Machine & Hand Embroidery

Posted by Just Phulkari on

We all know Phulkari is a traditional hand embroidery art of ancient Punjab. It used to be done on raw cotton fabric called khaddar, with special threads meant for this embroidery only. 

Over the years, with the advent of machines, this art started losing the interest of the artisans. Because machine embroidery is faster, the end product is immaculate in every stitch, and it is much economical than hand embroidery, people started buying more of machine made phulkaris.

Many people can't tell the difference and get fleeced. Someone once tried selling me a machine embroidered dupatta referring to it as hand embroidered one and quoting exorbitant price. Of course they didn't know I founded JustPhulkari :)

As a phulkari enthusiast myself, I would want to know if I am wearing a machine embroidered phulkari or a hand embroidered masterpiece. In this blog we’d try to explain a few points to be kept in mind while you are buying a Phulkari.  

Time to Make - of course you’d not know this while buying. But just to explain, a hand embroidered saree takes about 6-8 weeks to get embroidered, whereas a machine can make more than 20-30 pieces per day depending upon the machine size and capacity. 

Perfection of Stitches - a machine made Phulkari will always have perfect stitches, all of them being of the same size and shape, whereas there will be some irregularities in hand made Phulkaris. 


   Machine Embroidery                                               Hand Embroidery

Thread - The thread used for both the embroideries is different. The thread for machine embroidery is thinner and fine in quality than the one used in hand embroidery. 


  Machine Embroidery                                               Hand Embroidery

Look at the back side - If you are not able to make out from the front, just reverse it and see the Phulkari. Machine phulkari will be neat whereas hand embroidered phulkari will have some threads and knots since there is only a limited length of the thread you can take in your needle, which usually is to complete 1 motif.

Back side of machine made phulkari will have full motif behind as well whereas hand embroidered will have only bits of thread & knots visible.


  Machine Embroidery                                               Hand Embroidery

Price - of course it depends upon the individual sellers / manufacturers to price their products as per their requirements, usually, a hand embroidered saree is expensive than a machine embroidered one. 

I enjoy draping a Phulkari whenever I get a chance and I enjoy both - hand embroidered and machine embroidered. Both have the same origin but different manufacturing process. But whenever I drape a hand embroidered saree, I remember the artisans who have made it and I feel grateful to be able to do my bit to keep this art alive.



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