Journey towards excellence

About Handloom


A ‘handloom’ is a loom that is used to weave cloth without the use of any electricity. Hand weaving is done on pit looms or frame looms generally located in weavers’ homes.

Weaving is primarily the interlacing of two sets of yarn – the warp (length) and the weft (width). The equipment that facilitates this interlacing is the loom.

Difference between Handloom and Khad

Yarn spun by hand is known as “hand spun yarn” and yarn spun by machines is called “mill spun yarn”.

Fabrics woven out of hand spun yarn on handlooms are called “khadi”, while mill spun yarn woven on handlooms are called “handloom” fabrics.

Advantages of Handloom Cotton

The handloom experience (soft, comfortable and durable) is due to the human handling of the yarn in the weaving process. As a result, yarn and the fabric are much less stressed and damaged. Hand woven cotton is known for its breathability as compared to mill made cotton.

This implies that it allows more air penetration making it cooler, softer and more absorbent. It keeps you cooler in summers and warm in winters. .

Hand Spinning

Yarn in layman’s words is ‘thread’. Cotton yarn can be hand spun in two ways – cotton to yarn by hand, cotton to sliver by mechanical process and then spun by hand. Fibers are drawn out and twisted to form yarn in hand spinning process. The resultant yarn varies according to the material used, fiber length and alignment, quantity of fiber used and degree of twist.

Yarn thickness differs depending on the skill of the spinner. Skilled spinners can spin fine yarn counts. Fabric woven by hand on pit looms using hand spun yarn is referred to as ‘Khadi’. Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh is famous for fine count khadi saris..

Mechanized Spinning

Cotton yarn can also be spun on machines. The yarn is spun in spinning mills where all the activities of de-seeding, cleaning, ginning and spinning are centralized and mechanized. Yarn is spun on to cone shaped holders and is referred to as ‘cone yarn’.

Yarn spun on machines is called mill spun yarn and fabric woven on the hand loom with mill spun yarn is referred to as “handloom fabric”. Fabric woven with hand spun yarn on the handloom is referred to as “khadi fabric”. Today, most of the weavers are weaving handloom products with mill spun yarn..

Yarn Count

Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocked fibers. Depending on thestaple length of cotton, different thickness of yarn is spun and this is referred to as “Yarn Count”. Numbers are designated and these are known as “yarn counts”.

Thicker yarn is known as coarse counts and thinner yarn as fine counts. The thinner yarn is given higher numbers and thicker yarn is given lower numbers. For example a 60’s count yarn is thinner than 40’s count yarn.

Yarn Dyeing

For handloom production, yarn is colored / dyed in the hank form. Yarn dyeing for handlooms is a crucial pre loom activity. Although the handloom sector is decentralized in nature, dyeing with chemical colours has emerged as one of the centralized activities in the last 50 years. Dyeing is still carried out in the village or centres which are close to the weaving activity. Colorants, or dyes as they are commonly known, are highly colored substances that impart color to a wide variety of materials. Natural and chemical colorants are used to dye hanks. This process of dyeing is done by hand, in small lots.

Dyeing in handloom sector is done in small to medium sized dye houses situated in the village. The dye houses are equipped to dye small and large quantities of yarn. See picturesof different kinds of Yarn Dyeing.

Chemical Dyeing

The most significant step for chemical dyeing was the discovery of the structure of benzene in 1865. This had a huge impact on the development of organic chemistry and the dyestuff industry. This was followed steadily through the years up to 1956 with the discovery of a large number of chemicals dyes that are used by the textile industry today. To meet the market demand of bright colors, especially greenish yellows, turquoise or greenish blue, scarlets and reds, “Reactive” dyes were developed in 1956. This dye group offering bright hues along with good fastness qualities and ease of application process soon became a big commercial success and hugely impacted the textile industry throughout the world. Mordant: It is generally a chemical substance that helps fix colour or bind the dye (colour) to the fibre. Direct dyes: This is a dye class based on the method of application method. Here the fibre is immersed in a dye without the need for a mordant. Therefore direct dyes have high substantivity, but bond weakly to fibres, and usually have poor wash fastness. Sulphur dyes: These are dyes made by reacting sulphur with organic compounds. Sulphur dyes are typically inexpensive, but dull in color. They are often used commercially to produce a good black colour at low cost on cottons. They generally have good wash fastness, but are sensitive to bleaches. Sulphur dyes on fabric, particularly some blacks, may decompose under warm, humid conditions, reducing fabric strength.

Reactive dyes: This dye family contains no heavy extractable metals or other known toxic substances or pollutants, making them environmentally friendly or azo free chemical dyes. These dyes are low-impact synthetic dyes that directly form covalent bonds with cotton fibres rather than merely remaining as an independent chemical entity within the fibre, thus resulting in a long lasting, fast and bright color. Vat dyes: Vat means a vessel. Vat dyes derive their name from indigo vats used for fermenting the blue indigo dye. Vat dyes are water insoluble and need a special process to fix colour on the fibre. These dyes can be used effectively on natural plant material. Brilliant colours which are light and colour fast can be obtained in vat dyes. Indigo, the blue of blue jeans, is a common vat dye.


Warping is a process, which converts the hank yarn into a linear form to give the length on the loom. Warping is done on a huge drum and the width and desired quality of the product is decided at this stage.

The drum also helps to calculate number of threads and the length of the warp.


Weft in a fabric is yarn which passes across the fabric width. /p>

Weft yarn is passed through the warp yarn to create the fabric


Pit loom, stand loom and frame loom are three kinds of looms predominantly used by handloom weavers. The Pit loom is a loom situated on the ground / floor with a pit having two peddles set in the pit for the weaver to operate.

Pit loom weaving is considered to be better weaving as the fabric woven retains the character of the fiber and fabric due to the proximity to the ground. The ground absorbs the tension and speed and makes the fabric more breathable.

Textures in Hand Weaving

Hand woven fabric has a different texture from mill woven fabrics due to the low speed it is woven at and also the equipment used for weaving. Different textures are created in handloom by using different thicknesses’ and qualities of yarn in the same length and width of fabric.

These textures help create distinct handloom products such as mangalgiri yardage, south cotton sarees, twill fabrics, check fabrics etc.


Shuttle is a wooden instrument, which is used to carry the weft yarn for weaving the fabric.

Weaving Techniques

Different techniques are used for weaving on the loom. There is a basic weaving technique which makes the fabric. There are others, which are used to create surface designs on the fabric. Plain weave is the most commonly used technique to weave fabric on pit looms. Design and variety in fabric woven with plain weave is created through texture, stripe and check. Texture is created by using different thicknesses of yarns. Stripes and checks are created by colour or by using different thicknesses in yarn.

Extra warp and weft techniques are also used to create designs / surface patterns on the fabric. Traditionally, borders were used in sarees and dhoties and most of the looms wove petu, a dobby technique with an extra warp for creating patterns in the borders.

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