After having to work and sell kantha work, I know more about these quilts and want to share them with you if you’re not too familiar with these beauties.
First, they originate from India and Bangladesh. I like them because they’re reversible and lightweight but more than that, these cotton quilts are usually quite colorful with gorgeous patterns and patches. They are constructed by hand by sewing layers of cloth and often vintage saris together and then stitched using a traditional, delicate “Kantha” stitch. They have become more and more popular over the past several years in western interiors and you can find them online in these shops listed below in case you fancy owning one (or ten).
I own several and stack them on top of my white wooden cabinet in my sitting room – then they are available for warmth when snuggling on the sofa at night and by day, add color to the room and a jolt of personality.
Few reasons to Own your kantha Quilt:
This understated and elegant sleep space. Most kantha quilts are double sided, so they’re great for introducing an instant mixing and matching of patterns to add interest to a neutral bedroom scheme. To create this look, use a crisp white bedcover and layer your Kantha quilt over the top (turn down the top of your blankets for a peek at the pattern underneath). Make sure you stagger them, so that one quilt sits higher than the other — this way both quilts are on display. Find accessories like books, plates or cushions that echo some of the colors in the quilt to tie the look together; in this case, there are pink and yellow accessories.
- This table setting. Why didn’t I think of this sooner? Vintage Sari Kantha Quilts make stunning tablecloths! There is no need for fancy cutlery or crockery here, because all eyes will be focused on the beautiful table cover. I’ll also let you in on a little secret: This floral pattern is the ultimate disguise for spills and drips at dinnertime.
- These winter warmers. Looking for a lap blanket or something to take the edge off the cold when dining outdoors? Lightweight and well sized, kantha blankets are perfect for popping on your lap. Draped over the back of chairs, they can be accessed with ease.
This upholstered chaise. Like a knight in shining armor, this handsome kantha fabric has been draped across the seating area of this stunning pink velvet antique sofa.
Tip: If you’re eager to try some DIY upholstering, I recommend using proper upholstery thread, not regular sewing cotton, and make sure you use good-quality foam, too. This will ensure that your hard work will stand the test of time.
- This vibrant and exotic sleep space. By far my favorite thing to do with Twin kantha Throws is to layer them on top of one other as bedding or use them as sofa throws, as their lightweight nature makes them perfect for the job. Just like layering your clothes, this technique adds physical warmth, but also a casual elegance that seems like you haven’t tried too hard. Take this bedroom, for instance; the mixture of colorful embroidery draws the eye to the focal point of the room, the sleep space, but also the precious light coming from the window. colorful kantha brings the energy to the room which is topped by layer of plain black kantha blanket for a full contrast.
- This showstopping scalloped chair. The colors and patterns found in these blankets are so versatile that whatever the combination, they seem to work together. Here, a cheery scalloped chair has been upholstered in a kaleidoscope of kantha fabric made from vintage saris.
- These colorful ottomans. Resting your feet has never been so stylish with ottomans and footstools covered in heavenly kantha fabric. They are such a statement piece even when not in use. Plus, they’re practical — you’ll thank yourself for these handy seats when you’re fumbling around with your shoelaces. If you aren’t feeling brave enough to slice up your quilts, hire a professional to upholster the seats for you.
- And this headboard. An intricately shaped headboard calls for a more permanent attachment of the quilt, so it remains firmly in place. This would make a great project for a kantha quilt with damage on one side. What a nice way to preserve retired, worn blankets.
These Kantha Throw Pillows. When shopping for kantha quilts, it is sometimes hard to choose which one or two that you should buy. Keep in mind that they can be made into pillows, which means you can take advantage of all the colors and patterns available.
Tip:If you decide to make the pillows yourself, try using plastic snaps instead of zippers, as they are much easier to attach. I also recommend using a variety of kantha fabrics, so your pillows aren’t too matchy- matchy. There is beauty in mixing, especially when it comes to kanthas.
10. This headboard. Attaching a beautiful kantha quilt to a headboard is a creative way to preserve and display a precious blanket. As most kantha quilts are double sided, I would recommend a semipermanent method of attachment — such as safety pins or Velcro — so that you have the option to flip the quilt and show off the reverse side.
11. These Vintage kantha pillows. Let’s take the pillow love one step further and use kantha for pillowcases. While store-bought kantha pillowcases are not as readily available as pillows, I love this idea for old kantha blankets that are torn or damaged but still have lots of good fabric left.
12. This wall hanging. Each kantha quilt is like an original piece of art and deserves to be treated as such. Hang your kanthas on the wall and they will be adored by all. And the bonus of a kantha wall hanging is that you can turn it over to reveal the pattern on the reverse side whenever you’re ready for a change.
13.To hang your kantha quilt, fold over the top edge about an inch and stitch it into place (either by hand or machine). This will create a channel where you can insert a curtain rod or something similar. You can attach rope or ribbon to this rod to hang it on the wall or simply position the rod between two hooks or brackets on the wall.
14.This throw. Are you still unsure of what to do with your kantha quilts? When in doubt, throw one just about anywhere in your home. It’s hard to go wrong with such a beautiful and versatile Queen Kantha Throws!
Inside peek at Kantha worker’s life- We support them as best as we can
The story of the kantha blanket begins with the sari vendors. Kitchenware peddlers by day, they travel to rich women's homes to trade cooking pots and spoons for old saris. At night the kitchenware peddlers become sari vendors, spreading their wares in deserted markets and dimly lit alleys.
Kantha work is essentially a folk art of Indian women. These country side women give expression to their wishes through the needlework and thread designs of Kantha work. It is an art that is passed from one generation to another. The Kanthas design offered enough room to display the contents of the mind of a woman. The women also drew heavily on the life they saw around them, reflecting a social conscience. The woman would often narrate with needles,threads and stitches the various incidents of her, from her birth. Their numbers and symbols are associated freely and rhythmically assembled. The Kanthas, the quilt, the pillow covers and the small cloth bags all served to convert their home into beautiful art galleries.
We once believed that sari-vendors were part of West Bengal's charming folklore. But then we went to the sari markets.
These are the sari vendors' children. The one in front wants our camera.
Sari vendors: geniuses who knew that old cloth would become a commodity.
The Kantha blanket: six layers of vintage saris sewn together by a kantha stitch.
Traditionally the poor woman's craft. Every mother teaches her daughter the kantha stitch and how to make her stitches small and straight. Every little girl, in turn, becomes a mother and makes kantha blankets for her children to keep them warm. No mother dreams that her daughter will suffer poverty and exploitation; yet many women and girls in Bangladesh are highly vulnerable to exploitation without access to dignified work.
Jaipur Handloom is a team of textile enthusiasts partnering with talented artisan groups to bring you authentic, one-off textiles. By purchasing our handmade textiles, you offer dignified work to vulnerable women.