Quilting Joy 

While Purkal sources the fabrics on its own for most of the products, in case of remembrance quilts and sometimes with baby or pet quilts, patrons often ship the raw material to Dehradun.

Recently actor Karishma Tanna’s fur baby, Koko the Shitzu, received a unique gift—a handcrafted quilt featuring a castle, a black cat and a rabbit. The Mumbai-based actor’s Instagram was awash with pictures of her pet playing on the blanket. Miles away, Renu of Dehradun-based social enterprise Purkal Stree Shakti Samiti smiled with satisfaction as she scrolled through the posts. It had taken the 32-year-old over 160 hours to create the patchwork product. Tanna is not alone. From Radhika Apte and Alia Bhatt to Vicky Kaushal and Akshay Kumar, Purkal has become the go-to place for celebrities on the lookout for unique and customised quilted products.

Founded in 2003 by homemaker Chinni Swamy, the organisation’s primary objective was to empower underprivileged women from the surrounding villages through appliqué, patchwork and quilting. What started with one woman learning the craft from the 78-year-old Swamy, who would then buy the quilts herself to send to friends and family, turned into a 170-strong women’s organisation three years ago.

After facing a setback due to Covid in 2020, Purkal re-established itself as a social enterprise a few months later with the assistance of Dehradun-based designers Banee Batta and Aastha Giri, and Gurugram-based Aiswarya Enolla Patri—all in their 30s. From designing to hand-drawing the motifs, the three provide the vision for each piece, which are then crafted by the women of the Samiti. “We took the initiative to bootstrap to ensure its continuity,” says Aiswarya.

In July last year, the organisation’s ‘memory quilt’—keepsake products made with the garments of lost loved ones—went viral on social media after a woman posted on Instagram about getting a quilt made from her late father’s favourite shirts, leading to almost 100 such orders. “We teach the art of hand appliqué, quilting and sewing to make a product with finesse that is market-ready and at par with industry standards,” says Banee. Purkal follows a steady variable income model, which guarantees a certain level of income for each member.

From baby quilts, cushion covers, aprons, tea cozies and bags, to pet products like play mats and soft toys, the OG quilters make everything and anything. “Our first order post-revival was from actor Gulshan Devaiah. We made a cushion cover with the portrait of the legend Irrfan Khan,” recalls Aastha.

While Purkal sources the fabrics on its own for most of the products, in case of remembrance quilts and sometimes with baby or pet quilts, patrons often ship the raw material to Dehradun. The marketing is still restricted to Instagram with a follower count of almost 52,000, but the enterprise is winning hearts, one stitch at a time.

Related Stories

No stories found.

X
The New Indian Express
www.newindianexpress.com