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.

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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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

    Trend of the Week: Reactive Dyes

    Posted on September 12, 2018 by Katie Schmidt | 0 comments

    Most of us have encountered reactive dyes before, even if we didn’t realize it at the time. Have you ever tie-dyed a shirt? Modern tie-dye often uses reactive dyes. Many American retailers, however, do not use reactive dyes. Reactive dyeing must be done by hand rather than by machine. At Passion Lilie, we use this ancient dyeing process to produce unique, authentic, eco-friendly clothing that resists fading. Learn more and shop our beautifully dyed products today.

    Reactive dyes can be used to make everything from modern tie-dyed shirts to this Dusk Button Dress from Passion Lilie.

    What Are Reactive Dyes?

    Reactive dyes, also referred to as fabric reactive dyes, are dyes that chemically react with fabric. They affect the molecules of the fabric, making them a permanent part of whatever they dye. This is why they resist fading so much better than other dyes. They absorb and alter the color of fabric.

    Because reactive dyes have been used on this fabric, the molecules of the fabric have been permanently changed by the dyes, making the fabric resistant to fading.

    As an ethical, sustainable brand, Passion Lilie only uses natural binders and eco-friendly dyes in our reactive print paste. Tharangini Studio’s skilled artisans use a combination of ancient techniques and modern advances to produce the best results from our reactive dyeing process:

    1. First, our artisans dye the fabric its initial base color.
    2. Meanwhile, gum arabic resin crystals are fermented using a traditional recipe by soaking in water for two to three days to create a binder.
    3. Next, artisans hand block print the fabric using reactive dyes.
    4. After wrapping the fabric individually in recycled newspaper, they steam it for an entire day.
    5. Then they wash the fabric and cure it in the sun, allow its colors to develop.
    6. If any other colors are going to be added, our artisans repeat the first four steps with those colors.
    7. After they print, steam, wash, and cure the fabric, artisans remove any gum arabic residue, leaving behind a soft, beautifully printed fabric.

    For more information about the methods of dyeing we use, read about our natural dyes (also known as plant- or vegetable-based dyes), eco dyes, and reactive dyes.

    The Advantages of Reactive Dyes

    Now that you know a little more about our reactive dyeing process, you may be wondering why we bother with such a time-consuming method. Reactive dyes come with a number of big benefits:

    • They’re more vibrant. Unlike other clothes, which become faded over time with wear and washing, reactive dyes keep their color.
    • They don’t bleed. Because reactive dyes become a part of the fabric, they don’t bleed onto other pieces of laundry.
    • They’re unique. There’s something special about handmade clothing and owning something truly one of a kind. With reactive dyeing, each piece of fabric is varied and unique.
    • They’re sustainable. The process of reactive printing is low waste and sustainable. All of the newspaper we use is recycled, and our gum arabic crystals are sourced from a sustainable grower.

    Shop Passion Lilie Today

    Ready to reap the advantages of reactive dyes? Shop these Passion Lilie products made with reactive dyes. Many of these popular items have limited sizes remaining in our current stock, so snag yours while you can!

    Layla Organic Jersey Dress (XS)

    Made using reactive dyes, Passion Lilie's Layla Organic Jersey Dress features a sophisticated stripe-on-stripe pattern that won't run or bleed when washed.

    For standout sophistication, nothing beats this knit dress. Its gorgeous stripe-on-stripe pattern and starfish neckline create a one-of-a-kind look, while the soft, organic jersey cotton and side pockets offer comfort and convenience.

    Triangles Shift Dress (M)

    Passion Lilie's Triangles Shift Dress, pictured here, has a bold and vibrant color resulting from the reactive dyes used to make it.

    Searching for something bold, yet still classy? This dress has it covered with an adventurous geometric pattern you can wear from the office to gallery openings, cocktail parties, and more.

    Dusk Button Dress (L)

    Made using reactive dyes, the beautiful starry pattern of each Passion Lilie Dusk Button Dress is as unique as the night sky.

    Find all the comfort of a t-shirt with all the style and sophistication of a little black dress in the Dusk Button Dress. Friends, family, and even strangers will get lost gazing at its beautiful starry pattern.

    Indigo Flowers Scarf

    Made with sustainable reactive dyes and our reactive printing process, the Indigo Flowers Scarf from Passion Lilie makes you feel just as great as you look.

    Add texture and pattern to any outfit with the Indigo Flowers Scarf. Made using reactive dyes, its rich indigo color can stand out while staying neutral for easy pairing with the rest of your outfit.

    For a similar look in another pattern, check out our Indigo Dreams Scarf today. You can also shop more of Passion Lilie’s ethical apparel, read about our mission, or discover more fashion tips and trends on our blog.

    Posted in Design, Dresses, Eco Dyes, Eco-Friendly, Ethical Apparel, Fabric, Reactive Dyes, Scarves, Sustainability, Trend of the Week, Women

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