A Return To Handmade & Uplifting Women Artisans Through The Ancient Art of Chikankari
Chikankari embroidery is an ancient artform from the northern regions of India that has been passed down for over four centuries . This embroidery style is very popular throughout India and its extremely intricate and delicate stitches are unmissable. Chikankari is traditionally done on lightweight fabrics such as cotton muslins or silk and consists of about 36 different raised , flat and knotted stitches to create floral motifs and patterns. The multi step process begins with cutting the fabric to the form of the garment it will be. Next, The fabric is block printed in temporary ink to indicate where the different embroidery motifs will go. Lastly, the artisan embroiders over the print using a variety of stitches and open patterns to create different textures. It takes years to become a master in this style of embroidery and multiple days to complete even a single garment. Manvi: the handmade continues to celebrate, preserve, and promote the Chikankari tradition and to uplift and create opportunities for the women artisans who work for them. The first time we saw Manvi dresses in person in Southern India we were completely blown away by the beauty. Although so many places in the world are moving away from handmade and toward digitized everything including embroidery, computers have absolutely nothing on what humans can produce by hand. At Post Surf we are still mesmerized by the work of artisans and are interested in not only celebrating what handmade really means but also in collaborating with companies who are focused on the preservation of cultures, families and the crafts that have binded them together for centuries. Below are some really special behind the scenes photos that Sujata, owner and founder of Manvi: The Handmade shared with us of the process.
Close up of the circular frame used to stretch the fabric and create a consistent surface to embroider on."Shadow work" is also common, where the motifs are embroidered on the back of sheer fabric to create a shadowed effect on the front of the garment
"Since our establishment, we have made a conscious effort to recognize and challenge cultural and structural barriers that hinder women from working and achieving monetary independence. For example, to accommodate female workers with domestic care responsibilities, we encourage them to work from home. To assist younger workers whose families are worried about them traveling alone, we provide free transportation to and from the workplace."
(Left) The artisans work side by side hand embroidering each piece | (Right) Garments are first block printed with precision to indicate the placement of the embroidery
Apsara Dress in True White | Shop it Here
(Below) The Manvi artisans in action