myBearpaw Blog by Jo Avery

Siddi Inspired Cushion

During my trip to QuiltCon Savannah earlier this year I attended a fascinating lecture by the wonderful Shruti Dandekar on Indian quilting, specifically Siddi and Godhadi quilts.  I was especially taken by the quilts made by members of the Siddi community of Southern India. The Siddi people are descendants of African slaves brought to Goa by the Portuguese, they live in secluded and very poor communities.

I was really taken with the method used to make the Siddi quilts and wanted to try it out on a smaller item. I also wanted everyone to know the story of these Indian quilts whose methods seemed so refreshingly different to our own Western ways.  I managed to chat with Shruti at the show and suggested asking Today’s Quilter to write a feature about her and her work to illuminate these quilts, and with an accompanying take on the methods by myself.

Funnily enough Shruti and I had been partners in a hoop swap many years ago in the old ‘Flickr Era’ of this community. She is a warm and hugely energetic person, and I was so impressed with her lecture.

There was also a small exhibition of Siddi Quilts, curated by Henry Drewal, which was part of the QuiltCon show. This was one of the quilts included.

With Shruti’s enthusiastic go ahead I took it up with TQ features writer Jane Rae and editor Jenny. They were both firmly in favour and so I began to plan my project!

I had been given a box of Anna Maria Horner’s collection of Aurifil 12wt threads while helping at the Aurifil stand at Festival of Quilts.  The colours were just so delicious that I decided to base my colour palette on them and pulled my fabrics with these in mind.

The basic idea for this cushion is a sort of ‘no sew’ applique collage which is then heavily hand quilted.  I tried to add some textural variety by using some bark cloth.

I used every 12wt thread from the AMH box for the hand quilting. For a long time I have hand quilted with an 8wt perle cotton but, due to a long running problem with an inflamed tendon in my right hand, I have had to change some of my practices. Hand quilting is one of the hardest things I do (as far as flaring up this problem) but using the 12wt seems to help. The Aurifil thread really glides through all sorts of fabric and so involves less strain on my hand. There is also far less ‘fluff’ created.

The Siddi’s create their quilts by working from the outside in (which is so counter intuitive to Western quitlers!), but I decided I could get away with side to side lines for such a small piece.

I chose three special buttons from my extensive and precious collection for the back. I’m pretty sure this cushion will be a keeper so I didn’t feel like I was squandering them! The back and the background is an Essex linen.

I would definitely recommend checking out this month’s issue (30) of Today’s Quilter for Jane’s article on Shruti and the quilts of India alone. You really need to hear how you go about ‘feeding your quilt’!


And of course there’s month 2 of my Vintage Home BOM Quilt Along! I’ll be posting about this on Friday.


    1. PAULINE subscribe to the magazine, I do since the very first issue. That way you get it through your door so you don’t have to hunt for it. Good luck Anyway

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