Kantha is a form of embroidery often practiced by rural women in the Indian states of West Bengal and Odisha, as well as in Bangladesh. This type of embroidery has been practiced for centuries, and constitutes a creative way to repurpose old saris while giving them a new life in the form of quilts, cushions, and other textile products.
Old saris are stacked on each other and hand-stitched. The artisan begins the process begins by cutting the sari into small sections. The pieces of colorful fabric are layered and basted together before sewing. The artisan arranges the fabric into rows before beginning the kantha stitching. Uniformly visible stitches are signature to Kantha, and the artisans take great care to ensure that each hand-stitch is consistent in size. This technique allows for ample creative freedom, and is often referred to as free-style embroidery, as each piece showcases a unique pattern.
Each one-of-a-kind kantha blanket we currently carry is hand-stitched by at-risk women and survivors of trafficking at Basha in Bangladesh. Depending on the size and complexity of the piece, each blanket can take anything from two to 39 hours to complete. In addition to a fair wage, Basha provides its artisans with training and rehabilitation programs, medical support, literacy and life skills training, and day care assistance for their children.