Indian hand embroidery patterns and motifs – Ultimate designs you will love.

Traditional embroidery designs  used in clothes in India



This embroidery belongs to the Punjab region and is a very important part of the trousseau of a Punjabi bride. It originated in the Jat community in Punjab. Phulkari literally means a garden of flowers

phulkari design indian embroidery

Phulkari used to be done on homespun and home woven dyed khadi material usually in rust colour and is done with untwisted silken thread Patt in magenta yellow green blue and saffron colours.The Silk threads used were hand dyed with vegetable dyes. But now it is done on cotton, silk and even on synthetic materials. 

The three types of phulkari embroidery are

  • Bagh in which pattern covers the whole surface.
  • Chobe in which only the border in embroidered
  • Shashidar in which small mirrors are worked along with the embroidery.

Lavishly embroidered phulkari garments are a must have part of bridal trousseau in Punjab.

Check out to learn this stunning embroidery –How to do Phulkari embroidery – DIY tutorial

Mirror Work / Shisha work 


Indian fabrics decorated with the small mirrors or shishas are a sight to behold. They are as dazzling, inexpensive, easy to stitch on to clothes, lightweight, glamorous – many many reasons as to why you should stitch these little shishas on to your clothes. 
This work is getting to be a favourite in the fashion runways too with many designers like Manish Malhothra opting to embellish their creations with this absolutely gorgeous art.

In some parts of India, mirror work dominates the design but in others, mirror is used to decorate specific parts of the design like the center of a flower.

Checkout the tutorial – 8 ways to attach mirrors/ shishas to your clothes

mirror work stitches

and the tutorials to make 10 easy mirror embroidery designs

mirror work designs


Chikankari originated in the East Bengal but  now Utter Pradesh, particularly Lucknow is famous for this beautiful embroidery work.

Checkout the detailed post and tutorial on Chikankari Embroidery 

This is originally  done in cotton threads on soft white cotton cloths but it is now also done on lightweight fabrics like cotton, linen, georgette or chiffons indian embroidery designs chikenkari

The stitches used are Satin Stitch, Stem Stitch, back stitch, herringbone stitch, buttonhole stitch and  Jaal stitch ( pulled thread embroidery).

The Lucknow work as it is known nowadays is an essential part of the wardrobe of an Indian girl in the form of kurtas and dupattas

Checkout 5 easy chikan motifs you can make on your projects 

 chikan motifs


Kutch embroidery

This embroidery is originally, as the name suggests from the Kutch region in Gujarat. Kutch is famous for many beautiful embroidery styles. The Kutch work in geometrical patterns is done mainly with  herringbone stitches which are then interlaced with a contrasting coloured thread. This work is also referred as Sindhi embroidery.

Small squares forms the basis of the Kutch embroidery. This is done with brightly coloured threads usually red, orange green etc and results in a very colourful festive look. Mirrors are also used in this work adding to the beauty of this work

Check out this post for beautiful kutch embroidery designs and detailed tutorial

 kutch work embroidery

Kantha work 

Kantha embroidery belongs to the state of West Bengal and is a very beautiful and very unique style of embroidery.

Simple running stitches are used throughout this embroidery, which gives the cloth a very special texture which is a visual delight and very popular among Indian ladies.kantha work

Scenes from the Indian legendary tales of Ramayan and Mahabharatha and scenes of nature and even every day life scenes are traced into the cloth, the outline is done first and then filled.

Check out this tutorial on How to do Kantha embroidery work 


zardosi stitch

Zardosi is a commonly seen work in almost all bridal trousseau in India; it weaves gold and silver thread onto the fabric to create very beautiful and intricate patterns .

Earlier this work was affordable only to the rich but nowadays because of the many substitute materials used this work is widely available.

The stitches used are couching stem stitch running stitch and satin stitch

Checkout the post on Zardosi embroidery for some 10 easy to make zardosi stitches with which you can easily embroider your  zardosi designs.

zardosi embroidery

Kashida embroidery

This embroidery belongs to Kashmir. Kashmiri shawls done with this work are world famous and Kaftans worked with this embroidery exquisite.

A variety of Kashida embroidery is Raffugiri embroidery. In this both the sides of the cloth will look the same after the work is done.the-handloom-industry-India

The motifs for the embroidery designs are taken from scenes of nature. Motifs used are birds like parrots, peacocks, kingfisher and leaves and fruits like apple blossoms, plums, cherries, grapes and flowers like lotus. 

A lot of items like pashmina shawls sarees bedspreads are done with this beautiful work and are very well valued. This intricate and detailed  work requires very skilled workmen. 

Check out the tutorial to do a Kashmiri stitch.

A type of Kashmiri embroidery involves Chain stitches worked throughout the design. The designs were based on nature, with common patterns being flowers, leaves, peacocks, animals like elephants, bhutis ( polka dots) etc

kutch chainstitches

Check out this post on chain stitch embroidery for 5 easy to make chain stitch embroidery motifs/designs

chain stitch embroidery

Paisley Patterns

Paisley is a recurring motif in most of the Indian embroidery work. Check out the post on paisley designs for many ways to work this pattern

paisley prints and patterns

Indian embroidery has a rich history and uses a number of motifs recurrently in its designs – some of the commonly used motifs are hunting scenes, jasmine, lily, peacock, swans, nightingale, deer, tiger, elephant, poppy, scrolls, floral designs with vines and leaves, moon-stars, Krishna with his girlfriends, mango ( Paisley)

If you would like to read more about Indian embroidery check out these books in a store near you or “the-bookstore-with-all-free-books” the library

  • 101 Folk embroidery and traditional handloom weaving by Shailaja D. Naik
  • Embroidered Textiles: A World Guide to Traditional Patterns by Sheila Paine
  • Ethnic Embroideries of India by Usha Srikant
  • Indian Embroidery: Its Variegated charms by Savithri Pandit

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