Friday, March 23, 2012

Quilter Spotlight: Tina Katwal

Tina on her 40th!
The second in the Quilter Spotlight series - Tina Katwal lives in Chennai and is a part of the India Modern Quilt Guild. She blogs at Holy Scrap! I think my first interaction with Tina was when she asked me about the Traditional Quilting Workshop in Bangalore. We've only interacted on email after. I really like Tina's work and I'm very impressed with how much she does! She's a business woman, a wife and mother and she quilts a fair bit! And... judging from the picture she sent me of herself... she's cool too! :)
Many thanks to Tina for taking the time to put down such enjoyable answers to my many questions.

1. So Tina, could you tell us a little bit about yourself, apart from the quilting? 
Oh, I’m just a lucky recently-turned-40 yr old mom of two very sensible girls, wife of a Neanderthal :) who loves me insanely even after two decades, owner of a small business in fancy cycles and fitness equipment, living by the sea in one of India’s best cities, AND having the luxury to be able to quilt sometimes. Also adoptive mother to a hamster named Bunny (!) and four fish. I blame all my eccentricities on my being an Aquarian. My husband blames my parents though. :)  

2. When and how did you start quilting? Did you sew before? What attracted you to the craft?
I started quilting quite by accident.  Where I come from, there is always a sewing machine in the house and simple repairs, alterations and basic sewing are usually a very DIY affair. I had decided to be a stay-at-home mom during the formative years of my girls. And one fine day (you may blame the post-partum blues here) I just decided to hire a girl who would come home and sew garments cut by me, on my machine. And so a home based business was born. Word soon spread and I had orders from friends, relatives, neighbors and then THEIR friends, relatives, neighbors who wanted salwar-kameez-North-Indian-style. Oh, I forgot to mention I’m from the topmost part of the country, married to someone from the bottommost part. It’s like two different planets!  Anyways, point is, I was left with scraps, some beautiful, some not so much, but nothing that I could throw out. (I’m told hoarding is a serious disease!) The journey from scraps to quilts was only natural I guess. Just happened. Kismet. Destiny. Karma. Or some such thing.

3. When did you start blogging about quilting?
Five months back. There was this dear friend who used to urge me to write. Write ANYTHING she used to say, just write. She is no more with us and I started my blog ‘Holy Scrap!’ as a tribute to her on her birthday. Why write about quilting, you ask? Well, I have 2 other great friends with whom I share scraps of my life, quilting and otherwise. They have been most encouraging in my quilting journey and this was an easy way to share my explorations and experiments with them.

Tina's first quilt.
4. Which is the first quilt you ever made and what do you remember about the process?
This was my first quilt and thinking about the ‘process’ still makes me laugh. I cut squares out of all the scraps I could lay my hands on at that time, scooped them up and threw them up in the air! I pieced them in whatever order they fell on and around me, slapped on some borders and finished with no batting!! Not a very good ‘process’ I agree, but my friend, whom I gave it to, loves it; so I love it too :). 

5. What sewing machine do you use and what do you like about it?
I use Janome Wonder Stitch and I love that it was gifted to me by my Father-in-law for gifting him with a grand-daughter on his birthday!

6. Where do you get your fabric and supplies? Any recommendations for other quilters in India? What should one remember to look for when buying fabric in the Indian market that does not have specialized quilt stores?
I pester my friends abroad to bring me quilting notions. Fabric, I buy locally. India has a mind-boggling variety of fabric-colors, designs, textures, weaves, dyes. Just mind blowing! The only problem with Indian fabric is its likelihood to bleed. So the only recommendation would be to check the fabric for colorfastness. And as for the notions, soon, very soon, I’m sure everything will be available right here.

7. What inspires you?
The quiet strength of people, the smiles despite the hardships, small deeds of kindness and sacrifice, the tenaciousness of hope and will, the existence of beauty, joy and goodness in an ugly world...

8. Are there quilters you admire and whose work you follow closely?
Geta Grama from Geta's Quilting Studio.
I identify myself with her and her travails in a non-quilting country in the absence of supplies and resources. She gives me hope, apart from inspiration.
A wonderful teacher with a head full of never-ending approaches to FMQ .
Marianne Haak from The Quilting Edge.
I just LOVE her style of no-nonsense quilting and her blog never fails to give me a giggle.
There are many others to whom I owe my evolution as a quilter and I am thankful to google for helping me find them :).
Rainbow Quilt
9. Are there particular styles or methods of quilting that you enjoy?
Yeah, the throw-it-together-and-watch-it-surprise-you style. My favorite. I like trying out various styles and experimenting with giving traditional patterns a modern twist.
 10. What are some of your dreams as a quilter?
Quilts of Hope
All my quilts are called ‘Quilts of Love’. I hope to someday start a Self-help group called ‘Quilts of Hope’ for underprivileged/abused women, who will quilt and take back charge of their lives and dare to dream.

11. Do you have a favorite quilt from the ones you’ve made? Could you share it with us and tell us why?
Yes. This one. My 9-year-old daughter, the designer-cum-cuddler of this quilt, HAS to carry it with her if she’s going for a sleepover even to her grandparent’s place 2 blocks away. Need I say more?

12. What is the best thing about being a quilter?
You get to play and call it work!


On being part of the India Modern Quilt Guild

1. I see that the guild is only growing! It’s great! You have 75 members now? What is it like to be actively part of a guild in India?
Yes, the guild is growing by the day! It’s just insane! In a good way! It’s like being back in school... the shared camaraderie, the fun, the joy of discovering fellow-quilters, the awe... its just insane! In a good way of course.

2. You must have a busy schedule. How do you work around it and actually get those monthly challenges done?
I am lucky enough to have a dedicated sewing area so I don’t have to actually pack up and put things back every time I sew. That’s very convenient when you have only a few minutes here and a few minutes there to get your sewing done. Where there’s a willing machine, there’s a way to quilt :).
The IMQG February 2012 Challenge
The IMQG January 2012 Challenge
3. So when is the big retreat? Anything you can share with us about it?
It’s 20th to 22nd April 2012 at Pune. It’s the guild’s first meet and everybody is buzzing with excitement. You know what the meet means in a non-quilting country... its history being made!!

4. If someone wants to join IMQG – what should they do?
Just join. That simple. They can ask to be added to the Facebook page, which is very very active  and/or they can mail Shruti or me at

On the Quilting Workshop in Bangalore

1. You went to Bangalore for the quilting workshop with Nirmala Akka. You’ve blogged about it but could you tell us a little about it here as well?

Mini Quilt made at workshop
It was an amazing experience coz it was the first time I was doing any quilt-related activity in a group. The first time I was hand quilting anything. And to top it all, the teacher was an authentic expert in quiltmaking in the traditional style of Honnaver. I was so thrilled in fact, that I did a three part blogpost about it.

2. Did you enjoy the technique?
I enjoyed the process very much though my fingers were complaining a bit. I really would like to adapt it to machine quilting but keep the essence and soul of the method intact.

3. Savita is planning another one soon isn’t she? Will you be going down for it?
We are exploring the idea of Nirmala akka conducting a workshop for the guild during one of the retreats in the near future.

4. I found it very interesting that Nirmala akka’s hands were strong enough to work in the fields and make such gorgeous quilts! Of course, with her method you really do need strong hands! What stands out for you after having interacted with her?
Her joie de vivre, her humility, her instinct for colour and structure, her quiet strength. Awesome!

Bum Chums


Sudha's Quilt


  1. Reading this article was absolutely delightful and inspiring. I'm so proud of you and really admire you, Tina!

  2. Awesome interview Carol...thank you for showing Tina to the world...

  3. These are proud being created, I believe! Simply, beautiful they are, is all that I can say!

  4. Terrific interview Carol! Loved reading it!

    1. Thank You Brinda. Tina did a good job. :)

  5. This is very inspiring. Lovely work Tina.

  6. What a wonderful interview, so in depth. Thank you so much for the lovely things you said about made my day.

  7. Having recently found Tina's blog, I really enjoyed this interview and I think the questions were very well formulated.
    best from Tunisia,

  8. I've seen the beautiful quilt work of different states of India which was amazing. Now only I got to know about her in the blog and amazed to read her story and her great contribution in indian quilt.

  9. Design used in Bum Chums are so attractive.But i feel that Birdie Quilt is too glossy !!