Hand Embroidery Techniques


India has over two hundred embroidery methods. There are often many stitch options within a particular method. The techniques we currently are engaged with include;


Aari refers to a hook-style embroidery, generally a chain stitch with silk thread. Zari refers to the use of metal thread on the hook. It is a difficult process and takes time to master. Within this one style there are over two hundred varieties of stitch work. Some of these include chain , chotla padding and jali stitch. Some artisans specialise in long needlework while other stitches require the use of short needles.

Long needle stitching. Photo by student designer, Marissa. Combination of aari
Photo by student designer, Kaevi.
contemporary embroidery stitches designed by Rajat Jain.


embroidery image
Traditional chikankari design. Photo by student designer, Kaevi.

A traditional white-on-white embroidery originating in Lucknow that dates back to 3000BC. This subtle embroidery method uses a number of different stitches which stand out from each other. Stitches include: taipchi, pechni, bakhai, gitti, jangira, murri, phanda, and jaalis. Traditional motifs tend to be floral, such as jasmine, rose, lotus, or flowering stems. Tools of the trade include a circular embroidery frame, fine embroidery needles, scissors, white embroidery thread, and wooden blocks for printing stitch line guide. It is a slow process. Once the design is created it is then transferred onto tracing film, printed onto the cloth, stitched with up to thirty six different stitches styles and finished by washing off the traced print. Women generally master this technique.

Chikankari embroidery. Photo by UTS Lecturer, Alana Clifton Cunningham
Chikankari embroidery. Photo by UTS Lecturer, Alana Clifton Cunningham




Similar to sujani stitch but originates from West Bengal. Used for a quilt-style effect. It is a simple running stitch, generally used in quilts and jackets made from padded, recycled saris. This style is used commonly among NGOs and women’s groups as it is quite simple to learn.


Also sujni or sujini. Originates from Bhusura village in the state of Bihar. A patterned running stitch which gives a quilt-style effect. Developed by women as a way to depict a creative story about their newborn baby, dreams, or life. It is often used on baby quilts, wall hangings, or cushions. This embroidery is generally made from recycled saris. Tools of the trade include a circular embroidery frame, needles scissors, coloured embroidery thread, and tracing paper.