We know you've been wondering....

We know you've been wondering....

Did you know that “kantha” refers to both the running stitch and the finished cloth? Kantha is one of the oldest forms of embroidery from India.  It originated in the rural villages of Bengal in the early 19th century and has since experienced a revival as a highly-valued craft form. 

Traditionally, old cotton and silk saris that had turned very soft through wear were used to make kanthas. Around five to eight saris would be layered and then stitched together. If they were making a lightweight textile, only 2-4 layers were used to make what we refer to as a coverlet. The running stitch would cover the entirety of the recycled fabrics and woven so tightly that it gave the quilt substantial strength and durability.

In almost every household women made these blankets, spending any quiet time – and sometimes the long days of  monsoon season– stitching these pieces. One kantha could take months, even years to complete with grandmother, mother and daughter working on the same kantha.


Aloka kanthas are 60-80 years old, true repositories of memories and reflection of the creativity of their makers. Our edit is special; we choose with an eye for design and unusual beauty and select vintage kanthas that are well preserved and in exceptional condition. To achieve this curation, we often sort through a thousand quilts, looking at the front and back of each, just to find one hundred special pieces. Then we begin a multi-step process of cleaning and softening, resulting in soft, silky and supple pieces. Because of these improvements, we can use them confidently for many applications, including upholstery and fashion. 

When shopping, you will see these graphics to denote how many layers of recycled saris were used in the pieces. For example, a lightweight coverlet may have only 2-3 layers of saris whereas mid-weight kantha quilts will have 4-5 layers. Some of the heavier weight kanthas we sell feel like a weighted blanket, with up to 8 layers of saris stitched together. You'll see that an aloka kantha generally has as many as 24-40 stitches per square inch, which gave the material tremendous strength over time. 


We then put these blankets through a multi-step deep cleaning and softening process. The soft hand and silkiness of an aloka kantha is our signature. And that’s just the start of how we revive and refresh these high quality vintage textiles with new vision for today’s living!

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