KANTHA HAND EMBROIDERY
I love Kantha embroidery – it is the best embroidery for me – a lazy embroiderer who wants stunning work done in less amount of time. I do not mean about those beautiful intricately worked Kantha embroidery, without an inch of the base fabric shown outside. But for simple motifs on garments to take it to a new level, Kantha embroidery work, with its simple running stitches is the ultimate. With Kantha embroidery you can create beautiful motifs lending an instant ethnic touch to your clothes.
Kantha embroidery involves stitching running stitches all over the design. Folk motifs, floral motifs, animal and bird figures and geometrical figures are the most used designs in Kantha embroidery.
Kantha work is usually done with running stitches but there are variations to this embroidery which uses other stitches too.Cross stitch is sometimes used to create the design. Anarasi Kantha work involves the motif of pineapple. Wave kantha and Sujani Kantha are other varieties of this beautiful embroidery. Gudris of Punjab is a similar work.
Checkout this post on running stitch and its 9 beautiful variations to use this stitch in other ways to decorate your clothes.
Sujani embroidery which is practiced in Northern india ( Kantha is a Bengal embroidery) involves floral and vine patterns. Sujani embroidery is very similar to Kantha but there are some minor differences too. Sujani embroidery is outlined with a black thread and filled with threads of bright colors. Kantha embroidery is mostly done in a single colour, both the outline and the filling. Sujani embroidery is done only in one direction whereas Kantha embroidery can be done in any direction.
You can do Kantha embroidery on all light and medium weight fabrics. Cotton and silk are best suited for this embroidery. My mother in law owns a number of Kantha embroidered crepe as well as Tusser saris and they are STUNNING to say the least. I have also seen Bedspreads and quilts fully decorated with these embroidery stitches and they look very elegant and beautiful. You can do this embroidery work on your home furnishings and purses and bags, wall hangings, kurtas dupattas and other garments.
How to do Kantha embroidery work
Step 1. Trace the design on to the fabric. You can use a carbon paper along with tracing paper to copy the design. Any design will do for Kantha work. You can free hand if you are even slightly artistic.
Step 2. Thread the needle with two strands of embroidery thread. Tie a knot at the end. Bring the needle from the back of the cloth to the right side from one end of the design.Do one long line of running stitch all along the outline.
Step 3. Fill the outline with rows of running stitches parallel to the outline. The space between the two lines adjacent should be as small as possible for the design to look beautiful.
The filling stitches can be as follows
There are two ways of working the kantha stitches in rows. Aligning them perfectly and alternating them as given below.
Both work perfectly well but the non – aligned stitches are my favourite filling stitch.You can also align three or four stitches together and then alternately arrange them for a difference.
Modern day Kantha work involves slightly long running stitches. Labour intensiveness of doing those minute running stitches may be the reason you donot find those stitches. At the comfort of your home you can experiment with long stitches and short stitches and aligned as well as non aligned on a sampler and discover your favourite type of Kantha embroidery stitches to decorate your dress.
How to make Kantha quilts
Kantha work originated years back ( Centuries?) for making Kantha quilts using old saris. The old saris of Indian women were pieced together with small tiny stitches to transform them to beautiful creations. Old clothes are given a fresh and beautiful life with this age old tradition. The simple running stitches were used to make pictures of every day life, floral and fauna designs and geometric patterns on quilts loving made across generations of women . You can also use your old saris, stitch them together and make beautiful quilts.The old Kantha technique of patching and sewing together old clothes could be done again at home to create new useful yet beautiful things for yourself.
The ancient craft needs to be revived and kept alive. Where else should it live than in our own garments and homes.