I fell in love with the Indian “Kantha” technique of using old sari fabrics for sewing quilts, and the whole idea of repurposing textiles and giving new life to old fabrics. I then noticed that the Japanese also had a tradition of Mottainai, meaning “Waste Not, Want Not”, whereby old fabrics were repaired, darned, patchworked onto bigger pieces, to give them a new lease of life and a new purpose. This was “Boro”, which literally means “Rags”.
When I started sewing pieces using the Kantha running-stitch technique, I realised that the technique I was using for patchworking my fabric scraps onto the backing cloth was actually that of Boro.
Thus my Fusion technique of Indian and Japanese, of Kantha and Boro, aka “Kantha-Boro” was born.
To date, I’ve created 8 pieces of multi-purpose items that can be used as scarves, table runners or wall hangings. The purpose doesn’t really matter, what matters is that these scraps of fabric, thrifted textiles found discarded at charity shops, remnants from the bin at my local haberdashers, have all found their way onto new pieces that are worthy of being preserved forever as works of art. I never turn my nose up at potential fabrics, and these days my favourites are orphaned pillow cases, that I can simply open up and use as the backgrounds for the Boro patchworking. Did you know that an opened-up standard pillowcase (not a square European pillowcase) is just the right length for a scarf or a table runner?
I’ve posted 7 of my pieces on my Etsy Store, where they are now available for purchase. Please do have a look, and treat yourself to a unique, one-of-a-kind piece of Textile Art for Christmas or the birthday of a beloved one.
The 8th piece, which I called “Winter Is Coming”, was gifted to my friend Jan in Ireland, and I hope she gets it in time for Christmas, or before it gets too freezing cold! I’ve included it here, for posterity. (It’s the last one, with the red pompoms).
In my next few posts, I’ll be writing individually about each piece, with further photos. Each piece has taken me well over a week to sew, and I have the needle pricks on my thumbs and a calloused index finger to prove it :-). I just love the idea of slow-stitching, taking time to sew endless rows of running stitches in the evenings while the TV plays in the background. At first the rows of stitches don’t amount to much, but after a few consecutive rows, the fabric layers begin to pucker and by the end of the whole project, the entire completed piece has taken on a softly quilted look, and a soft, tactile feel that machine sewing can’t emulate.