In India, this ancient block printed dress, block printed clothing,hand block print dress technique utilizes a hand-carved teak wood block that is dipped in dye and stamped by hand onto cotton or silk. The result is truly unique, hand block printed fabric that connects us to a rich tradition and history of handmade crafts.


While the block printing process takes practice to master, it can be explained in a few simple steps.

First, the block for the design must be created. The design itself is most often a traditional Indian motif, which is typically influenced by the nature, beliefs, and customs of the region. These motifs regularly take the form of geometric patterns, animals, or plants.

A master craftsman traces the chosen motif onto a wooden block, usually made of teak, a deciduous hardwood tree native to India. The wood block is oiled and sanded before the craftsman carefully chips away at the block, leaving behind the desired design for the stamp.

Second, the artisan pre-washes the fabric. Many Indian artisans, including those who work with Passion Lilie, pre-wash fabrics in local rivers or other waterways. This makes the block printing process highly sustainable, because it reduces water consumption.

Third, the fabric is dyed its base color, laid flat on a table, and fixed firmly to the table with pins. Although small variations in the printing are part of what make Indian block print fabrics so special, a single unwanted movement can result in smudges or uneven printing that mean starting over again.

Fourth, the artisan mixes together four or five basic, natural colors to create a multitude of dyes. The block is then dipped in dye and stamped firmly by hand onto the fabric. This requires a certain amount of force, often achieved either by hitting the stamp by hand or with the aid of a hammer. If the design incorporates multiple colors, then each is applied separately with its own block.

Lastly, once the dye has dried, the completed block print fabric is rinsed in a local river or waterway. The block printing process concludes by hanging the fabric to dry in the sun. Just as the method of washing reduces water consumption, this sustainable method of drying the fabric minimizes energy consumption for a smaller environmental footprint than many manufactured processes.

Good hand block printing requires skill and plenty of practice in order to create uniformity and clear block printing patterns. The tiny variations in the block printing, vibrant and meaningful motifs, and handmade technique of Indian block print fabric are what give it such a unique charm.