Sunday, 11 January 2015

My Journey to rediscover authentic Bleeding Madras cotton plaid fabric

My passion to work for myself started when I came across a blog discussing about cotton garments available at Chennai, India. This triggered an interest in garments for me and I started exploring the various types of garments and its manufacturing locations at various parts of India.

While exploring one such blog, I came across a gentlemen request looking for Bleeding Madras Cotton Plaid Fabrics. Till that time I didn't had an idea about that fabric and its past glory. I searched the internet and came to know of its history, so much fascinating and exciting.

I was confident that I can get that fabric since it originated from my region and I can feel the life of it. I started calling manufactures of hand-loom fabrics; the call was not only confined to my region but across the country spanning many states. Many answered the call, and replied that the fabric is available, but retaining only the name 'Hand-loom' many manufactures were supplying cotton plaid fabrics which were manufactured using Power loom, Auto loom etc.

Photo Credit : Internet Sources

The search went in vain and the word 'Hand-loom' was no more reliable. Whatsoever Hand-loom fabric made available in Weavers′ Co-operative Society were in the form of Cotton or Silk Sarees, Ladies Dupattas and Kurtis materials but not as plaid fabrics.

                                                                                         Photo Credit : Internet Sources

At last one Weavers society threw some light by agreeing to send some sample Hand-loom Cotton Plaid fabric and those were the happier moments when I waiting for the courier to deliver the samples. After couple of days the sample arrived, but to my dismay, what I received was a sub-quality fabric.

At one point, I was willing to accept even the sub-quality Bleeding Madras (BM) fabric and went ahead to test its bleeding quality. I soaked the sample fabric in a tub filled with crystal clear water. I waited for few hours and the wait extended for couple of days, but the water remained crystal clear and there was no sign of bleeding. The disappointment reached its peak and I halted the search for the Bleeding Madras fabric for a while.

Few days passed, I shortlisted some villages Mangalam, Ladavaram, Randam located south-west of Chennai and planned to meet the Hand-loom weavers deep inside the village.

One fine early morning, I set for journey along with my brother as per my plan. After 4 hours of travelling I reached village Mangalam, but there was no sign of any handloom weaving, I enquired about the availability of handloom fabrics in that village and a person advised me to get in to another village named Nookambadi located 15 kms away and I continued my travel and reached the desired spot.

The village was well populated with handloom weavers and there were shops everywhere filled with handloom silk sarees. I spoke to few handloom weavers and understood that the location is familiar only for silk sarees and not for Handloom cotton fabrics. He then redirected to a different village named Kalasamudram located 110 kms away which was not in my plan and my journey continued, by then it was afternoon and I halted my travel for Lunch.

After Lunch, I reached the village the weaver was pointing to, and I met few more weavers’ works under a master weavers. They were in dilemma whether to introduce me to the master weaver or not as they were not in good terms with their masters. After few minutes of pleading to them, I met the master weaver and told about my passion for the search of Bleeding Madras.

To my surprise, the master weaver was one among the weavers in 1960's / 1970'2 who produced Bleeding madras in bulk and exported the fabrics to the United States. He was too old to help me with a sample but he spared time to make me understand the know-how to produce the Bleeding Madras Cotton Plaid fabrics.

He further advised me to stop searching for readymade bleeding fabrics as it is not available any more in India. My joy new no bounds, not able to find any word to express my happiness, was so happy.

From that point, it didn't take much time to re-discover the fabric. Being a mentor the master weaver guided me in very stage of the fabric development. Each and every process was executed with perfection and I reached the stage where the yarns were loaded in the loom for the weaving.

                                                                                     Photo Credit : Internet Sources

I thought that I can reach my goal in a week, but bad time followed. Unfortunately cyclone thrashed southern part of India and there was flood everywhere followed by the weaver sickness, which made me to wait further for few months. I lost patience and made a visit to the weaver’s village and understood that he was in the last stage of recovery and he comforted me that he will start the work in a day or two.

                                                                                        Photo Credit : Internet Sources

After few days I received the call from the weaver that he courier sample cotton fabrics to my address. I felt very happy, regularly I was inquiring my family members whether the post-man delivered any parcel or not. The sample arrived and I carefully unpacked the parcel to find the plaid cotton fabric.

                                                                                             Recently Weaved Bleeding Madras Cotton Plaid Fabric

With no loss of time, immediately I took a swatch and immersed in a small tub of water, it was an excellent moment, the fabric didn't bleed profusely but the color of the water changed mildly overlapping other colors of the plaid fabric........The resultant is, the fabric bleeds the way it has to bleed.

I like to publish the photos which i had taken during my recent visit to dye the yarn.

Photos taken during my visit to the weavers location in May'15


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