Fabrics from India

A few months ago I had the pleasure of visiting a friend in India and in addition to the expected fabric buying frenzy, this trip was a feast for the eyes.

If you’re like me, one of the clichés that comes to your mind when you hear “India” is a multitude of colorful fabrics. It is a cliché for a very good reason : Sarees and Shalwar kameez of all colors brighten up the streets of polluted major cities and small villages alike.

Hand block printed fabric

During a trip to Jaipur, a city renowned for its hand-printed fabrics, I had the chance to see craftsmen in action. Here are some pictures :

Hand printed fabric jaipur

You can see, at the top of the picture, the tray that contains the golden paint.

hand block printed indian fabric

The artisan dips his block in the tray and press it onto the fabric in order to print the pattern.

indian printed fabric

After a first pass with the golden paint and a stamp block, they do a second one over it with another block and a different color to complete the pattern.

india fabric jaipur

Printed fabrics hung out to dry in open air. The white fabric is not paint but the result of a previous dyeing with the “tie and dye” technique.


Buying fabric in India

During my trip to India, I went on a fabric shopping spree. From the outdoor markets to the chic district shops, I bought fabric everywhere ! And came back with 70 meters (over 76 yards) of cotton, crepe, georgette, silk and wool. Yes, I had planned an additional empty suitcase for the return trip from the beginning. 😉
I didn’t buy any saree. I would have never worn them and cutting in these beautiful 6 meters pieces would have made my heart hurt. I hardly bought fabric by the yard either… And now you’re wondering how I managed to bring back 70 meters of Indian fabrics, right?
Well, in India fabric is very commonly (mainly actually) sold in precut bundles to sew Salwar Kameez ensembles.
Indian fabric

some of the Indian fabrics I brought back

This bundles are called “suits”, they include three coordinating fabrics to make a long Indian tunic (kameez), pants (salwar) and a scarf (dupatta). The edges of the scarf are usually finished unless you purchased your “suit” at the market, in which case you may need to finish the edges.

A Salwar Kameez bundle is about 4.5 to 5 meters (5 to 5.5 yards) of fabric (excluding the dupatta).
indian fabric Nalli silk saree

Indian fabric “suit” from Nalli silk sarees

Buying fabric at Indian markets

At markets, and almost everywhere in India, be prepared to bargain. As a tourist,  you’ll most probably be announced a price 2-3 times higher than the regular price. I was in company of  Indian friends so I mostly paid regular prices (150 to 250 rupees for a suit bundle).
I was in India in December and on markets I have seen almost only synthetic fabrics, from average to poor quality. I’ve been told that in summer I would have been able to find some pretty cottons.
Indian market in Delhi

Indian market in Delhi (no it’s not fabric ^^)

Buying fabric at high end shops

In the high end shops (Nalli Silk Sarees, Kilol …) prices are displayed. There are high-quality fabrics (I still drool thinking about the beautiful silks) and prices can get very, very high. You will not find “suit” bundles for less than 500 rupees and expect in most cases a average price of 800 to 2000 rupees per “suit”. And much much more expensive (5000-10000 rupees) if you want very high quality fabric. As a reference, the the wool suits that I bought (very fine quality) were around 2000-2500 rupees.


Red and black Indian fabric  from Nalli Silk Saree

Red and black Indian fabric from a Nalli Silk Sarees shop



Indian fabric from a Kilol shop

Indian fabric from a Kilol shop


So here I am now with my beautiful fabrics. And over a year later I still haven’t made a big dent in my “Indian” stash (that sounds weird !). Just a tiny one ! I need more time to sew… In fact I need more time for everything and I think I’m not the only one !

Ottobre Design in French !

Rejoice fellow French speaking seamstresses, The sewing magazine Ottobre Design, available till today in  English, German, Dutch, Finnish and Swedish, will now be published in French, starting with their next issue.

Every detail is on the Ottobre Design Blog : Bonjour la France.

This news should rejoice more than one ! Personally I think this magazine is a breath of fresh air for children and women patterns. There are two separate publications: children and women (with women like you and me posing for the magazine!). For an overview of the kind of patterns they offer, check their site (not in French yet).

You can subscribe for the French version now (see link above) or wait to find it on newsstands in January 2013 (for the children issue).

For those like me who are already subscribers in English, it is possible to receive the French version starting with the next issue, information for the transition is also given in the link above.

That’s great news to start the weekend !

Colette Patterns Sale

A quick note to let you know that today, Friday November 23, and today only Colette Patterns offers a 30% discount on its patterns, just like last year for Black Friday. Enjoy it HERE.

Prices shown do not take the discount into account, it will appear and will be automatically calculated at the payment step.

I already have 10 Colette patterns as well as the book “The Colette Sewing Handbook” which contains 5 patterns and is a true goldmine for beginner (or advanced) seamstresses… But I could not resist making a small order for two additional patterns: The “Iris” shorts and the camisole-slip “Cinnamon“.

Iris colette- Version avec boutons

Iris shorts

patron colette caraco

Cinnamon : camisole + slip

I ordered the printable/downloadable versions, which means that I saved the shipping fee (remember… I’m in France!) and the patterns are already in my possession!

FYI : For downloadable versions each pattern costs $12. With the discount it came up to a total of $16.5 (= 13.5€)… Pretty good for two patterns !