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Friday, April 30, 2010

Found a treasure - Henry Art Embroidery stitch identification guide

Iam jumping around..excited,ecstatic,exuberant,ebullient...


Look what I've found!!! Well, not exactly me - a friend found it and passed it on to me.Now Iam sharing it with my dear friends in the blogosphere :)

Those who love costumes and textiles will like this site. But those who love embroidering will LOVE this one.It deserves instant bookmarking in favorites. The site is Costumes and Textiles at Henry Art .
This link will take you to the introduction page and from there you can click on various links and explore the various aspects of costumes and textiles.

For instance,clicking on Textiles and then Textile Structures will take you to a page which lists different types of fabric.Click on each and you can read about each type. Here is a beetlewing embellished cloth from West Bengal,India. Its a beauty.

Is that all? ...
No. There's more.

Click on Resources button on the top and you'll be taken to Embroidery Stitch identification Guide.What a resource!! Click on Index at the top and you'll get to see an unending list of stitches :)

Oh my God!! I cannot stop grinning :) :)

And the best part,here's the instruction for Phanda Knot in Chikan work. If you look around you'll find more.

So, what are you waiting for? Go on ,have a look and bookmark it in your favorites.

Love,luck and sunshine,

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Reader's embroidery - Ghagra Choli

About a month back, after I had posted about raised chain band and fur stitch on the bed linen, Sujatha Nayak mailed me some pictures of her ongoing embroidery with raised chain band. I had asked her send me the completed pictures and yesterday she did so. Here they are :

Click on the picture for a bigger and better view.
The body of the peacock is filled with raised chain band. Note the feathers - they are outlined with sequins - we call it chamki work. The inner portion is lined with tubular beads - we call it curdanaas ( meaning cut grains). This blouse (choli) has been sewn and embroidered by Sujatha for her niece. What a color!!!

This is the skirt (ghagra) embroidered with chamki work and curdaana work and someone is holding it out for photograph :)

Here's another frock sewn and embroidered by Sujatha . This time its Kutch work, also known as Maltese Cross. We Indians love colors , don't we?

Finally ,what you see above is another piece of work from her. This one is an older piece of work and the dress has been passed on from the older to the younger.

Keep up the good work,Sujatha. We hope to see more from you and thank you so much for sending the pictures.

Luv,luck and lots of sunshine (we have in excess here ;)) ),

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Free Embroidery Pattern Links

Hello my lovely ladies,

As usual, it is time to share some free pattern links available here and there on the webspace.Have a look and save those you like.

Over at TurkeyFeathers , Vicki is offering a series of free floral patterns for the State Flower Quilt Project . You can find the details here . The free patterns are being posted one by one,the latest being Pennsylvania:Mountain Laurel . Check out for all the patterns here

At CrabAppleHill, there are a series of 'heart patterns' available for download.

Caroline at Contented quilter also has a series of free patterns . Check out the links on the sidebar.

The last link should be known to most of you . Those of you who missed/loved the Verandah views BOM of Willowberry designs can check out their new series "Under the Sea".

Finally, for those who are visiting this blog for the first time,Iam currently running a series of tutorials on Kantha embroidery. The links are listed below.
Kantha embroidery Basics Part 1 and Part 2

Some exquisite Nakshi Kantha quilts

Muah,Muah....mmmuaah... :)


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Decoding Kantha embroidery - a couple more stitches

Like in the last post on rediscovering Kantha ,today I'll show you two more stitches commonly used in Kantha. Last time we talked about four stitches/techniques - Jod,bejod,Dhaner Sheesh and Tara Butti. In this post ,we'll get introduced to Paichano and Kantha Butti.

Shown below is Kantha Butti - a completed one and an incomplete one. As I had written in the last post,butti is a repeated motif through out the fabric .So if you see an Indian fabric with tiny gold or silver motif ( may be a square,a diamond or a circle) repeated throughout , you can say that the fabric has buttis all over .By the way you have to pronounce b-u-ttie , NOT batti, or beauty ;)

Usually Kantha butti has five petals and is stitched from the outside to inside as running stitches.The centre is optional. See the incomplete one - I started long running stitches from the outside and gradually decreased as I move towards the center.

Paichano is nothing but laced running stitch.See the picture below.

Kantha embroidery is usually done with 2 or 3 strands of cotton threads.Earlier the thread used to be pulled out from the cloth itself and used for embroidery.

There are a few more terminologies to be understood and documented. A kind friend has agreed to share some documents she has about Kantha. Once I get them, I'll try to share some more information about this exquisite art and may be show a worked piece.

Meanwhile,you can see a lot of Kantha terminologies and borders in this article about Nakshi Kantha . You can also read about Surayia Rahman ,an extraordinary artist and see her works in the links provided in this page . Thanks to Anil Advani for pointing out this link.

That's all for now,
Love to you,

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Nakshi Kantha-An art unparallelled

Since we're talking about Kantha work, I thought I'll show you a few pictures of Nakshi Kantha (embroidered quilts) Traditionally, these are never sold . They are only gifted. But now things have changed. The pictures Iam going to post below is from a site I referred to for information about Kantha.This is the link :

Don't fall off from your chair ...Here they come...

These are embroidered quilts where the embroiderer has recorded her life story. I still can't believe that these are made with running stitch as the fundamental stitch. What are the other stitches used for Nakshi Kantha? Does anyone know about those stitches?

Meanwhile,can someone get me one,just one quilt? One quilt is all I ask....

Love,luck and sunshine,

Rediscovering Kantha Embroidery

Hi everyone,
Back to the good old Indian embroidery once again!!! This time the topic of interest is Kantha. What I find intriguing about Kantha work is the use of one simple stitch to create intricate motifs. Wherever I looked, I found this point being mentioned.

But is it all that is there in this technique?

I looked around a little more and found some interesting stuff. Here's what I've understood after reading through some materials.

The art of Kantha (pronounced Kaatha in the north,Kontha in the east,kantha in the south) originated among the rural folks of India and literally means 'rags'. It was a method used to make fresh usable pieces of clothing from old worn out clothes especially saris. Bengalis were especially reluctant to throw away their fine quality muslin and cotton saris.All the old clothes are first cleared off the zips,hooks and buttons and any other embellishments and then piled in layers and stitched.These could be made into differents objects such as notebook wraps,toilet accessory holder,warm quilts,wallets,pillow covers,blankets,absorbent wipes etc.
Based on the finished product, the kantha articles are known as

1) Archilata kantha(mirror covers or toilet accessories)
2) Baiton kantha(notebook covers)
3) Durjani/thalia (quilted wallets)
4) Lep kantha --are rectangular wraps heavily padded to make warm quilts. The whole piece is stitched in a wavy pattern. Simple embroidery is done on the finished quilt.
5) Oaar kantha (pillow covers )
6) Sujani kantha -- decorative quilted kantha used as blankets or spreads during religious rituals or other occasions. Originated in Bihar.
7) Rumal kantha (handkerchiefs,wipes)
8) Nakshi Kantha - embellished quilt

So if you hear these terms, remember- they are Kantha products and not stitches or techniques in Kantha embroidery.

Then what about the stitches,motifs and techniques ?

As everywhere mentioned, the fundamental stitch for Kantha work is the Running stitch .But there are various standard styles for stitching them. The technique is classified broadly into JOD and BEJOD .Jod means together or aligned and Bejod means not together or nonaligned. You can see the pic below where I've pointed to the different styles.

Here, I tried the Jod and the Bejod alternately on a Kantha motif just to show you how each style looks different. One can also stitch randomly without any specific style. See the base of the plant.

This one is again a standard pattern called Dhaner Shish(rice stalk) or Khajur Chari (Date branch).This is a bejod technique. Doesn't it remind you of Darning stitches?

The bottom motif is called Tara butti or Jhinge Phool. The word butti usually stands for a small motif that can be placed throughout a fabric. So, here the Tara (star) is a butti. It can be placed in a sequence or as individual motifs. Jhinge phool means flower of the ridge gourd.

Here are some very simple motifs used in Kantha.Usually the stitch under the fabric should be shorter than the one above.Earlier I had stitched a tree motif on a handkerchief.

If you look around the web, you will find a lot of Kantha embroidery pictures.Here are some free patterns. Have you ever wondered why some of these patterns look so asymmetrical or imperfect? Well, that's because the people who stitched them did not trace them from available patterns,they free handed them. Those creations have now become synonymous with Kantha and we try to emulate by copying them. Infact, any pattern can be stitched using Kantha technique.A little imagination is all what is needed.

Well,that's all for now.
I'll be back with some more Kantha techniques next time.Do let me know your thoughts about this technique .Iam sure there may be many among you who're well versed in Kantha work. I would love to hear from you. Is there any book on this method? I've not been able to find any until now.May be some of you can help.

Till next post,
Love,luck and sunshine,

References :

Monday, April 05, 2010

Diana Lampe's Embroidery for all Seasons - A book review

Hi everyone,

Iam still in the floral embroidery mode. After embroidering just flowers for the past 6+ months, its a little difficult to come out of floral thoughts :) That's why this post.I wanted to share with you a wonderful book which is in my possession. Its Diana Lampe's Embroidery for all Seasons, published by Milner Craft Series ( Sally Milner Publishing,Australia)

I came across this book accidentally while searching around for Indian embroidery related stuff.The moment I saw it , I forgot all about Indian embroidery :) I loved it,I wanted it and I bought it. It costed me Indian Rs. 800+ (translated to about 20$). But, boy,its worth it. Even if you do not stitch any of the projects, you can still drool over the pictures inside...

Let me introduce you to this book and I'll tell you what I like and what I do not like about this book.
First, the stuff I love,

I LOVE the cover. People say, never judge a book by its cover. Its actually true. I've made some error in judging certain books previously. But not this one. The moment I saw the cover,I fell for it. You will too, especially if you love gardens and flowers. On the cover you can see the gardens for the four seasons. These are the major projects featured inside.

Now, let us move to the contents,
There are plenty of embroidery projects and ideas included in the book.And I love all the projects - the gardens,the embroidered initials,the garlands,embroidered cushions etc etc.

Does this remind you of my Embroidered Bedlinen? Diana Lampe too thinks like me,he,he.By the way, none of the flowers on the bedlinen are taken from this book.

Here's a part of the Summer Garden. Lots of French knots!! One will require loads of patience to complete a garden.

Beginner's beware!! - Don't straightaway attempt the gardens. There's a flower glossary aka sampler provided with detailed instructions for each flower on a separate page.Try some of those first.All embroidery is done with stranded cotton floss. So its not an expensive affair.

Each project has a separate chapter devoted to it with the thread colors specified.Basic instructions are also provided.

There's also a very basic Stitch Glossary for right handed and left handed persons.But again, if you're planning to learn the stitches from here and then try the projects, no, the glossary may not be that helpful. This book is not a step by step teaching book. It is meant for intermediate to advanced level embroiderers.Please don't assume that Iam discouraging beginners ,I just mean to say that a beginner may need a stitch dictionary along with this book.

Now, what I don't like about the book,

See the pic below,

For each garden,only a rough outline of the pattern has been provided.They are not the actual size. So its totally upto the stitcher to draw the bush or foliage and stitch.This will require some skill especially for those who trace patterns and strictly follow the lines and curves.

Secondly, none of the project photographs are featured alongside the chapters.The chapters are in the beginning and all the pictures are grouped together in the center pages.There is considerable turning of pages involved to connect the written matter and the pictures.

But,overall, I love Embroidery for all Seasons. I can spend hours just looking over the beautiful gardens and flowers.Hats off to Diana Lampe and Jane Fisk!!! Does anyone among you own a copy? Have you tried any of the projects? How was the experience - good,bad or difficult? Iam also planning to try a little something from here. But not now. :)

Love,luck and sunshine,

Friday, April 02, 2010


Yes, you guessed it right !! :)
After 7 and 1/2 months of effort and more than 35 stitches and techniques later, the bedspread is finally done...

Here it is...washed and lightly ironed.

Another view. I've pointed the last block with an arrow.The stitches used are long and short stitch and fern stitch. I plan to stitch this block again on another cloth just to get the hang of L & S. I must admit,before I started this stitch, I had a lot of inhibitions - but as I progressed, I found myself enjoying the intricacies.

Here is one more pic. The otherwise perfect ending was marred by two things - one,entirely my mistake and the second,not under my control at all. After I'd washed the sheet and hung it out to dry, I noticed the color of Kashmir work block running. I soaked the section a couple of times to lighten the colors. The next issue was the shape of the wreath. The section near the long and short block and herringbone block is a little squished. It now looks as if someone has taken a bite out of the floral pancake. I think I can correct it if I add a few lazy daisy flowers there. Click on the pics above and look for the 'deepashome.blogspot' watermark to see the problem areas.

Aaahh...that's it,then...Thanks to all my lovely blogland friends who've been very encouraging with their comments and suggestions.It truly was a great learning experience. Was it useful for you too?
If anyone needs the pattern for any of the blocks please leave a comment here. I do not have a scanner,but I can take a closeup photograph and post the pic.Do let me know if you're keen on embroidering any particular block. Has anyone been trying these stitches alongwith me? I would love to read about your attempts too.The links for the entire bedlinen project have been listed here. It is also available in the sidebar.

Now that I've completed this,the question that has naturally comeup is - what next? - Oh, there are plenty of stuff to be tried ,tested and learnt - drawn thread,needlepoint,black work,dimensional embroidery...the list is endless.Indian embroidery also cannot be ignored for long. Let me take some time and decide. I'll let you know what Iam upto in a few days.

Wishing you a very Happy and Fantabulous Easter,

Love,luck and sunshine,