Surti Bai, approved a veteran artisan from jasai village of Barmer, prostate has been doing embroidery since she was a kid.
She along with thousand other people from Pakistan came to India at the time of ’71 war. For them the war didn’t end when both the armies retreated to their camps. They have been struggling for living with dignity over last 2-3 centuries.
Khetu devi, a young lady from sagana kuna village is an enthusiastic learner and practitioner of Embroidery. Her hands are so familiar with the needle and thread that when embroidery comes on fabric it gives a feeling of blooming flowers so full of life and color. She is carrying forward the rich legacy of craft which is integral part of community’s identity and culture. She along with her friends Cheni, Keshari, Nirmala, Pushpa and Hema does this with great devotion and love. Whenever we think cynically about craft and its fading away from day to day life, likes of Khetu assures us about craft’s universality and timelessness.
while appliqué is the process of sewing smaller pieces of fabric onto a larger background fabric. History: Appliqué is an ancient technique of creating beautiful and decorative items with different pieces of cloth. Nomadic people of the desert have long pieced together their tents and even decorated them with elaborate appliqué. Festive patchwork textiles created for special occasions are found in many places throughout India. Pieced and appliquéd household items are made by women for dowries. These objects include decorative bags, check pillows and sitting mats. Appliqué played a part in religious textiles as well. It has long been used to make decorative clothing, buy because most clothing is used until it is worn out and then again reused to create beautiful patterns out of the worn fabric. This serves both economic and decorative purposes. Small pieces of fabric are cut and joined side by side to make a large piece of fabric or for repairing a damaged fabric. Regions Patchwork and appliqué are done in many different geographical regions of India with each area having its own particular local aesthetic. The main centers where the crafts are practiced are: • The Thar Desert in western Rajasthan: Barmer, Bikaner and Jaisalmer Each of these regions used their distinct styles and colour palettes to create decorative designs. Producer Communities In Westron Rajasthan the main communities practicing this craft are Refugee community Meghwal, Jaat, Kumahar Prjaapat, Naai, Suthar, Bheel, Rajput, Muslim, Lohar and Soni. Raw material The basic material for appliqué is cloth. Cotton cloth, which was being used traditionally, continues to be used today. Voile and Organza are also used to give it a more elegant look. Multi colored threads as well as fabric swatches are required as per the design. Tools Needle, a pair of scissors. Process Appliqué, which is a French term, is a technique of forming a single pattern with different pieces of cloth. Pieces of fabric are applied on top of another for decorative or functional purposes. Design: Most appliqué designs are shown as full-size drawings for the completed design. The drawings show dotted lines to indicate where one piece overlaps another. Other marks indicate placement of embroidery stitches for decorative purposes, marking such features as eyes, lips, flowers, trees etc. Before the actual appliqué process begins, the background block is cut and prepared for stitching. Sometimes the background fabric is prepared by joining various shaped fabric swatches (squares, rectangles, various geometric shapes etc) and then on top of this base the appliqué work is done. Two equal sized pieces of fabric are taken. One of these will form the base, on which the pattern will be appliquéd. The pattern will be cut out of the other piece of fabric. Tracing: An actual-sized drawing of the design is transferred on to a large piece of tracing paper. Tracing paper is placed on top of the design and the design is traced out. Holes are pierced on the tracing paper along the design and water erasable ink is used along the dotted line to transfer the design on to the fabric. Pasting: Fabric is placed on to the background fabric and stuck with glue (called ‘lai’ in the local language, it is made out of wheat flour, gum and water). Cutting of shapes / design: Once the fabric is prepared and the required design is traced on it, 1/2” space is left between design motifs to allow for the seam when cutting out the shapes. The shapes are cut out leaving 1/8”- 1/4″ all around the drawn line for turning under. Tidying: The shaped edges are turned over on the drawn or stitched line. Corners are made sharp and edges smoothened. The fabric patch should retain the shape of the template used to cut it. Stitching: Then using a blind stitch or appliqué stitch, the cut fabric is sown with matching thread on to the background fabric. The stitching is started with the background pieces first, working up to foreground pieces. Finishing: The product is given final finishing touches. Any extra threads are cut, and edges smoothened. As per the design required, different colors of fabric are used. Sometimes the cuttings are in contrast to the base fabric. Sometimes the same color is used for base and pattern, as in white on white, which is very much in current demand. In recent times, applique has been facing competition from machine-made substitutes for it. However, we aim to preserve this tradition and are continuously developing new products that will breathe new life into the age old tradition.