Indian Fabric prints : 17 fascinating fabric patterns found on Indian fabrics

indian fabric prints

There is this story in Indian mythology of a beautiful girl living deep in the forest, wearing clothes made of the plainest of fabric, day in and day out. Once she gets a surprise gift from her foster father, just before her wedding – he wished for beautiful clothes and jewelry for her and they all appeared magically on top of a nearby shrub.

Reading this story in my childhood – it fascinated me. I imagined different types of clothes on that plant. Imagined myself as the princess. Imagined the tree resplendent with the different jewels and clothes I myself wanted. They all were in beautiful Indian prints and patterns.

World has adopted a lot of them as their own, as they should. Art is not confined to any boundary. It is universal. All the Indian prints are universally appealing and you may have seen them in your clothes or others’ clothes or on upholstery or somewhere, at least once wherever you live.

I am no expert in these prints and hope that I correctly recognize the prints and patterns. The true experts are the artisans ( the weavers, the printers, dyers, block carvers) who live in the villages of India who bring these prints to life with their tireless endeavor and artistic abilities and creative instincts, against a lot of odds.

Indian prints & Patterns

Ajrakh prints

This print uses motifs in intense colors like Black, yellow, crimson red, green and indigo blue (Blue and red are the most prominent and distinguishing colors of this print) and will also have motifs worked in white (unprinted) and black, usually as outline – the white and black defining the design. It is worked as a block printing technique.

Usually multiple colors are seen in the same fabric, with many different types of motifs, including border prints. As many as 20-30 different steps maybe involved in creating an Ajrakh printed fabric – A very labor intensive printing process indeed. 

You can read more about this printing technique here.

Bagh Prints

indian prints and patterns

Another hand block print made in natural colors of Red and back practiced in Bagh town in the Indian State of Madhya Pradesh. It is usually made on a white background. Red color is made from alum and black color is made from rusted iron (iron oxide). The dye is mixed with a vegetable gum to form a paste used in this printing.

Read more on Bagh print : https://craftatlas.co/crafts/bagh-print.

indian fabric printing

Bandhni prints

This is a print produced by a type of tie and dye technique creating small dots all over the fabric. The fabric is tied tightly in several places with grains inside – it is dipped in the dye solution, lighter colors first and dark colors later.Bright colors like yellow, purple, red, magenta, green are used. Small dots, Cirlces, diamonds and many other shapes are obtained this way

Buti prints 

These are small motifs on the fabric – usually woven.

Dabu

Dabu is a resist technique used to create light coloured designs on a dark background. Mud is used as the resist medium (Kali mitti -black clay).

When the fabric is dyed, the places where the clay is applied and dried remains uncolored.

Batik

Batik is a wax resist dyeing technique. Beautifully intricate as well as shaded designs can be printed on the fabric using this technique.

Learn more about Batik here : https://www.batikguild.org.uk/batik/what-is-batik.

Ikkat prints 

Ikkat prints are made using the tie and dye technique – on the yarn. In ikkat prints you will find different motifs like flowers, animals like fish, parrots, leaves.

Kalamkari prints

indian fabric patterns

The term kalamkari derives from the Indian word kalam which means pen. The designs of this prints looks as if it is drawn with the help of a pen.

indian prints and patterns

This printing originated in the Indian State of Andhra Pradesh and is traditionally  block printed on fabric using organic and vegetable dyes.

Khari prints

indian fabric printing patterns

This is a printing using metallic colors or white color. It is usually done over hand block printed  fabrics as a special highlight.  It is also used as a standalone print.

Leheriya prints

These are flowy long striped prints created with the tie and dye technique. 

Paisley prints

There is a whole history behind the very famous paisley prints / Mango prints. You can learn more about paisley pattern here.

Patola prints 

This refers to sari fabric prints with geometrical patterns; these are arranged in the shape of animals/birds etc. Swans, elephants are regular motifs in Patola fabric.

Pochampalli ikat prints

This is another print with geometrical prints and these are formed by its  special weaving process. These wave like shapes are seen all over or towards the border

Sanganer prints

indian fabric printing

Sanganer Prints  have beautiful delicate floral designs done on a white (pure white or off white) background. The floral and leaf motifs of roses, lilies, marigold , sunflowers and lotus are complimented by geometric motifs. The outlines of the motifs are printed first and then the color is filled in.

Reference : https://www.faridagupta.com/blog/difference-between-sanganer-and-bagru-printing.html

Seyali Bagru prints

Seyali Bagru printing is a traditional printing process followed in the Indian state of Rajastan. It makes dark colored patterns (red, black and sometimes blue) on a dyed or cream /yellow ocher background, all made with natural dyes on cotton fabric. Natural motifs are interspersed with geometrical motifs in this fascinating Indian printing.Vegetable dyes are used through out the process.

Learn more about this here : https://luggra.com/2018/04/11/bagru-a-traditional-printing-technique-of-rajasthan/.

Temple prints

These are pyramid like motifs, an abstract representation of temples of India – usually used as a border print on Saris.

Warli prints

Warli painting is a tribal art practiced in the state of Maharashtra. These are stylized drawings depicting the daily life of the tribal people.This art can be seen as patterns on fabric as well.

Related post: Names of 80+ different fabric patterns ; different types of Fabric pattern repeats.

Comments 4

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  1. Thank you for this lovely sew guide. There is so much in it.i think I can learn a lot and look forward to trying new things.

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