Kantha Quilt Love + Running Stitch Tutorial

kantha quilts and running stitch.jpg

I have always loved a little touch of embroidery on bed linens, clothing (mine & Lola’s), pillows, curtains, etc – it makes it feel so special, a bit unique. Lately, I’ve been especially taken with the simple running stitch on vintage Kantha quilts made from upcycled sarees. I can’t get enough of them, but have yet to break down and buy one. I’m working on the poor man’s version with a thrift twin-size duvet [keep reading].

Kantha Quilts

Via Decor8 Blog

I think if I had to do a million stitches like in the quilt, I’d probably get it down. Maybe. Or I’d start to despise the running stitch. But I love the look of these quilts enough that I’m willing to take that chance.

Kanta Quilt

Kantha Quilt from Fab.com

I learned to embroider as a little girl – at Girl Scouts maybe? The running stitch is a very basic stitch that is perfect for beginner embroidery and for kids. It’s the stitch you probably think of when you think of hand sewing: up from the back and then down again.  I still struggle with getting my stitches completely even, but it’s getting better.

Running Stitch Embroidery

I found this video tutorial from Needle & Thread to be very helpful and totally down-to-earth if you need help or a refresher.

I have this thrifted twin sized duvet cover that is orange, white, and brown that I picked up with the intention of making pillowcase for my bedroom. BUT after coveting more Kantha quilts on Pinterest, I thought it would look fantastic as a throw in my bedroom with orange running stitches! So here goes nothing.

DIY Kantha Quilt

Twin Duvet Cover (mine snaps open on one end), or two pieces of fabric
Orange Embroidery Thread (Did not separate, used all 6 strands)
Long embroidery needle
Scissors, small embroidery are great, but not required
Some Patience (Helpful, not not necessary)
Season Two of House of Cards (Suggested, highly suggested)

This duvet had been waiting patiently in the linen closet to become something, anything. But first it needed to be ironed. I took care to really iron the seams flat so that I could stitch both sides together.

pressing before stitching

Usually you’ll separate the strands of your embroidery floss, but I wanted thick stitches so I used all six strands at once. Cut a length of embroidery floss, tying a knot at one end.

knotted embroidery thread.jpg

Because my duvet is stitched together, I just started from the “back” side and inserted my needle pulling the thread up from the back.

starting kantha quilt.

And if you gather your stitches it comes together pretty quickly. You can slide your needle through to grab extra stitches and then pull it through. You’ll feel like you’ve accomplished a lot quickly with this one!

gather stitches in running stitch

Then I continued stitching up a (sort of) straight line. I actually love when these lines are imperfect! I think it adds to the charm. And no that’s not me making excuses for my inexperience. Though it helps for sure! You’ll notice one line of particular crazy stitches when an Amber alert when off on my phone and I jumped mid-stitch! Yikes.

Make you own Kantha style quilt

I can’t wait to finish this Kantha-style quilt!! Loving the way it’s coming together, imperfect stitches and all!

Even Lola got in on the running stitch action. Run Lola Run! How long have I been waiting to use that one?! Ummm, a long time. She is making a pillow cover. I love this kid!

kids running stitch instructions

I hope to have the duvet cover finished by the weekend – we’ll see how it goes!

In the meantime, stay tuned for more embroidery fun and how to make your own bath bombs without citric acid this week!

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Cross Stitch & Embroidery: Free Patterns

crewel sampler by 39 Squares

Sampler by 39 Squares

I’ve loved embroidery since I was a little girl. I had a babysitter who collected crewel samplers and I would spend hours looking at them – just amazed at the amount of detail. I couldn’t believe that you could make words and pictures with string. It blew my little mind! And it still does.

Jenny Hart, Sublime Stitching

The Amazing Jenny Hart, Sublime Stitching

Much like knitting, embroidery always seemed reserved for the super crafter – someone far more talented than me. People like Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching whose Dolly Parton is still is one of the best things I’ve ever seen. I’ve tried over the years with some small successes. But in keeping with the “getting back to basics” goal of Craft Forest, I’m going to start from the beginning and really learn the basic stitches.

Karen Barbe's Mask

Karen Barbe’s Mask via KarenBarbe.com

I’m going to be working on adding cross-stitch and embroidery to upcycled items and giving the embroidery options on my sewing machine a go.

We’ve got this! We can take teeny-tiny strings and turn it into shapes and patterns, right?? Confidence friends, confidence. Here’s a few free beginner patterns to kick us all off!

free embroidery patterns.jpg

Free Embroidery Patterns & Tutorials

1. Cross Stitch Pillow via Apartment Therapy, 2. Spring Sampler from Doodle Stitching, 3. Geometric Embroidery from The Smallest Forest, 4. Lots of Love from Urban Threads

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Easiest Pillowcase Tutorial & Aunt Nora’s Quilt

diy pillow case and aunt noras quilt

So, I feel a bit like a Missouri Star Quilt Company fan girl. I’m definitely not a quilter (as you can probably tell from my sewing skills), but I have a great love of quilting from afar. I can appreciate the colors, the amount of work that goes into it, the math…oh, the math.

I have a quilt at home that I adore. There aren’t really words to quite describe how special it is to me. It was made by grandmother’s sister, my Great Aunt Nora. I wasn’t close to her, but I always used it when I spent the night at my grandparents house.

aunt noras quilt blocks

From age 5 to over 35, I adored that quilt and would use it every time I visited. My grandmother gave it to me when she sold their house last year. This now tattered quilt has seen it all – it’s quelled nightmares, survived a million ice cream spills while watching kung fu movies with my grandpa, and even dried my tears when he passed.

I don’t mean to be sentimental about an object, but these stitched-together squares are an irreplaceable memento of my childhood that will someday belong to my children. When you stop to think about it, that’s pretty huge.

Kid in Quilt

I hope to one day be able to make something that has that kind of staying power – a handmade talisman, if you will, to keep my children safe and warm. But I’m not there yet.

But everyday I get a little closer, right? That’s what I keep telling myself.  I’m amazed at what I’ve been able to accomplish in this short time. Most of my projects have been utter disasters, but I’m trying and somehow I’m better for it.

So while, I’m not a quilter, I think I can now call myself a pillowcase maker! Is that a thing?? Probably not. But I did it! And so can you! Really.

pillow case tutorialpillowcase tutorial

I found this tutorial online and was really drawn in by the picture (how cute are those fabrics?!), but the tutorial confused me a little. Probably wouldn’t confuse you, but I’m kind of lazy when it comes to instructions.

So I tried the tube pillowcase by Missouri Star instead – it actually seemed easier and pretty cute with the third pop of color. Here’s the video and my experience with it below. Give this one a try. Finally an “easy” tutorial that was actually, pretty easy.

I decided to use some of the torn linens that I’ve stolen borrowed from my grandmother’s house over the years. I was pretty nervous to cut these, but like I mentioned in the softie pillow tutorial, good intentions will make it okay, right?

I’m not going to take you step by step through mine because Jenny can explain it way better in the video than I ever could. Mine is FAR from perfect, but I did it and immediately wanted to make more!

tube pillowcase images

Note: It wasn’t totally clear to me what size to cut the fabric from the video, but luckily a commenter said, “She is using fabric that is 45″ wide.  After cutting my pillowcase to 27″ I cut the short side to 20″, in so doing when the seams are sewn using a 0.25″ seam allowance, the finished product is 19.5″ wide.  That fit my pillow perfectly.  I also tried cutting the fabric to 24 inches for my first pillowcase, but discovered that when I was finished even with the addition of the cuff, the pillowcase was short; it just barely covered the pillow to the edge.

I followed their lead and cut 27″ x 20″ for the large piece and it worked great for my pillow.

I have big plans to make several more of these! We just swapped the kids rooms and it’d be fun to make them something that is just theirs for their new spaces.

Are you going to give this one a try? Be sure to share pics of your pillowcases and/or your favorite quilts!

Want more? That’s awesome, thanks! Here are a few popular posts: Knitting 101 & Free Pattern / DIY Running Shoe Makeover / Block Print with Food & Household items and lots and lots of pins over here.

Sew What?

don't worry I know what I'm doing I say this on Pinterest

I’m liking the accountability of telling you guys what I’m working on each week. Keeps me from chickening out, so here’s what’s cookin’ this week.

I’m desperate for some sunshine, so I’m gonna try to speed up spring with this Lumi Inkodye Kit. I’ve an idea for printing/sewing some reusable shopping bags. This was a really cool Kickstarter that I backed and can’t wait to try out! You use the sun to print your own custom fabrics from photos taken with their app.

I’m also going to continue working on my sewing basics with an “easy” pajama bottom project and trying my hand at making pillowcases. Found a few tutorials and gonna hope for the best. Wish me luck! Gonna need it.

this week on craftforest.com

What are you working on this week? Will you give any of these a go?

I’d also love your suggestions for some of the best beginner sewing projects or tutorials. Leave me yours in the comments please and thank you!