Thursday, 11 September 2014

The Quilting Pioneers of Singapore - Quilts 'n Calicoes

Quilts 'N Calicoes 
Sadly Ira passed away on 17th October 2016
She will be greatly missed from the Singapore Quilt world.

Today we are going to visit Ira, her shop is called Quilts 'n Calicoes. Ira was born in Calcutta, India and at the age of 18 years, while studying in Delhi, met and eloped with her husband. They came to Singapore which was home for him. Later they also lived in Australia. 

Who introduced you to the sewing and crafting world and at what age?

My first memory is probably about the age of 3 when I sat at the table with my sisters while my mother taught us. She taught me embroidery, knitting, hardanger and how to make soft toys. She is a very creative woman and at the age of 84 years is still sewing.

Did you train or study sewing or design?

I never trained in a college. I did spend time painting as an artist and having leaned to knit well by age 5, I did a lot of knitting of hats in the early years?

When did you start a business?

From 18 years old I was making crafts for the Dutch Charity Bazaar. When I had just passed my 21st birthday my husband, of three years had a massive stroke. I had 2 children to bring up and I suddenly became the breadwinner for the family. At home I made crafts and sold them at Bazaars and also to the ANZA Forces.

How long have you worked in retail?

I have been in retail full time for 27 years. My first shop was at River Walk Galleria, where my shop was named Quilts 'n Calicoes, the same name that I still have today, and it has always been 'Calicoes' spelt with an 'e'. In 1994 I moved to Coronation Plaza, then onto Holland Village and now I am in Tanglin Mall.

What services does you business offer?

I offer hand quilting where I have a group of girls in Indonesia that will hand quilt your quilt. This gives the girls the opportunity to support their families. I also have ladies in the Philippines that do hand quilting. I take the quilts to the girls and discuss with them the quilting design. I also offer a longarm machine quilting serve. We also have a Basting service and run Knitting, Crochet and Quilting classes.

What challenges do you find running a Quilting shop?

Delivery of fabric in a timely manner is my biggest challenge. The customer base is always changing and today buyers want cheap over good quality.

What do you enjoy about your Quilting business?

I enjoy meeting people. Also the friends I have made over the years of being in business. I love seeing the new fabrics, designing, making quilts and being surrounded by fabric.

Drop back next Thursday to read about other Pioneer Quilters in Singapore.


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