Category Archives: DIY

Hawa Mein Uddhta Jaaye – Dec 2016

I remember a conversation or was it a few lines in a book?
A serene idyllic view of a mountain side and a naughty boy pulling at a yellow dupatta. A young woman shyly  admonishing him as she watched it float away..

The dupatta/stole/scarfpreserves modesty for some and adds colour for others. It can make or break an outfit. For me it is my shield. It shows you my mood if you only look carefully. It is bold or fluid. It is breezy when chiffon and base when khadi. It is so many things to so many. My maasi’s drape it a certain way and I wrap it around my neck. It is like substituting my lovers arms around me. And if I have memory attached to that yard or two of fabric… sigh!!!

In my never ending quest to further an idea and concept across mediums, here are 21 one-of-a-kind dupattas up for grabs. 

Happy shopping!

Happy shopping!


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Simply Bangalore – February 2016


I was pleasantly surprised when India Today asked to speak with me on sustainability and how I see that. A bit more so as you get a glimpse of my new home and I made the cover 🙂

I try and incorporate something old into most of my work. I hate wasting something that might still have life. But more important to me is to maintain connections with the past. For everything shapes us into who we are. That has to be honoured.

Thank you Khusboo Patodia for the lovely write up in the Feburary issue  India Today magazine – Simply Bangalore. It was wonderful talking to you.


Note- Please click on the image to read the text.


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The Denim re-Done Collection : February 2015

Old denims. Every house has at least one pair. And I hate, absolutely hate, throwing away an old pair of jeans. They are so comfortable – almost like a security blanket. The other day I wore a pair that I have had for a gazillion years and went downstairs for a walk. And a dear friend tells me ‘either cut them into shorts or fix them’. Though not vocalized, implicit in that statement was  … ‘throw them!’


I digress here but I must share this with you. The year was 1994 and my father was commanding an Air force base in Western India. I was home on vacation from college and was about to step out of the station compound to go to the local market. So walking over to pick up a friend, I hear this shout from behind me. The guard at the main gate tells me that my mother has left a message for me to return home immediately. I panic and almost run the entire way home with my heart in my throat. I reach and my mum says ” I just got a call from the mess bearer – ” Madam, aapki ladki ki pant phat gayee hai…”  (Madam, your daughters pants are torn!) So mum to save me embarrassment had called me home.  The pants in question were actually a pair that had been reworked with embroidery patches in multiple places though the knees were bare like the pair you see in the picture above. I thought they were very chic and bohemian – the mess bearer thought otherwise 🙁

So it was time to discard the old jeans. But you know me and my little issue with throwing things away when they still have life left in them. I decided to rework/up-cycle them into bags and blankets. Actually anything that could be used. Then I had friends donating their old pair of jeans, cargo pants and chinos and a whole collection was born.

You have already seen the Dog tags here and one version of blankets here.

Upcycled bags – buy them here. Help make some room in that landfill, reduce your carbon footprint and help another soul along. Did I mention that these bags have been stitched by me in the studio. And a lot of these bags have embroidery done either directly by me or the girl from the village that works for me sometimes.

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Love and all that…

For a whole bunch of reasons I have been unable to release my next two collections. And that as you can imagine is beyond frustrating. They are ready and yet…  Also I have been working on a series of paintings as a sort of narrative, an attempt to tell the story of a person or a part of their life at least. That too can’t be shared as yet. Somethings are in the offing and that too I am unable to tell you all about just yet.

Yes. I see that you are beginning to see where I am going with this 🙁

I needed a pick me up. Something small but effective. Something that allowed me creative liberty while still being effective for the task at hand. Oh! and it needed to be something I could finish on my own in a few days.

Now you all know of my love for dogs. And they always ‘pick’ me up 🙂 So I decided to volunteer for one of VoSD’s the fund raisers – ‘Season of Giving‘ – The Valentine Bake Sale on the 14th of Feb 2015. It started with me trying to help with the space/ stall ‘decoration’. Valentine  would not be complete without hearts et all. But I wanted to do ‘posh mush’ as opposed to ‘cheesy mush’. So brown paper buntings with stenciled/stamped hearts. Plus various sizes of hearts cut out of thick card stock. Add to that paper boats with sails with doggie silhouettes and hearts again. I covered some boxes with newspaper and yes, hearts and dogs came on all that too! Well it is valentine, you know 🙂

ArtByAarohi-vosd-makingof-boxes  ArtByAarohi-vosd-makingof-heartframe

ArtByAarohi-vosd-makingof-hearts  ArtByAarohi-vosd-makingof-bunting

But then I decided to finally do what has been in my studio in various stages of ‘unfinishedness’.  I give you ‘Dog’ Tags. These have been in the making for a while. They were born of some work that I am doing with recycled materials. I had hoped to get them ready as part of the next edition of ‘The  Poonchh Collection‘. Yes. Again the one that is experiencing ‘stall’ in mid flight.

ArtByAarohi-vosd-makingof-dogtags1  ArtByAarohi-vosd-dogtags8  ArtByAarohi-vosd-dogtags7  ArtByAarohi-vosd-dogtags1
ArtByAarohi-vosd-dogtags6  ArtByAarohi-vosd-dogtags2  ArtByAarohi-vosd-dogtags5  ArtByAarohi-vosd-dogtags4

These key charms/ dog tags were my gift to VoSD for Valentine. They are absolutely gorgeous and rustic. Even if I say so myself. Made with ONLY recycled or up-cycled fabric. Stitched and stenciled by hand in the studio. I had help from my design intern Jatin, for the second lot. Suffice it to say he is not going to want to stencil or rivet anything for a while!

Use them to hang on to the side of your ruck sack or laptop bag or hook it onto your keyring, actually anywhere. The best way to show you love dogs and that you care. And the good part is that you know it is hand made with love, has a very low carbon footprint and ALL the money goes to the dogs.

To buy these, head on over to or write to

Happy Valentine people!
(I know I am a week late with this post. But as they say it is the thought that counts..)

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Now at – The Purple Turtle Store – 23rd August 2014

I am delighted to share with you all that my line of up-cycled and painted furniture will now be available at The Purple Turtle store here in Indira Nagar, Bangalore, India.

TPT- Invite-ArtByAarohi-aug23-chairs

So why am I reworking old pieces –

‘My work is about connections. And the idea of using something already existing and infusing it with fresh perspective to enhance pre existing memories on a given piece is really what dreams are made of for me. With each of these pieces that I rework I am looking to add a newer more contemporary dimension to an old weather beaten piece. A box, a chair, a trunk. Something that has history in its very grain, the nuts and bolts, the handles that maybe broke because of the strain of carrying a lifetime of someone’s personal belongings.
I don’t particularly like the term vintage to describe what I work with – covered in layers of history seems truer. It may have to do with the fact that I hold a Masters degree in History.

Memory and story are important to me. They connect.

The lines and colour on a re worked piece may appear disjointed in terms of theme sometimes but they are a true reflection of the idea or thought I may have had at the time I reworked a piece. Like everyone else I am not uni dimensional and with the information over load of all kinds of media being available 24/7, I find myself delving into nostalgia in an effort to stayed rooted. It is not done for market sensibilities but to reflect my thought. I believe that there is that one soul somewhere who will connect to the piece and it will find a home. One where it is lovingly looked after.

You can read about the story behind some of the pieces here, here and here.

Some of these pieces will also be available at the ongoing Art Bengaluru exhibition on at UB City here in Bangalore from the 21st of August to the 30th.

There will additionally be some of my earlier work of painted kettles and the like. The reason I am not leading with this next image is because it would give you all the wrong impression about what I have been working on. It has been a while since I painted on kettles (other than custom pieces that is). BUT this invite is so cute with its play on  ‘Chai with Aarohi‘ and the chai kettle and gilaas that I thought I would share it anyway 🙂

TPT- Invite-ArtByAarohi-aug23-kettle

(Though the people at the store were not too happy with me when I asked them to rework the invite. But they were very sweet about it and redid it anyway!)

So come on over – I would love to meet you all…
The address is –
The Purple Turtle store,
128, 1st Main,
Domlur 2nd Stage,
Indiranagar, Bengaluru -560008,
Karnataka, India.
Phone numbers- +9141528039

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‘Swishing’ Skirts

I have learnt much from my maternal grandmother (nani). A large part of who I am is because of her. What she taught me about drive and commitment at age 8 is something that makes me – me!


I grew up with my nani making clothes for me and I learnt the basics at her knee. I am no seamstress but I can hold my own. My nani and my masi (maternal aunt) Kamaljeet Deol are the inspiration behind my stitching. It was my masi who taught me to stitch Kurta’s and the like. I remember trips to the market buying cloth and then coming home and seeing it laid on the dining table being cut. Those were some of my first memories of the idea of possibilities. I started by making clothes for my dolls which then progressed to making simple A-line kurta’s for me.


My first ambitious project was a bra. Yes, a bra. I was 16. I went to the local tailor and picked up scraps from his shop. Came home and completely took apart an existing bra and then put it together with fresh cloth. That first bra was made in pink and blue brocade. And when I showed it to my parents, they were flabbergasted to say the least! I then made some newer versions with a halter neck and cross over tie straps. I still have one of them. Does not fit me anymore but it’s there! And no I will not be posting a picture of it – so don’t ask!!
Next came patchwork kurta’s and patchwork blouses for my mum. And that’s when I learnt why cutting on the bias was important :-).

patchworkBlouse1  patchworkBlouse3  patchworkBlouse2

These blouses are about 20 years old – so pardon the state they are in. They have being lying in that box for me to take the time to cut out a fresh master pattern!! And each one of those cloth pieces you see was a kurta I made for either me or my mum. The blouses were made from the remnants of fabric left over on the sides after a kurta had already been cut out from that fabric.

Now coming to the present. I love wearing skirts. They make me feel very feminine. And with a figure like mine which is best described as generous, the skirts need to be of a particular cut. In the mood to take my art and craft to the next level I got to work on a few skirts. The aim was to translate what I paint on a kettle further on to a skirt. What would I do. How would it look. This and much more was the inspiration behind this next set of skirts. They are a proof of concept as yet. Dyed to my specifications at a local shop and then painted in parts, appliqued and embroidered by me. There are bits from old sarees and left over cloth, even a little bit of an old table cloth!! And the pièce de résistance is the use of my paintings as small digital prints.
I am sharing two skirts with you – the others will come in later posts.

The outing and the skirt’s first public viewing was the Femina Style Diva affair here in Bangalore. With me in the picture is my dearest friend Divya Chauhan, an ex-Femina Miss India herself for the year 1997.

Now it is hard to compete with a gold sheath dress so the best bet was to go as my eclectic self 🙂

styleDivaInvite  D&I_3

(The first two images of us I call the – Selling a washing machine/oven – wala pose!)

D&I_1  D&I_2

(The last one of us is truly us-  we always have a lot of laughs…)



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I opened that box – finally

It was almost like opening Pandora’s’ box – till I took this really deep breath and calmed down some.

I have mentioned earlier that I find it hard to get rid of things that could still be re-purposed. So I have been saving fabric – bits and pieces for decades now. Some got used up when I needed them and some others were still waiting for a new lease. But once the kids came along, especially my daughter – life got very busy and the stash of stuff lay neatly folded in my daughters box bed. The fact that we have been in the same house for over seven years meant that every time I found something interesting, I just opened the box a tad bit and shoved in the cloth.

I opened it a few days ago and almost went into a full blown panic attack. There was so much cloth and I had only been adding to it in the last few years. I also have a second studio full of cloth and about 20 old wooden boxes. But that is a different story.

This coming new year- 2014, I hope to finally do something about all that fabric and other bits and pieces. So to kick start that project and to give my mind/fingers and sewing skills a warm up before the big game – I made a kurta (tunic). It is re purposed/up cycled from two other kurtas I had made for myself in college some twenty years ago. I lived in them with torn jeans most of the time. But that again is another story 🙂

kurta_redone-2  kurta_redone-3
kurta_redone-4  kurta_redone-1

This new kurta is made out of a lot of pieces creatively joined to enhance the ‘fall’ of the garment. The yoke from the old one you see in the picture will be used for something else – no, I am not telling just yet. While the cloth from the insides of the pocket (last picture with the red fabric) were used as facing/trim for the side slits in this ‘new’ kurta. Though I forgot to take a final image of the side slits with the zig-zag stitch I did to ‘finish’ them.

kurta2_front   kurta2_back

kurta2_slitDetail   kurta2_neckDetail

P.s– Sorry about the pictures being so random. I did not remember to take a ‘before’ of the two kurtas while they were still whole!! And in the last picture I did not tug the kurta down properly hence the rise you see in the neck/shoulder on one side. I promise it actually fits and falls really well. Check first image for proof 🙂
It is a little loose as it was stitched for pure comfort.

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The BIG Box

My work is about building on memories, not losing them. And this wooden trunk is loaded with memories. It belonged to my brother who was a pilot in the Indian Air Force. He has recently retired. My father too is an ex-Indian Air Force pilot. My grandfather is ex-army. My brother’s father-in-law too was in the army. As you can imagine we have all traveled a lot. And our possessions were always carted around in trunks – wooden and metal. When someone retired, the trunks would be passed on to other friends still serving so that they could be used for storage and packing yet another set of belongings during postings.

On retiring my brother had about forty trunks of various sizes that he was passing on to colleagues still serving. I snagged a few 🙂


I wanted to give them a new lease of life. But I wanted to build on the memories, not obviate them entirely. The observer may notice subtle remains which bear testimony to the trunk’s past life. This one in my mind works as a coffee/center table or a trunk for storage at the foot of a double bed.

The size of this trunk demanded a bold pattern. Hence the wrapped around Suzani. Though I did leave the number 17 peeking out. It was the 17th box in my brothers list.



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Suzani – Now in my colours

These two chairs are a pair that were passed down from some distant relative at some time or the other. One of those temporary furniture options for a temporary house kind of thing. Except the chairs just stayed on. They were truly old world with a Sunmica back rest and woven plastic netting – in white no less!! –  for the seat.


So when it came time for me to rework them, I could not find a karigar (craftsman) skilled enough in Bangalore to do coir weaving for the chair seat/base. Actually I did but he was attached to a very very high end furniture boutique and the rework for the base alone would have blown my budget. So I just got my local carpenter to make me a moulded seat base in wood. Which was then upholstered by the guy who had re-done my old magenta and orange sofas into a lovely chocolate. And that Sun Mica back was my baby to rework. Since Suzani was the flavour of the month for me – here is the end result with my colours 🙂




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Suzani Chairs

Suzani is everywhere. The ‘it’ graphic and pattern for the season it would seem. I had the same idea six months ago when these 30 year old chairs were given a new lease of life.


As I mentioned in my previous post, I am late in telling you all of these chairs. In fact there is a lot of work that I need to share with you all in the next few weeks. So buckle up and hold on for the ride!

This set of four chairs belonged to my grandparents. I love the design but they were pretty worse for wear. By the time they were fixed up and strengthened with metal paste and nails, the original teak did not look very nice. So I decided to paint them. But before that I covered them entirely in newspaper. That is what the strange sculpture you saw on my table here was 🙂


I did not want to do my usual bit with colour everywhere. And channeling the newly painted white house it just seemed a good idea to work with a limited palette. Enter Suzani but with a twist. These chairs are hand painted with acrylics on newspaper and finished with lacquer and fresh upholstery. The chairs would look wonderful with tan/orange/black/ecru maybe even a lime green or turquoise fabric. I chose a muted orange.





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