The Chakra Block for India’s 75th Independence Day

The pattern for this gorgeous 15″ Chakra (Wheel) circle block set in an 18″ square is foundation paper-pieced and much easier to sew than it looks! And there are so many ways to use it!

The Chakra Block Pattern is now available on my Madspatch Ecwid Store! Check Link below.

The Chakra (Wheel) Block from my Dreamcatcher Quilt has to be my absolute favourite. For one, it is a tribute to my country, India!  Secondly, it is designed by me, not based on any other quilt block that I have seen.

Why not celebrate India by making your own Chakra? The pattern is now available on my Madspatch Ecwid store!  It is surprisingly easy to piece the paper-foundation paper piecing way, and assembly is also simple enough. The half-circles could be appliqued, fused or even omitted if you don’t feel up to it!


The block, a 15” square set in an 18” circle was designed as the tenth block in the Dreamcatcher Round the Year BOM quilt. However, like the other blocks of my quilt, it works great as a stand-alone small quilt! Here are some great options for you!

You could use just the centre circle as a great-looking round table runner.

The Chakra Block in its original Dreamcatcher by Dusk colours

Make it in the original indigo and white of our flag and bind with a green and saffron double binding to make it look special!

The Indigo and white Ashok Wheel round table runner with a tricolour double binding!

Substitute the colours on the pattern and make a couple for a pair of gorgeous tricolour cushion covers.

A pair of cushions in the saffron, green and white of the Indian tricolour

…Or you could combine with another two blocks from my store, the Lollipop Candy and Dahlia; add a 1.5” border and sashing to make a table runner 21”X 60”!

Or perhaps join four blocks two by two to make a stunning wall-hanging!

Of course, you could always make the 16 block Dreamcatcher quilt! Nine of the blocks are already available on my online store.


What You Can Do With A Single Quilt Block…

…and why you are going to enjoy this Block of the Month!

I am one of those people who jump headlong into a project and the enthusiasm peters out in no time. I often don’t start a great looking new quilt, because I don’t know if I’ll finish it. Who doesn’t hate the thought of adding to those sad orphan blocks calling out to them to do something, anything with them!? Besides, what a waste of money and effort, which most of us cannot readily spare. I don’t want that to happen to any of you lovely people out there who embark on “Round the Year”, my Block of the Month Quilt! So I decided to pattern all my blocks to be versatile, stand alone blocks. At any stage, you can say, “Okay, that’s enough, I am not going to make any more of these!” (Though I do hope you won’t!). There are lots of ways you can use them, just as many as you end up with. I was playing around with my laptop and here are the options I came up with. (One of the advantages is that we have fairly big blocks which finish at 18″ with a 15″ inset circle.)

So what if you decide to make only one block?

Quilt it and make into a small table topper 18″ square. Incidentally, this is a test block made by my online quilter friend Nikhat Syeda– hasn’t she done a marvellous job? Reduce the size of the square to 15″, which is a great size for cushion cover. You could make a set of cushion covers depending on how many blocks you end up with. Add a border, quilt it to make a stunner of a wall hanging! Another quilter friend Sobana tested the same block. (She has even blogged about it here – you must see the other wonderful work she has done!). She is going to use it as the centre of a quilt she is planning! I am waiting to see what she comes up with – but this does give you an idea of what you can do with a single block! I almost forgot to remind you of what I did with a single block – in fact , with a little less than a single block… I skipped the outer square and quilted the pieced circle into a pretty, round table top.   This is my friend Aliya Mir’s test block , which I have photoshopped to show you the look. Well, tomorrow evening I give the fabric requirements for the full quilt, do tune in! But before that, tomorrow morning I am experimenting with various quilt layouts here on this blog!

Hand Applique Using Back-Basting Method

This is a hand appliqué method that works best when doing patterns that involve multiple curves and reverse appliqué. It is a carry with you project – no tedious ironing, templates, freezer paper , glue, pins…It is also very accurate!


You will need:

  1. Pattern – . As a beginner, you may want to choose something that does not have too many sharp curves. A simple pattern with not too many small pieces is a good idea!
  2. Background fabric – Most patterns will give you details of how much fabric you will need. But remember – at least ¾” to one inch larger than finished piece/ block on each side. For a 10″ X 10″ block, take background fabric 11 1/2″ to 12″ square. Trust me, you will not regret it!
  3. Applique fabric – enough to fully cover the appliqué pattern completely plus approx half inch all around
  4. Painter’s (paper) tape
  5. Small, sharp scissors. Special appliqué scissors are also available!
  6. Thread for basting – try to pick a colour that will show up on both the background and appliqué piece
  7. Thread – colour matching the appliqué piece
  8. Small sharp fine needles – keeping a couple of extra needles threaded is always a great idea when doing hand sewing of any kind.
  9. Toothpicks (yes!). A knitting needle may prove useful for some patterns!
  10. Thimble, if you use one
  11. Couple of sharpened ordinary lead pencils, or washable ink pens for fabric. You may want a white/ light coloured pencil/ pen if your fabric is dark.
  13. Method

I shall be showing different blocks through this entire quilt along, so please do not get confused L!

  1. Print out or trace out your paper pattern . You may need to tape together the sheets – matching given dashes or dotted lines – if the pattern is larger than A4 (like here). The online patterns usually carry instructions on how to go about it!

This pattern is all taped together and ready to be used. If your pattern is symmetrical – like the one above, you need to mark the centre of the pattern.

  1. Trace the pattern to the wrong side of the background fabric.


Tracing the Pattern

  • Tape the pattern to a light box, or glass window, sunnier the better! Here is a pattern taped on to my window . (It was so sunny that you cant really see anything in this picture!)

  • Preparing the fabric: Take background fabric at least ¾” to an inch larger than your finished piece on each side . When appliquéing, the fabric gets `pulled in’ unevenly, and you will need to square it to the right dimensions, once done.
  • Spray starch and iron your background fabric, so that there are no creases!
  • Fold and iron (the centre part only) fabric twice to mark the centre with sharp creases.


  • Tape the background fabric, right side facing the light on top of the pattern. So now the wrong side of fabric will be visible to you …Match the centre of the fabric to the centre of pattern. And trace with fabric pen in contrasting colour. I use a lead pencil, which would not work on light coloured or white fabric.
  • Now we have our pattern traced on the wrong side of the background fabric! And we are ready for the next step.
  1. Pin/ tack or tape your appliqué square to the right side of the fabric, smoothing it out . Hold it against the light to ensure your pattern is completely covered, leaving a seam allowance all around.
  2. Flip over to the reverse side and go over the pattern with a running stitch in contrasting thread.
  5. Tip: You can afford to take large stitches on wide curves and straight edges. The sharper the curve, the smaller the stitch!
  6. This is done! Here it is from the right side.
  8. Here is another block, the appliqué fabric basted in place on a corner. This is when I had just discovered that the joys of paper tape vis a vis pins!

  12. Roughly trim around the pattern, leaving just about a ¼” allowance . For the time being, do not attempt to trim into sharp curves and the reverse appliqué portion!
  13. A few tutes recommend skipping this step altogether, and trimming only as you go along.

  14. In any case, we are ready to appliqué. Now you can carry this with you anywhere (or put it away for a year)– and take it out and finish it any time 🙂

  15. Start location – Start in an area which is straight or a fairly wide or gentle curve. In my block above, I could have started on the straight basket base. I am starting on the wide handle above.
  17. Even out the seam allowance here. A ¼ ” or less seam allowance works great on wider curves. With a washable fabric marker pen ( I’ve used a lead pencil), go over the basting line a few inches ahead of where you will be working. This will work as a guide for the seam line. As we go along, we continue to mark the seam line in this manner.
  18. Several tutorials suggest using the hole made by the basting as a guide. My ageing eyes prefer a drawn line!
  20. Clip the thread , remove a few stitches with your needle (or the toothpick). Turn the fabric under and start stitching! I was taught to take a few back stitches at the back when beginning a hand sewing project, so that is how I fasten my thread! More often than not, I forget to` bury’ the tail between the appliqué and the background fabric – which would look much neater. L
  21. Generally one would slip stitch it ( like an invisible hem). You could also use a decorative button hole or a feather stitch …
  23. and so you go on, removing the basting ahead of you, turning in the seam allowance and joining the appliqué piece to the background! Simple, isn’t it? Use the toothpick to negotiate the more difficult parts. And remember to keep flipping over to see you are on the right track…



Seam allowance – Trim your seam allowance as you go along. Your seam allowance is not a constant. For wide, gentle curves and straight edges, keep it at ¼” . Since there are no exposed seams, for smaller pieces you can reduce the seam allowance.

Another tip is sharper the curve, the smaller the seam allowance.

Curves – Notch all curves – as you approach them.

You would generally read that it is not necessary to make notches in convex (fat) curves, and that is quite true. But I find that doing this reduces the seam bulk and gives you a smoother curve.

As for concave (hollow) curves , it is imperative to make notches. Again, the rule is, sharper the curve, the closer the notches!



Sewing sharp (pointed) outer corners – as in leaves, petals…As you approach a pointed outer corner, trim the corner seam allowance to a blunt 1/8″ or less. Notch as liberally as you dare! Remove the hand basting stitches only up to the corner.

Stitch right up to the point and fasten the thread by taking one or two back stitches on the wrong side.

Now remove the basting on the other edge. With a toothpick, ease in the fabric gently, rolling it over inside the tiny space. You may need to trim the seam allowance further as you do this.

Sewing sharp pointed inner corners – As you approach the corner, reduce the seam allowance on both the edges that meet at the corner steadily. ( I make a cut which stops just before the corner point, so that the allowance at the corner may be literally just a thread or two!)



Remove the basting on both edges . Now, with the toothpick, ease in the seam allowance on both the edges. Remember, gentle is the word!


Sharp curves (not pointed) –Make two notches on either side of the corner, instead of a single cut as for a pointed corner.




The Stitch – I’ve not come across any description of it anywhere, so I do not know what it is called. It is something like the ladder stitch, or even the blind stitch, but not quite… invented it when trying to make my appliqué stitch invisible!

  • It is basically a running stitch. The lower stitch is visible on the wrong side. The upper stitch is hidden, in the fold just above the seam turning, but below the visible part of the appliqué.
  • I begin by bringing the needle straight up, on the right side on the appliqué, just a thread or two inside the edge.
  • Then I go right back in the same place, but not all the way to the wrong side of the fabric. I stop in the fold above the seam allowance. Travel a few millimetres in that fold and then go down to the wrong side. Take a stitch and come up to the right side again as in the previous step.
  • The stitch is totally invisible on the top! Except for a tiny hole, which can be smoothed away.

On the wrong side it shows up  just a thread or two inside the pattern line.

I find hand appliqué really relaxing! I am sure you will, too!

All the blocks shown are from the Just Takes 2 2012 quiltalong…and here is a great hand basting tutorial from the same site.

You can see my quilt top containing all the above completed appliqué blocks here.

A Special Quilt of Hope


This is a very special quilt, perhaps the closest to my heart! I started making it in February this year, as a Valentine’s Day challenge entry for my facebook quilting group, Desi Quilters. I had just managed to get the pieces ready for English paper piecing, when my daughter fell seriously ill.

She was hospitalized for 2 months, when there was someone very special who gave us faith she and we would come out of it, stronger than before.
“Cruel harsh winter
Ablaze with flowers of hope.
Summer’s in my heart.”
The unfinished pieces lay there forlorn and rolled up, to emerge in September, for yet another group challenge, ‘Flowers’. Finally completed, here it is.

Small Quilted wall hanging 25" X13" English Paper pieced clamshells, appliqued, machine free motion quilted. Flannel batting
Flowers of Hope – Small Quilted wall hanging

This piece is also special, because it is the first time I tried free motion quilting, quite successfully, I thought!

Back of Flowers of Hope  - Small Quilted wall hanging
Back of Quilt

(The use of the lighter brown in the bobbin case was not intentional – I just ran out of the darker thread  :-p)

I added a few French knots to give some dimension to the flowering trees.


Today we are faced with yet another situation where we need strength and hope, lots of it!
My faith continues to give me belief we shall overcome this too!
“…but winter always turns to spring. Never, from ancient times on, has anyone heard or seen of winter turning back to autumn. ” Nichiren Daishonin
And so,
बीहड़ उजाड़ मन.
गुलमोहर अमलतास बन
झूमी आस किरन…

Quilted memories and a little bit of history

My mother in law was a wonderfully talented lady! Born and brought up in an era where scrimping and saving was a virtue and everything was recycled, she used her amazing creativity to make some beautiful things.
I remember her telling me that they would patch old worn out men’s pajamas ( other than anglicised people and those in government service, most North Indian men wore white cotton pajama- kurtas) kurtas and dress shirts and they could then be used as night clothes. If they got worn out further, cut them up to make boys’ clothes! Or pillow cases! Unusable pieces were used as kitchen rags. Any further, you could make handkerchiefs and diaper cloths for children! In fact the best hankies and diapers came from well washed cotton cloth.
Of course, worn out sarees , both cotton and silk, were ( and still are, to this date) used to the very last scrap. Salwar- kameezes for the teenagers in the family were the first priority. The softer fabrics went into little gathered smocks for newborns and infants.
Quilts and cushion covers were made when you were down to the last scrap! In any case, chintz ( chheent) was really cheap, and it made much more economic sense to use that to make whole cloth chintz quilts, with possibly a matching or contrast border, rather than using finer dress and saree fabric for quilts. The only exception were quilts which formed the part of a girl’s dowry – these are made of silk and velvet to this day.
That reminds me of another major use of old muslin sarees – quilt covers! In North India, you need really thick quilts razais to keep you warm in the cold winter months, in the absence of heating. These were bagged quilts, filled with loose cotton and not washable. ( The katai walas with their dhunkis who carded and ‘fluffed’ the cotton till it looked like candy floss and the tagai walas who filled and tied the quilts deserve a blogpost of their own!) So,to keep the quilts from getting dirty, you needed quilt covers. There was no point in making the quilts themselves fancy if they were going to be not seen! When they did get dirty, you removed the quilting ( hence no dense quilting, especially in the colder climes of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh) washed the quilt top, cleaned the cotton and re-fluffed it. Back into the bag, and re-tied! This is done to this day, in most of North India. Rajasthan is not as cold, so you have lighter quilts here. The famous Jaipuri razai is half a kilo of cottonwool in beautifully hand-block printed muslin bag with fancier quilting. In even warmer climes the gudri was just two or three layers of fabric quilted together. Obviously, fancier work here!
Old saree borders – they were mainly woven – were joined together and lined with old muslin sarees to make lovely soft, light blankets ‘dohars’ ( literally ‘two layers’). I hope I can find a picture of one such dohar Mummy and I stitched.
And then there were the luxurious satin and taffeta petticoats to be worn under your silk and chiffon sarees. Here Mummy’s creative genius really came into its own! This is picture of one such razai made by her from old worn out petticoats! Winter is here – almost- and the razais will emerge from the closets. I’ll add some moe pictures then!


%d bloggers like this: