Drum roll please....
We are thrilled to introduce you to the Element Dress! And just in time for the hot hot dog days of summer. This hand block printed maxi dress is the ultimate sidekick for your sunny adventures. Grab the map, flip a coin and hit the road.
Great for a daytime or evening look, in the Element Dress you're prepared for fire, air, and water. Set up a blanket under a shady tree to escape the sun, or spend the day lounging poolside. When sunset rolls along, slip back into the Element Dress, flaunt your newly bronzed shoulders, and enjoy an ice cold margarita.
The Element Dress features adjustable straps and rouching on the back that cinches the waist. The plunging v-neck that creates a perfect frame for layering summery necklaces. Don't forget sunscreen! Sizing Chart
Your purchase helps provide a secure job with fair wages and a positive working environment to artisans in Bangalore.
We are so excited to announce that we started working with a new block printing unit in Bangalore, India. After personally visiting this unit this summer, I can attest to their commitment to fair trade and eco-friendly products. Plus they create great quality block prints that are fade and bleed resistant prints.
The manager of the block printing unit, Padmini, recognizes that “unless we pay fair wages it is no possible for the artisans to sustain and support their families.” Padmini is an extremely carrying woman who puts the needs of her workers first and treats them like family. Their senior staff has been with the studio for over three decades.
Padmini partnered with the State Government Women's Welfare Board to provide free training to underprivileged women. Banu, their expert color mixer, was hired through this program almost 24 years ago. She had no education and was a homemaker. Today she mentors others on the team and handles production coordination.
Read more artisan stories here.
We have some big news and we have actually been holding onto this news for a few months now….
Last November we put in an application with the Green Business Network to become certified as a Green Business and after close examination of all aspects of our business from production to marketing to daily activities, we have been officially certified as a Green Business!
What does this mean?
It means that we are dedicated to upholding principles, policies and practices that improve the quality of life for our customers, employees, communities, and the planet.
We love the way the Green Business Network puts it we are “rewriting the rules of commerce”.
Profit is not our bottom line. People and the planet are what guide every decision we make from our eco –friendly fabrics that are printed with recycled water, no electricity and eco dyes to our production units where our artisans not only receive a living wage, but also a number of other life changing benefits that can be read about here.
Thanks for your support as we continue to uphold our eco, ethical and fair trade business practices in 2015!
We would like to take the time to thank all our customers, followers, fans and supporters for giving us a successful year! 2014 was our first complete year of operations, and we hit some of our biggest milestones that have given us great energy as we move into 2015.
Top 3 Goals Passion Lilie Reached in 2014:
And as we move into 2015, its time for an end of season sale.
Please enjoy 30% off the entire site from now until January 5, 2015. Coupon code: Happy2015
The art of hand block printing with plant or vegetable based dyes, known as Kalamkari, began on the principals of foraging. However, this process is not as simple as mixing fruits and seeds from one’s own backyard. The various materials: fruits, leaves, bark, vegetables, etc. that are used in printing are found throughout the state of India and must be bought in large wholesale markets.
This type of dyeing requires time, experience, attention to detail and good weather! From the pre-treatment to the finishing of the fabrics every step of the process uses natural elements and not man-made chemicals.
So for all those textile enthusiasts, here is the detailed process.
1. Natural Bleaching: As weird as it may sound, cow dung is used as a natural, safe and chemical free method to bleach cotton into the pure white color we all love. The unbleached cotton is mixed with cow dung and water in a large mud pot and then the fabric is placed on the ground overnight. The cow dung helps to remove the excess starch in cotton and helps the fabric to absorb the dyes.
The next day the fabric is taken to a local pond and beaten on the rocks. The fabrics are then laid on top of the foliage and fungus of the pond and the fabric floats on top of the water. If it is summer time and no water is in the pond, then the cloth is sprayed with water and covered with leaves. The cloth is left in the sun all day, it is collected from the pond in the evening and the next morning it is placed again in the pond for a full half of a day. In the afternoon of the second day, the fabrics are boiled in water to remove all the excess starch, cow dung and debris.
2. Myrabalan Treatment: The fabrics are pre-treated with myrabalan (a medicinal Indian fruit), so the dyes will penetrate the fabric. The myrabalan seed is crushed and soaked in water for one day, and then filtered through a burlap cloth to create a juice. The juice is carefully and evenly applied to the cloth. Now the cloth is ready for printing.
3. Color Making: A combination of naturally found materials are used to create a few different basic colors, which can then be mixed together to make several different colors. For example, pomegranate is boiled with water to create a mustard yellow color. Black dye is made with pieces of metal scraps and sugar that are placed in a mud jar 6” below the earth. The lid must be kept tightly closed for 21 days for the black color to develop. And brown is made when red and black are mixed together.
Another interesting thing to note is that the age of the tree or plant determines the shade of color it will produce; an older tree produces a darker shade and a younger tree a lighter shade. All colors are finally mixed with gaur gaum, which comes from the Indian legume gaur and helps to fix the dye.
4. Printing: The fabrics are pulled tightly and pinned to a long table. A hand carved block that features the desired design is evenly dipped in a plastic tray with the dye. A block printer then stamps the fabric by hand from left to right, bottom to top until the entire piece of fabric is printed.
5. Washing: The printed cloth must be washed for two hours in flowing water or a large fresh water pond that does not have any fungus or foliage, so smudges or stains do not damage the fabric.
6. Boiling: The dried fabric is then boiled in copper vessels using more leaves, roots, barks and flowers in order to create the desired color. The fabric then needs to be washed again to remove the excess natural materials. After washing, the fabric is hung to dry in the sun. Strong sun allows the dyes to develop to a brighter print; a cloudy day creates dull colors.
7. Starch: A starch is created with rice and applied to the fabric in order to fix the dyes onto the fabric.
8. Second and Third Color: Depending on the design, the fabric may require a second or third color that must be applied as the first color was applied. It is important that the fabric goes through all the washing, boiling and starching procedures in between dyes, so the dyes do not bleed.
9. Final Washing: The fabric is then washed with soap, dried in the sun and pressed and folded. Now the fabric is ready to be cut and stitched into our beautiful Passion Lilie garments.
On a visit to India in the summer of 2014, I met with a new group of handloom weavers. They lived in a little village that looked like a small plot of land in the middle of nowhere on Google Maps. It was there that I spent a full day absorbing the unique and ancient process of tie and dye, also called ikat fabric, and discovered just how complicated and intricate handloom weaving can be.
With its rich ties to Indian culture and widespread use throughout the country to this day, I set about learning as much as I could about the handloom weaving process and why the clothing it produces is still so valuable today.
As dyeing and weaving go hand in hand, let’s take a quick look at the dyeing process.
In India, ikat is a special technique used to create patterns on textiles through the process of resist dyeing. Yarn is first stretched and marked according to the designer’s intended pattern. Then it is tightly wrapped in dye-resistant bindings that will create the chosen pattern and dyed.
If additional colors and patterns are going to be used, the yarn must first be fully dried after its initial dyeing. The bindings can then be changed to create another pattern, and the yarn dyed again in a different color.
This is very similar to today’s tie-dyeing technique. With ikat, however, the dyeing is done on yarn before it has been woven into a fabric. Aside from binding the yarn, other resistance methods, such as wax or a paste, can be used to create the patterns.
Main sources for traditional dyes over the years have included shellac for red, iron shavings for black, and turmeric for yellow. Today, plants and vegetables are often used to create natural dyes.
The dyeing and handloom weaving process is a source of livelihood and tradition for artisans all over India. These handloom weavers and dyers must have incredible skill and creativity to produce fabrics in a variety of designs and with complete precision. Each finished handloom product is distinct with its own character and pattern.
Today, very few countries still use the handloom weaving process. According to Elle India, India is responsible for producing 95% of the world’s handwoven fabrics. Let’s take a look at the steps involved in this ancient art:1. First, several rows of yarn are stretched out through the length of a house. This length is approximately 10 meters and will create 24 meters when woven into fabric.
7. If a second or third color is used in the design, then steps 1–6 will be repeated for each color needed. This allows for a great deal of variety, providing designers with endless pattern and color options.
8. Once the yarn is completely dry, and all colors and patterns have been applied, it is then placed on cones on the loom. It takes 32 cones of yarn to make 24 meters of fabric. The handloom weaving process can be complicated, as the weaver has to precisely dye the threads and then place them exactly in the right pattern on the loom so that it is woven correctly.
The design process takes up to 5 hours to complete, while the dyeing and drying process can take another 1–3 days for 24 meters. A handloom weaver takes 16 hours to spin 24 meters manually, or an electric loom can spin 24 meters in about 12 hours. Once the loom has been spun, the 24 meters of fabric are ready!
There are two main kinds of looms used today: a manual and an electric. While most of India still uses the manual handloom, many other countries in the world have taken to the electric loom, which works at a quicker pace.
The electric loom takes about 12 hours to spin 24 meters of fabric. It wasn’t until around the 1850s that the electric loom became widely used with the demand for faster fabric production.
While its speed is beneficial, the electric loom doesn’t give the same amount of freedom and artistry that the traditional handloom still used in India can deliver. It is also less sustainable than a manual loom, which does not require electricity.
Slightly slower than an electric loom, the manual loom can take up to 16 hours to spin 24 meters. Handloom weaving plays an important role in the Indian economy by providing employment opportunities to artisans and increasing economic development. Because the manual loom does not require electricity to operate, it allows artisans who do not have access to electricity the ability to weave fabrics.
Weaving is a vibrant part of Indian history, and the manual handloom has been a critical part of the process. Its flexibility allows for the introduction of new designs that are often not able to be replicated by the electric loom. The handloom is still widely used in India today to create sustainably handwoven fabrics.
At Passion Lilie, we pride ourselves on our traditionally crafted, handwoven clothes. By shopping with us, you can help keep ancient dyeing and handweaving traditions alive in India.