Abhalmaya : The largest portrait quilt I've made (till now)

My mentor in Architecture - Pramod Chaugule, wanted me to make a portrait of his father, who is known as Pappa among all those who are close to him. So after two years of pestering me I agreed. Why was I putting it off? He wanted me to make a HUGE quilt. And I wasn't ready for it!

But when we decided we would do my first solo exhibition in 2015. I knew I was ready for it!


Like I said in my earlier post, I started making this quilt in June 2015. It was a daunting project and for a long time I could not decide which technique to use.

In the end I decided to make it into a pixelated porrtait.

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the colours, and in the end acted smart and just created the pattern on You Patch. If anyone of you wants to make a pixelated quilt, PLEASE save yourself a lot of time and headache and frustration and just design your pattern on You Patch. They're quick, easy and most important, they tell you the shades of Kona Solids that you can use! It just eliminates all the hassels of fabric selection.

But of course I could not have done it the easy way, could I?

First, all those blocks... They made my head spin! So many pieces to cut in so many different sizes! And I suck at precision peicing! My 6.5" Tula pink blocks are ALL of different sizes - and none of them 6.5"!!! Don't ask me how.

So what do I do?

I had some Pellon Tru-Grid that I had ordered from the USA a few weeks back. So I decided to just calculate the number of squares I needed of each colour and fuse and stitch them, one block at a time! Easy, right?

Wrong again.

Firstly, I did not have all the Kona shades I needed and ordering online isn't an option when you live on the other side of the world.

And secondly, the very intelligent me had ordered a non-fusible variety of the Pellon Tru-Grid!!!

I was almost in tears when I realized that!

But you know me. I always find a way out! So I took my Kona shade card to the local market, matched the Solids that I required and used a glue stick to 'fuse' the pieces!!! This is how I organized my fabric squares while I worked with them!



Thus began my adventure with the 4096 (8 x 8 blocks of 8 x 8 squares each)

Was it an easy road from there. Well yes, until I finished 3/4th of the quilt and made a startling discovery!

I had completed 48/64 blocks. Just finished putting them all together and laid it on the ground. I almost had a heart attack!

It looked NOTHING like the photo! I was, again, on the verge of tears! All the things had been finalized by then. Pramod Sir was eagerly awaiting snaps of the portrait! And I just could not see it!

I sent for Rohit. I thought a new set of eyes might see what I'm not seeing. And meanwhile, I thought i'd just click a photo of it and send it to my quilting peeps to investigate what went wrong. Maybe I had put a block or two the wrong way.

When I looked at the screen of my iPhone I was surprised and so happy!!!

This is what I saw!!!



It totally looked like Pappa!!! Phew!!! That was when I realized that looking at a larger than life thing through the camera screen (or an inverted binoculars) puts distance and helps us see it.

The last 16 blocks came together super fast and the quilt top was ready.



Time to baste it!!!

I actually had to move out ALL the furniture from Aadi's room to baste it! It took 3 gruesome hours, down on my knees!!!

Now came the time to decide how to quilt it. I had a whole array of Aurifil threads in Greys. I had a very hard time determining how I was going to quilt it. 


In the end I chose to go with a simple stippling design with the Monofilament thread in the top and 50 wt White thread in the bobbin.

It took me 3 days of a quilting marathon to finish this one! But it was ready - 15 days before the exhibition - bound and with a sleeve!!!


This quilt was placed behind a curtain at the exhibition. About 5' from it we had put up a board that read "Look though your mobile phone camera". It was like magic! People loved it. It sure was a crowd puller. Kids called it a magic quilt! They were totally fascinated by the quilt.

This sure was one of the most awesome experiences of my life. I used a new-to-me technique to create a memorable piece for someone who has inspired so many other creatives like me!!! This was totally worth every hour that went into it.

Leave a comment