How do I know this? I received an email yesterday from a US cloth artist who had some questions regarding the book. Elizabeth asked the following: “…Your book is wonderful. I just had one question which you did not cover in your book. How do you finish and hang your Kantha pieces. As the three layers are thinner than a quilt with no batting it is not as heavy as a quilt. My pieces are all 12″ by 12″ and I have been framing them so far but would like to hang my pieces like a small quilt. I also do not like the binding method for finishing and was wondering with the pillow finish would be better…”
Good questions and I apologize for not including definite finishing solutions. Let’s get started with answering the questions and providing some additional information for other readers who might have similar concerns.
The short answer for not including how to finish and hang Kanthas is simple: Most Kanthas are functional items. As one works with several layers of fabric which have a tendency to move and contract and/or distort with the addition of the Kantha stitching. The layers often pull in more in one area than another and sometimes the middle layer(s) pull completely in from the top and backing layers.
This segues into the first addition of information, the reasons for using a binding that may be wider than one is accustomed to. A binding adds longevity to any Kantha and functional quilt. It prevents the fabrics from unraveling when used (and loved) daily. Washing a Kantha is not as much a concern either when the binding protects the edges. On a personal note, I steer away from contrasting binding colours. I generally use the same fabric as in the main part of the Kantha to ensure the eye does not stop but has an opportunity to travel off the edge. As one of my much loved quilting teachers once jokingly said: “Stay away from the pot holder effect…” Keep in mind that darker bindings distract from the overall design of the quilt and in this case, the Kantha.
I realize now that the publisher has omitted a number of submitted images, especially those close ups featuring the binding. If you look closely at the images in Inspiration Kantha you will notice that I often use the wider binding to add additional stitching for support and as a design element as seen below:
The binding method is the traditional method for finishing Kanthas. However, if binding is not at all appealing to the maker I suggest using the facing method. I have a detailed tutorial covering the facing method on my blog here.
Elizabeth is considering using the pillow case method for her Kantha pieces. Here are some thoughts on that: The piece featured on pg. 83, After the Storm II, was created with three layers of fabric (Top: commercial quilting cotton, the middle layer is flannel for added body, and the backing a thin cotton gauze). I created the three interconnected pieces separately and then added the Kantha stitching for texture and to secure the sheers. I will share honestly that if I had densely stitched all over the background the piece would have been hopelessly distorted. By applying the Kantha sparingly and in a strategic manner I was able to control the amount of pull in. Much of the distortion was controlled by judiciously basting the pieces. I had basting lines every 1 1/2″ in both directions to form a dense grid.
Speaking of distortion, let’s move on to the topic of hanging Kantha work. I didn’t include hanging instructions as most Kanthas are functional items. Whenever I have created something that was destined for a wall I let the piece dictate how it would be hung.
There are options for hanging, such as a narrow conventional sleeve to insert a thin dowel:
I created a narrow 1″ D-sleeve for a small dowel for this 12″ x 12″ piece. Here is an excellent video tutorial for creating a D-sleeve.
My small Kantha piece above is part of a challenge and will be hung with other textile pieces without frames. In contrast, if I created a body of work for a gallery for exhibition and/or sale I would frame each piece. My options would then be selecting a colour to complement the overall design of this Kantha piece, or using a gallery style narrow black frame with a white mat showcasing the piece without distractions.
For larger Kantha pieces, as in the Meditation Scroll featured on page 79 in Inspiration Kantha I used the backing fabric, which hangs loosely off the back. Not much pre-planning went into the hanging solution. I was inspired by the printed fabrics from Indonesia and the border print dictated the function. I made the backing extra long to allow for a hanging sleeve (which extends at the top, attached it to the top of the scroll and just stitched a narrow channel to insert the hanging rod:
Enjoy your weekend, everyone. It’s a scorcher here and I am happy to stay cool inside with some Kantha stitching… 😉