How to Recognise Handloom Fabrics - Beginners Guide

Written by Mouli Mondal.

Handloom fabric identification

Handloom fabric refers to textiles that are woven manually using traditional hand-operated looms. Unlike power looms, which are automated and powered by electricity, handlooms rely on the skill and dexterity of the weaver to create the fabric. The process involves interlacing warp (lengthwise threads) and weft (crosswise threads) yarns to produce a woven fabric. 

Handloom fabrics are often characterized by their unique textures, irregularities, and the craftsmanship involved in their creation. The use of handlooms allows for a greater variety of designs, patterns, and intricate details, making each piece of fabric unique. Additionally, handloom weaving is often associated with cultural and heritage significance, as it has been a traditional craft in many societies for generations. Check here the handloom fabric making process

Handloom fabrics can be made from various fibers, including cotton, silk, wool, and other natural or synthetic materials. They are used to create a wide range of products, including sarees, scarves, shawls, dress materials, and upholstery fabrics. The popularity of handloom fabrics is also linked to the appreciation for sustainable and eco-friendly practices, as handloom weaving typically consumes less energy compared to large-scale mechanized weaving.

Handloom fabrics can be recognized by their unique texture, irregularities, and distinctive weaving patterns. Unlike mass-produced machine-made textiles, handloom fabrics often exhibit slight variations in color and weave, reflecting the skilled craftsmanship involved in their creation. The presence of irregularities, such as small imperfections or variations in thickness, is a hallmark of handloom textiles. Additionally, handloom fabrics often have a characteristic feel, with a certain warmth and comfort that comes from the human touch in the weaving process. Observing the intricacies of the weave, checking for irregularities, and feeling the texture are key indicators when trying to recognize handloom fabric, showcasing the artistry and individuality inherent in each piece.

Recognizing handloom fabric involves highlighting certain characteristics and details that distinguish it from machine-made fabrics. Here are some tips to help you identify handloom fabric:

1. Irregularities in Weave:

Handloom fabrics often have slight irregularities in the weave. Look for variations in the thickness of yarn and subtle imperfections that are typical of handmade textiles. Identifying handloom fabric often involves recognizing irregularities in the weave. Unlike machine-made fabrics, handloom textiles display unique characteristics such as slight variations in thread thickness, occasional unevenness in the weave, and small imperfections. These irregularities are a testament to the handcrafted nature of the fabric, showcasing the skill and individual touch of the artisan. By observing subtle inconsistencies in the weave pattern, one can discern the authentic charm of handloom fabrics, distinguishing them from mass-produced alternatives.

2. Feel the Texture:

Handloom fabrics usually have a distinctive texture. Run your fingers over the fabric and feel for a slightly uneven surface, which is a result of the manual weaving process. Identifying handloom fabric based on texture involves recognizing certain tactile characteristics unique to handwoven textiles. Handloom fabrics typically display a distinctive irregularity in texture, often accompanied by a slightly uneven weave. The feel is often coarse yet soft, and one may notice variations in thickness and slubs, indicating the human touch involved in the weaving process. 

Unlike mass-produced machine-made fabrics, handloom textiles often showcase individuality, with small imperfections that contribute to their charm. By running your fingers over the fabric and paying attention to these irregularities, you can discern the handmade nature of handloom fabrics and appreciate the craftsmanship behind their creation.

Also read: Different types of sarees from different states of India  

3. Design in horizontal Direction:

In handloom sarees, the design is created in the weft direction. Weft refers to the horizontal threads woven through the warp (vertical threads) to create the fabric. Handloom complicated designed saree has a design in weft direction.

4. Check the fabric Selvedge (Edges):

Check the selvage edge (the finished edge along the length of the fabric). Take note of the irregular selvedge. It might even occasionally have tiny holes all the way around. Every time, the holes are equally spaced. Handloom fabrics often have a different and sometimes decorative selvage, as compared to the clean and uniform selvage of machine-made fabrics.

5. Check the horizontal threads:

Check the spacing between the horizontal threads by holding the textile up to a light source. This distance will never be the same when dealing with handloom textiles.

6. Handmade Patterns:

Handloom fabrics may feature unique and intricate patterns that are manually created by the weaver. Look for irregularities or variations in the pattern that may not be present in machine-made textiles.

7. Inconsistencies in Dyeing:

Handloom fabrics may exhibit slight variations in color due to hand-dyeing processes. These variations add to the charm and uniqueness of the fabric.

8. Knowledge of Local Techniques:

Understanding traditional handloom techniques specific to a region can be helpful. Different cultures and regions have their own weaving methods and styles.

9. Natural Fibers:

Handloom fabrics are often made from natural fibers such as cotton, silk, wool, or a combination of these. Check the fiber content on the label, and if possible, feel the fabric to determine if it has a natural texture.

10. Check for Labels and Certifications:

Some handloom fabrics may come with certifications or labels indicating that they are handmade. Look for labels from reputable organizations that promote traditional crafts and weaving.

Here are some tips on how to identify handloom fabric by checking labels and certifications:

Look for Handloom Mark or Certification:

In many countries, there are specific certifications or marks for handloom products. For example, in India, the "Handloom Mark" is used to identify handwoven textiles. Look for such marks on the product or its label.

Check for Government Certifications:

Handloom products may be certified by government bodies or textile authorities. Verify if there is a government certification label on the fabric.

Read Labels Carefully:

Manufacturers often provide information about the fabric on the labels. Look for terms like "handwoven," "handloom," or specific weaving techniques (e.g., "ikat," "khadi," etc.). These terms indicate the handcrafted nature of the fabric.

Artisan or Weaver Information:

Some handloom products include information about the artisan or weaver who crafted the fabric. This personal touch is often a sign of authenticity. Check for any details provided on the label.

Supporting Organizations:

Some handloom products may be associated with or endorsed by specific organizations that promote traditional handloom weaving. Look for information on the label about any supporting organizations.

Ask the Seller:

If you are unsure about the authenticity of the handloom fabric, don't hesitate to ask the seller or manufacturer for more information. Reputable sellers should be able to provide details about the product's origin and weaving process.

About the Author: Mouli Mondal is a college student at the Government College of Engineering & Textile Technology, Serampore. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Textile Technology. She has a strong interest in textiles and is eager to continue learning and growing in the textile field. In her free time, she loves writing articles.

Previous Post Next Post

Contact Form