Zardozi embroidery (zardosi work) is an ornate metallic embroidery done using the metallic bullion thread / french wire/ metallic spring thread, a shiny circular spiral metal thread in metallic colours of gold and silver .
Other than the spring thread, precious stones, pearls, beads and sequins are also used to embellish the work.
The completed zardosi work looks rather splendorous when you look at in real – which cannot be translated by the eyes of a camera
The word zardosi derives from Persian words Zar meaning gold and Dosi meaning embroidery.In India this beautiful work was once the prerogative of only the royals. Not anymore. If it was I would not have a box full of these springs in different shades of gold, silver along with different zari thread in many shades – I am nowhere anywhere royal.
Of course, at that time, the thread was made from real gold and silver and now the zardosi spring thread is copper wire which is strung into coils and given gold or silver polish.The zardosi work is traditionally done on stretched fabric with thin Ari needles ( a very fine crochet needle look alike with wooden handles)
Under the Mughal rule in Indian subcontinent, this embroidery technique became an art. Many artisans lived by it but at some point of time the royal patronage was withdrawn and the embroidery saw a decline. In modern day India, the work gained favour again – instead of the royals, the brides and even the bride grooms have taken zardosi work in a big way for their trousseau and designers use this work to embellish their signature outfits.
What do you need to do zardosi work
Cotton thread in matching colours
Zari thread ( Gold or silver metallic hand embroidery thread – this is used to make an outline stitch – fine chain stitches are worked along the outline.)
Bullion embroidery thread (The spiral bullion thread come in different widths/ sizes as well as in different shades of the golden colour and silver) You have to cut the thread into small pieces appropriate for your design.
Beads, sequins or other embellishments like kundan crystals if you want
Thread snips for cutting the zardosi thread ( never ever use your sewing scissors to cut the thread – they will dull and you will need to read this post on how to sharpen scissors sooner than later)
The fabric of your choice . (You can choose to work this embroidery on linen for everyday clothes but the richness of zardosi work deserves a fabric which befits it. Nothing less than silk, satin or velvet. Zardosi is used mainly on vivid coloured clothes as the colour of the zardosi thread will stand out against them ; like red, rust, emerald green, navy blue etc)
Hoop – To do this work the fabric has to be stretched on a hoop. A nice stretch is necessary to do the work correctly with even tension. Traditionally the zardosi is done on a slate frame called Addaa . Check out more details in the post on the different types of frames used to stretch the fabric. For small work like the ones I will be doing the ordinary embroidery hoop will suffice
Needle – you can use thin beading needles for the work. Ensure they will pass through the fine coils.You also need the needle to work with zari thread
Traditionally the artisans use a special type of zardosi needle – aari needle to do this embroidery. This needle works by pulling the thread from under the fabric and working the zardosi thread into the design. You can use the crochet needle of 5mm for this work. But simple needle and cotton thread can be used to stitch the bullion thread as I have done in this post.
Main stitches used in zardosi work
1 Straight stitch
This is the most basic stitch of zardosi. You work this the same way that back stitch is done. This stitch is also worked inside big designs under filling stitches to form a padding.
2. Stem stitch
This is used for giving outline and for stems of flower designs.
3.Twisted stem stitch
4. Padded slanting stitches
To work this stitch first a straight stitch or two is made as a base and then slanting stitches are done over and above the straight stitch
5 .Chain stitches
A loop is formed when you bring up the needle and thread the zardosi piece and then go back some two – three thread near from where you first came up.
Lazy daisy stitches worked to form a flower. This is a common zardosi motif with the metallic bullion thread. Check out the tutorial to make lazy daisy stitch
8. Surrounding a bead
A bead is usually surrounded by a suitable length of zardosi thread
9. Fish bone stitch
10. Filling stitches
How to make a flower with zardozi work
Zardosi is usually worked by making an outline with the zari thread and then filling the design with the bullion thread.
Outline is done with golden zari thread
Make horizontal stitches on the petals with the bullion thread. This is done for a padding.
Now fill the design with accurately cut zardosi thread
How to stitch a leaf in zardosi work
Work the outline with zari thread
Make vertical stitches with the zardosi thread along the center.
Starting from the middle of the leaf to the tip, fill the leaf on one side
Continue filling the next side
Embroidery stitches like chain stitch, satin stitch, couching stitch and stem stitch are used along with the bullion spring thread stitches. By combining these stitches with the zardosi stitches explained above you can make breathtaking designs in zardosi