Still Life Kantha – with Libby Smith NEW!


Create a panel using Kantha stitch, collage and appliqué based on your own still life composition.

Libby takes this traditional Bengali technique and applies it to a still life collage to explore its possibilities over two days.


Kantha is really a running/darning stitch that creates texture and pattern according to the placing of the stitches. Kantha work is done in the hand, not on a frame, using a sandwich of soft fabrics and plain or variegated embroidery threads in either silk or cotton. The word Kantha in Bengali means cloth.  Traditionally Kantha were made from the best parts of old worn saris or dhotis, the thread for the embroidery being drawn out of the sari borders.  Kantha is also the name given to the stitching.  Themes from day to day activites evolved into motifs/subjects for the embroidery.  The Kantha maker works variations of running stitch to fill the whole surface with the decorative motifs and border patterns, the stitching gives a ripple textured effect to the surface.

Taking the basic principles of Kantha we will create a small still life panel using soft layers of fabric and running stitch.  

Your Source Material:

If you have any of your own still life drawings you would like to use – I can bring along a collection of pots for you to draw or photograph.  If you have a favourite painting by such artists as Winifred Nicholson, Mary Feddon, Ben Nicholson, etc. that you can use as a colour/compositional reference.

Additional information


10th and 11th Sept 2021




Your Lunch,

£5 for Libby towards packs of fabric to inc organza, habotai and mouseline plus dye.

You will also need to get:


Base layer –  soft lightweight cotton well washed to remove any dressing – a lightweight calico is nice to work with.

Additional base layers you could use 2 layers of well washed, fine calico or 3 or 4 layers of muslin, once again, well washed to remove any dressing.

Top layer – we will be collaging fabrics to create the basis for the still life picture – I use fine fabrics I have dyed myself such as lightweight silk habotai, silk organza, silk mousoline, silk net, cotton scrim, fine cotton and perhaps some silk sari ribbon.  I often find odd offcuts and left over bits from other projects are just what Im looking for.  When selecting the fabrics you bring, variety of colours/colour combinations and textures are more important than vast quantities.  I find silk organza an important part of the fabrics as quite often it is the fabric that will soften harsh colours, hold things down, add subtle detail (I tend to use the ivory rather than the white, some I dye, some I leave undyed).


Stranded cottons are good for Kantha work but you could use a fine/medium weight silk thread –  a variety of colours 

White tacking sewing cotton


Usual sewing equipment silk pins, needles assorted, scissors, tape measure

Assortment of needles – quilting needles or any fine needles of a longer length

Ruler may be handy

Quilters pencil (optional)

Small cutting mat, rotary cutter, ruler

Camera/iPad/phone Note/sketch book and pencil


1.  I will bring along copies of still life source material to help with colour, ​​​​composition, shape, etc.

2.If there is a gap in your fabrics when it comes to colour we can always dye a small ​​amount of fabric – I will bring the necessary dyes and equipment with me.


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