Wali Shaikh from Canada makes beautiful patchwork covers. These can be ordered via the Tanfana’s Twinflame webshop. Wali presents herself below and talks about her lifelong passion for patchwork:
My story starts 78 years ago. Born to a German mother and an Indian father my early years were spent in Baroda, western India, during India’s struggle for freedom. My father was influenced by the Gandhian way of life, which meant that I too learnt to be self reliant in the hard times. Ecological conservation was equally important to my father and he would encourage the local youth to plant trees in their homes and community spaces.
The simple life of those days was set in difficulty with World War Two rationing across the country and terrible famine. My mother was frugal and inventive. After sewing clothing and household linen, she used the leftovers to make patchwork plaids and quilts. I learnt to sew, knit and crochet, and in my teens I was sewing my own garments too. Recycling leftover cloth has been a way of life for as far back as I can remember. It was a simple gratifying pleasure to be able to create something useful and colourful. The act of cutting and sewing is also therapeutical and meditational and that’s when I am in my own mental space with myself. When I started my own family, patchwork-making took on a renewed importance and role.
Putting pieces together is always an adventure for I never know what the finished patchwork will finally look like until it is ready. The colours come together as and how the fabric finds it’s way to me by word of mouth, so each patchwork is a unique representation of that natural process of connection. My daughter continues with the family tradition, creating pieces that are beautifully colour co-ordinated and with striking detail.
After immigrating to Canada in 1999, I volunteered to sew patchwork quilts for children in hospitals, women’s shelters and a cancer centre. Also, quilts were sent to local orphanages in disaster-hit Haiti. Over time, the quilts have travelled far with friends and family across the world. My sewing machine bought in Germany has travelled with me from country to country and has been my companion for more than five decades. It is a faithful friend constantly by my side, now in need of some repair but never to be parted with.
Lately, arthritis in the knees has slowed down my sewing, making it difficult to work on the floor which is the only large flat work-space where I can attach the lining to the back of each patchwork. My hands hurt too after all these years of cutting and placing. But the pleasure and joy more than make up for the discomfort and I am rewarded at the end of each exercise by a lovely patchwork to enjoy for many years to come. As my father used to say, «one man’s trash is another’s treasure» and these patchworks breathe new life into old fabric. On a personal note my patchworks are also cheerful colourful upcycled rebels standing up to a world of overconsumption. I hope to be able to continue a long as I can, and my wish is that the simple pleasure and joy of patchwork may spread as far and wide as possible and be a gentle part of people’s lives.