Children

The quilt maker

Standing in the balcony of her bungalow, Navya watched two parrots peck at a ripe fig on the tree. Summer had arrived, bringing with it a two-month holiday from school. Navya couldn’t stop smiling at the thought of 60 days of eating, sleeping, watching TV, playing games on her mobile and laptop and just lazing around the house.

“Navya, help me with these scrap pieces,” her mother called from inside.

Navya entered the large room at the back, which doubled as her mother’s boutique. Though her mother had started a business just a few weeks ago, orders were pouring in non-stop, keeping three tailors busy, stitching clothes through the day.

“Help me transfer all these assorted bits into these large bags. I’ll throw them in the dry dustbin tomorrow,” her mother said.

“Don’t people want these pieces of scrap?” Navya asked.

“No. I usually ask if they want it. Almost all decline; they say that the pieces are too small to be useful. Also they are almost always irregular in size and shape.”

Lost in thought

“Hmm,” Navya was lost in thought. “Can’t the tailors do something with them?”

“If the bit is of a decent size, we sometimes use it as a yoke for the neck, as sleeves or ruffles in sleeves. Sometimes we even make potli buttons. But, more often than not, they go waste.”

Squatting on the ground, Navya studied the scrap material. A brocade cloth caught her attention. She spread it on the floor and measured it using a tape. “If I cut the edges, I’ll get a 10-inch square cloth,” she told her mother.

“What will you do with it?”

“I’ll make a bag for a mobile phone,” Navya replied. “Our SUPW teacher has asked us to explore new hobbies in the summer vacation. I’m thinking that, as I love stitching, I can use all this scrap to make items that people can use. Mobile covers, scrunchies, handkerchiefs and cloth bags to give small gifts in.”

“Good idea,” her mother smiled. “You will use up all the bits and pieces that cause me a headache wondering how to dispose of them.”

One by one, Navya spread the different pieces. Some were so tiny that nothing could be done. “I’ve an idea how to utilise these tiny bits too.” Navya lifted a small pink silk oval cloth. “Mom, if I remember right, you mentioned some new bedsheets and towels. You said they were defective so you couldn’t give them away or use them at home.”

“Yes, I’ve stacked them in the storeroom,” her mother said. “I don’t know if you can do anything with them as the block prints on the bedsheets look untidy. In some places, they are so threadbare. Even the towels are defective.”

Ideas galore

“I’ll stitch these small bits of cloths on the sheets and the towels with threads of different colours. That way, the threadbare portions will be covered. I’ll make quilts from the bedsheets and pooja mats from the towels.”

“What a wonderful idea,” her mother looked pleased. “Here are the storeroom keys.” She handed over a bunch of keys and opened a cupboard. “Take all these too,” she said, pointing to shelves filled with scrap material

Navya’s eyes shone as she lifted the rainbow-coloured pieces. They were big enough to make wonderful items. Stuffing them into cloth bags, she lugged them into her bedroom. Fishing out the towels and bedsheets from the store-room, she stacked them on her bed.

She cut the various scrap material into different shapes. Then, opening her sewing kit, she started stitching them over a bedsheet with a running stitch. Later, using a brown thread, she sewed it with a Paris stitch. By evening, she had stitched colourful pieces of cloth over a quarter of the bedsheet. Three days later she completed the quilt. Spreading it over her bed, she admired the multicoloured tapestry.

A wonderful gift

“So beautiful,” her mother said. “I’ll buy it from you, as I want to give my aunt a birthday present. She will love this handmade gift. She can use it as a quilt or a tablecover.”

“Thanks mom. I can do with some extra pocket money,” Navya grinned.

Soon people who visited her mother’s boutique started buying mobile covers, handkerchiefs, scrunchies and other handmade stuff from Navya. Some even placed orders for the quilts and mats.

Soon Navya had exhausted all the bits of cloth. So she went to the neighbourhood tailors. Though she offered to pay for the scrap, most tailors wouldn’t take any. They offered it free, as they wanted to get rid of this colourful waste that took up so much space in their shops.

Navya’s assignment of exploring hobbies during the summer vacation turned into a lucrative business. The best part: she was able to put a good amount of scrap to good use.


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Printable version | Jun 24, 2022 12:12:52 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/children/the-quilt-maker/article65374923.ece