Have these handloom fabrics made a way to your wardrobe? – Cotton, linen, khadi and silk. Each of these fabrics have their own unique properties that dominate its styling type.
With international brands making their way to the nearest mall, it’s no surprise that Indian fabrics have taken a backseat. But the last few years have consciously seen a growing awareness about our homegrown arts and handlooms so much so that August 7th has been declared as the National Handloom Day.
Cotton fabrics can be silky or rough, smooth or textured, thick or sheer, indestructible or luxurious.
Broadcloth: A tightly woven lustrous cotton cloth with fine embedded crosswise ribs. Resembles poplin. Use: shirts and blouses, as well as home decorating.
Chambray: Fabric woven with a mixture of colored and white yarn. Use: curtains, shirts, dresses.
Corduroy: Ribbed pile fabric in various weights and weaves. Use: cushions, curtains, bedspreads, jumpers and pants.
Denim: Rugged, durable twill, most popular in indigo blue, but also white, tan, red, black. Use: jeans, slipcovers, bedspreads, casual curtains.
Knit: Stretchy fabric made by interlocking thread loops together. Use: Different weights for T-shirts, underwear, easy-care dresses and bedsheets.
Poplin: Fabric with a fine horizontal rib effect on the surface and high thread count. Use: high-quality shirting.
Seersucker: A lightweight cotton fabric with a woven crinkle achieved by altering the tension in the warp yarns. Use: synonymous with the classic summer suit; also used in sportswear, curtains, slipcovers.
Twill: Durable fabric with diagonal lines on its face. Use: pants, shorts, slipcovers.
In India, the most popular form of cotton garments is cotton shirts, cotton sarees, cotton Kurtis, cotton trousers, cotton tees, cotton intimates, and cotton sleepwear amongst other forms of cotton clothing.
For more information on styling tips with cotton, pros, and cons of wearing a cotton garment and other details, please refer to our How to style with cotton.
Woven in different ways, the many properties of linen that can be adapted to benefit us in different manners.
Cambric linen – Fine and thin, this pretty variety of plain-woven linen is used to make handkerchiefs and lingerie that need delicacy and softness.
Bird’s eye linen – This fabric is characterized by its small diamond-shaped pattern that resembles the eye of a bird. It is commonly used for nappies and the toweling cloth.
Blended linen – When blended with cotton a softer and easier to handle fabric is created. The linen also adds higher thermal insulation to the blend; this combination of strength and softness makes for an ideal t-shirt.
Linen, especially in India is a multi-faceted fabric, used all around our homes, the list of linen products is endless. But linen also makes an excellent fabric for clothing. When blended with cotton it makes a garment that is easy to wear and easy to care for. This Cotton-Linen Shirt has a neat versatility to it, and our beautifully tailored Cotton-Linen Dress is a summer essential. When mixed with silk an extra dimension is added – pieces like Silk and Linen Shorts are sumptuously soft and stylish.
Here are the pros and cons of wearing Linen:
Pros being Linen, it is breathable, durable, sustainable, and insect-repelling. Cons being, Linen is expensive, and it wrinkles a lot.
Linen styling is fairly easy and versatile as well. First tip being, avoid anything boxy to be paired with Linen; Embrace the wrinkles because it enhances the look of the garment; it is light and summery and it’s the ideal option to wear in the summer so pair it with your summer wardrobe; also go casual with your linen pieces because Linen can’t have defined cuts and figure-flattering silhouettes.
If we divide its variation according to the materials from which it has been woven, we will get the three main types:
Khadi Cotton Fabric: Generally made from pure cotton yarns.
Khadi Silk Fabric: This has two sub-types; one is pure khadi silk that means when the khadi fabric is woven from only silk yarns, another one is blending of several yarns.
Woolen Khadi Fabric: When Khadi is being woven from wool it is called woolen khadi.
Recently, designer khadi sarees and Georgette khadi saree have bagged popularity among the Indian fashion divas as well as in the fashion Industry. But still, in abroad the demand of pure khadi cotton fabric is still on the top compared to the other khadi fabrics. There is no doubt that Khadi is the new trend in fashion, and it is growing as a ravishing fashion statement. We can expect some more blending and different types of khadi fabrics in the new future!
There are many pros of Khadi, including the fact that it is sustainable, promotes the country’s growth and supports handloom weavers, perfect for summer, and much more. The only disadvantage of khadi is that it shrinks and you need to iron it each time you use it.
In terms of styling tips for Khadi, then khadi dresses are the perfect wear. Choose from kurta-like dresses or short ones that you are comfortable in; look for printed or bright-coloured khadi scarves or dupattas that you can pair with a plain dress; Khadi denims are highly sought after for their comfort and style factor. Pair your denim khadi pants with an off-the-shoulder or cold shoulder top to look summer ready.
There are several types of silk commercially known and produced around the world. Some of the common types of silks include:
Mulberry Silk: This type of silk is produced by the Bombyx mori silkworm who feeds on mulberry bushes. hence the name. The silkworms are entirely domesticated and reared indoors.
Tussah Silk: Tasar or tussah silk is a type of wild silk produced by caterpillars. The silk has a feel and quality different from the mulberry silk. Most of the tasar silk is copperish in color and are mainly used in furnishing and interior since they are the strongest fibers in the world.
Eri Silk: Eri silk, also known as the Endi or Errandi silk, is a creamy white-colored silk. It is derived from two domesticated species of silkworms known as Samiaricini and Philosamia ricin. Eri silk is durable and makes great material for clothing and soft furnishings such as curtains.
Muga Silk: Muga silk is golden yellow in color. The Muga silkworm also belongs to the same genus as the Tasar silkworm. The silkworm is semi-domesticated, especially in Assam and feeds on aromatic leaves of soalu plants. The silk is limited in supply and is only used in the state of Assam for making traditional dresses, especially for the royal families. Its high quality makes it popular for making sarees and chaddars.
Spider Silk: Spider silk is a non-insect silk variety that is soft and fine in texture. It is the most difficult silk to produce as spiders cannot be bred like silkworms and do not produce as much yarn as silkworms. It is one of the most durable types of silk used in the production of bulletproof vests, telescopes, optical instrument, and wear-resistant clothes.
Mussel Silk: Mussel silk is obtained from bivalve found in shallow waters along the shores of the Italia and Dalmatia of Adriatic. It is often called the ‘sea silk’ since it is produced by mussels found on the seabed.The effects of pollution have made it difficult to source the silk. It accounts for one of the most expensive types of silk.
In India, Silk Sarees are the most famous! At present, we have silk scarves, silk gowns and dresses for indo-western wear, silk Lehengas; mainly traditional wear options due to its luster and shine.
Pros and cons of wearing Silk:
Pros being, Silk is absorbent, hypoallergenic, strong, and comfortable. Cons being, Silk needs due care, is expensive if pure, easily damaged by water and sun, and is unethical at times since it causes harm to silkworms.
The best way to style silk is with drapes! Since Silk saris in India are worn by many, you’ll find a lot of different drape styles. It’s the same with silk scarves as well. You can mostly pair silk well in your traditional and fusion wear outfits. Since silk needs extra care, and provides for a good silhouette, it has to be styled very thoughtfully and creatively.
From the IKF Desk
Cotton is the most popular especially in India due to its versatile wearable properties. Apart from Cotton, Linen is the next best material to be made into a garment due to its casual, go-to properties. Silk and Khadi are still those fabrics in India that are making a mark with handloom and are to be seen in huge demand in the near future. So have these handloom fabrics made a way to your wardrobe?