Hi I’m Manjari from @kanthabymanjari, and I live in Melbourne. I graduated in Fashion Design from India and travelled around the country studying various traditional weaving, printing and embroidery techniques. I studied Fashion Business in Melbourne and after working for over a decade in fast fashion, six years ago I started my own brand of handmade children’s clothing called Bubbles For Poppet. I also run Kantha sewing workshops in Melbourne, where we come together as a community, connecting over slow stitching!
Kantha, a word that brings back memories of snuggling up in a warm cozy jacket, sipping chai, mango pickles, glass bangles, home made papadums and the bazaars full of handicrafts!
Kantha literally means “rags” and that is exactly how this beautiful art which has travelled far and wide now, originated in Bengal, a state in India where beautiful light weight cotton saris are worn even today. Women used to layer old saris and hand sew them using a simple running stitch to make beautiful quilts for winter.
Over the years the art of making quilts became a community project for weddings, every bride had a Kantha quilt in her trousseau made by women in her community. These quilts started becoming more and more ornate, decorated with beautiful patterns and figures depicting stories of the year past or folklore! I sometimes imagine how wonderful it would have been for the women in those days to be able to gather together and sew a quilt, maybe share some stories or songs.
The Hovea Jacket pattern is a beautiful shape, which accommodates a Kantha style of sewing with ease. I chose to make my jacket using four layers of fabrics, the top fabric for front and back is linen, while the sleeves are made from hand-block printed fabric from another beautiful state of India, Rajasthan.
The embroidery motifs for Kantha are generally derived from nature, they are mostly floral with simple animal drawings. Kantha embroidery is very free flowing and forgiving as compared to any other embroidery technique. Using just simple running stitch, back stitch and occasionally satin stitch, the idea is to fill up the patterns following the outline from outside to in. I like to draw the pattern freely using a pencil on my fabric, however, the designs can be traced onto the fabric using a carbon paper. I like using all six strands of my cotton embroidery thread to make my embroidery standout. Traditionally the strands of old cotton saris were pulled out to sew the quilts, nowadays a single strand of white cotton sewing thread is used in Kantha.
The beauty of Kantha is in the stitching, filling up the layers with closely done stitches creates a puckered effect which gives the quilting appearance. Another way of achieving the puckered effect is to gently pull the running stitches after every few inches. I like using back stitch to outline a small part of the pattern with bold colour and fill the rest with running stitch.
Once the motif is embroidered, the rest of the jacket fabric can be covered in stitches in any direction. On the front and sleeves I’ve sewn diagonal stripes, whereas on the back I’ve just moved around the motif in an abstract pattern covering most of the back piece of the jacket.
Making my Hovea jacket was the perfect slow stitching project during lockdown in Melbourne. When the world is a bit grey, bright sewing projects add the joy in crafting! I will always treasure my Hovea jacket!
Follow my journey in slow stitching and slow fashion through my Instagram pages @bubblesforpoppet and @kanthabymanjari. Once we are out of lockdown in Melbourne I’ll be able to start my sewing workshops again and I’ll post more details on my Insta pages, stay tuned.
Thank you for reading and sharing my love for hand sewing!
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Here’s the full list of Hovea inspiration and ideas:
- Inspiration & Ideas for Hovea
- Hovea Tester Roundup
- Hovea Curve Tester Roundup
- Hovea Planning Template
- Traditional Korean Textile Arts with Youngmin Lee
- Beginner Quilting concepts with The Weekend Quilter
- Top 10 tips from a quilters first journey into Me Made Clothing with Shannon Fraser
- Introduction to Indian Kantha Quilting with Manjari Singh (this post!)
- Simple Log Cabin patchwork tutorial with Scribbly Gum Quilting Co
- Wholecloth quilting with Natalie Ebaugh
- Introduction to Japanese textiles and embroidery with Mari Yamada
- How to make a patchwork quilt design without a pattern with Broadcloth Studio
- Modern Quilting with Porfiria Gomez
- Making a patchwork jacket with leftover fabric
Here’s the full list of Hovea tutorials & Hacks:
- Sewalong | How to Choose Between Hovea & Hovea Curve
- Sewalong | Common Hovea pattern alterations
- Sewalong | Quilting prep
- Sewalong | Quilting Design & Planning
- Sewalong | Machine quilting
- Sewalong | Tips for making a patchwork jacket from scrap fabrics
- Sewalong | Basic Binding Method for quilt coats
- Sewalong | Pockets and Seams Quilted Views BDF
- Sewalong | Inset Sleeves Quilted Views BDF
- Sewalong | Final Finishes Quilted View BDF
- Sewalong | Tips for Hand Quilting
- Pattern Hack | Tips for making Hovea reversible
- Pattern Hack | Sewing a Hovea Dressing gown
- Pattern Hack | How to make a quilt coat from a vintage bed quilt
- Sewalong | Unlined pockets Views ACE
- Sewalong | Lined pockets Views ACE
- Sewalong | Flat Sleeve Insertion Views ACE
- Sewalong | Ties & Hang Loop Views ACE
- Sewalong | Hemming Unlined Views ACE
- Sewalong | Full Lining Views ACE
- Sewalong | Collar band Views ACE
- Sewalong | Belt & Belt Loops Views ACE