Shruti Dandekar, An Architect Turned Quilter, Went On To Create World-Famous Portrait Quilts

Women Empowerment By Ritika Bidawat | 3 min read

Shruti Dandekar

Find out how Shruti Dandekar, a quilter who became an architect by profession, started making world-famous portrait quilts.

Shruti Dandekar is an architect by profession but became a full-time quilter after leaving her job. She started to enjoy this work so much that she did not even think to go back to the architect’s drawing board again. Now she’s a master at making a portrait quilt, which is made on order. Her most adored quilt is the grand coronation of Shivaji Maharaj.

This was her dream project, in which Shrimant Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is shown moving on the throne. It has grandeur, glamour, glistens, and much more. In an effort to make it a 10-month journey, she has learned patience, consistency, skill, much more.

This twenty-foot-long portrait quilt was added to the Indian quilt ceremony as well as America’s Quilt Convention. For Shruti, it was as if her dream had come true. She likes to call herself a “modern art quilter.” Let’s see her journey to reach this position, which was full of bumpy roads.

The Path From Architect To A Quilter

An architect by profession, Shruti Dandekar wanted to pursue a master’s degree in her field. Her dream was to become a world-renowned architect and establish her own identity in the world.

Her arrival in the architectural world came to an abrupt halt when she could not even get up from bed while battling chikungunya disease in 2009 and was fired.

Shruti Dandekar
Image source – Website

She was bedridden for a long time and was constantly worried about her career; to distract herself, she began quilting during this time. and eventually discovered a new kind of love in this new vibrant job.

However, in India, sewing work by women means long hours of labour only during difficult times for illiterate or housewife ladies whose earnings allow them to feed their families and educate their children.

People were surprised when Shruti Dandekar, a modern, educated woman, decided to pursue a career in quilting. She couldn’t even defend herself in front of the crowd.

Shruti Dandekar first started sewing in October 2009. This was the period when she was battling chikungunya. She asked her cook (who also knew sewing) to make cushion covers and curtains from old clothes from his grandmother’s 50-year-old sewing machine. Shruti’s friends liked it so much that they asked her to make it for them as well.

Upcycle Shop

Shruti Dandekar
Image source – Facebook

Now Shruti started managing a small designing business, which she named “Upcycled Shop,” where old women were given new work by putting slum dwellers into sewing various household items. Gradually, her interest in sewing started growing. Now she wanted to buy a modern sewing machine. For this, she also started saving, and with experience, she then started writing a quilting blog.

Indian Modern Quilt Guild Debut

Shruti Dandekar along with two other Quilt bloggers from India started the guild. When more people joined, it gave the guild’s name India Quilt Guild ( I Q G ). Today it has more than 2000 members.

In 2015, Shruti went to the USA to meet her long-time online friend, Emily Lang. She also created a 3D quilt to display it at one of the quilt conventions in the USA. In this 3D quilt, a quilt showed the woman carrying a bale on her head, which she named “Asra Aali”.

Shruti Dandekar
Image source – Facebook

Portrait Quilt Technique

In 2012, she created a portrait of her husband’s grandfather on a quilt by Applique Work and introduced the portrait technique. She named this portrait quilt ” Dada Ajuba”. She then gifted her brother a portrait quiz of Steve Jobs as a gift.

Shruti Dandekar started making several portrait quilts. Some were gifts, and some were made on order. Out of all these creations, the one close to her heart was his son Aadi’s portrait quilt which she called “My Heart’s Happiness: Aadi’s Picture Quilt”.

Shruti Dandekar
Image source – Website

Ceremony of Shritmant Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

In this series of portrait quilts, Shruti Dandekar’s greatest work is the creation of the “Grand Coronation Ceremony of Shritmant Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj”. It has become so grand that it is difficult to shift attention to other things while looking at it.

Its large size further enhances its grandeur. Initially, Shruti thought of making it small to reduce time and effort, but Shivaji’s heroic works are so varied that it was impossible to show them in a small quilt. This is why Shruti made a large 20-feet long quilt to show the grandeur and greatness of the great Maratha Shivaji.

Shruti Dandekar
Image source – Facebook

To create such a huge size, 20,000 different pieces of fabric of 287 colours were made from applique work. It took 693 hours to make, which was more than 10 months. The quilt was screened at the “India Quilt Festival” as well as in Chicago and Austin in February 2020.

Shruti Dandekar
Image source – Facebook

From Quilts To Masks, Therapy & Much More

In the difficult times of Covid-19, she concentrated on making fabric masks, seeing the need of the hour. But at that time, due to the closure of shops, they found it very difficult to get clothes. Through WhatsApp, she taught 25 hardworking women ” How to make masks at home” by making tutorials in Hindi and Marathi.

In just one week, she created over 10,000 masks. She then distributed masks for free to police officers, teachers, and frontline Covid-19 warriors. Also distributed to Patients and doctors in cancer hospitals.

Shruti Dandekar
Image source – Facebook
Shruti Dandekar
Source – Facebook

Shruti Dandekar is now bringing a new therapy concept to quilting. She had a great time at work. As a result, she is now prepared to share with us, all the bliss of quilting. Now you and I can learn to quilt while meditating with the threads in her quilting therapy workshops.

The entry of an architect into the quilt world and subsequently creating such great artworks demonstrates that she is blowing the wind of change with her small steps toward the creation of a new innovative idea.

Check to know more about Shruti Dandekar-Facebook and Instagram.

If you like the story of this Unique business idea, please read about the Unique Business Idea Of A Blessed Child – Down Syndrome Could Not Cut The Wings Of This Women Entrepreneur who also embraced her uniqueness.

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