The Inspiration Behind my Red Fort of Agra Quilt Pattern
You can find the Red Fort of Agra Quilt Pattern here.
The Red Fort of Agra was the first modern quilt pattern I designed. For this reason it's always going to hold a special place in my heart. But I also love it because it's fast and great for those who have made a couple quilts and are upgrading their skills behind basic squares. In other words it's perfect for the advanced beginner. I also love it because it's compatible with so many different cuts of fabrics: Fat Quarters, Jelly Rolls, Mini Charm Squares, Fat Eighths... It pretty much can use anything including scraps.
I had been quilting for a couple years when I got this crazy idea to create a pattern inspired by my surroundings and travels. It seemed impossible because all those women I follow on Instagram have some secret sauce which makes them create beautiful quilt patterns right? I am sure like most people trying something new, I felt like a fake. Who was I to try something like designing a quilt pattern? I haven't even taken a quilting class. I eventually got over myself and decided to try it anyway.
A month before our family and some dear friends decided to take a trip to see the Taj Mahal. My husband and I had been before but our kids had not. At that time we were staying in a flat a couple hours away. So we made arrangements, rented some vans and drivers and went for a weekend. It was such a sweet time with our friends and the kids were able to run around and play with other kids from the US.
We saw the Taj the second day of our trip, but by far my favorite part of the trip was actually the first day when we saw the Red Fort. When most people think of the Red Fort in India it would probably be the famous one in Delhi. But what do you know? There's more than one Red Fort in India. That's why in the pattern name I say the "Red Fort of Agra". The Red fort of Agra is a beautiful and magical place where history comes alive.
A very condensed history...very.
Why did I love this fort so much? It brings to life the history of the Taj Mahal which can be seen from the Red Fort. It is also where the maker of the Taj, Shah Jahan, was imprisoned by his son in the last years of his life. You see Shah Jahan had spent boat loads of money building the Taj Mahal to honor the favorite of his three wives, Mumtaz Mahal (she died in childbirth with their 14th child, so yeah, she deserved a mausoleum). He then started construction on an exact replica of the Taj Mahal across the Yamuna River which was going to be in all black stone and where he would be buried. They were to be connected by a bridge. And to be honest I wish his son had let Shah Jahan finish the job because that would have been magnificent! However, Shah Jahan's son took power and placed his father under house arrest (fortress arrest) where he lived out the last of his days in a tower overlooking the Taj Mahal. Read a more thorough history here.
Looking at the Taj Mahal from the Red Fort.
As we walked this beautiful fortress we saw the gardens, the palace rooms, the amazing technology to cool themselves and bring water through the fortress. We saw Shah Jahan's tower and where the merchants would visit to sell their items to the royal women above. Our visit to the Red Fort of Agra was a very impactful history lesson for me. It brought to life so many factors and a whole other side of a beautiful story that we hadn't seen before. We stayed until sunset and were kicked out at closing time. Below are a couple of my family pictures.
I took a ton a pictures, obviously. There were so many beautiful carvings on the walls all over the fortress. One of them was so simple, yet I loved how the shapes intertwined and blended together. This was the inspiration for my quilt.
Not an amazing picture, but the burst of an idea for a quilt.
After our trip I worked on measurements and fiddled with different blocks until I came up with the design I liked the best. I just love how this pattern uses two different fabric groups to create a design that changes depending on how you look at it. The pattern is also a favorite of mine because it is so fun to use a variety of modern fabrics for those tiny squares through out the quilt.
My First Red Fort of Agra Quilt
The first version I made of this quilt used Art Gallery Fabric's "Nightfall" line by Maureen Cracknell. This collection is absolutely beautiful with it's golds and blues along with moon prints and owls. I had previously bought a fat quarter bundle with the coordinating solids and brought it back across the ocean. One thing I really, really love about Art Gallery Fabric's lines is they have coordinating solids. I can't match a fabric to save my life, so I love how easy it is for me to choose a line of fabric I like and then just grab a bundle of coordinating solids. The Fat Quarter Shop carries Art Gallery Fabrics and bundles of solids which coordinate with each line. Life changing for those of us who are color blind.
I only have a couple images of this quilt because it is currently gathering dust in our flat while we wait out the pandemic in the U.S.
My first Red Fort of Agra quilt was a throw size and I didn't write up the pattern until a year or two and one child later. She's the one in the picture above who I was pregnant with when we went to visit Agra. So I remade it again and wrote down all the measurements and directions. I'll show you this quilt later, it's one of my favorites.