Handwork · Learning New Things! · Non-traditional Quilts

Siddi Quilts AKA Kawandi

What is a Siddi quilt? Here’s a link with more info, but basically they are hand-stitched textile creations made by African-Indian women. That link can take you down a rabbit hole of interesting knowledge, but here’s the short story. These kawandi can closely resemble the quilts you have on your beds, although they are constructed quite differently. They start with a backing fabric, often an old sari. There is a filling, mostly other used textiles. The top layer is composed of small pieces of fabrics hand stitched to the other layers. The stitching begins on the outside edge and finishes in the center–totally different than American quilts.

No kawandi is properly finished until each corner has a phula, or decorative folded flower. Most have additional small decorative patches on the top, known as tikeli. These are not used by the Siddi people as decorations, but as utility mats and covers during the cooler monsoon seasons. That does NOT mean that they are not beautiful!

Today I took a class through our quilt guild with Mary Hogan and learned how to make them…as much as you can learn about them in a one day class.

Sooooo many variables from those basic ideas! Here is my first round of fabric and stitching. I remembered to add my corner phulas, too. This is not a quick project and I’m very glad that Mary made that clear from the start and had us start small!

After about 3 more hours I had several rounds of stitching done and I was able to start adding a second round of fabric pieces.

See–not quick! But very relaxing. I don’t have any tikeli on there yet but I think I’ll need one when I get to that next corner. No raw edges allowed, but with hand stitching you have plenty of time to think about fabric shape and placement. Nothing is pre-planned or pre-cut. It’s a true quilt-as-you-go project and when you get to that center, it is DONE.

This one will take a while, and that’s totally fine. I’m thinking ahead, though, about what I want to DO with this. I’m not sure this will satisfy my gaudy heart as is. It may be the basis for a bigger, beaded, embellished homage to the art of this Siddi tradition.

Whatever road I take with it, it will be totally enjoyable. Thanks, Mary.


6 thoughts on “Siddi Quilts AKA Kawandi

    1. I am not in love with Siddi quilts but it was a great exercise! Learning something new is always exciting. The finished results of these can vary so widely that each one is a special treat.


    1. Don’t use batiks or high-thread count cotton or you will have sore fingers! Of course, I did not heed that warning because those are the fabrics I wanted to use! Sore! If you have good tools like thimbles and needle pullers of some kind, it’s a big help. Other than that, the process is simple and fun.

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