Upcycled Apparel and Jewellery
Upcycling of Sarees and Upcycling of Fabrics
Indian Embroidery

Indian Embroidery can be traced back to some examples found in the remnants of the Indus Valley civilization. This means it could be thousands of years old.

Mostly the embroidery during those times were geometrical patterns. It was the Mughal and Persian rule that introduced floral motifs into Indian embroidery resulting in the famous Phulkari embroidery.

Indian Embroidery are of various types, broadly classified by what they depict.
Embroidery that patronized the rulers and the royal court - examples are the Zardozi and Chikankari from Uttar Pradesh.
Embroidery that displayed folk tales or the rural life - example is the Katwa work from Bihar as well as Rumals depicting Mithila. Kutch embroidery is also a type of folk embroidery.

Temple Embroidery especially from Deccan region and South India - examples are Kasuti from Karnataka, Picchwai embroidery.
Trade embroidery that included quilting, mochi work, cushion work, curtain work etc.

So broadly Indian embroidery encompasses a whole lot of handiwork like cloth embroidery, quilting, gold and silver embroidery, mirror work, applique and patch work and many more styles.  Indian embroidery is not just restricted to fabrics but even to objects of daily use.  Every region and every artisan will have a story to say about the way the craft originated and evolved.

Kantha work from West Bengal is such a craft that has many stories about it.  The origin of the name itself has many versions.  Our artisans from Burdwan district say that the original needle used to do this embroidery was a long pointed needle called "Kaathi" in Bengali.  The name "Kantha" originated from this needle.  As for others, the name Kantha originated from a Sanskrit word that meant "rags" as the initial purpose of this form of embroidery was to stitch together several old and cast away saris or dhoti pieces together to form quilt covers, mats for religious functions etc.  Kantha work was mainly done for home use and slowly died out in the first quarter of the twentieth century.

But the revival of Kantha work has happened due to the efforts of several women who has made it valuable again for export purposes as well as for trade in the tourist market.  The fabric industry has also included this revival with beautiful sarees and dupattas featuring Kantha embroidery.

The traditional pattern of Bengal Kantha work has a Lotus in the centre and four buttis or trees at the corners, to symbolise the Universe.  The rest of the embroidery includes either nature or other religious scenes.  Generally the embroidery is formed by a simple running stitch design and then the details are filled with satin and stem stitch.

Initially Kantha was used on Cotton or Silk. But now it is used on other fabrics such as Satin, Crepe, Georgette etc.

It is not difficult to maintain a Kantha work saree.  We advise a first time Dry clean to preserve the cotton thread colours used in the embroidery.  For later washes, Normal hand wash with a delicate detergent is adequate and will preserve the longevity of the fabric as well as the embroidery.

Shubhsarini Collections has Kantha work sarees in Cotton as well as Satin made from artificial silk.

The Magic of Bengal Sarees

West Bengal has a rich and cultural heritage of Handloom Weaving. In fact, handloom weaving is the most widely practised occupation, next to agriculture. The handloom industry still remains a great employer of the rural sector of Bengal.  Santipur, Fulia in Nadia district, Dhaniakhali, Begampur in Hooghly district, Samudragarh, Dhatrigram, Katwa, Ketugram in Burdwan district, Bishnupur in Bankura district are the main handloom concentrated areas in the state of West Bengal.

Bengal Handloom Cotton and Silk Sarees have been pioneer sarees in the field of heritage handloom products of India, especially Jamdani and Tangail sarees.

"Jamdani" originates from a Persian word "Jam" meaning a cup and "Dani" meaning a container.  It is during the Mughal rule, especially during the reign of Emperor Akbar or Emperor Jahangir, the figured or flowered woven muslin cloth came to be known as "Jamdani". Jamdani weaving is one of the most time consuming and labour intensive form of handloom weaving that produces one of the most artistic textile from a Bengal weaver.

Jamdani weaving has an extra weft used to create the artistic motifs. The extra weft threads are usually thicker cotton threads that are added separately by hand to create intricate patterns to the fine fabric. These patterns are not sketched or outlined on the fabric, rather they are drawn on a paper kept underneath the warp.  This kind of weaving requires sheer skill and deftness of the hand that places the Jamdani weaver atop the list of fine artists.

'Tangail' originated from Tangail, a district of present Bangladesh. Previously it was named as "Begum Bahar" where silk warp and cotton weft were used. Later on, both cotton warp and weft were in vogue. The weavers were mainly of 'BASAK' community who migrated from Tangail district before partition of our country & settled in 'Katwa' Dhatrigram, Tamaghata, Samudragarh, area in Burdwan district.

At present, silk Tangail sarees have been revived. The technique of drawing and weaving of extra weft for figured Tangail sarees is more or less identical to Jamdani sarees. Silks of Bengal have been very much acclaimed since ancient times. The most well known Bengal silk saree which carry its popular name is Baluchari saree - a production of exclusive design and fabulous weaving technique. A revival in recent time of both the Baluchari and another out standing traditional Bengal saree - "Daccai" has lead to nation wide and world wide popularity and interest in Bengal silks.

Like silks,  cotton sarees are also woven in a fascinating and exquisite range. Bengal Tant sarees are woven from cotton yarn and are well known for its lightness and exquisite stitch embroidery. Bengal Tant sarees are the most comfortable sarees to wear to suit our hot and humid climate.

Bengal Ghicha Silk and Cotton sarees are also becoming quite popular these days. Ghicha is the name given to yarns that are not dyed when Tussar silk is reeled. Ghicha is thus a natural yarn that is durable and long lasting, obtained from a raptured cocoon. It is generally blended with cotton or pure silk sarees to create beautiful motifs, designs and borders too.

Shubhsarini Collections presents a range of Bengal Handloom sarees like Bengal loom Cotton Sarees, Silk Cotton sarees with applique work, Jamdani Sarees, Kaantha Stitch sarees, Goradh Silk sarees etc. We procure our Bengal handloom collection from Hat Kalna in Burdwan district.

Ikat or Ikkat

Ikat, or Ikkat, is a yarn resist technique where the yarns are tie-dyed, and on weaving a pattern is created on the surface of the fabric.

Though the origin of this technique is not known exactly, there are several regions of Asia where Ikat could have originated, for eg, Southeast Asia, India and Central Asia are all possible candidates for the origin of Ikat.

The garments shown in Ajanta Cave paintings of India (from the 5th to 7th century) display Ikat patterns.  Cotton fabrics with simple Ikat stripes was made in Yemen by the 8th or 9th century and then traded to Egypt where Ikat still survives. Latest findings have that atleast during the last 200 years, Asia produced the most varied and highest quality of Ikat fabrics.

Technically, there are three different versions of Ikat weaving: Single Ikat  which is either warp Ikat or weft Ikat and Double Ikat.

In single Ikat fabrics, either warp or weft is tie-dyed and woven with the other thread ( weft or warp) of solid color. In double Ikat, both warp and weft are tie-dyed according to a pre-determined pattern and then woven to create design on the fabric.

Double Ikats—in which both the warp and weft yarns are tied and dyed before being woven into a single textile—are relatively rare because of the intensive skilled labour required to produce them.

In India, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Gujarat are best known for their Ikat weaving.  Andhra Pradesh and Orissa both produce warp and weft ikat while Gujarat is well known for its complex double ikat weaving used to produce the famous Patola Sarees.  Any textile fibre can be used for Ikat patterning but cotton and silk are the most widely used fabrics.

Our Orissa Ikat sarees from the Nuapatna region, feature Single weft Ikat work with the traditional motifs like charkha, peacocks, conch shells, fishes etc., each of which has a story of it's own to tell about Orissa and its rich culture. We have plain sarees with the popular temple border and beautiful Ikat work done in the Pallu.  We also have sarees with full body and pallu Ikat work. The dress suits from this region also have full Ikat patterning.

Pochampally Ikat which again uses all 3 techniques of Ikat weaving are cost effective and popular these days. We have cotton fabrics from this region that feature Single warp Ikat work

Shubhsarini Collections presents Ikat Sarees as well as Ikat Dress Materials of both Sambalpuri and Pochampally style.

The Art of Kalamkari

"Kalamkari" is a Persian term used to define craftsmanship using a pen.  How come then certain sarees from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana use this term to describe them???
Well, the answer is simple. This ancient Persian art of hand drawing has been incorporated into the textile industry of these regions by drawing and printing onto fabric as well.

Shubhsarini Collections procures Handloom Kalamkari Sarees from Pedana district of Andhra Pradesh. Pedana Kalamkari is mostly hand block printing of fabrics using natural vegetable dyes.  Pedana Kalamkari was influenced by the early Golconda Muslim rule and generally depicts Persian motifs and designs. The main features are done using hand carved blocks while the finer details are later drawn by pen. The production of this craftsmanship has also got the GI tag of "Machilipatnam Kalamkari".

We bring to you the Kalamkari craft screen-printed on handloom cotton sarees, known as Kalamkari cotton sarees. These sarees have different types of Kalamkari work done.  For eg, some of the Kalamkari work sarees have all over print of peacocks, musical instruments,faces etc., while some of them have a plain body with huge Kalamkari border designs.  Our Kalamkari cotton sarees are worth a catch in online shopping due to the exquisite designs and soft 2/60 count cotton fabric.  We also offer Kalamkari patch work sarees in our collection of Kerala Kasavu Sarees.

We are yet to introduce Handloom Kalamkari Sarees that are "Pen" painted.  This particular style of Kalamkari flourished at Kalahasti, a place 80 miles to the north of Chennai.  This style developed in the temple region and hence the paintings depicted Gods and Goddesses from Hindu mythology.

Kalamkari continues to be produced in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and Shubhsarini Collections likes to popularise this ancient art through Sarees and Fabrics.

Shubhsarini Collections presents Kalamkari Sarees in both Cotton and Cotton-Silk.

The Cool Narayanpet Sarees

 As Summer approaches, the women folk of India who still love wearing sarees, think of purchasing cotton sarees. The women along the Eastern region of India think of Bengal Cotton Sarees. All the South Indian women think of Chettinad or Kanchipuram cotton sarees and while women along the Deccan Plateau think of Narayanpet Cotton Sarees. These different types of handloom cotton sarees are so synonymous with the weather and have been worn for centuries, by the women of our nation.

Most of the older women in Maharashtra would have owned a NarayanPet saree, either in cotton or in Silk. In fact, they believe it to be woven in Pune, Maharastra. But that is not the case. Narayanpet is a town in Telangana that is located about 167 kms from Hyderabad. It was intially a part of the Mahbubnagar district but in 2019 became a district by itself. It is this Narayanpet district where the beautiful Narayanpet handloom sarees are woven.

How do you recognise a Narayanpet saree??? The body of the saree is characterised by a dual shade colour patterned with a checks design using either zari threads or contrast colour threads. The Pallu is characterised by the striped zari design adjoining bands of contrast colour. The wide saree border is traditionally woven in contrast colour with zari motifs of the floral and fauna or a temple border.

You won't be surprised to hear the weavers talking fluently in Marathi as most of them have some ancestral relationship with Maharashtra. It is believed that the original weavers of Narayanpet were a part of the entourage of the Maratha King, Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj, who had rested for some time in this region before continuing his journey. Few of the weavers stayed behind and started the tradition of weaving sarees with a distinct checkered design with borders that characterised the beautiful temples of the region. Traditionally , these sarees were woven in pure cotton to suit the weather of the region. The women folk could easily wear them through out the year. The contrast colour pallus along with small zari designs on the saree made it appropriate even for special occasions.

Narayanpet sarees are traditionally woven using the interlocked weft technique where the 2 weft yarns are joined securely by linking them together in a row. This way, the weavers can add different colours side by side in the same saree. Thus you will always find Narayanpet sarees in dual shades, like Purple-Pink, Blue-Violet, Maroon-Green etc.

These sarees also look similar to the Ilkal/Khun sarees from the Karnataka region especially in the Pallu design. Narayanpet sarees typically has bands or pattis of contrast colour in the pallu similar to the silver tope design of Ilkal sarees.

Nowadays, the the warp of the Narayanpet handloom cotton saree is made of cotton yarn while the weft is made of mercerised cotton yarn. This gives a silky effect and glossy look to the traditional cotton saree, making it more appealing. The typical zari borders are being replaced by wide Jacquard borders with intricate designs of the flora and fauna. These variations in the traditional design are created to suit the silhoutte of a modern woman.

Thus Narayanpet sarees are a fusion of the cultures of Maharashtra as well as Telangana and are a testimony to the fact that our ethnic designs can withstand and adapt over centuries to suit the comforts of the people who wear them.

Shubhsarini Collections has Narayanpet Sarees woven in Cotton as well as Silk.