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About Handlooms And Natural Dyeing

Handloom weaving came into existence after the British started dumping mill-made yarn into India. Till then, our country was producing only Khadi. Handloom and Khadi are like cousins. When a fabric is made entirely by hand, including spinning of yarn, it is called Khadi. When a fabric uses mill spun yarn, but uses all other processes by hand, it is called a handloom fabric. The handloom weaver is common to both Khadi and Handloom.

The steps involved in the cotton fabric production are:

  1. Spinning the Yarn from raw cotton
  2. Processing and Dyeing the yarn
  3. Weaving the yarn into fabric
  4. Post processing like tailoring, ironing etc.



Natural Dyes

The textile industry is one of the most polluting today with harmful effluents discarded by the chemical dyeing process causing irreparable damage to our ecosystem. Chemical dyes are proving harmful for our health as well as they contain components that are carcinogenic and toxic to our system causing chemical sensitivity. The symptoms range from headache, nausea to hyperactivity and behavioural problems in children. The ground water and water sources are is polluted causing our food to be poisoned.

There is an urgent need to find alternatives in terms of natural dyes which are slowing finding their way back into people’s lives. The Natural dyes are extracted from naturally available plant ingredients like indigo, Pomegranate, Myrobalan, Kasimkari, Arecanut juice, Jack wood and other natural materials. Alum, a naturally available mineral is used as a mordant. The water used for dyeing is safe to be treated and reused to water plants. There are no harmful chemicals used in the entire process, thus making this environmentally friendly. The natural dyed clothes are easy on the skin as well.

There are two types of dyeing processes in practice :

(i) Hot Process

This involves steps like scouring, where the yarn in boiled in a huge tank of water to remove impurities, then the yarn is dipped into a mordant like alum. Then the yarn is dyed in the dye broth according to requirement of the color shade. Finally it is dried naturally and evenly.

(ii) Cold VAT process

In this process, the raw materials are mixed in a pot where it is left for 1-2 days to ferment. The yarn is dipped one or more times, depending on the desired shade. Indigo dye and Areca dye is prepared using this method.


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