Katab Artisans

BY Manchester Craft and Design Centre


By Alicia.


The quilts that were exhibited in Manchester Craft & Design Centre’s last exhibition- ‘Katab: Quilting Stories from India’, are not only beautiful and vibrant. They also creatively demonstrate the personal connection that each artisan has with the traditional craft of Katab. Information and images of each of the women was provided in the exhibition space and our visitors were able to link a name and face to the work. We thought it would be beneficial to offer this information online for those who did not see the exhibition and those interested in purchasing one of the quilts.

Hopefully the introductions below give you an insight into the personalities and backgrounds of the seven talented female artisans who had their quilts on display. Have a read, these women deserve to be recognised for their skill, creativity and dedication…


Artist: Jamnaben Chauhan

Born: Kubernagar, Ahmedabad

Quilt: £240


Jamnaben has been making appliqué professionally for 40 years, working for a wide variety of clients including independent designers and FabIndia, earning around 9,000 Rupees a month (about £108). Jamnaben is an experienced teacher and has led workshops at the National Institute of Fashion Technology and the National Institute of Design. She has also worked for the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, travelling to Surandernagar to teach her craft to local women.

Jamnaben has taught her three daughters to appliqué. Her and her husband Premjibhai work as a team marketing their own skills and those of the others within the community to help everyone get work. Her parents were born in Pakistan and migrated to Ahmedabad following independence, but she has numerous relatives in Pakistan.


Artist: Rashmiben Chauhan

Born: Old Vadaj, Ahmedabad

Quilt: £240


Rashmiben has been working in appliqué for ten years. She is highly skilled in cutting fabric, and was in charge of cutting and distributing fabric to artisans the Self Employed Women’s Association (Sewa). She has taken part in workshops at the National Institute of Design.

The quilt is based on one of Rashmiben’s favourite films, Bajirao Mastani, which has many parallels with her own life. Going against her parent’s wishes she had a love marriage – and likes the film’s inter-religious love story because it gives women respect. Her patterns reference the film’s Bundelkhand fort, and a bow and arrow representing the central characters. Rashmiben spent nearly two months completing the quilt, which combined hand and tailoring machine stitching.


Artist: Daahiben Mohanbhai Makwana

Born: Kubernagar, Ahmedabad

Quilt: £240


Daahiben has been working professionally in appliqué since the age of 11. She has had a long and varied working career working with a wide variety of clients, and has taken part in workshops at the National Institute of Design and the National Institute of Fashion Technology. Dahiben’s work, like her character, is quiet and contemplative using cool colour combinations with a thoughtful process. She is a skilled embroiderer and often supports her sister Jamnaben’s creative projects.

For her quilt, Daahiben recreated an iconic dance sequence from Indian cinema: ‘the thousand-mirror reflection’. Daahiben saw this love story just before her own marriage and it has stayed with her. Most of the fabric for this quilt came from the tailor. It took almost two months to complete – but this didn’t put Daahiben off making others.


Artist: Shantiben Jethabhai Solanki

Born: Radanpur in Madhudar Village

Quilt: £240


Shantiben learnt how to appliqué 15 years ago from her neighbours. With skilled finishing techniques and a keen sense of design, Shantiben now works with her sister selling quilts privately to clients, earning around 4,500 Rupees a month (£54) and has been involved in workshops at the National Institute of Design and the National Institute of Fashion Technology.

Shantiben’s quilt was inspired by a popular Gujarati board game called Chopad, and took one month to make. She loves patterned fabrics, and chose printed flowery fabrics from different tailors for her quilt. The back of the quilt has it’s own hidden beauty – Shantiben chose it as it looked like a mirage. She enjoyed making it, and learned about representing different people across the world through her craft. Her children loved her quilt and have encouraged her to make more.


Artist Miraben Nanjibhai Makwana

Born: Matiari Village, Hyderabad, Pakistan

Quilt: £240


Miraben came to Ahmedabad, India with her parents when she was two years old during The Partition of India in 1947. For their first 8 years in Ahmedabad the family worked as labourers, until a businessman visited their home and on seeing their quilt work gave the family their first order. At the beginning of her working life, Miraben helped her mother appliqué a white on white sari for the late legendary Bollywood actress, Nargis. Miraben now only makes quilts domestically, giving them away to family and friends. She sees the quilts as family heirlooms, and made eleven quilts as gifts for her daughter’s wedding.

For this quilt Miraben was inspired by a wedding in a film, and chose the shiny fabric from the tailor “as a wedding is all about celebration!” Perfectionist Miraben doesn’t hurry anything, and took two months to make the quilt.


Artist: Deviben Chauhan

Born: Old Vadaj, Ahmedabad

Quilt: £240


Deviben has worked for 3 years for an NGO, where she earns 6,500 Rupees a month (£78). With a keen sense of both colour and design and a thorough knowledge of her craft, Deviben is a skilled and dedicated maker whose practice is deeply rooted within her traditional heritage, something she takes great pride in.

Deviben’s quilt is based on the colourful film Navrang, in which the heroine dances with a pot on her head during a moonlit night. Deviben has been the ultimate recycler – many of these scraps are second hand quilt scraps. It took over two months to hand quilt the front of the quilt. She bought fabrics by weight from the dagla wale, a lady who sits on the corner of the road. “I bargained a good price for the fabrics, but I had to re-visit her several times to find the colours of my choice.”


Artist: Vaishali Chauhan

Born: Old Vadaj, Ahmedabad

Quilt: SOLD


Vaishali learnt her craft from her mother and has been professionally practicing for four years. She is enthusiastic, innovative and methodical with a good sense of colour. Despite being the youngest in the group aged 19, Vaishali has already taken part in workshops at the National Institute of Fashion Technology and the National Institute of Design. Vaishali aspires to study design formally, something which is currently out of her financial reach.

The small life-saving boats on the titanic inspired Vaishali. The vastness of the sea inspired the back of the quilt, which reflects the texture, flora, and fauna inside the sea. She used scrap tailor’s fabrics alongside buying fabric by the weight from the local vegetable market It took Vaishali a month to make the quilt, alongside taking LOkesh’s tailoring course.


As you can see, six of these quilts are still available and the money will go back to the artisans in India, enabling them to continue making for a career. If you are interested in buying a quilt, visit our online store for more information. You can also visit us in the office upstairs (Studio 24) or email Kaylee, our Exhibitions & Events Officer, on [email protected] All of the quilts are £240 and you can collect them from Manchester Craft & Design Centre or it can be posted out to you (UK only).


Click here to view the quilts on our shop page.