One of the great things about being in India is having easy (and cheap, relatively speaking) access to some fantastic fabrics. I’m starting to easily differentiate between knit and woven various fabrics and here I’m summing up some new (to me) and interesting textiles I’ve come across.

Names which basically describe a technique rather than the fabric


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Chikankari or Chikan Kari or Lucknowi work is a type of embroidery typically white and typically on cotton and chiffon

Hakkoba or hakoba work is basically eyelet fabric. At times Chikankari and hakkoba look quite similar


Chanderi work, which I’ve heard of but can’t identify. It’s characterized by round motifs / butti and the sheer fabric

Bandhani (on cotton, chiffon, silk – pretty much everything – but cotton is most common) is basically tie – dye and the process is similar to Japanese Shibori or Indonesian Plangi. Leheriya is a form of Bandhani where in the pattern is diagonal or zigzag lines. Batik is also similar and commonly found

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Zardosi or Zardozi embroidery is beautiful and is one of my favourite. It’s a shame that most of the fabrics and designs available are so OOT

zardozi peacock

Block printing


Fabric and Blends

Voile (Cotton voile) also called “vail”, “gauze” is basically soft cotton

Terry Cotton – can’t make out it’s distingushing feature

Lizzy Bizzy Cotton is 50% cotton 50% Polyster which makes it soft. Very popular and cheap

2×2 or Rubia Cotton or 2 by 2 Rubia is basically softer 100% cotton (not softer than voile though)

Pleated Cotton (printed or plain)




And of course, there are various silks (cotton silk, khadi silk, pure silk, crepe silk, polyester silk, silk satin, silk duponi), chiffon and georgette (I can’t tell the difference), crepe, denim, chambray, twill, net, tissue and lace. Wool, other warm fabric and leather are harder to find.

And lest I forget there is the “export fabric” which can be any of the above but will be slightly better quality (or not) and so will be more costly.

Phew! I think I’ve listed down all the fabric names I’ve heard and I guess for now this is a start.



I think Grainline Studio is fantastic. Their patterns, tutorials, and their past clothing line – hound, all of it. I was browsing around the web and came across a pretty tank top from hound, which looked to be a similar cut to the “tiny pocket tank” by Grainline. I cut a triangle at the fold, added seam allowance to the tiny pocket tank pattern, and just like that, a new pattern was born. Here’s the result.

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Fabric: 1m reddish-pick and 1m white butter crepe fabric. Both for Rs. 50 / metre from a “matching centre” in Ahmedabad. I was lazy and couldn’t be bothered to come up with a new colour combination although I did think about it which should count for something

Time: 7 – 8 hours! This was also my first time sewing with crepe, which more than tripled the amount of time required. I also did french seams all over. I wonder if there is an easier way to do bias binding with crepe fabric – that was one horrendous part. I ended up swearing at the machine a couple of times which is no fun. The top right bit of the triangle in the front is so messed up and so is the entire neckline. I realised too late that I forgot to understitch!

Anyway, while it doesn’t look as nice as the hound version and the top of the triangle doesn’t match, it will do for now.


I’m thinking about what I want to make in the future and here are my plans – what fabric I actually use will vary based on what I find or will come from my small stash. (I don’t really have a large amount of fabric laying around!) I sort of like to go and buy fabric right before I start on it.



From top right: Scout with 3/4 sleeves, lakeside top, hound design tiny tank, tiny tank with buttons on back


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From left: A maxi dress, archer colour block shirtdress with placket button things, a strapless dress with boning, an easy tent dress

Jacket / Blazer:


Modified victoria jacket by hand london, victoria jacket

Other: Moss mini skirt and men’s shorts from Thread

There’s a lot so let’s see what actually comes off this.


One of my favourite parts about sewing is finding those few textiles I love among a pile of a million. I don’t go overboard and typically (! – it’s only been a few months) try and use the fabric I have rather than go purchase new ones. Here are few of my go to places (in Bombay) –

1. Mangaldas or Crawford Market, Bombay. This is definitely the place to go! I go for a swing in the charming chaos and to practice my terrible bargaining skills. Beautiful fabrics at amazing prices, although I do tend to get a bit put off by the overload of  “ethnic” prints and patterns, but I guess that is to be expected. My favourite store is “Rinkoo Fabrics” in Lane 9. They have nice printed rayons and cotton voiles. Prices are 200 – 250 Rs per metre. The good thing is that they often have new fabrics coming in so you don’t just see the same stuff over and over. If you are looking for a particular type of fabric, ask 2 – 3 of any of the store owners and they should point you to the correct store. Don’t be discouraged if the first one says “you won’t find that fabric here or a I don’t know”, just ask someone else and there is a decent chance he will know of a place in the market who sells that! Don’t expect to find printed silks though. Or if you do find it, let me know!

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2. Vandana, Chandralok, Nepeansea Road, Bombay: I go for gorgeous printed silk/blend which is also super soft, but they do have a lot of other cottons also. Prices are more expensive than anywhere else, but they do have some nice fabrics. I got this beautiful silk for Rs. 700 / metre – I’m not a big fan of the flowery print but it’s just soooooo soft and feels so good. I’m not quite sure how often they get new stuff, but they have great sales every once in a while and you can get some gorgeous embroidered fabrics like this one!

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3. Amarsons / Premsons, Breach Candy, Bombay: I go here purely because it is close to my house. They have the expensive fabrics in the front of the store and in the back, they have basic plain cottons / poly cottons / etc for Rs 60 – Rs 150. Although you can find the same stuff in Crawford for Rs 30 – 100. But you get a wider range here so worth the extra 30 – 50 rupees.

3. The Hab in Bandra for notions: They have fusing – enough said! Weirdly, they are closed on Thursdays. I went all the way from down south to make this fantastic discovery. Anyway, I also went to the one shop in Crawford for notions- K/Colombowala – and it wasn’t great. It was great fun trying to find it though!

4. Honorary Mention: Fabric Warehouse, Glorietta 3? (near National Bookstore) on the 3rd floor, Makati. I love the staff here who are so helpful and answer all of my questions which really helped when I was first starting out. They have a wide range of different types of fabrics all under one roof in the heart of the city. They also carry notions and if you don’t find them here you can go to Carolinas 3 – 4 stores down.

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5. Honorary mention 2: Ahmedabad fabric shops, Arbuda (Satellite) and Anuroop (CG Road) Matching Centres are my favourites. Anuroop has a fantastic range of textiles, but some can be expensive. I got a beautiful floral crepe for Rs. 1175 (ack!). Others that I would visit are Arpit Matching Centre, Sanskruti and Matchiswalla (sp?) for notions. All of the stores except Arbuda are in the CG road area so can be covered in one go.

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