One of the biggest joys I experience in making my purses, is working with such beautiful textiles. Each piece has a history and personality that you just can't get with a roll of industrially made fabric. Sure, those rolls of perfectly printed motifs are lovely, and I have to say, much easier to work with, but there isn't the life in them that a hand made textile has.
A new shipment of Kantha quilts recently arrived from India and these babies are steeped in history. Each quilt is made of at least 4 layers of cotton saris. Each of these saris has had a life of it's own, perhaps taking a young woman through the first years of her marriage, wearing that sari in that special colour of blue that sets off her eyes just the right way.
Each sari has it's own story to tell, and when they are worn out, they are layered with others, and stitched together by hand. This alone is a feat of marathon proportions. Most of the quilts I've managed to find have thousands of hand stitches, holding all these layers together. It must take months of work.
Some have patches where the fabric has been worn through, and these patches, tiny and brightly coloured, add another layer of interest. And much like the boro of Japan, each layer of work, each bit of fabric stitched on to cover wear, tells its own story. I just wish I knew them all.
There is a long history of Kantha stitching, and some is amazing elaborate. Perhaps that's a topic for another blog. But I just wanted to pass on some of the excitement I feel when these quilts arrive.
Mixing cultures a little, I fold them and sew them into an Origami Market Bag, a traditional Japanese pattern. These bags sit nicely on your shoulder and carry lots of goodies. They can be a purse, a grocery bag, an overnight bag and even a beach bag. Soft, versatile and colourful. these will take you just about anywhere.