Double the impact

MarketPlace is notable for its fabrics, which combine tradition and creativity to create something totally new and yet grounded in history.    The artisans love to experiment and explore, combining different techniques, colors and prints.   This spirit uses age-old knowledge and skills to produce exceptional and unique looks.


This Simran Top is one example.


The base fabric that will receive the block printing is an ikat weave.  Ikat is a complicated traditional weaving technique, which requires a great deal of skill in dyeing and weaving.  The yarns are dyed before they are woven; when the pattern comes together on the loom, it has a distinctive feathery edge.

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The printing blocks are hand carved with the design about 1/8” deep.    The dye is poured on a tray that is cushioned with multiple layers of fabric.  This is to prevent the dye from getting into the recessed parts of the block or anywhere but the outside carved design.    If this happens you get a smudged print.   Three different blocks are used in this garment


The block is then stamped on the fabric.  This is repeated and lined up so skillfully that one cannot tell where one block print ends and another begins.


The Simrin top is designed in such a way that the there is no joint at the border, presenting a special challenge to the artisan.  The printer has to measure and precisely print the border so that it is in exactly the right place when the fabric is cut and sewn.


This remarkable fabric combines traditional techniques with imagination and ingenuity.  Most block prints are done on plain fabric. Using a base of ikat for the hand printing doubles the impact and creates an unusual and beautiful piece.  It also is double the labor and the result is true art.


  1. How many yard of fabric are block printed at one time?? What areas of India do you find block printing on cotton done? Beautiful!

  2. Hi, Peggy!
    Thanks for asking this question. We checked with our production manager, and this is what she said:
    The block printing is usually done in 5 meter (about 5.5 yards) pieces. Block printing is done all over India – different parts of India have different techniques, designs, colors. The places most famous for block printing are Gujarat (western province), Rajasthan (northwest) and Andhra Pradesh (southeast).
    The block featured in this blog is a MarketPlace exclusive, designed especially for Marketplace. It combines traditional with contemporary. We think it’s beautiful, too!

    1. Hi, JoJean! We’re so glad you love our fabrics the way we do. So many of the prints find their source in nature — the colors and shapes of leaves, flowers, fruits,the color of the sky at a certain time of day — as well as the patterns which our artisans see in ordinary objects — stones stacked together, a doorway surrounded by flowers, footprints on a sandy street. They see the beautiful in everything, and our fabrics reflect that.

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