Sunday, July 8, 2012

Chikan Embroidery

In March, I participated in a SAL (Stitch Along) with other members of MAP in a LAB project. As a group we took the tutorial from Artistic Fingers for a Chikan Embroidery project.  I knew nothing about traditional Indian embroidery, other than I follow a couple of blogs which discuss their embroidery for Saris and other traditional uses.  One of my favorite is Hand Embroidery from Sandalas.

Chikan Embroidery is a combination of shadow work, pulled thread and surface embroidery.  Armed with some Batiste fabric and regular stranded embroidery floss, we went to work.  First we transferred the design onto our fabric and then we started with the shadow work part. The design was a paisley which is a traditional design of Chikan Embroidery. We learned the stitch named Double Back Stitch.  It was a lot like working Herringbone from the back.  All of the stitches we used have names from their traditional roots.  It was fun to see how they were alike and how they differed from the stitches that we already knew.

I wanted to do two of the design.  I was thinking ahead to how the pieces would be finished and thought I would like to make a pair of pillows for my daughters room.

Pink Paisley 04/2012
Blue Paisley 04/2012

Once they were embroidered, the pieces kind of sat in my sewing basket.  I'm not really a sewer, but I am trying to learn.  One weekend, I framed them with some matching material, however, I miscalculated the size and they would not work for the pillows I had in mind so I ripped out the sewing and they went back in the sewing basket.  This last weekend, I finally pulled them back out determined to have them finished.

I did struggle.  I didn't have the original embroideries cut, squared and uniform.  I also was not working from a pattern.  The blue pieced together fairly well but the pink fabric was not opaque enough.  I ended up doubling the pink panels.  I was covering a printed set of pillows which I didn't want to show through.

When I sewed the extending panels on, the seams were puckered a little.  I didn't want to pick them out for a second time because I was worried that picking out sewn fabric multiple times would sabotage the embroidery.  I opted for a way of covering the seams. Each project teaches me a little more.  On this project, I learned alot about thread tension on the sewing machine.  I was able to fix the tension problem towards the end by turning the bobbin case thread tension a 1/4 turn.

Finished Paisley Pillows 04/2012
 The finished pillow slips are also just a little snug on the pillows, but they work and my daughter loves them. The backs of the pillows are the same fabric as the ruffled border on the front.  Here you see them being modelled on my own bed.  The blue one matched rather nicely. 

Oh BTW - do you see the lovely blue chenille bedspread.  This was a recent find at a thrift store.  I walked out of the store having spent $8.  My bed is a full size and the bedspread turned out to be a king size.  I can testify to how quickly you can get something done if you want to because I had that bedspread washed, cut down to a generous size and hand hemmed by 9 am the next morning.  This weekend, I was able to sew two matching pillow shams from the excess fabric.  I am really enjoying the bed spread.


  1. Theresa, these are just beautiful! You've done an extremely lovely job with them and I love how they're framed out in the pillows! :)

  2. Absolutely beautiful !!! What a keepsake!

  3. Theresa,
    Perfect stitching!Your pillows are gorgeous! Thanks for making me so...proud!
    You've made my day by stitching two paisleys:).I love both...

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