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Cultural Fusion Quilts: A Melting Pot of Piecing Traditions • 15 Free-Form Block Projects Paperback – December 1, 2014
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We've featured an extract from this book on page 60 of this month's issue; if you've already looked over Sujata Shah's Crazy Quilt then you'll know that the author is an inspired designer. Sujata has a unique perspective on the craft, being born in Mumbai and moving to the USA later. She describes in her introduction how as an adolescent she would love fabrics but found sewing crushingly dull, telling her mother she would ‘rather die than hold a needle'! Later in life, after moving to the States and getting married, she discovered a love of quilting, luckily for us, and took much inspiration from fusing the styles of her native India and American folk art and Amish quilting. The resulting projects are a sight to see! The 15 free form block projects featured in this book are a celebration of this “melting pot,” and brim with ideas. The book is accompanied, refreshingly, with photographs illustrating some of the inspirations and stories behind the projects, and it's a pleasure to see how Sujata has translated them into works of quilted excellence. (Popular Patchwork, May 2015)
The author of this book grew up in Mumbai, India, and now lives in Pennsylvania, USA. A graphic designer and quilter, she finds inspiration all over the world- in the quilts from Gee's Bend, the Indian godharis and the bold, colorful fabrics from Africa. In this book she shows how to make vivid, free-form quilts from traditional quilt blocks such as Rail Fence, Windmills or Square in a Square with a simple stack, cut, shuffle, and stitch technique. She also provides alternative setting suggestions for each project. A colorful and inspiring book. Highly recommended! (Down Under Quilts Magazine, January 2015)
I love everything about Indian design and color and this book rocked me from the opening and short show-n-tell of hand embroidered wallhangings, and printed fabrics. I love the techniques that the designer shows us in her book although they are not totally unfamiliar to me, as American free-form quilters have been using, teaching, and writing about these techniques for years. Yet, for some reason, the work and process spelled out in this book is speaking to me now. Wow. Maybe it's because the focus and simplicity of both the quiltmaking and the process of patchwork, has been unabashedly simplified and not used as a mere precursor for some kind of unattainable museum-worthy free form fabric masterpiece. All of her piecework is so liberating and freeing and, it had occurred to me, this freedom in cutting and free-form sewing might be just the thing a bored quilter might need to get out of her/his creative rut.I also want to give Shah props for including the additional layer of fiber-interest for including photographs that inspired her individual projects, like pottery, textiles, carved wood, African textiles, etc. I really enjoyed reading and learning the effortless techniques Shah teaches us in the book that are used to achieve the different patchwork patterns… (Mark Lipinski 11/24/14)
Sujata Shah takes a different look at traditional blocks and adds her interpretation with 15 simple and fun free-form block projects in Cultural Fusion Quilts: A Melting Pot of Piecing Traditions. (McCall's Quick Quilts, June/July 2015)
About the Author
Sujata Shah is an award-winning quilter and designer who finds inspiration in the rich handmade tradition of her home country, India; the quilts of Gee's Bend; and African textiles. She lives in Chester Springs, PA. therootconnection.blogspot.com
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What you end up with are the perfectly imprecise quilts featured in Cultural Fusion Quilts by Sujata Shah. Shah blends her Indian background with African and American inspirations to deliver 15 globe-shattering layouts ranging from 42.5" by 43.5" to 80.5" by 96.5". Want to see a pinwheel that spins faster than its classic brethren? Peppermint Pinwheels (64.5" square) is also a study in color contrast and fabric pattern movement. More calming effects can be seen in the simple lines and sedate taupes of Winter (42.5" by 49.5"). The result is almost Japanese, as is that of Lattice (60.5" square), with its confidently restrained palette of black, red, indigo, salmon, and tan.
My favorite is Sunset (45.75" square), one of several examples where a bit of Amish enters the mix. It uses the Square in a Square technique to create the half-square triangles for its Wave block. Cuts can be either curved or straight, but I am thinking curves might get lost in the short dimensions of each half-square triangle. Either way, you can piece with abandon, in that all those pesky diagonal seams don't have to match up exactly.
However, don't think accuracy is completely cast overboard in Cultural Fusion Quilts. Each project still requires that you match seams when joining blocks and rows, to the best of your ability. This, along with thoughtful fabric choices, keeps the bubbling wonkiness from boiling out of control. Shah's approach achieves a look that is not so abstract as to be unrecognizable. The supplemental beauty is that your quilting lines do not have to perfect, either. In fact, your quilt will be better for it.
Shah educates us as she explains the background inspiration for each quilt. She further enlightens us with additional colorways and layouts. Her instructions are brief, illustrated, and uncluttered. Just one thing might help in order to effectively - and safely - explain the curved cutting technique: I could use a few photos actually showing a person making the slices. (Small thing, unless you are new to curves or quilting.) Regardless, the quilting world pulls a little closer with Shah's carefully carefree approach.
I already have two inspired-by-the-book projects sketched with fabrics pulled for the first one (and my copy only arrived late yesterday). Can't wait to start stitching!!
As with many great quilt books, color use is what makes these generally traditional patterns sing. It is easy to see how Ms. Shah's background and love of color shaped her design choices. I am enchanted by Ms. Shah's website and I would encourage everyone to have a look. Some great designs are included on her website but not in the book.
Some of the color use and pattern choices have been done before by others in the past, and some of it is new. All of it is well worth the price of admission!
I am happy to have added this book to my quilting library and I love Ms. Shah's exuberant use of color and design. I doubt that you will be disappointed if you buy this book.
I think the reason I am so drawn into this book is partially visual - the deliciously colorful and artistic quilts, and the wonderful photographs - but also from the personal narratives sprinkled throughout the book, in the Root Connection segments. Inspiration from a sunset, her personal feelings about her family, her love for her home country of India - her voice is heard through her quilts, and in her prose. Sujata has told her personal quilting story, and it's a story you don't want to miss experiencing. This book would be enjoyed - no - treasured, by anyone who enjoys quilts or quilting.
Sujata Shah is a graphic designer and a quilter. She brings to the quilt design world interesting eye catching color use and design. She is a good instructor able to get her ideas across so her students produce beautiful quilts that are works of art.
Her Root Connection insets are inspirational and a good reminder for us to see the designs and beauty in our own everyday worlds. I expect that there will be many, many, fabulous quilts created as a result of this beautiful book. We are fortunate she has taken the time from her own creative life to share her methods and inspiration with us.