all kantha! chapter two

If you are a Kantha lover, you have already figured out that Kantha quilts come in all sorts of designs. Not only is each Kantha throw unique with regard to the combination of recycled fabrics its maker used, Kanthas also vary in size, weight, thickness, stitching patterns and arrangement of fabrics. Here's some visual input (certainly not exhaustive!) as to what types of Kantha quilts I have come across.

The Seemingly Plain

I don't really mean plain - after all, a Kantha quilt offers enough excitement, featuring two different sides and unique combinations of colourful vintage fabrics. Many Kantha quilts just feature "plain", monochrome row stitching. The word Kantha refers to a simple, running stitch. These stitches can be bigger or smaller, denser or sparser. The denser and smaller the stitching, the more accomplished the quilt!

kantha plain stitch

Sometimes, these plain quilts have accentuated rows:

The Slim

I have come across Kantha quilts made of just two or three thin fabric layers and stitched with delicate thread. These quilts are very light, often weighing below one kilo. I use them for making clothes, as you can work with them more or less like with any other medium-weight fabric. Interestingly, they quite often feature stitching arranged in squares rather than in rows.

kantha throw

The Ornamentally Stitched

Here, it starts getting really interesting. Many Kantha quilts feature colourful and eye-catching patterns that are stitched into or over the existing, plain rows. Here are a few examples (named freely by myself!):

Quite commonly found are the diamond pattern...

kantha diamond pattern

... or butterfly pattern.

Butterfly pattern

Along similar lines: the zigzag pattern.

Kantha zigzag pattern

Elaborate pattern along the border of the quilt!

Patterned Border Kantha

Variously patterned stripes, often seen on white background.

Patterned rows

And here is one I have only come across once so far: circles, crosses and diagonal lines.

circles pattern kantha

Last but not least, a beautiful, elaborate leaves pattern in tiny stitches!


The Heavy Weight

This is the queen of Kantha quilts - made of many layers of recycled fabrics, often artfully arranged in stripes, with borders framing the designs, and very densely stitched. The reverse side commonly features a much simpler design, consisting of a couple of plain fabric sections. These Kantha quilts easily weigh above 2 kilos apiece. Often, they are dotted with an array of patches, neatly integrated into the flow of stitching. I can only imagine how long it takes to complete this kind of Kantha quilt. If you come across one, grab it! These are true pieces of art.

heavy-weight kantha
Bangladeshi quilt
heavy-weight kantha