Clothes Made in India

Posted on March 14, 2019 by Katie Schmidt | 0 comments

An artisan chipping away at a wood block as part of Passion Lilie's process for our clothes made in India.

Clothes made in India using ancient methods are vibrant, unique, and treasured around the world. Many Indian artisans still keep with the traditions of the past by making everything by hand using the purest of materials.

Passion Lilie is dedicated to bringing these gorgeous patterns and materials to the U.S. Although our designs are created in New Orleans, all of our clothing is made in India. Even more importantly, we offer our Indian artisans fair wages and dignified, long-term employment, so every purchase supports these talented artists and their craft.

A blue button-up dress, one of many Passion Lilie products designed in New Orleans and made in India.

Today, clothing made in India strikes a perfect balance between time-honored traditions and modern best practices. With its skillful artistry and designs that draw inspiration from Indian customs as well as nature, Indian clothing made from traditional processes is some of the most fascinating in the world.

Learn more about the customary practices for making clothing in India and where you can buy clothes made in India online today.

Natural Indian Dyes

One of the first things you might notice about clothes made in India are the bright, vivid colors. What you may not realize at first glance is that these dyes are as safe as they are beautiful.

Many of the dyes made in India are still created from environmentally friendly materials to this day. The two main types of dyes used by our artisans are plant or vegetable dyes and reactive dyes.

Plant and Vegetable Dyes

An Indian artisan mixes natural dyes in a variety of colors for Passion Lilie's clothing made in India.

The practice of using plant and vegetable dyes is called Kalamkari. Everything from fruits, bark, vegetables, and leaves can be incorporated into these natural dyes.

— Black dyes are created by baking scraps of metal and sugar in a jar of mud. The jar is buried and left with the lid tightly sealed for three weeks.
 Yellow dyes are made by boiling pomegranates in water or using turmeric.
 Brown dyes are made by mixing red and black dyes together.

    Once a few basic colors have been formed from natural materials, these dyes can be mixed together to create even more colors.

    It takes a great deal of skill to identify the proper ingredients for these dyes. For example, the artisan must consider the age of the tree or plant, which will affect the exact shade of the color it produces. Older trees produce darker shades, while younger trees make lighter shades.

    From the pre-treatment of the fabric to its final washing, every step of the dyeing process uses elements that are found naturally throughout India. This type of natural dyeing takes time and great attention to detail, leading to remarkable results.

    The Plant and Vegetable Dyeing Process

    Red and black natural dyes, such as those shown here, are used along with a variety of other colors in Passion Lilie's Indian clothing.

    Artisans throughout India use the following process to dye fabrics with plant-based or vegetable-based dyes.

    1. Natural Bleaching: First, the fabric is bleached through a natural process, giving it a pure white color while ensuring the final product is safe and free of chemicals. It is then beaten on rocks, soaked in water, left in the sun, and boiled.
    2. Myrobalan Treatment: Myrobalan is a fruit with medicinal properties found in India. Fabrics are pre-treated with juice from myrobalan seeds so the dye can better penetrate the fabric.
    3. Color Making: The dyes for a few basic colors are made from natural ingredients. Additional colors can be made by mixing together combinations of these dyes.
    4. Block Printing: A wooden block, hand-carved with the proper design, is dipped in dye and stamped onto the fabric.
    5. Washing: For the next two hours, the printed fabric is washed in clean, flowing water or freshwater.
    6. Boiling: After the fabric has dried, it is boiled in copper vessels with additional leaves, roots, barks, or flowers to achieve its desired color. Following boiling, it is re-washed and dried in the sun.
    7. Starching: In order to fix the dyes to the fabric, a starch is made from rice and spread onto the fabric.
    8. Additional Colors: If the design calls for any additional colors, the process is repeated with more dyes.
    9. Final Washing: Before the fabric can be cut and stitched into clothing, it receives a final wash with soap, dries in the sun, and gets pressed and folded.

    For a more detailed look at this intricate process, read our Plant and Vegetable Dyes page.

    This blue blouse is just one of our ethically made, affordably priced clearance items, available online today.

    Reactive Dyes

    This ancient dyeing process is a unique tradition still used on clothes made in India today.

    Reactive dyes have a chemical reaction to the fabric they’re used on. They change the fabric on a molecular level, making them a permanent part of the fabric.

    Small variations in the color are normal and part of what makes reactive dyed products so unique. Using this method, clothing won’t bleed or become faded with time, leaving you with clothes that are vibrant, beautiful, and handcrafted.

    The Reactive Dyeing Process

    Clothes made in India with reactive dyes use the following process.

    1. The fabric is dyed an initial base color.
    2. A binder is made by soaking gum arabic resin crystals in water until they ferment.
    3. The fabric is hand block printed using eco-friendly, azo-free reactive dyes.
    4. Each piece of fabric is wrapped individually in recycled newspaper and steamed for an entire day.
    5. The fabric is washed and cured in the sun, which helps develop the colors.
    6. The process repeats if there are any other colors in the design, each of which must be added one at a time.
    7. Any gum arabic residue is removed, and the soft, beautiful final fabric is revealed.

    Learn more about this process by reading our blog post.

    This long-sleeved white top is fair trade and ethically made. Shop our tops online!

    Hand Block Printing

    An artisan hand block printing fabric for Passion Lilie's clothes made in India.

    Clothes made in India often incorporate the technique of hand block printing. Block printing was popularized in China and many other East Asian countries, but it was in India where it really hit upon its highest visual expression.

    This centuries old art form starts with a simple piece of wood. In India, the native teak tree is preferred for woodblock printing.

    The wood is hand-carved into any shape the designer wishes to use. Many times, you’ll see designs inspired by nature in the clothing made in India, or else symbols relating to Indian beliefs and customs.

    Block printing involves the following process for clothes made in India.

    1. The stamp is created by chipping away at the woodblock to make the right design.
    2. The fabric is pre-washed, most often in a local river or waterway.
    3. The fabric is dyed its base color and prepared for printing. To prevent smudges or uneven printing, the fabric is laid flat on a table and secured with pins.
    4. The dyes are mixed, and the block is dipped in dye. Then, the block is stamped forcefully onto the fabric, either by hand or with the help of a small hammer.
    5. The printing process repeats if any other colors are included in the design. Each color must be applied individually with a separate block.
    6. After the dye dries, the fabric is rinsed in water and dried in the sun.

    Two Indian women dressed in vibrant clothing, carrying baskets of fabric on their heads.

    As with clothes made in India using reactive dyes, block printed clothing is all the more unique for its small variations and handcrafted tradition. It also takes advantage of natural processes and materials to make a product that is safe and sustainable.

    At Passion Lilie, we appreciate the environmentally friendly foundation of these long-standing Indian practices and hope to share them with the world through our clothing made in India. By using materials found in nature rather than forged by harmful chemicals, washing by hand, and drying in the sun, we use less energy than modern manufacturing processes and reduce our environmental footprint.

    For more information about block printing, visit our Hand Block Printing page.

    This little black dress is stylish, sophisticated, and sustainable. Shop Passion Lilie dresses today.

    Ikat and Handwoven Clothes Made in India

    Passion Lilie's handwoven clothes made in India involve fabric produced by a loom, such as the loom pictured here.

    Crafting handwoven and ikat dyed clothing in India is a valuable source of livelihood that is steeped deep in tradition. In fact, India produces more than 90% of all handwoven clothing in the world.

    Ikat refers to a resist dyeing process that allows artisans to create patterns on yarn before it is woven into fabric. Weavers must possess incredible skill to dye the yarns precisely according to a desired pattern and then weave them into a final product.

    While most countries have taken to using electric looms, many Indian artisans still believe in the creativity, artistry, and rich tradition of the handloom. Though it may take slightly longer, it is a process they feel passionate about, and one that can be used even without access to electricity.

    Ikat and handwoven clothes made in India use the following process.

    1. Several rows of yarn are stretched to their fullest, about 10 meters.
    2. Lines are drawn across the yarn to mark the pattern needed for the final fabric design.
    3. The yarn is bound with rubber ties along the marked pattern. These bindings keep the dye from penetrating the yarn beneath, allowing artisans to create the intended pattern.
    4. The yarn is dyed with a base color. Only one color can be applied at a time, so designs that require multiple colors require multiple dyeings.
    5. The bindings are removed after the yarn has been dyed.
    6. The yarn is stretched on poles outside to dry in the sun.
    7. The process repeats with another dye for each additional color in the final design.
    8. The dried yarn is placed on cones of the loom and spun into fabric.

    To produce 24 meters of fabric, an artisan needs about 16 hours on a handloom or 12 hours on an electric loom. Want to learn more about the handloom weaving and ikat dyeing process? Read our blog post.

    Fashion meets function in our men's apparel, like this funky, retro-inspired, blue button-down shirt with short sleeves.

    Indian Apparel Production

    While Passion Lilie’s designs are created in New Orleans, all our clothes are made in India. The talented team of artisans we employ work in a close-knit community, where they oversee the final steps needed to turn our fabric into clothing and accessories before they’re sent to the U.S.

    Each Passion Lilie product is cut, stitched, ironed, and tagged by these accomplished artisans, as shown in the video above. From the moment the designs leave our founder and lead designer, Katie Schmidt, in New Orleans, they’re brought to life by talented artisans in India. The result is beautiful, unique, eco-friendly clothing from India available for sale online.

    Buy Clothes Made in India Online

    Browse our full inventory or shop from Passion Lilie’s Spring/Summer 2019 collection below.

    Posted in Eco Dyes, Eco-Friendly, Empowering Artisans, Guides, Hand Block Printing, Handwoven Fabric, Ikat, India, Reactive Dyes

    Sustainable Style: Understanding Handwoven Fabric

    Posted on October 30, 2018 by Katie Schmidt | 0 comments

    This Boysenberry Wrap Dress from Passion Lilie features a unique pattern, deep red and black colors, cuffed long sleeves, pockets, and handwoven fabric.Boysenberry Wrap Dress

    Handwoven fabrics are a great way to practice sustainability in style. At Passion Lilie, we offer a range of clothing and accessories made from handwoven fabrics to suit anyone’s tastes. Want to learn more about the benefits of handwoven fabrics? Check out our comprehensive guide below!

    Sustainability and Handwoven Fabrics

    Passion Lilie's handwoven fabrics are made by hand on a loom, as seen here.

    You might be wondering, how do handwoven fabrics fit in with sustainability? Handwoven fabrics are made by hand using a handloom, which does not require electricity or produce any pollution. In addition, the lack of automation presents weavers with many more opportunities to reduce waste and engage in sustainable practices.

    At Passion Lilie, we take this a few steps further to make our handwoven fabrics even more environmentally friendly. Our process is dedicated to preserving the environment through the use of natural energy, waste reduction, and water reduction. Our artisans wash fabrics by hand in local waterways, dry them in the sun, and use any leftover pieces for other handicrafts or accessories.

    As a fair trade company, Passion Lilie also creates a sustainable environment for our workers. All of our clothing is made by fair trade artisans, which means we pay them fair wages, offer them stable employment with time off and other benefits, and ensure they are working in safe, healthy, empowering conditions. These opportunities permeate our artisans’ communities as they spend their profits in their local economies, start their own businesses, and share their skills. This leads to sustainable societies and a better world for all of us, even the most disadvantaged. Learn more about our artisans or how you can support the fair trade movement today.

    Ikat and Handwoven Fabrics

    Our sustainability isn’t the only thing that sets Passion Lilie’s handwoven fabrics apart. Many of our handwoven fabrics are also colored through an ancient ikat dyeing process. “Ikat” originates from the Indonesian word “mengikat,” meaning to tie, bind, or wrap around. It uses reactive dyes—the same dyes used for modern tie-dye—and bindings that resist dye penetration to create beautiful and original patterns before weaving. These dyes are especially resistant to bleeding, which keeps them bold and vibrant. Watch the video below or read more to learn about Passion Lilie’s handwoven ikat fabrics.

    Handwoven Fabric FAQs

    The Navy Stars Midi Skirt from Passion Lilie features a white star print on navy handwoven fabric, a wide waistband front, and pockets.Navy Stars Midi Skirt

    Due to their intricacy and lack of use by mainstream, fast fashion retailers, many people have questions about handwoven fabrics. And we have the answers!

    Do handwoven fabrics shrink?

    Compared to knitted fabrics, woven fabrics are much more stable when it comes to shrinking and do not react as severely to stresses. A small amount of shrinking is still possible, so if you’re concerned about shrinking, we recommend using cold water and laying flat to dry.

    Are handwoven fabrics stretchy?

    Unlike synthetic-based knit fabrics, which are made from one continuous thread and stretch all over, woven fabrics only stretch diagonally—or as we say in the sewing world, on the bias—giving them enough flexibility to be comfortable while still feeling sturdy and looking fitted.

    Are handwoven fabrics comfortable?

    Of course, comfort is subjective and largely depends on the materials being used and the wearer’s preferences. That being said, many of our customers have commented on how soft and comfortable our handwoven cotton fabrics feel.

    Do handwoven fabrics itch?

    This depends on your sensitivity and on the materials being used, but handwoven fabrics are no itchier than any other fabrics. At Passion Lilie, our handwoven cotton fabrics do not itch. Handwoven fabrics also tend to breathe much better than polyester and other synthetic fabrics, making them more comfortable.

    Shop Passion Lilie for Handwoven Clothing

    This Blue Striped Scarf from Passion Lilie features blue stripes on white handwoven fabric and tassels at the ends.Blue Striped Scarf

    Now that you have a better understanding of everything handwoven fabrics have to offer, take the next step and purchase beautiful, sustainable, handwoven clothing and accessories from Passion Lilie. Our handwoven fabrics are available in a variety of skirts, dresses, pants, tops, jackets, scarves, cloth napkins, and more. If you have any more questions about our handwoven clothing, please contact us today.

    Posted in Conscious Consumer, Dresses, Eco-Friendly, Empowering Artisans, Ethical Apparel, Fabric, Fair Trade, Fashion, Handwoven Fabric, Ikat, Scarves, Skirts, Sustainability, Women

    8 Steps of Handloom Weaving & Dyeing

    Posted on October 19, 2014 by Katie Schmidt | 2 comments

    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.

    Many Passion Lilie products, including this fashionable, blue, button-down dress, are made from traditional handloom weaving and dyeing practices in India.

    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.

    Ikat and Resist Dyeing

    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.

    If you're looking for handloom woven and dyed clothes from India, shop for tops like this fashionable, blue, patterned top today on our website.

    Our Dyeing and Handloom Weaving Process

    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.

    One of Passion Lilie's handloom weavers draws the design.
    2. After the yarn has been fully stretched out, the handloom weaver draws lines across the yarn, indicating the chosen pattern that will become the final design on the fabric.

    3. When the design has been marked onto the yarn, rubber bindings or ties are placed on the yarn according to the markings. These bindings resist the dye, leaving the yarn beneath free of all color.
      Two Indian handloom weavers dyeing the threads that will be used for handloom weaving.

      4. The yarn is then dyed with the initial base color. Unlike modern tie-dye, multiple colors are not dyed at the same time.

      5. When the yarn reaches the proper color depth, the bindings are removed. This gives the artisan their first glimpse at the pattern they have created with the dye.

      6. After the first dyeing process is complete, the yarn is then stretched out on poles in the sun to dry. Sun is very important in this process, as it allows the yarn to dry naturally without any shrinkage or fading of the dye.
        Handloom weavers putting out the threads to dry.

        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!

        Fashion meets function in our handwoven and ikat dyed men's apparel, like this funky, short-sleeved, blue button-down shirt.

          Types of Looms

          A traditional Indian handloom used for Passion Lilie's handloom weaving process.

          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.

          Electric Loom

          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.

          Manual Loom

          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.

          Shop our stylish, sophisticated, sustainable dresses, like this short-sleeved little black dress with white polka dots.

          Shop Handloom Woven and Dyed Clothes

          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.

          We carry a variety of handwoven dresses, skirts, tops, scarves, and more. Browse our full inventory or shop our Indian handwoven clothes today.


          Posted in Eco Dyes, Eco-Friendly, Empowering Artisans, Fabric, Guides, Handwoven Fabric, Ikat, India

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