Thursday 31 July 2008

Chamba Rumal

Chamba Rumal

Chamba Rumal is the embroidery work on a square format. The size can be as small as a handkerchief to as large as bed sheets. 

Fabric chosen is either Khaddar or Malmal. 

The figures are filled with untwisted silk floss which is also know as pat. 

This is also called Chamba Kashidakari or "Do-Rukha" embroidery. 

Chamba Rumals are embroidered with the technique of double satin stitch known as "Do-Rukha Tanka". The stitch is carried forward and backward alternately and both sides of the cloth are stiched simultaneously so that the space on both sides look equally effective and identical in content.

The outline is marked in danditanka a stem stich or chain stitch with knot after each stitch. 

No chamba rumal is done in single color. 

From the early eighteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth, Chamba and its neighbouring hill states such as Kangra and Basohli, formed the nucleus of rumal production, which was embroidery work on thin unbleached muslin ( malmal) of great charm and simplicity. Rumal means cover or Kerchief, and these square shaped textiles were used mainly as a covering for gifts. When an offering was made to temple gods or gifts exchanged between the families of bride and grooms, an embroidered rumal was always used as wrappings. Chamba rumals were also used in temples as a backdrop to , or canopy for deity.

Motif generally comprises of a floral border whcih enclosed a finely drawn religious scene set against a clear, unembellished and unembroidered background. The designs are initially drawn out in Charcoal and featured scenes from Krishna's life and other mythological episodes, which are surrounded by clusters of willow and cypress trees and running animals such as tigers, horse and deer.

Chamba rumals are embroidered in silks of soft colours, using a double darning or double satin stitch stitch, so that an identical design appeared evenly on both sides of the cloth, and double running stitch  or danditanka is used for outlines and details.

An excellent article on the process is found here. 

Wednesday 30 July 2008

Baluchari Sari

Baluchari Sari

It is a popular ninteenth centruy figured silk saree. It is an elaborately woven brocade known to have been made during 1850-1900 in the village surrounding Baluchar (Murshidabad Distt.)

Baluchar Sarees are similar in appearance and in weaving techniques to many Banaras Brocades although they never contain Zari threads, only silk. They have intricate supplementary weft or warp borders and end pieces created in untwisted silk threads of colors that contrast with the ground, with elaborate floral borders. The figures are commonly involved in such activities as smoking a hooka, riding a train, or smelling a flower, and are often dressed in Mughal style or European cloths, the grounds of these saris are generally dark with purple, dark brown and red being common, while the wide range of colors found in the supplementary threads are always light, such as white, yellow orange of pink

The Bengali Saris are created on draw looms, which contains a complicated mechanism for weaving multi-warp and multi-weft figured textiles.

Material is used as silk. The dimensions for a Baluchar Sari are in Cm (length=558, width=112, ends per cm=38, picks per cm =35)

This is an amazing video on the Baluchar Silks

Tuesday 29 July 2008


This is a figured silk in which a densly patterned heavy fabric is created that has no floats on the reverse. The unused threads are woven into the foundation at the back. Traditionally, the face of the fabric has a satin weave ground ( warp threads) with small patterns made by the weft threads repeated over the entire surface.

The supplementary weft patterning of these brocades is woven in silk. The threads may be either untwiste, giving a 'thick' line to the woven design or they may be made of twisted yarns that produce a finer, denser pattern.

Tanchoi brocades originated from China, initially being part of nineteenth century Parsi trade between India, China and England.

Dimensions for a Banaras 5 colored tanchoi silk may be length 559 cm, width 117 cm, warp count may be 109/cm and weft count as 132/cm.

Monday 28 July 2008



The rich agricultural states of Punjab and Haryana are famous for the "phulkari" (flower work) shawls that were worn with choli and gaghra . It formed the traditional costme of rural women of this regioin. It was a costume both spectular and eminently practical. Phulkaris were made for every day wear. Usually the border and field of the shawls were not so densly embroidered. Phulkaris were made for family use, or as gifts, very rarely were they made for sale.

Motifs of flowers, birds and human figures were embroidered in soft untwisted silk in combinations of gold, yellow, white, organge or red, on a ground that was usually a brick red color, but could sometimes be black or white. Although designs on phulkaris were often figurative, motifs and scenes from daily life-houses, temples, flowers, animals, wedding rituals and processions were used. Images of vegetables and flowers, wheat and barley stalks, the sun, moon, trees and rivers, mughal gardens, kites and even playing cards were stitched on phulkaris.

the embroidery was worked in silk thread from Kashmir, Afghanistan or Bengal, although the best quality silk was Chinese. the yarn was worked on a coarse handmade cloth known as Khaddar, which was produced in the village by local Jullaha. Three of these pieces would be joined together to form a phulkari. Khaddar was locally available cheap, hard wearing, and more importantly, it was preferred to mill made cloth as its coarse weave facilitated the counting of threads necessary for phulkari work.

The design was embroidered from the reverse side using darning stitches over counted threads. Only one thread was taken up with each pick of the needle, leaving a long stitch below to form the pattern. Stitching ran in both horizontal and vertical directions in order to give a variation in texture. In addition to darning stitch, double running stitch or chain stitch is used to form the outline of figures of birds, animals and humans, which were then filled in with darning and satin stitch. Satin or stem stitch was used on phulkari. Borders and blanket stitch or button hole stitch was used for finishing off the edges.

Sunday 27 July 2008

Effect of Fabric Structure on Fabric Properties

Effect of Woven Fabric Structure on Fabric Properties

1. Tensile Strength: The more the crimp the less the strength. Other things being equal, plain weave fabrics which have the highest crimp have the lowest strength.

2. Extensibility: The more crimp there is in the yarn the more extensible is the fabric, therefor longer the floats, the less extensible is the fabric.

3. Surface Friction: Whether surface is smooth or rough. Long floats produce smooth fabrics with low crimp levels.

4. Tear Strength: In case of tensile loading, all the yarns in the direction of the loading share the load. In tear loading only one, two or at most few yarns share the load. In tight constructions, the movement of the yarn is restricted during loading and yarn will be presented to the load one by one; this results in a low tearing strength. Loose open constructions allow more freedom for the yarns to move and group together, thus presenting bundles of yarns to the tearing load, in consequence the tear strength is high. Designs which have group of yarns woven together such as rib or basket will have hight tear strength.

5. Abrasion Resistance: The most important factors are the crimp levels and the height of the crowns caused by the crimp. The greater the number of crowns/area or the greater the area of each crown, the less will be the stress concentration on the crowns and this leads to a high abrasion resistance. The longer the floats the larger the area of contact between the yarn and the abraidant and the higher the abrasion resistance.

6. Drape: Heavy fabrics from coarse yarns and dense constructions have poor drape characteristics. Fabrics with long floats in the weave permit the yarns to move freely; this reduces the bending and shear resistance of the fabric, leading to a better drape behaviour.

7. Crease Resistance: A plain woven fabric with a high fabric count puts a heavy strain on the fibres and limits the recovery of the fabric. The longer the floats, the higher will be the crease resistance of the fabric.

Bengal Kantha

In the sphere of folk textiles the needlework quilts of Bengal and Bihar form a group of some of the most interesting cloths of the subcontinent. They are known as Kanthas in Bengal and Sujanis in Bihar. In the past they were made for family use or as gifts, out of cast-off saris or dhotis.

Saris and Dhotis in Bihar and Bengal are predominantly white, sometimes with a border in black or red, or blue and red, sometimes with the addition of yellow or green. Three or four sections of Saris or Dhotis are laid on top of each other and then quilted. The simple running stitch used in quilting produces an embroidery-like design whose details are filled with satin and stem stitch. Threads are taken from the colored borders of the saris for thies purpose.

The conventional pattern of Bengal Kanthas has a lotus medallion in the centre ( symbolising the universe) and four "buttis", or trees, at the corners. The rest of the field is then embroidered wih all manner of motifs: birds, fish, animals and people, with domestic scenes mixed with religious and allegorical figures.

Inspiration for these motifs lies in the 'Alpana' designs which are drawn out on the floor and doorstep in Bengal at festival times.

Kanthas were used eariler as winter quilts covers and wraps for books and valuables, as mats for ceremonial purposes. Kantha making for home consumption in Bengal died out for about the end of the first quarter of the twentieth century due to the usual pressures of industrialisation. The main centres for Kantha amking were in East Bengal, now Bangladesh, where it has now been revived. Here embroidered quilted hangings are made with new cloth to some of the old designs,bestof them expressing some of the lively views of nature of old classics. These new Kanthas are aimed at export and tourist markets.

Saturday 26 July 2008

Tie and Dye Ikat textiles

It is a derivation of the Malay word "Mengikat" means 'to tie' or 'to bind'. This technique entails tying and dyeing the warp and weft before weaving. Bundles of threads are meticulously arranged to a prepared design and bound with impermeable yarn or rubber band so that as the yarn is dyed with a range of color, the areas protected from each dye are resisted. Within the subcontinent the clothes produced by this yarn resist work are called tie-and-dye, bandha, patola, chitka and telia rumal.

Fibres Used: Cotton and Silk

Motifs used: The motif used in any traditional Ikat designs may include lotus flowers, creeping vine (lata, geese, deer, elephant), conch shell or fish. In traditional Orissan style, the end piece may contain, in dozens of Ikat patterned bands of different sizes with various levels of patterning complexities ranging from elephants and lions standing by trees to simple triables and dashes. Motifs of Andhrapradesh Ikat sarees are modern, abstrat, modernist and geometric.

Technique: IN orissa very thin yarn is used, which helps in achieveing fine, detailed and curvilinear patterns. Orissan Ikats are woven on counterbalance flyshuttles treadle looms, the structure resting on the ground over the edge of the weavers' pit. The shedding mechanism hangs from the ceiling and the warps to be wound on to a cloth beam or run over a beam and tied in the roof space out of the way. In AP the warps are tied ready, for dyeing at their full length whereas the weft are tied in groups on a frame fanning out to from the segment of a circle from a central peg. Only  two or three threads are used from a cluster on a rectangle.

Places: Orissa, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh.

Compact Yarn

Compact Yarn in a compacted ring yarn with low hairiness. In this a perforated drum is fitted at the delivery end of the ring spinning machine, which in combination with partial vacuum, bundle or compact the fibres after drafting.

This will lead to :

- Reduced hairiness
- Increase in yarn strength upto 20%
- Higher spin-out limits
- Reduced Sizing ( about 30%)
- Great running on loom ( efficiency increase by over 10%)
- Glossier appearance of yarn
- Homogenous Dyeing

The gains are greater from yarn counts of 30s or more.

( For more information please refer to this newsletter for compact yarn)

FAQ in Spinning-1

Q. Why cotton is convoluted in crosssection when seen through microscope

Cotton fibres grow on hairs on the seed of the plant. While growing the fiber is cylinderical in form, but as it dries it twists, and, when fully ripe, resembles a narrow twisted ribbon.

Q. What is the best variety of cotton in the world

The best variety in the world is sea Island cotton which is fine, long and silky and is suitable
for the finest of counts namely 120s and beyond.

Q. What is a bale

For transporting the ginned cotton in a suitable economic and compact package form we need a
package known as a bale.

Q. Why baling is called a necessary evil.

Because processing of baled cotton requires the use of greater number of blowroom machines than are required when directly ginned cotton is used.

Q. What will happen if the cotton in bale form is stored for longer periods.

Cotton stored for longer periods, from 6 months to one year have been found to give more waste
losses ranging from 2-3% due to weather effects and compressional strains.

Q. Chemically, what is cotton fibre made of

Chemically, a cotton fiber consists of about 92% cellulose, 7% water, 0.6% nitrogen and remaining in wax, ash and fat.

Q. What is the importance of convolutions.

Convolutions help to increase the inter-fiber cohesion. Loss in convolutions have to be
compensated by slightly more twist during spinning for a desired yarn strength.

Q. What is the importance of natural wax present on cotton as regards to spinning.

It lubricates the fibers and helps in the spinning process.

Q. Why moisture is important for cotton.
Bone dry cotton is harsh and brittle with a low tensile strength. Cotton is a poor conductor of
electricity and hence it is difficult to spin very dry cotton as it develops static electricity.

Q. How fiber fineness is important for cotton spinning.

Fibres that are longer and finer are best suited for producing fine counts.

Q. What is length to diameter relationship in case of cotton.

The ratio of length to diameter for cotton varies from 500:1

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