Updated: Nov 17
In India, embroidery has a rich history dating back to the Indus Valley Civilization around 2800-1800 BCE. The craft has been practiced for thousands of years, with evidence found in ancient ruins like Mohenjo-daro, showcasing high-quality embroidered pieces. Our love for embroidery in India has led to the development of a large number of unique styles, each with its distinctive style.
In this blog, we delve into many of the more famous styles of embroidery in India as well as explore how modern embroidery is bringing about a fusion of Indian embroidery with Western design clothes and also the use of modern embroidery machines like Brother and Janome to manufacture garments at scale with a variety of embroidery styles both traditional and contemporary.
Embroidery plays a crucial role for fashion retailers. It's a significant way to enhance clothing, adding beauty and style to your collection. This ancient art form has evolved and become essential in the world of fashion, allowing retailers to create unique and attractive pieces for their customers.
Internationally, embroidery comes in many types, each with its own special stitches. Here are some common ones:
Crewel Embroidery: This uses wool or cotton thread to make raised and textured designs.
Cross Stitch: It creates geometric patterns using X-shaped stitches.
Needlepoint: Small and even stitches are used to create detailed designs.
Sashiko: This Japanese embroidery style uses running stitches to make patterns.
Brazilian Embroidery: It uses various stitches to create colourful and dimensional designs.
Traditional Embroidery Styles of India
India has a rich tradition of beautiful embroideries, each with its unique style. Here are a few of the most renowned ones.
Chikankari, believed to have been introduced by Noor Jahan in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, boasts delicate white-on-white designs that have evolved from their initial use on a white cloth to a vibrant array of colors on fabrics like muslin, silk, and cotton. This embroidery requires patience and skill, involving intricate stitching on various materials. Chikankari is widely embraced by women for its elegance and detailed patterns, making it suitable for both daily wear and special occasions.
Originating from the Kashmir valley and patronized by Sultan Zain-Ul-Abidin in the 15th century, Kashida embroidery is a vibrant and detailed art form. It primarily uses wool, silk wool, or Cotswold in a variety of colours, with designs inspired by the natural surroundings of Kashmir. Kashida's intricate patterns showcase the rich heritage of Kashmiri craftsmanship, making it a sought-after embroidery style.
Hailing from Karnataka, Kasuti is a feminine embroidery with roots dating back to the Chalukyan period. This embroidery involves four types of stitches—menthi, gavanti, negi, and murgi. It is commonly found on home products like cushion covers and curtains, showcasing its adaptability beyond clothing. Kasuti embroidery adds a touch of tradition and elegance to a range of everyday items.
Originating in Chamba in the 18th century, Chambarumal embroidery is deeply rooted in the indigenous tales of Ramayana and Mahabharata. This embroidery is characterized by motifs inspired by miniature Pahari paintings and is commonly seen on handkerchiefs and other items. The embroidery, done on mulmul and coarser khaddar, adds cultural richness to various accessories and clothing items.
Mirror Work (Sheesha) Embroidery:
Mirror work, introduced by Iranian travelers in the 17th century, has become a staple in Indian embroidery. Originally done with mica, mirrors are now affixed to apparel using a special cross stitch. This technique, prominent in regions like Rajasthan, Haryana, and Gujarat, adds a distinct and vibrant appeal to clothing and accessories. From ghagras to denim jackets, mirror work continues to be a popular choice for those seeking a bold and eye-catching embellishment.
Aari embroidery, influenced by the Mughals, is practiced in regions like Rajasthan, Lucknow, and Kashmir. This embroidery stands out with its chain stitch loops, often incorporating beads and sequins for embellishments. Aari embroidery is commonly used in sarees, focusing on intricate detailing on the pallu or the body of the saree. The simplicity of the blouse complements the detailed richness of Aari embroidery.
Banjara (Bohemian) Embroidery:
Banjara embroidery reflects the nomadic tribes' limitless presence across India, with variations in style across regions. Using a brightly colored base cloth and featuring geometric patterns, Banjara embroidery combines patchwork and mirror work. This vibrant embroidery is found on suits, lehengas, bags, and blouses, seamlessly blending traditional elements with contemporary fashion.
Born in Rajasthan, Gota embroidery is known for tracing elaborate patterns using zari from Lucknow. Originally done with gold and silver wires, Gota embroidery is now often executed with gold-colored plastic threads. The motifs, inspired by nature, impart a graceful and royal impression to the fabric. Widely chosen for auspicious occasions, Gota embroidery is available on various clothing items, providing a unique and luxurious touch.
Originating from East Indian states like West Bengal, Odisha, Tripura, and Bangladesh, Kantha embroidery is chiefly practised by rural women. This embroidery involves stitching on cloth, creating a wrinkled and wavy effect. Traditionally used for cushions, blankets, and bedspreads, Kantha embroidery has evolved and is now featured on dupattas and shirts. Its leisurely appeal adds richness to any look.
Rooted in the folklore of Heer Ranjha, Phulkari originates from a rural embroidery tradition in Punjab. Its contemporary manifestation can be linked to the era of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in the 15th century. Typically done on dull, handspun khadi, Phulkari embroidery covers the entire base cloth with bright-coloredcolors embroidered designs. With its roots in tradition, Phulkari has adapted to contemporary fashion, seen in a wide range of colours and fabrics.
Zardozi or Zari Embroidery:
Introduced by the Mughals in the 16th century, Zardozi is a form of opulent metal embroidery. Originally using gold or silver threads with precious stones and pearls on silk or velvet, Zardozi was exclusive to the rich. In contemporary times, gold-coloured plastic threads make this art form more accessible. Zardozi embroidery adds a touch of luxury to sarees, suits, blouses, and lehengas, providing a rich and glamorous appearance.
Parsi Gara Embroidery:
Influenced by Persian and Chinese works, Parsi Gara is a famous Indian traditional embroidery. Originally done on 'Sali Ghaj,' it now uses Crepe de Chine. Worn especially during the wedding season by the Parsi community, Parsi Gara showcases a unique blend of cultural influences.
Hailing from the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu, Toda embroidery comes from the Toda tribe. Traditionally using black and red woolen threads on coarse white cloth, Toda embroidery depicts motifs of nature and celestial bodies in a geometrical pattern. Toda embroidery is not restricted to traditional items; it has made its way to sarees and cloaks, offering a unique ethnic look with a modern edge.
Tilla embroidery is a traditional craft of Kashmir, adorning pherans, shawls, sarees, and other garments. This embroidery requires gold and silver metal thread for intricate patterns, offering a sharp and elegant look. With high importance during weddings, Tilla embroidery forms an essential part of the trousseau of the Kashmiri bride.
Kashmiri embroidery, also known as Kashida embroidery, borrows its name from its place of birth—Kashmir. Woven and embroidered by extended family members, this embroidery features dark-colored woolen clothes for winter and light-colored cotton clothes for summer. The intricate patterns, often depicting flora, make Kashmiri embroidery a popular choice among women, especially during winter.
Schiffli, a lace type crafted through the schiffli machine, derives its name from the German term meaning 'little boat.' The production process varies according to the patterns employed. Schiffli embroidery involves a multi-needle loom utilizing approximately a thousand needles.
Embrace the rich tapestry of Indian embroidery in your clothing line, offering customers a diverse range of choices that blend tradition with contemporary fashion. Collaborate with skilled artisans and embroidery addas to create unique, sustainable, and fashionable pieces that tell a story through every stitch.
Understanding these diverse embroidery styles can offer a unique range for fashion retailers in India. Incorporating these techniques into clothing lines can provide a blend of tradition and style, catering to the growing demand for sustainable and fashionable apparel. Collaborating with skilled artisans or embroidery addas can enhance the authenticity and cultural significance of the clothing.
Different Tools of Traditional Embroidery:
Embroidery tools are a must-have for crafting intricate designs on fabric. These tools empower embroiderers to turn their creative ideas into stunning reality. Here are some essential ones:
Embroidery addas (frames): Embroidery addas, or frames, are essential tools for embroiderers. Crafted from wood or plastic, they keep the fabric taut during embroidery, with adjustable sizes for different projects. Round addas suit small to medium projects, while rectangular ones offer more space for larger endeavors. Scroll addas are for continuous fabric embroidery, and embroidery hoops are ideal for small projects like cross-stitch. Affordable and accessible at craft stores or online, these frames elevate the embroidery experience by providing stability and flexibility.
Embroidery needles: They come in different sizes and shapes for various stitches and fabrics. Sharper needles suit delicate fabrics, while blunter ones are better for thick materials.
Embroidery thread or floss: Available in various colors and materials like cotton and silk, the choice depends on the desired effect and fabric type.
Embroidery scissors: Sharp, pointed scissors are crucial for precise thread cutting without fraying.
Embroidery thimble: Protects fingers from needle pricks, especially useful for thick fabrics.
Seam ripper: Handy for removing stitches or fixing mistakes without harming the fabric.
Embroidery pen or pencil: Used to mark patterns on fabric before stitching, and they are erasable for temporary markings.
Embroidery pattern transfer tools: Include tracing paper, carbon paper, and transfer pens to accurately transfer designs onto fabric.
Embroidery stretcher bars: Used for framing and displaying finished projects, giving a professional finish.
Additional tools: Depending on the project, you might need stitch markers, bobbins, embroidery needles in various sizes, and a variety of thread colors.
These tools, paired with creativity and patience, allow embroiderers to craft beautiful and unique works of art. As a fashion retailer, having a good grasp of these tools can help you understand the intricacies of embroidery, ensuring that the clothing you offer reflects quality craftsmanship. Incorporating these tools into your embroidery process can elevate the appeal of your apparel, making it an attractive choice for customers who appreciate attention to detail in their clothing.
Modern Embroidery in India:
Mechanized embroidery in India has brought efficiency and speed to the rich tradition of embroidery. This technology, although relatively new, has quickly gained popularity for its ability to produce high-quality, durable embroidery on a large scale. The two main types of mechanized embroidery machines are chain stitch and multi-head machines, each offering unique capabilities.
Types of Mechanized Embroidery Machines:
Chain Stitch Embroidery Machines: These machines use a single needle to create a chain stitch pattern, offering simplicity and versatility. They are ideal for basic embroidery tasks like creating outlines or stitching logos.
Multi-Head Embroidery Machines: Equipped with multiple needles, these machines can create a variety of stitches, including satin stitches, running stitches, and French knots. They are more sophisticated and can produce intricate designs efficiently.
Impact on Indian Embroidery:
Mechanized embroidery has significantly impacted the Indian embroidery industry by increasing production capacity and enabling the creation of more complex designs. This technology has made embroidery more affordable for consumers.
Different Types of Embroidery Machines:
Mechanical Embroidery Machine: Functions similar to a domestic sewing machine, using a needle to penetrate fabric and create embroidery designs. It works both as an embroidery machine and a regular sewing machine.
Free-Motion Machine Embroidery: Involves using a traditional zigzag sewing machine for stitched designs. This method allows for freehand movement, creating unique and unreproducible designs.
Cornely Hand-Guided Embroidery: Requires human operators to handle the machine, regulating speed and precision. This machine is known for creating special chain stitch, satin stitch, and other intricate designs.
Computer-Controlled Embroidery Machines: Modern embroidery machines are computer-controlled, allowing for precise designs without the need for skilled labor. Designs are programmed into the machine, and it automatically embroiders fabric according to the given instructions.
Single Head Embroidery Machine: Features a single embroidery head with a constant position, creating designs with 7-15 needles at speeds of approximately 300-1000 stitches per minute.
Multi-Head Embroidery Machine: Ideal for bulk production, with multiple heads allowing the production of the same design on multiple fabrics simultaneously. Can have 2 to 12 heads with 15 needles on each head, achieving high-quality and quantity.
Schiffli Embroidery Machine: Specifically employed for Schiffli items, these machines insert fabric vertically and use horizontal needle entry for stitching. They allow for color shifts and can process two fabrics simultaneously.
Mechanized embroidery has revolutionized the embroidery landscape in India, offering speed, efficiency, and affordability. As a fashion retailer, embracing mechanized embroidery opens the door to a wide array of design possibilities, allowing you to cater to the diverse preferences of your customers. Collaborate with embroidery addas and clothing manufacturers in India to seamlessly integrate mechanized embroidery into your sustainable clothing line, creating fashionable pieces that tell a story with every stitch.
Significance of Embroidery for Fashion Retailers:
Embroidery is a powerful tool for fashion retailers, serving various crucial purposes. Firstly, it allows retailers to add distinctive and personalized touches to clothing, setting their products apart in a competitive market. Moreover, embroidery enhances the quality and durability of clothing, ensuring longevity. Lastly, it provides a means to align with cultural trends, attracting new customers.
Practical Applications for Fashion Retailers:
Custom-Made Clothing: Retailers can offer customers the opportunity to design their own embroidered T-shirts or sweaters. Alternatively, pre-embroidered options like jackets, shirts, or dresses provide a personalized touch without the design effort.
Durability and Quality: Embroidery contributes to creating high-quality and durable clothing. Items like embroidered denim jackets or coats can withstand regular wear and last for many years. Leather goods, such as handbags or wallets, with embroidery can also become valuable, long-lasting investments.
Cultural Trend Appeal: Embroidery becomes a vehicle for tapping into cultural trends. Retailers can introduce lines featuring traditional motifs like those from Chinese culture. Alternatively, clothing embroidered with popular cultural icons, such as cartoon characters or sports logos, helps stay on trend.
In essence, embroidery is a versatile and invaluable asset for fashion retailers. It enables the creation of clothing that is not only unique and personalized but also robust, appealing to a broad customer base. By incorporating embroidery into designs, retailers can stay ahead of the competition, attract new customers, and align with ever-evolving cultural trends. This dynamic approach enhances the overall appeal of their fashion offerings. Collaborating with embroidery addas and clothing manufacturers in India further ensures the seamless integration of embroidery into sustainable clothing lines, meeting the diverse needs and preferences of customers.
Clothing manufacturer in India which uses Embroidery in their clothing:
NoName, a leading private label clothing manufacturer in India, stands out with its unique Flexi MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity) approach. This means they are flexible and accommodating, allowing businesses of all sizes to benefit from their services. NoName takes pride in promoting sustainable clothing practices, contributing to a more eco-friendly fashion industry. What sets them apart is their incorporation of various embroidery techniques. From the roots of embroidery in India to the modern appeal of Embroidery, NoName embraces diverse embroidery styles, adding a touch of cultural richness to their clothing items. With a commitment to quality, flexibility, and sustainability, NoName is your go-to destination for private-label garments, ensuring a harmonious blend of style and conscience.
Conclusion: Embroidery isn't just stitching; it's a beautiful art form connecting us to India's rich heritage. From the ancient Indus Valley Civilization to modern sustainable fashion, embroidery has woven its thread through time. NoName, as your go-to private label clothing manufacturer in India, seamlessly blends tradition and style. With Flexi MOQ, they welcome businesses of all sizes, promoting sustainable practices with a touch of cultural richness through Aari and Crewel embroidery. Explore the diverse world of Embroidery Anarkali and more, creating unique pieces that tell a story with every stitch.
Discover the magic of embroidery with NoName! As your partner in sustainable fashion, we bring you a blend of tradition and style. Explore the artistry of Aari and Crewel embroidery, adding a touch of cultural elegance to your clothing line. Embrace the Flexi MOQ advantage, making quality, flexibility, and sustainability the core of your business. Let's weave stories together; contact NoName, your trusted private-label clothing manufacturer in India, and embark on a journey of timeless fashion.
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