end of 2018) and mostly by sharing it.
You can find the Indiegogo page of the project here : https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/quilts-of-india
What is it about your color that inspired you, made you explore..
Orange has always been a colour I have been drawn to! Even my logo is Orange! So getting this colour, I was more than happy! And as Frank Sinatra says, Orange is the happiest colour!!! Forgive my use of some ‘orange’ elements in the collage! I just went with what came up in my search results when I typed “Orange” in the search bar!
The technique I used for my block is the same that I use when making my Reverse Applique portrait quilts. It took me about 20 minutes to make the block (It should not take you more than 90 minutes even if you prefer to ‘slow’ stitch. If you would like to try your hand at making a portrait quilt after you have made the block, go to my Craftsy store here : https://www.craftsy.com/quilting/patterns/about-face/315743
And a few on the light side…
If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to, and Why?
I think I would travel to 2004 – the year I met my husband, Rohit! I would like to re – live those moments again! It’s like my life just fast forwarded in the last 12 years that we have been together! Also that would give me another chance to make lots of quilts for my wonderful son, Aadi. For a very long time the poor fellow believed that every quilt I made was for him because I used him as my model for all my photography!
What’s the most interesting thing you see out of your office or kitchen window?
There is this lovely structure on top on an apartment! I have been intrigued by it for a while now. I guess I should just go knock on the door and ask them to let me in to see what it actually is!
Are you a Dog or Cat person?
Unfortunately I am not. I was chased by a neighbor’s dog as a kid (my little brother ran faster and closed the gate so the dog kept chasing me around the house till the neighbor came out). That scared me off dogs forever. My husband, my MIL and my son are all cat lovers! So we do have a cute little black cat in our house right now!
What is your favorite book you have ever read?.
That’s such a difficult question! I love to read. I have a library at home that has more than 250 books plus many more on my kindle (and I have subscribed to Kindle Unlimited too!). So its really difficult to pick one. But I love the Harry Potter series (I even made a Dementor quilt!). My next favorite is Danielle Steele’s Sisters. It inspired me to make my “White Rainbow” quilt that was exhibited at Houston and Quiltcon 2015.
Visit Shruti at:
- My blog : www.13woodhouseroad.com
- Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/shrutidandekarstudios/
- Instagram : http://www.instagram.com/shrutinow
- My Indiegogo campaign page : https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/quilts-of-india
ENTER YOUR BLOCK so you can be in the running to win a box of thread, last month’s winner is below
And JOIN my fantastic online quilt group with the most incredible quilt show each day… I’d love to meet you!
******* JOIN our Aurifil Family *******
EACH MONTH we will pick one random winner that has made a block.. that person will receive a special Aurifil thread prize! Winners are all contacted email
Our RANDOM picker this month selected is Kay! She has WON a BOX of Aurifil thread! Such gorgeous blocks entered .. see all the great versions HERE