History of Chikankari
Stitches of Chikankari
Process of Chikankari
Zardozi & Kamdani

-Process of Chikankari

Chikankari is a delicate and artfully done hand embroidery on a variety of textile fabric like muslin, silk, chiffon, organza, net etc. Though it originated as a court craft, today it is a practiced tradition and an important commercial activity. White thread is embroidered on cool, pastel shades of light muslin and cotton garments. Lucknow is the heart of the Chikankari industry today (Lucknawi chikan).

The chikan industry has five main processes namely cutting, stitching, printing, embroidery, washing, and finishing. Cutting is carried out in the lots of 20-50 garments. The layouts are done to minimize wastage of materials. Stitching, often done by the same person, may be 'civil', done exclusively for higher priced export orders or 'commercial', which is done for cheaper goods. Printing is carried out by the use of wooden blocks dipped in dyes like neel and safeda. After this, the fabric is embroidered by women. The last process, which is washing and finishing, takes about 10-12 days. This includes bleaching, acid treatment, stiffening, and ironing.
The most common motif used is that of a creeper. Individual floral motifs may embellish the entire garment or just one corner. Among the floral motifs embroidered, the jasmine, rose, flowering stems, lotus and the paisley motif are the most popular.
In recent years, the beautiful and wide variety of stitches and designs that were on the decline, have been revived. Concerted efforts by government and various private organizations have paid off and today the art of chikankari is flourishing, enriching both the domestic and export market.
Fabric-In addition to the white base fabric, colored fabrics and threads are also used. Silk and cotton threads are employed for embroidery work on sarees, dupattas, table linen and kurtas. Cotton being the most preferred choice, chikankari is also done on mulls, muslins, voiles, organzas and polyester. Some more include: chiffon, viscose, georgette, polyester georgette, cotton crepe and net. The designs change every other month, as per the market trends, with colors that perfectly match with the season.
Design-The design is decided upon on the chosen fabric. The stitches are decided according to the design to be used in the embroidery.
Engraving-The pattern is then engraved on a wooden block or at times sketching it manually.
Block Printing-Once the block is ready then the printing is done on the fabric. Printing is carried out by the use of wooden blocks dipped in dyes like neel and safeda to make a pattern.
Embroidery-The printed fabric then reaches the craftsmen who get to work with the cloth stretched by a wooden frame or Karchop. They do the enriching embroidery using a variety of stitches.
Washing & finishing-After the embroidery, the fabric reaches the laundry and is thoroughly washed and given the finishing touches. This includes bleaching, acid treatment, stiffening or starching and ironing.
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