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Kantha: REVERSIBLE!

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I’m in love with my new shirt!!!  It started out as a kantha throw (106”x86”) and after working the puzzle to create a reversible garment, there is only one  3”x 5” scrap left!!  Here are some things I 've learned along the way and some notes about my details. 

 The word kantha means “rags” in Sanskrit, reflecting a tradition of creating ‘new fabrics’ from layering old ones to create new fabric. The layers are held with rows of humble running stitches, usually in white cotton thread. From old fabrics to new and thick layers to thin, start by considering what you want your garment to feel like.  The throw I used was old, soft and 3 layers of thin cotton. It had just the feel I wanted to wear. With lots of sources out there,  I appreciate the time Marcy Tilton and her team take to describe and gage the weight of each Kantha piece in the collections they sell in their online fabric store.

Getting Started- Working with a pattern? or draping? I find myself doing a combination of both: moving back and forth between draping my ideas on the dressform, then checking in with a pattern when I need too.  For this shirt, I worked with The Cacicedo pattern. See these posts for more  shirt variations with the Cacicedo Pattern. 

Maximizing what you have to work with means looking at the finished edges and  how they might be utilized in the design. A finished edge was used down the front /collar edge here. The front is overlapped then hand stitched down as a last step. In cutting out the most important pieces first, I’m willing to piece the rest as needed. 

 

Spend some time in front of a mirror, looking at the 2 sides and what combo you envision for your finished piece. I love having a soft, quiet side with a hint of another color here and there…then the blast of the dramatic red and white side as a very different option….it really is 2 very different garments! 

Start with what you know- Starting with the neck edge and shoulder seams is a good place to start figuring out what kind of seams and stitching to use. Remember: you are working 2 finished sides at once, so how will that impact each decision you make? The seams in my shirt are mostly overlapped ( instead of right sides together), with the raw edges turned under then hand stitched on both sides. Since the shoulders are holding up the garment, they are also machine stitched.

 

 The armhole/shoulder area usually determines my choice of patterns. I know I can make square armhole in this pattern work on both sides, and I like the basic pieces. On the green side, the armhole seams are turned under and topstitched in place. On the red side, the armhole edge, left loose from the sleeve is turned and finished. On that side, the sleeve looks a bit like a second garment underneath. 

 Maximizing what you have to work with means looking at the finished edges and  how they might be utilized in the design. A finished edge was used down the front /collar edge here. The front is overlapped then hand stitched down as a last step. In cutting out the most important pieces first, I’m willing to piece the rest as needed. 

 

 

Finishing starts now- Consider how construction (machine and or by hand), is in keeping with the fabric you have chosen and your style. Most of this garment is hand sewn with a similar white cotton thread used for the original sewing. That felt important, and very much in keeping with my aesthetic. How will you stitch and work your Kantha?

Grainlines & the Silhouette- Changing the direction of the garment pieces will shift the way the silhouette hangs and moves on the body. With Kantha cloth, if the running stitches are going in different directions, it can add interest to the garment. To add more shape to the back of this shirt, a horizontal cut was made 3/4 of the way across the back and a triangular wedge ( LOVE the contrasting green on the red side!) was added to hold the shape in place. Adding this angle, changes the grain and adds fullness to the shape of the lower back. The side panels, hem add-ons and cuffs show the change in fabric direction with the stitching across for contrast.  

Consider balancing the design with small detail pieces in the contrasting color. In this garment: small pockets ( mine are topstitched on each side), more hem piecing, a turned edge or a bit of edge on the sleeve folded to show, it all adds a bit of color pop to each side.  

 

The Scarf-With a nice long strip left, it was an obvious scarf. I like both sides, without the scarf, and it's the perfect accessory for the red side. 

                     .......  It feels SO good, I wanna wear it everyday! 

                                                                            Let's Make!!! DIANE

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 comment

  • Deb: May 11, 2022

    Wow Diane! Love, Love, Love this jacket. I’ve been following this project as I’ve been developing a vintage quilt reversible jacket in my idea stash. Thanks for the inspiration and fabulous patterns.

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