For this autumn-winter season, we have chosen a cosy blend of handwoven wool-silk to create a thoughtful edit of Kantha-stitched pieces in our home textiles collection: our Kantha Quilt and Cushions. The hand-stitching technique used to produce Kantha textiles is ostensibly quite simple - nonetheless, there is no question that the craft demands incredible skill, care and attention to detail to execute.
There is a beauty to the slowness of the stitching that imbues the fabric with the story of its heritage. Kantha work, historically a vibrant patchwork of layers upon layers of discarded sari cloths in bold colours, has been traditionally done by women in the home as a thrifty way to revive worn sari lengths that had faded, or old rags to give them a new life – as bedcovers, mats or wraps to protect personal objects.
There is an inherently zero-waste philosophy in Kantha, as a beautiful way to repurpose fabric for functional use in the home instead of disposing of it. This resourceful and waste-free approach still persists in the craft, and the future of this rich history is continually woven with each stitch, patch and stretch of fabric that is sewn today.
All of the Kantha stitching is completed by hand by a dedicated handwork team of up to 20 skills craftspeople.
The process is simple yet time-intensive - it took up to three weeks to complete just one of our Kantha Quilts.
Made by hand, from home
The 20-person strong handwork team that worked on our new Kantha Quilt and Cushions are proficient in various craft works using only their hands and a needle as a tool. The team that worked on Bamford’s production are not exclusively trained to do Kantha only, they also do hemming, running stitches, hand-done button holes, attaching buttons and more – all details that need to be done by hand on a garment or a piece of textile.
Kantha work offers flexible working hours, particularly benefitting the women in artisan communities as a means to earn livelihood - it can also be completed from home, which has been more important than ever during a year in which we have all spent more time housebound. The Delhi-based team were able to work safely from home during the pandemic.
Breathing new life into this historic technique, we have patchworked pieces of cosy wool cloth, stitched in varying tones of colour, with the same attention and care and slowness. A testament to their patience and consideration, it took roughly a couple of weeks to complete one quilt and up to three days to complete a single cushion.