Saira Sumar of Lihaaf

With an elegant palette of colours and attention to detail, Saira’s quilts and quilted products are a joy to behold and to own.

Let’s hear from my next Creator who Inspires in her own words.

Hello, I’m Saira from Mumbai. I quilt under the brand name Lihaaf (which means quilt).

I play a myriad of roles: daughter, wife, mom, sister, teacher, friend and quilter…

I don’t claim to have been sewing/quilting all my life. In fact, I hadn’t been near a sewing machine for over 25 or more years. But once the bug struck, now I can’t be away from it for 25 hours. The time spent assisting my mom with her sewing and quilting as a young girl helped me grow fast as a quilter. I’ve made and gifted quilts and quilted items to family and friends.

I just can’t stop; I have found my passion.

Designing, buying fabric, cutting, sewing, quilting make me happy.

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Why do you craft? And why the specific craft(s) you pursue? Was it a straightforward journey, something you always wanted to do? Or did you get there via other pathways?

I’ve never asked myself this question…why?

Crafting, it’s something I’ve always done…but it’s also varied crafts and with huge gaps when I haven’t when I was occupied with college/marriage/kids…

Currently I’m into quilting, from 2014.

I’ve done crochet, embroidery, stained glass, fabric painting, calligraphy.

How did I start my quilting journey? I happened to see some posts on Facebook of quilts made by my friend’s cousin. (QTQuilts) I loved them and was drawn to them.

I spent 6 months ogling her lovely work and then I texted her asking if I could also learn how to quilt in Mumbai and what did I need? She said yes, of course and that’s all I needed to hear …

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Are you a process crafter or a product crafter? Do you do it for the joy of making something, or to enjoy what you’ve made?

I’m definitely a process crafter and luckily I’ve enjoyed everything that I’ve made. 🙂

What has been your most rewarding sewing moment so far? Can you reproduce it, do you think? Have you tried to?

I’m happiest when I’m making baby quilts. The joy of picking fabrics, colours, patterns…I love it.

Once I’ve completed a project, I note down all the specifications

Once I’ve completed a project, I note down all the specifications: fabric sourced from, size, tutorial link, changes I have made or will make in my next piece, a photo for future reference. So yes, I can reproduce whatever I’ve made.

What normally gets you down or stops you in your tracks when you’re in the middle of a project? How do you then overcome the hurdle or circumvent it?

So far I haven’t experienced quilters’ block. But yes, life generally does get in the way. Then I wait for that period to pass and while I can’t get to the sewing machine, I keep in touch by watching tutorials, following sewing blogs, shopping online and offline for fabric, etc.

Has your craft changed you? In what way?

I start my day earlier to add an hour or two for sewing before the day really begins. Earlier I would be ready to step out of the house for anything. Now I try to merge two tasks and reduce the time away from my machine. I do think I’ve become a bit more patient…

I’ve changed from being a reader to becoming an audio learner. Multitasking is my forte.

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Some advice you wish someone had given you when you were still in the beginning of your journey as a crafter?

When I began quilting, my best friend said, “You’re getting old!” But I found that being creative made me more energetic, enthusiastic and I made loads of new friends.

So I would say to anyone who wants to start, just do it. You will learn everything along the way. But be warned! Quilting is addicting.

Are there still horizons for you to conquer? Which ones, specifically?

There’s so much to learn…I’m barely past being a beginner.

I want to try my hand at Art Quilts sometime in the future. I want to learn to do intricate free motion quilting. I want to make a quilt to submit in a quilt show. I want to grow my home business of quilts and quilty products.

“Stop wishing start doing” is what I need to remember.

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See more of Saira’s lovely work and get in touch with her on Instagram and Facebook.

Running as fast as you can

I believe that social media can be a powerful tool for people who can use them properly. Me, I’m handicapped in a couple of ways, mainly due to the fact that (a) I don’t have anything original to contribute, which makes it less likely that any of my me-too posts will find a fan following and (b) I’m not actually a very social person, meaning I find it difficult to make small talk or fluently praise in public, therefore there will be no reciprocal chat or praise coming my way either. I honestly find it difficult to make my Twitter feed quantitatively different from my Instagram feed, for example. What could I possibly say in 140 characters that one picture cannot convey effectively?

Currently, however, I’m being dutifully prolific on Instagram, as I am doing two sew-a-longs (or block-a-longs). I blogged about the HST (half square triangle) sampler a couple of posts ago, and then a new one began on the 17th August, based on a book by designer Tula Pink, which has a hundred different 6″ blocks. The small size is daunting, but I hope to get them done. I’m always looking for external sources of discipline, as I have none within me. The pressure to post a block every day will hopefully make sure I make something every day.

I am a couple of blocks away from catching up with the HST sampler. Here is a collage below of the eight I finished since I last posted on the subject.

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They are, clockwise from top left, Pointed, Intersection, Diagonal, Faceted Stripe, Starshine, Rockpool, Turnstile and Introspection.

I’ve been trying to stay faithful to the designer’s colour palette in this sampler, while in the 100 blocks, I have a different palette in mind and only hope I can be true to it over the entire sampler. Working from stash within the constraints of its size and my own fabric, colour and pattern prejudices means choosing a pleasing and effective range for each block is quite challenging. I have a feeling those of you who follow my progress must be quite familiar with most of my fabric stash already, seeing as so much of it seems to occur again and again in whatever I do.

I do think I am learning from my endeavours, even if in minute amounts given my  mental capacity and aptitude. Old dogs and all that.

Following lines

I joined up to flash my stash on Instagram with Rin over at Sew in Love for fourteen days. I admit it was tough choosing what to show sometimes, but it was a useful exercise, showing me how scared I am to use some of the fabric I have. You can check out all the stash that was shown over at that first link.

After having the discipline enforced of at least one photo a day, I needed some other impetus so I wouldn’t go into withdrawal. I decided to join in the Modern HST Sampler hosted by Alice Blyth. This is discipline of much more severity. Try as I might, I am not able to get the sizes right. I can get the points to point correctly, but the dimensions…

My quilting guru discouraged me from cutting larger pieces of fabric so I’d have more freedom to trim down. She’s right, but you know me, I’m the shortcut seeker(c). So I confess to having added a 1/4″ or so in a few of the blocks. More room to manoeuvre. If I were a proper student, I’d be studying the geometry thoroughly so I’d get it and not have to refer to pattern measurements.

I’ve done 6 of the 14 blocks released so far, and hope to catch up with all by mid-month, so that I can then begin the next Instagram/Bloglovin’ inspired QAL (quilt-a-long). This one’s even more ambitious, because it has 100 6″ blocks. (That’s like trying to weave with 60/2 or 120/2 yarn, which I haven’t come close to, yet.)

You can see the Modern HST blocks as they happen on my Instagram feed, but here’s a collage anyway.

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From top left: Candy, Ninja, Lantern, Stepping Stones, Mountain and Formation. All from scraps. There’s no colour scheme at all, and I’m hoping the white will pull it all together. The one thing that I’m doing is to adhere broadly to the colours used by the designers.

From here on in it will only get tougher, since the HSTs are smaller. The margin for error is much less.