16 August, 2018

Kora Silk Saree

Kora silk sarees are unique handloom and handwoven. I have worn the same here and here before.
The bonding between silk and womanhood is never ending! There is a strong relationship between every woman with silk sarees as it brings out the best in her. Though Fashion and trend keeps changing day after day, silk tops the list all-time- Betrothal, wedding or baby shower, 
The dress sense of every woman is different but there isn’t anyone who doesn’t stock silk cotton sarees in their wardrobe! When the casual pants and trousers bore you, you can switch to traditional saree which never loses its charm any day!
The beauty of silk sarees depends on the pattern and design, so choose the best design that reflects your inner beauty and thoughts! 

First attended this cutie pie's Anaprashan/Anapradham. When the baby has her first solid meal. 
Later I went to a dear friend's place where there was Flag Hoisting done (Independence day) and lots of music and dance. 

14 August, 2018

Telia Rumal Saree

Clothes have memories attached to them no? Like this Telia Rumal saree will forever remind me of the happy times I spent with my most favourite person in the world. See the previous pictures here.
Sarees can easily get a new look with different blouse pairings to start with.

Ministry of Textiles is reviving the dying art of Ikat. The cotton Telia Rumal saree has been created using natural dyes. The name Telia derives from 'Tel' meaning 'Oil' and is given to this craft as a large quantity of oil is used to prepare the yarn for Ikat weaving. By clay and wax wrapping, the finished fabric is readied, on which a weaver can devise an exact pattern before it is dipped in selected dyes. Though originating from Chirala, it is no more practised there.

The celebrated sari flutters from the ruins of its heritage like the last flicker of hope. For Telia Rumal, the fast dying art of Ikat tradition, hope lies in the Integrated Handloom Cluster Development Programme sponsored by the Ministry of Textiles. Puttapaka, a village in Nalgonda where the art still thrives, is chosen as one among the clusters under this scheme. Thanks to the initiative, Telia Rumal saris, hitherto mere relics from the past, can hope to find a place in markets soon.

Cooling properties

The treatment, which involves soaking of the yarn in a concoction of castor ash and oil repeatedly for 15 days renders the cloth with cooling properties. The treatment is necessary for the yarn to receive natural dyes in the characteristic Ikat way.

'It was the most preferred technique for scarves during early years. These scarves had demand from as far as the Middle East. Later, we incorporated the technique into saris and bed-sheets too. Even now, the saris have great demand from the North,” says Gajam Yadagiri, youngest among the Gajam brothers from Puttapaka who still keep the designs alive. Their Murali Emporium near Dilsukhnagar is the only place in the city from where one can get the fakes of the Telia Rumal. Fakes, because the weavers have done away with the oil treatment due to the tedium involved. They now use chemical colours on ordinary cotton yarn. Yet, the saris are much coveted and worn even by celebrities such as Sonia Gandhi and Jaya Bachchan.

Telia Rumal can be easily distinguished from other Ikat works in the way one or two motifs are repeated several times in the design. Gajam brothers have begun to apply the same technique to silk saris too because silk yarn rarely snaps.

Even without oil treatment, a sari with intricate design needs at least a month to weave. With most of the weavers moving to the city for children’s education, there are very few left here to carry forward the tradition.

The art might find new roots if the three-year Cluster Development Programme to be implemented through Crafts Council of Andhra Pradesh succeeds in providing marketing facilities.

The coveted Telia Rumal Hand Woven Ikat Saree is a priceless treasure in your wardrobe. The community of weavers is known as the Puttapaka Padmashalis. Only a couple of weavers from the Padmashali community are currently practising this exquisite craft in the village of Puttapaka.

11 August, 2018

Hand painted saree

As much as I dislike embroidered sarees, I love hand painted sarees and I paint most of my sarees myself like here, here, here and here. The one below is painted on pure khadi. It is a beautiful gold coloured khadi.

It was 7th August 1905, when leaders of the freedom movement like Aurobindo Ghosh, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai and several others started a Swadeshi Movement asking Indians to boycott all British products and use only those made in India. To commemorate this, it was decided in 2015 to observe August 7 as National Handloom Day every year. This was done to bring into focus the handloom sector, help the weavers and the karigars and make the common people aware of the 2,000-year-old rich history and heritage of handlooms.

In 2016, Union Minister of Textiles Smriti Irani had started a #Iwearhandloom campaign inviting people to post pictures of themselves wearing handloom attire, while tagging five others. And social media users went berserk with lots of pictures being uploaded.

But the question to be asked is–how does a one-day exhibition of handloom-clad people help the handloom sector?

“No, it doesn’t,” says Jaya Jaitly, emphatically.

Politician and Founder of Dastkari Haat Samiti (arts and crafts market), she has been working with rural artisans of traditional Indian crafts and handloom weavers across the country since 1986.

She elaborates, “Declaring a day for the handloom sector is good but on that day it’s essential to make all the handloom sector workers from the 200 service centers spread across the country be brought forward, hold exhibitions of their work, sell their products, talk about their new experiments and designs to the public. Many things are being done, but a lot more needs to be done to boost up the handloom sector.’’

In India, the handloom sector employs more than 43 lakh people, directly or indirectly, contributing to more than 15% fabric production in the country. It is the second largest after the agricultural sector and plays a major role in the export business as well.

Indian handloom sector holds a unique position as similar sectors all over the world has closed down. Except for very few countries, handloom products have almost vanished from world markets. Indian handlooms hold a major chunk in the handwoven fabric, 95% in the world.

But this is not enough to sustain the sector. Faced with fewer returns on heavy labour, the younger generation of weavers is trying to find new avenues of work to get easy money. And so, an important and unique heritage sector is, unfortunately, facing existential problems.

Maybe declaring one special day puts it in the same category of celebrating Mother’s Day, Friendship Day etc. It might sound trivial. But at least people, especially the young, who aren’t aware of what handlooms are, become aware of this sector. So the next time they go shopping, they might try out a handloom product, and once they experience the comfort of a natural fibre, they might become regular customers. There are many designers who use only handloom fabric and yarns in their designs.

In fact, many of them stay with the weavers for months, urging them to experiment with colours, yarns, size of the fabrics etc., to get the desired designs and also to bring the weavers in the mainstream. And because of them, several handloom sectors like Chanderi, Ikat, Benarasi, Mekhlai, Kanjivaram, Paithani, Jamadani, Mekhla chadar etc. have got a lot of encouragement. Handprints like Kalamkari, Bandhani, Ajrak and Batik too, have been revived.

With fashion designers stepping in with their ideas, handloom weavers have started experimenting. Previously, they wove only saris, chaddars and long lengths of fabric. They used only particular colours and yarns which were in practice for centuries as the handloom sector is still a family-run business as the art of weaving is passed on from one generation to the other. And even the public thought that handlooms meant only these products and so youngsters shun handlooms. Now, designers are teaching weavers to change, mix-and-match yarns, dyed yarns with different colours, weave different eclectic motifs other the traditional ones and even change the size of the looms to get the desired length of fabric, which is easier to use in Western attire, whereby there is a reduction in wastage of fabric.

Several initiatives have been taken by the Government, but there is a lot more which needs to be done in a structured manner on various aspects to make a big impact for handloom revival. The new generation of handloom weavers is establishing better ways to communicate with clients. They are participating in a lot of exhibitions. The customers are more aware of every handloom that is shown to them and also are aware of its exclusivity. Thus the acceptance for handloom textile has increased, which has increased the scope for better pricing.

Another major hurdle ailing the handloom sector is that couture fashion isn’t able to tap this sector.
Couture is a big segment which is still untapped for the betterment of handloom. No one would like to stick to handloom if they are not making profits. If couture segment joins in, it will change the game.

Government-led schemes such as the cluster handloom development programme for new product development and weaver training programmes seem very promising. Further, larger retail companies have now started to focus on developing brands made in the handloom sector.

While designers have a voice that can influence change, their businesses are small and cater only to a niche segment. Mobilising the mass segment to show more interest and involvement in engaging and reviving this sector is critical for the immediate and mid-term future.

In fact, many big industries have joined hands with IHB (India Handloom Brand) in sourcing high-quality handlooms and branding them to reach the customers.

To revive the handloom sector, the state of Kerala has made it mandatory for all schools to get uniforms from handlooms.
That’s a huge chunk of handloom fabric and work for weavers. If this gets replicated in all other states, things will change a lot for the weaving community.

Jaitly says, “Since 1977, governments have been trying to help this sector. Handloom products were made compulsory for all schools, and the people working in nursing, transport and the manufacturing sector across the country. But who will supervise if authentic handloom fabric is being used? The corrupt bureaucracy passes off power loom fabric as handlooms with the result the government thinks that they are doing a lot; it’s the corruption that chokes the handloom sector.”

Whatever may be the problems, all the players in this sector agree that the handloom sector is certainly infused with a new lease on life. Now it’s up to the customers to support this sector, to buy handlooms (at least one handloom product for every five others you buy) and help our 2,000-year-old craft alive.

Pichwai saree

I have worn this Pichwai saree here before. Yes, previously it was in a very picturesque location. 
Pichwai painting is an art form that has its roots in Nathdwara, Rajasthan. It is used as a decorative curtain or backdrop in Shrinathji temples and is considered very sacred. Devotees offer these hangings in temples and take them back home as a souvenir as well. This art on sarees with a storytelling form is making a thrilling addition to the handloom, hand-woven sareesPichwai paintings from Nathdwara are a story cum art galore that depicts important scenes from the tales of Lord Krishna. This style of painting uses the childhood incarnation of Krishna, i.e. Lord Shrinathji as its central subject, shown here in a scene from his own life. The saree I am wearing is an art collection, blend of tradition, contemporary fashion by a designer and textile revivalist. Pichwai Art is a form of painting from the holy town of Nathdwara, Rajasthan that portrays Lord Krishna with peacocks, lotuses, and cows on cloth. The purpose of Pichhwais, other than its artistic appeal, is to narrate tales of Krishna to the illiterate. 

08 August, 2018

Lucknowi Chikan Saree

I had worn Chikan saree here earlier. It is a very light Chikan embroidered saree in turquoise colour. This time I have paired it with a top that I normally team with skirts.

The craft of Chikan work often referred to as Lucknow Chikan, is over 400 years old with a firm presence in the Indian and global fashion arena. The technique of its creation is called Chikankariand its unique sensibility flaunts grace and elegance as subtly as the wearer pleases.

While the word Chikan quite literally means embroidery, the art form incorporates approximately 36 different stitching techniques that in modern times are often combined with embellishments of pearls, mirror and Mukaish. Though traditionally it was done on Muslin cloth, white thread on white fabric, today it can be seen on various fabrics and colours, popularly pastels. While its central hub and place of origin is Lucknow, Chikan work has spread far and wide within India, with West Bengal and Awadh also specializing in its production.

Origin & History

Some historians have recorded the presence of Chikan as early as the 3rd Century AD during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya, but the exact origin of this technique remains a mystery to date. Another common tale behind its history relates the Mughals introducing this Persian craft to India in the 17th Century. The Mughal Emperor Jahangir’s consort, Noor Jahan, was a known talented embroiderer with a particular fondness for Chikankari work. Jahangir was also enamoured by this craft and lavished it with his royal patronage. He established several workshops to hone and perfect this art form. In this era, the fabrics used were mostly Muslin or Mulmul as they were best suited for the warm, humid climate.

After the downfall of the Empire, Chikankari artisans spread all over India and founded various centres for re-establishment in the 18th and 19th Century. Lucknow was the main one with Awadhas a close second. The then Governor of Awadh, Burhan Ul Malk, was a Persian nobleman and Chikan work beneficiary who had a major role in restoring this craft to its former glory, which in many ways stands till date.
Sources of Inspiration

There are hardly any garments with Lucknow Chikan work that don’t use floral patterns or motifs. Due to the strong influence of Persian aesthetics on this craft, flowers have been a staple in Chikankari designs. The types of flowers (including their stems, Buti, leaves and Paisley motifs), as well as their stylizations, have varied throughout time to keep up with fashion trends, but in general have remained fairly intricate and delicate.

Frame for Stitching

The Making & Artisans Behind Chikankari

The Lucknow Chikankari technique can be most easily broken down in to 2 parts; the pre and post preparation stages and the 36 types of stitches that can be used in its embroidery phase. The basic 3 stage process of all Chikankari work is:

• Block Printing

This is the initial phase where the design is made on the cloth of choice. The cloth is cut according to the garment it will form and using multiple wooden block stamps, designs are imprinted in blue ink on to the fabric.

• Embroidery

This fabric is then set within a small frame, part by part, as the needlework begins to trace the ink printed patterns. The type of stitch an artisan chooses depends on the speciality of the region and the type and size of motifs.

• Washing

Once the embroidery work is complete, the fabric is soaked in water to remove the pattern outlines. After this, it is starched to obtain the right stiffness depending on the fabric.

Usually, there is a combination of different Lucknow Chikankari stitches used within one whole pattern. These include: Makra, Kaudi, Hatkadi, Sazi, Karan, Kapkapi, Dhania-patti, Jora, Bulbul and many more. There are also 10 principle stitches made from raw skeins of the thread:

• Jali: A speciality of Lucknow; this technique uses minute buttonhole stitches with a wide blunt needle to make a Jali or net where the thread is never drawn through the fabric, making it impossible to distinguish the front from its backside.

• Tepchi: This is a long running stitch that is weaved on the right-hand side of the fabric and forms the outline of a motif.

• Murri: This is a minute rice shaped design used in minimalistic and intricate patterns.

• Bakhiya: Also called shadow stitching; here, the thread work is done on the back side in order for its outline and tint of colour to be seen on the front side of the fabric.

• Zanzeera: This is a chain stitch made to design the outline of leaves and petals especially when they are connected within their pattern.

• Hool: This is a detached eyelet stitch used to design the heart of the flower.

• Phanda: Millet shaped stitches; these are used to make vines of flowers and grapes.

• Rahet: This is mostly a single stitch technique used to create plant stem designs, however, can also contain a double stitch using the Bakhiya technique.

• Keel Kangan: This stitch is mainly used to adorn floral motifs and petals.

• Khatua: Considered a finer form of Bakhiya and used for flowers and paisleys, the motif is first weaved on a calico and then placed on the main fabric.

Style & Variety

Originally Chikan work was done on Muslin or sheer cotton cloth with white thread. Over time, more colours have been incorporated including pastels and fluorescents. The fabrics used for this craft must be soft as hand stitching is required. They include Silk, Chiffon, Georgette, Net, Voile, Kota, Doriya, Organza, Cotton and faux fabrics.

There is a tremendous variety of garments that come adorned with this type of work, for men as well as women. This includes everything from long and short kurtas, tunics, sarees, Anarkalis, palazzos and Capri pants to a range of accessories such as shoes, bags, belts, lampshades, tablecloths and cushion covers.

Lucknow Chikan embroidery has ebbed and flowed since its initial formal establishment. Its golden years in the period of Mughals and Nawabs were followed by a major downfall in later years during the British Rule.


During the Lucknow Chikan craft’s eventual revival during the industrialization era (in the 1980s), commercial copycats and pocket-friendly imitations emerged. New fabric blends and machine embroidery was introduced to cut production costs. Then, with the start of the recent, profit-oriented era in Indian fashion, small and big designer houses began to add crystal, Mukaish and Zardozi elements to Chikan for a more opulent aesthetic.


Lucknow Chikan embroidery should ideally be dry cleaned, though this depends more on the fabric than the work. Some fabrics, such as silk, need to be dry cleaned but others, like cotton, can be hand washed.
Interesting Facts

• Lucknow Chikan embroidery is highly time-consuming and skilled work for which artisans can be trained for up to 20 years.

• Depending on the pattern intricacy and size of the piece, the embroidery process alone can take up to 10 days to complete.

• The Geographical Indication Registry accorded Lucknow Chikan the GI status in December 2008.