Slowly and surely is the way hands tell tales
If not all at least one or two of these processes done entirely by hand, have gone into every garment at Abava. Based on design and chosen material, we incorporate as many sustainable processes as we can.
Motifs and patterns inspired by nature, both contemporary and traditional, are first drawn on paper and traced onto a flat block of teak wood. They are then etched with fine metal tools to perfect the desired design. It can take anywhere between 1 - 5 days to etch a single block. There’s a block etched for every colour the motif contains, hence a five-colour motif will need five handmade blocks.
Printing with handmade blocks demands a deep attentiveness as the pattern must be stamped with precision repeatedly across the fabric, colour by colour. They are stamped individually onto the fabric, one colour at a time. Slight unavoidable irregularities make every block printed fabric unique in its own way creating a raw artistic aesthetic that a machine print can never yield. Block printing is one of the earliest, simplest, and slowest of all methods of textile printing.
Hand spinning is where natural fibres are spun by hand to turn them into yarn. Again, a very old craft, the process of spinning evolved from fibres twisted by hand to the spindle to the wheel. Khadi, a household name today, is a fabric that is spun and woven by hand using the charkha or wheel and is a symbol of independence and a solemn salute to the environment. We use this process for our khadi cottons and eri silk fabrics.
A wooden frame is used by skilled artisans/weavers to weave fabrics from natural fibres like cotton, silk, wool, jute, etc. Called a handloom, it employs a simple mechanism where lengthwise yarns intersect with widthwise yarns to weave a form. Traditionally an entire family is involved in the weaving process - from spinning the yarn, to dyeing, to winding the shuttle, to weaving they have roles assigned.
As an initiative to support women and tribal clusters, we plan and try our best to work with one cluster every season and incorporate their traditional style of embroidery. One that is now a regular part of our garments is embroidery done by the Lambadi tribal women. Better described as a lively amalgamation of bright colours their repertoire includes pattern darning, mirror work, cross stitch, kantha, overlaid and quilted stitches and borders of patchwork, largely in geometrical patterns.
Either the yarn or the fabric is dyed and each achieves a different result. Sources of natural dyes include parts of plants such as leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, barks & roots of dye yielding plants. We also use mineral dyes extracted from natural earth pigments for colours such as prussian blue, red ochre and ultramarine blue. Other natural extracts from lac, cochineal and kermes, myrobalan, indigo, rhubarb, pomegranate, turmeric, and neem are used too.
Pattern Making & Sewing
It takes the skilled hands of tailors and pattern makers to put the garment together into its final form. Fabrics are marked and cut masterfully to eliminate as much wastage as possible. They are then pressed and sewn to delight the wearer.