Saree Embroidery in India: What You Need to Know
What is Saree Embroidery?
The colourful land of India is home to dozens of unique embroidery styles with almost every Indian state having its own indigenous style. Each style differs in pattern and texture of the embroidery, and the texture of the fabric used. Saree embroidery is simply the method of using the various embroidery styles to embellish sarees made from a variety of different fabrics. The texture of the fabric plays a major role in the fine process of embroidery and therefore, the saree material is selected according to the embroidery technique used. Embroidered sarees are one of the most sought-after handicraft products of India.
What are the Types of Embroidery Techniques?
From Kashmir’s Kashida in the north to Karnataka’s Kasuti in the south, from Bengal’s Kantha in the east to Gujarat’s Aari in the west – the art of embroidery encompasses the entire landscape of the country.
Originally used as a method of quilting, the kantha or nakshi kantha embroidery is characterised by designs created using small, running stitches. The aari style of Kashmir and Gujarat is achieved with the help of a special hook-like needle on a fabric stretched out on a frame.
Originating in Rajasthan, the popular gota style of embroidery involves sequin and zari work. This style is used in North Indian wedding dresses, where it is combined with the famous zardosi style, which was brought to India by the Mughals and popularised by the royalty.
Gujarat and Rajasthan are also known for the kathiawari and mirror work. The chikankari style of Lucknow is a simple, but elegant embroidery style, which has gained popularity all over the world due to its versatility.
Where to Buy Embroidered Sarees From?
If you are one of those divas who love adorning sarees, then embroidered sarees are a must-have for your wardrobe. Embroidered sarees are timeless classics and you have one for every occasion. There is an array of options at your disposal if you are worried about where to buy these sarees from. If you are a resident of India, then we would suggest visiting state emporiums and boutiques as they usually have a pretty good collection of embroidered sarees. You could also visit flea markets for good deals, if you have the patience to search for the right colour, fabric, and style, and are good at haggling. However, it being the age of technology, the easiest and most convenient option would be to look online. In case that you live outside India, then this would be the easiest way to get your hands on embroidered sarees. Boutiques like Fabindia have their online stores which ship all over the world. Websites like Flipkart, Ajio, Jabong, and Myntra have vast collections and have something for every budget.
10 Embroidered Sarees Which You Must Own
Whether you belong to West Bengal or not, a Kantha Saree would be an attractive addition to your saree collection. Artsy and sophisticated, Kantha Sarees can make you look like a cultured fashionista in no time at all. Our pick is this Black Bangalore Silk Saree with Multicolour Kantha stitch work from Roopkathaweb. This pretty saree has Kantha embroidery all along the body and pallu and comes with an attached blouse piece as well. The website gives you tailoring options as well. You can get a fall attached to the saree and get pico work done for a great finish. They will also tailor the blouse for you at an added cost of ₹970. This saree is a little expensive owing to the fact that it’s completely hand embroidered. Buy this beautiful drape for ₹13,100.
The Chikankari saree, from Lucknow is a favourite among the young and the old alike. This alluring light pastel Green Cotton Silk Kota Chikankari Mukaish Saree from Fabindia is the stuff that dreams are made of. Constructed from a lustrous silk cotton fabric, this translucent saree is lightweight, easy to drape and easier to manage. Hence, it should make its way to your wardrobe if you’re tired of having to adjust your saree pleats and pallu every time you move. This is the perfect summer garment, which will make you look gorgeous and more importantly keep you sweat free even on the hottest day of the season. The saree has embroidery all over except the front pleat area. It measures 5.5 X 1.1 metres and comes without a blouse piece. Buy it from Fabindia.com for ₹4,990.
The Phulkari style of embroidery is Punjab’s gift to the ladies. Phulkari is characterised by bright colourful thread work with patterns recreating flowers, leaves and symmetrical geometric shapes. This charming Blue-Green Linen-Tussar Silk Benarasi Border Phulkari Saree is hand-embroidered and has work all along the border. Measuring 5.5 X 1.19 metres, it also comes with 0.7 metres of blouse fabric. It comes with a hefty price tag of ₹25,500 from Jaypore.
However, if you want something a bit more affordable, go for this Plum coloured Chanderi Silk Saree with Phulkari hand embroidery all over, from Itokri. This saree has a length of 6 metres and a width of 1.2 metres. The extra one meter is due to attached blouse fabric. This gorgeous beauty is priced at ₹6,990.
Kathiawari is a style of embroidery which is attributed to the Kathiawar Peninsula of Gujarat. This style of embroidery is believed to have been invented by the inhabitants of the area - the people of the Kathi tribe. Bold stitches, textures and bright colours distinguish the Kathiawari embroidery from the rest, and make for appealing patterns on fabric. This bewitching yellow Kathiawari Saree from Dailybuyys is richly embroidered with multicolour thread work and transforms anyone wearing it into a stunner. It is reasonably priced at ₹3,160.
Punjab, Kashmir and the Kutch region of Gujarat share the credit for the Aari style of embroidery. Aari work is done by stretching the fabric on a frame with a special hook-like needle. Aari embroiderers are so skilled at their job that the end product looks almost flawless, like machine embroidery. Vibrant and bold, Aari embroidered sarees are yet another great addition to a saree lover’s wardrobe. This gorgeous Black Kota Cotton Aari Work embroidered Saree from Kraftly has elegant designs in blue and pink thread and comes with a matching blouse piece. Buy this stunning black saree for ₹1,450. The website provides 100% buyer protection and refund guarantee.
Mirror Work is a technique of embroidery with its roots in Rajasthan and Gujarat. This increasingly popular technique is being used more and more by Indian fashion designers and thus, has become quite a trend in ethnic fashion. You may have spotted a number of celebrities donning Mirror Work Sarees. To jump in on the bandwagon, get yourself this pretty Powder White Blended Cotton Saree with Pink Mirror Work from Roopkathaweb. This saree is glamorous, yet subtle for wearing to day-time functions. It has a length of 5.5 meters and comes with a blouse piece. The website gives you tailoring options as well. You can get a fall attached to the saree, get your blouse tailored and get pico work done for an additional cost of ₹970.
Kashidakari, or Kashmiri Embroidery
Here’s one from Kashmir - The Paradise on Earth. The Kashidakari embroidery technique is popularly known as Kashmiri embroidery. It is extensively used on Kashmiri shawls, kurtas and of course, on sarees. Deriving inspiration from natural elements like birds, blossoms, flowers, creepers, chinar leaves, mangoes, lotus, and trees, this style of embroidery is very distinctive. Get this gorgeous Black Sozni, Aari And Tilla Hand Embroidered Kashmiri Kashida Saree from Talking Threads.
It is a black, pure georgette saree with intricate hand embroidered traditional Kashmiri Sozni and Tilla work. The embroidery is in shades of wine, pink, beige, brown, green and orange. It comes with an unstitched blouse piece and you can get a made to measure tailored blouse for an additional ₹1,150. You can also add a made to measure petticoat for ₹850. At ₹85,000, the saree is quite pricey, but we would recommend buying it if you can afford it.
Our next pick is the Zardosi style. Zardosi Sarees are one of the many beautiful facets of Indian handicraft and this one from the house of Ritu Kumar is a magnificent piece of artistry. A gorgeous pink bridal saree, with intricate Zardosi embroidery inspired by the traditional woven fabrics of Banaras, this one truly is a masterpiece. The saree is made from lustrous satin fabric and features a richly embroidered border along with embroidery all over the body and comes with an unstitched blouse. Owing to its designer label, this piece is priced at ₹1,50,000. It will be a great addition to your saree collection and also be an asset. This saree should only be dry cleaned by professional launderers.
Gota Patti style of embroidery is gaining popularity these days, all credits to Bollywood. This style of embroidery is used on light fabrics like georgette and chiffon, making these sarees glamorous, yet lightweight. This Green georgette base saree with hand embroidered Gota Patti and Zardosi motifs all over is perfect for youngsters who do not like heavy sarees. It comes with an unstitched dupion blouse in a contrasting ochre colour. The blouse has embroidery on the sleeves, back and front. This saree from Label Kanupriya is priced at ₹7,400. For an additional ₹800, you can get the blouse stitched and for another ₹200, you can add padding to the blouse.
Kasuti is a hand embroidery style which owes its origins to the state of Karnataka. The word Kasuti literally translates to Kai, meaning hand, and Suti, meaning cotton, or cotton thread. Although it originated in Karnataka, it is also used in Kanchipuram sarees. What sets Kasuti apart is that this embroidery is done with a single thread and the process involves counting of each thread on the cloth. Both sides of the cloth look alike since the patterns are stitched without knots.
Stitches like Gavanti, Murgi, Negi and Menthi are used to create intricate patterns inspired by traditional and religious elements like gopura, chariot, palanquin, lamps and conch shells. Animal motifs like peacocks and elephants are also used. This Natural Cotton Slub Kasuti Embroidered Sari from Fabindia is a simple but stunning piece. It is a white saree with red thread work and comes with a blouse piece. This work of art from Fabindia can be yours at a price of ₹6,590.
Here’s How You Get Embroidered Sarees for Free!
If you want to own authentic embroidered sarees, then there is one place where you may hit gold and you won’t even have to pay any money. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well, we are not talking about a boutique or a flea market. We are talking about your mother’s or grandmother’s old almirah or closet. Hand embroidered sarees were cheaper and readily available earlier. Therefore, it is very likely that a few of those exquisite pieces are still surviving in your parent’s closet.
If you find something that you like and can persuade your grandma or mom to give it to you, make sure you take care of them well. Old sarees have weakened fabric, which is why it is a good idea to have them lined with some good strong fabric. Store the sarees in paper or cloth bags, away from sunlight and moisture. Be sure to take them out once in a while to air them out, though. Be very careful with perfume and make-up, lest you stain the sarees. If they need cleaning, get them dry cleaned or laundered at a good laundry service.
How to Embroider My Own Saree?
Though they are irresistible, embroidered sarees are too expensive at times. If you still want to own one, then ditch the boutiques and hit the market instead. Here are some simple steps for you to make your own embroidered saree:
- Step 1: Buy 5 to 6 metres of the fabric of your choice. That fabric will be the base material for your saree.
- Step 2: Then find a good embroidery service to add the work that you need. Many women do this at home. You just have to find one to suit your budget.
- Step 3: If you are skilled with a needle, then you can look up some designs and patterns, follow some YouTube tutorials and do your embroidery yourself. You will find everything you need in fabric shops or shops selling craft supplies.
- Step 4: You can make appliques separately and stitch them onto your saree. Do not forget to add falls and get pico work done to give your saree a beautiful clean finish.
Own Your Elegance with The Embroidered Drape
Saree, being one of the most beautiful pieces of clothing ever made by man, is a piece of art you adorn. Suit your sarees to your personality and the occasion, and you are sure to stand out. Drape it well and carry it with comfort. In the end, it is you who has to own your elegance.