By historical definition, Kantha is a regional style of textile and stitch.

Kantha (meaning: “patched cloth”) refers to both the tradition of producing  unique, quilted blankets (making something useful and beautiful out of discarded items).  As well as the craft and stitch itself (a small, straight running stitch in Bengali embroidery).

traditional Kantha embroidery.

Kantha is a style of stitching found in Indian embroidery.

I chose  these pictures  because they have  both aspects of Kantha.

In any case, if we speak of Kantha Stitch, is always simply a running stitched, used as a quilting stitch (functional)  or an embroidery stitch (decorative)


the tension between the cloth and the stitch

So Kantha Stitch it could be called but for me, in my work, it is about the running stitch and the natural resulting ripple and so I might just call it a running stitch  or walking stitch in it's slowest version.  I see it everywhere in a layered textile. We might call it a Kantha Style stitch if we have been inspired by that which has become a reference.  It is not the ripple that makes it a Kantha stitch,  it is the nature of a running stitch that creates a ripple. And you can manage it to make it more apparent.

my kantha

ripple and running

Stacked stitching on Arising  From an Inner Warmth...

a related post here.

From Whispering White, talking about the tension between cloth and stitch...

From Small Journeys, talking about the direction of the ripple and how that might become a design element.

You will find this page filed under Kantha in the Glossary


  1. Okay, well, .. my little mind has been blown .. I’m in heaven. The method you used on the red circle is such a surprise to me, I love it so much. You told me awhile ago that this was not wrap stitch and you would explain it later on. Well, you were true to your word and I am grateful. This is beautiful. If I am over zealous it is because the stitching life is new to me and I’m flying high up the learning curve; which will eventually level out, of course.
    Thank you.

    • Carrole

      Just back from the summer north, and catching up with the diaries.
      Love all is this information on the evolution of this stitch in your work. Feeling as if a good start might be here for a nine patch using running stitch to move into the space of hunkering down for the winter, a gathering in.


  2. I listen and learn, or learn anew from listening differently.
    One of the best things was to see your birds, as I drew birds yesterday at lunch. I was aiming to recreate the bird I drew so long ago, the one on my banner. Anyway, seeing your birds today made me feel so much better at my attempts!! lol Never what I imagine in my head escapes through my fingers…that is okay today. Thanks.

  3. Liz A

    I have often thought that laundering new thread that has been stitched into old cloth results in the thread shrinking relatively more than the cloth, further enhancing the ripple effect

    • jude

      Being so immersed in the textile industry helped me learn a lot about shrinkage and all that. The thing about shrinkage is it is mostly about movement. relaxation. It has a lot to do with the structure of the materials. the spaces in the woven cloth, the length of fibers, the tension under which things are manufactured. Water acts as a lubricant and lets things move around, heat breaks down the finishes that hold things smoot and in place. As far as I know, new thread is always mercerized and rarely shrinks. Especially good quality embroidery thread or quilting thread because it is made from long staple fiber and spun and treated to stay smooth, leaving little if not no room for movement. But, cloth can slip and slide , move more around the new smooth thread, so may shift into a ripple quite easily.

  4. My head is spinning. Not that I need any new projects, but I NEED to make some patchwork pieces to experiment on! Different ways of quilting. The way I learned to quilt was so precise. Aim for nine even stitches to the inch. (?!?!?!?! How anyone did this, let alone with batting, is beyond me.) I never thought about the rippling. Nor embroidery as quilting. And that got me thinking about more than just running stitches . . . and my head is spinning.

    • jude

      yeah, I guess the more precise approach is ok too and is useful in its own way, if only for the challenge, and actually you end up with a ripple there too , the beauty of the quilt is the ripple . But wild beauty is something else right? What if there were both kinds of quilting in one cloth? Of course I am not good with traditional style stitching.
      As long as the thing holds together, well, the goal is that right?
      Spinning is interesting, I always wonder which direction I will be facing when I stop.

  5. Pam S.

    Beautiful 💙
    I’ve been thinking about doing that type of stitch design over an old long rectangular patchwork piece that’s looking dull and drab.

  6. CJ

    You always bring a better understanding to stitching. Watched and listened to every bit here.💞 I was curious about the walking stitch. And right there a link. Perfect. I made a few Kantha runners with a thicker thread and the spiraling of layered frayed scraps. The ending texture is scrumptious. I thought just a running stitch and now I know the difference.

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