A Passion for Textile Handicraft

Gudrun describes the techniques used for textile handicraft in our products.

Tie-dyeing - a simple pattern-making technique

A grain of rice and a piece of wire. That’s all you need for tie-dyeing. You usually start by making a pattern on the fabric so you know where to tie the grain of rice. Tie grains of rice into the cloth and bind them tightly. When everything is ready, dip the cloth in the dye bath. Once it’s dry you're done. Ingeniously simple!

Tie-dyeing is often used for shawls which are typically worn by Indian women. 

tiedye.jpg

 

Block printing - an ancient technique that must not be forgotten

There are numerous ways to print designs on fabric. Probably one of the oldest ways is block printing.
A wooden block is carved to create a design. Multiple blocks if printing in several colours. The printer usually uses registration marks to ensure the colours align perfectly. On many occasions I’ve watched skilled printers producing metre after metre of block printed fabric with speed and precision without a single mistake. A type of reserve paste like resin, wax or mud, can also be applied. When this has dried, the fabric is dipped into a dye, which shouldn’t be too hot. The paste will melt otherwise. We learned that when we wanted red printed on a fabric with reserve. We had to let the print be red and the background colour ecru. 

blocktryck.png

Red block-printed dress made of fine organic cotton.

 

Chikankari - elaborate running stitch

When we last visited India, we wanted to learn more about traditional craft techniques. I was particularly keen to delve deeper into embroidery. A trip to Lucknow, the centre of high-class embroidery, was therefore a must. As we meandered through the city centre market, virtually all the fabrics we saw were embroidered by hand. Exquisitely worked chikankari embroidery and the more simple kantha stitch, which is a running stitch without any other embellishment. 

chikankari.jpg

Embroidered entirely by hand, this red waistcoat is in our 2017 Christmas collection. 

 

Kantha stitch

Old saris are sewn together with a simple running stitch in India. An excellent way to reuse fabrics and create something new. You sometimes see these quilts stacked high. I dream of carrying armfuls of red, yellow and green quilts home with me. What pleasure all these colours and designs bring. Indian women wear them with great pride, whatever work they do. In factories, on market stalls, inside palaces...

This is unquestionably my INSPIRATION for new collections, designs and home textiles. 

kanthastich.jpg

 

Ikat - an ancient and highly sophisticated technique

This technique is used in many parts of the world. It is still widely employed in Japan and India as a traditional way to produce a pattern.

This is how it’s done: 

  • The warp/weft are tied at specific points according to the desired design
  • The knotted yarns are dipped into a dye bath
  • To achieve more colours, some of the bindings can be removed and the yarns are dipped into another dye bath
  • When the dyeing is finished, all the bindings are removed and the threads are attached to a loom
  • Time to weave with a specific weft colour or an ikat-bound weft colour. That way you get plain ikat or weft ikat