One of the worst qualities about myself is that I get really passionate about something for a few days (or weeks or months), but then lose interest when something new comes along. I mean to the point of obsession, where I will think about it and work on it, in every spare second that I have. As you can imagine, I have built up quite a pile of unfinished projects. One such project is the subject of this post.
I was gifted a beautiful salwar kameez many years ago, purchased from Aarong, in Bangladesh. Aarong is the number one lifestyle retailer in Bangladesh, known for its unique hand-embroidered pieces. I adore Aarong clothes and own a few of their salwar kameezes and saris. They are pricey for Bangladesh but very reasonable for the UK shopper. Their embroidery is indeed unique and unlike anything I’ve seen elsewhere. Here is the embroidery on my kameez:
Each time I wore it, I became more and more obsessed with it. I did Textiles at school and was familiar with all the basic stitch types but I had no idea what this was. Naturally, I searched the internet until I found what I was looking for. It turns out it originates from Kutch, in India, thus known as Kutch work or Kutch embroidery.* Once I knew what the stitch was called it was easy enough to find online tutorials. Kutch work is very similar to interlaced herringbone stitch. You stitch the outline of the ‘frame’ part, and then weave around it. You can use two different colours but I prefer to use the same colour for both parts.
I had a plain cotton kameez that I wanted to jazz up, and thought it would be a perfect opportunity to try out my newly learnt skill. I apologise for the poor quality of this photograph, it was taken a few years ago with my not-so-brilliant camera phone.
I used a disappearing fabric pen to draw on my pattern (which can be seen very faintly in the picture above). I think that’s one of the other things that made me like Kutch work even more – the patterns are so precise – it reminded me of my Graphics GCSE, using my fancy ruler and pen. I chose complementary colours to work with, rather than the contrasting colours in my inspiration piece. This is what I came up with:
Here is a close up of the designs around the edges:
This design is a variation of the original Kutch work, which I found on a blog called ‘This and That… My Random Thoughts‘ by Deepa Balagopal. However, I did use the original Kutch work for the large motif. I have included a photograph of this below, next to the original piece. As you can see, mine is nowhere near as intricate or neat, but I think it’s acceptable as a first attempt to wear round the house!
The motif looked a bit bare so I drew a square/diamond around it and used backstitch to go over it. I interlaced it to add a bit of thickness and texture. I’m happy with how it looks now, although I’m unsure if I should leave it as it is, or continue the design across the bottom… something like this:
Thank you to Howard for his kindness in editing this image – I’m a bit of a dumbo when it comes to software – my attempt was a bit of a shocker! I just wanted to give you an idea of the proposed continuation. I have shown it to friends and family and have received mixed responses. I would love to hear your opinions. Have you ever seen or done something like this?
Have a great day!
*Origin from Wikipedia:
Sindhi stitch or Kutchi bharat (Gujarat)
A variation of Kutch work, this geometric embroidery starts with a foundation framework of herringbone stitch or Cretan stitch, and then this framework is completely filled with interlacing. It is said that this technique originated in far away land of Armenia and found its way to Gujarat by travelling Nomads. Sindhi stitch or Maltese cross stitch is also similar but the innovation of the Kutchi women have taken it beyond the traditional designs.