The first step in weaving is to stretch the warp yams, which must be very strong. The process is called beaming. The weft yarn crosses the warp, binding the warp yarns at either side to form the selvage.
The three essential steps after the warp is stretched are: shedding, or raising every alternate warp yam or set of yarns to receive the weft; picking, or inserting the weft; and battening, or pressing home the weft to make the fabric compact.
Plain weave is the most commonly used technique to weave fabric on 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.
New developments are taking place in production of khadi fabric using different colour combinations and weaves. In a study, khadi silk jackets in various colour combinations with new weaves were developed using computer aided designing. Khadi being a comfortable and practical fabric and can easily be adaptable to a range of designs in both formal and informal look in Indian as well as western styles (Kashyap & Arora 2011).
Khadi knit fabric was constructed in another study to utilise hand spun cotton and cotton/ polyester yarns in manually operated knitting machine. Plain knit and rib knit fabrics were developed in flat bed cotton hosiery machine. It was found that cotton/polyester knitted Khadi fabric is light in weight, thin, tight in construction, less stiff and rigid compared to cotton Khadi (Jain & Pant 2015).
Dyeing: Khadi weavers uses both vegetable dyes as well as chemical dyes to colour yarn, fibre or fabric. Mostly vegetable dyeing is being practiced in Rajasthan. On the basis of the method of application, vegetable dyes can be classified into two categories, substantive dyes and mordant dyes.
Substantive dyes: These dyes doesn’t require any additive to dye the fibre e.g.: turmeric (haldi), Babool chilka, Pomegranate peels (Anar chilka), Henna (Mehandi), Catachu (Katha) etc. Mordant Dyes: Some vegetable dyes have no direct affinity for the fibre; they adhere to the fibre only with the help of a mordant which is generally a metal salt. The mordant may be added to the dye in the dye–bath (kundi) itself or applied separately. Madder (Majith), Indigo (Neel) are examples of the mordant dyes.
The weavers use tanks and big vessels for dyeing.
The dyes which are commonly used are turmeric (haldi), Pomegranate peels (Anar chilka), henna (mehndi), babool chilka, Catachu (Katha), indigo (Neel), Hararh, madder (Majith), marigold, onions, walnut husks, etc.
The mordants required by them are alum, copper sulphate, chrome, tin, oxalic acid, tartar, acetic acid, etc.
Sincere attempts are being made to grow cotton without the use of chemical fertilizers. Khadi produced from natural fibres such as cotton, silk, wool, is being dyed with natural dyes to produce a fabric that is ecologically 100 per cent natural green fabric.
A comparative study of the physical and chemical properties of chemically bleached cotton khadi fabric with those of khadi fabric bleached with cow’s urine was undertaken (Baruah & Gaikwad 2013).
Vat dye is also used for dyeing of khadi. Material is immersed in dye and gradually brought to a boil. Alternatively, the fibre is allowed to sit and soak for several hours or days. During this period, agitation is necessary to allow full penetration of the fibre by the dyestuff. Depending on the type of fabric and dyestuff used, certain salts or acids are added to assist absorption of the dye. Prior to the dyeing process, the weavers usually test the prepared dyes on their hands to check the shade of the colour.
Experiments have been done to overcome the shortcomings of Khadi cotton like texture, dye ability and colour fastness. The colour of Khadi fabric is reported to fade or bleed during washes. To improve colour fastness of direct-dyed cotton Khadi fabric, a study was done (Pant & Sharma, 2009). This can be minimised by chemical processing by using swelling agents in optimum conditions. To pre-treat, cellulose swelling agents, primarily strong electrolytic sol vents have been employed.
The absorbency of the fabric towards water and dyes was increased due to loosening of crystalline region of cellulose by swelling agents. It was concluded from the study that positive effects were obtained with ethylene diamine swelling agent i.e., moisture absorption, bending length and crease recovery angle were maximised by using the optimised process variables (Dixit & Jahan 2014).
Washing and finishing: After weaving on the loom, the fabric that comes out is known as gray fabric.
Gray fabric contains some impurities and requires treatments like washing, calendaring, finishing, etc. Finishing is usually done at some nearby finishing plants (http://khadiindia.net). Various research studies have been undertaken to improve the fabric properties such as:
- Increased absorbancy and whiteness of the fabric: Research was conducted on the use of pectinase and cellulase in the enzymatic processing of Khadi fabric. It was concluded that pectinase is able to enhance absorbency and whiteness of the Khadi fabric, while cellulase can improve softness and smoothness of the fabric (Gayal, Nagarkar & Khetarpal, 2012).
- Increased comfort properties of the fabric: Khadi has some inherent qualities, it is very soothing in summer season with ample amount of ventilation. It has the capacity to absorb moisture, therefore it easily soaks the sweat and keeps wearer cool and dry. A study was done to improve comfort properties of Khadi fabric by different desizing methods. Application of size hinders the passage of air through the fabric but after removing of the size, there is no barrier in the flow of air which increases the air permeability (Bajpai & Sharma 2010). Improved fabric quality through pre-treatments and finishing: A) Handwoven and Khadi fabrics are not usually preferred internationally because of the absence of efforts to improve fabric quality through pre-treatments and finishing, such as wrinkle-free finish and high-density press. Research was conducted focussed on wrinkle-recovery treatment for Khadi and handloom fabrics. Cross-linking agents may be used to recover from deformation stresses and avoid wrinkles but reaction would be dependent on changes in the physio-chemical properties of the fibres (Sarvani & Balakrishnaiah 2007). B) Study was done to find the effect of softeners viz., cationic and silicone softener on physical properties of naturally coloured cotton Khadi fabric. It was observed that there was increase in the yarn fineness and dimensional stability. On treatment with softener, resistance to abrasion decreased (Sujata & Naik 2006). C) Study was done to modify the characteristics as stiffness and drape of Khadi fabrics which are relevant to garments. Fine cotton Khadi became soft on application of silicone finish. Results showed that finishing agents can be successfully used to change drape, number, shape and size of nodes/folds as well as to influence drape effect in garments. Silhouette of garment can be changed according to change in fashion trend through application of finish (Sonee, & Pant, 2014). D) Study was undertaken to analyse fine cotton muslin fabrics in terms of realization of fibre strength in yarn and yarn strength in fabric and were tested with respect to all relevant physical properties (Samanta, Mukhopadhyay, Bhagwat, & Kar, 2015)
Types of khadi fabrics
Among all types i.e, cotton, silk and woolen, cotton Khadi is more popular in both domestic and export markets.
Cotton khadi: The cotton Khadi is very comfortable in summer season. It has the capacity to absorb moisture, therefore, it easily soaks the sweat and keeps the wearer cool and dry as enough amount of air ventilation is therein. It comes in plain as well as in printed fabrics and is not harmful to the skin as synthetic fabrics.
Due to its historic significance and style the Khadi wearer gets a distinct and unique look.
Khadi muslin: Khadi Muslin is a type of finely-woven cotton fabric unbleached or white cloth, produced from carded cotton yarn. Wide muslin is called “sheeting”. Muslin breathes well, and is a good choice of material for clothing.
Silk khadi: This fabric is characterized by its sheen and luxurious appearance. It is more expensive than cotton khadi and must only be dry-cleaned.
Woolen Khadi: These are famous for their aesthetic appearance and at the same time keeping body warm.
In Khadi only hand-spun yarn is used which is not very even fine. In woolen Khadi yarn ranging from 2 nm to 10 nm is used.
Polyvastra khadi: It is a blend of 67 per cent polyester and 33 per cent cotton which is hand spun and hand woven. It consists of shirting and suiting material in attractive shades and designs. (www.rajss.org)
Khadi is sourced from different parts of India, depending upon its raw materials. Silk variety is sourced from West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha and northeastern states, the cotton variety comes from Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. Khadi poly is spun in Gujarat and Rajasthan while Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka and Jammu and Kashmir are known for the woolen variety.
Khadi fabrics and their products come in a wide variety. Khadi is also considered a fabric that embodies purity and simplicity in India. The versatility of the fabric lends itself for use in apparels as well as furnishings. Many types of apparel are made from it like tops, shirts, trousers, dhoti, jackets, skirts, handkerchief, ties, salwar kameez, kurta pajama, sarees, dupattas, vest and jackets, coats, shawls, gloves, caps etc. Khadi is also used in upholstery, bedspreads, curtains, table linen, kitchen linen, cushions, blankets, throw and bags. R&D initiatives taken by KVIC and other Institutions
KVIC is a statutory body established by an Act of Parliament (No. 61 of 1956, as amended by act no. 12 of 1987 and Act No.10 of 2006. It works under the administrative control of the Ministry of Industry, Government of India under the Department of Small-Scale Industries and Agro and Rural Industries. The head quarter of KVIC is in Mumbai and it has its state and regional offices in all the states. he Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) is a statutory body established by an Act of Parliament (No. 61 of 1956, as amended by act no. 12 of 1987 and Act No.10 of 2006. It works under the administrative control of the Ministry of Industry, Government of India under the Department of Small-Scale Industries and Agro and Rural Industries. The head quarter of KVIC is in Mumbai and it has its state and regional offices in all the states.
The KVIC has state offices at the zonal level. There are six zones in all.
- South zone comprising state offices at Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry and Lakshdweep
- West zone comprising state offices at Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa
- Central zone comprising state offices at Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh
- North zone comprising state offices at Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Chandigarh and Rajasthan
- East zone comprising state offices at Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal, Sikkim and Andaman and Nicobar islands
- North East zone comprising state offices at Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura
KVIC together with Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Rural Industrialization (MGIRI) have taken a number of steps in research and development for promotion of Khadi which include establishment of design centre for khadi garments, quality assurance manual for khadi, low-cost hank dyeing machine, improved dyeing process for khadi development and popularisation of e-charkha, technology for soft and stiff finish of khadi. KVIC has been implementing a specific programme for cluster development, namely, Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI), under which assistance for replacement of obsolete equipments, setting up of common facilities centres, product development, market promotion and other support and facilities are provided.
With a view to popularise and promote khadi and village industries (KVI) products, KVIC has been organising district, state and national-level exhibitions in collaboration with State/UT Khadi and Village Industries Boards (http://pib.nic.in).
MGIRI is a hub to network the Khadi related institutions. It is developing machinery suitable for decentralised Khadi clusters and providing leadership in ‘product design and development’ to add value, thus enhancing the market potential of Khadi. It is creating quality norms, testing network and guidance systems for khadi (http://www.mgiri.org).
Khadi has historical significance for bringing about extensive rural empowerment. The concept of spinning yarn for Khadi fabric was introduced and it became one of the symbols of the Indian freedom movement. It is extremely versatile in terms of its usage. It is quite warm during the winter months and cool during the summer months and can thus be worn anytime of the year. This fabric is eco-friendly and made without the use of harmful chemicals. Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) together with Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Rural Industrialization (MGIRI) have taken a number of steps in research and development for promotion of Khadi.. Over the years Khadi has become the invaluable asset of heritage providing respectable means of livelihood to huge human resource especially rural women. With new developments we need to give rightful place to traditional handloom products and make them the centre piece of fashion for India and the world.
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The article is authored by Shruti Gupta, Deepali Rastogi and Ritu Mathur. They are from the Department of Fabric and Apparel Science, Lady Irwin College, University of Delhi.