TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sari borders! A great way to make your sewing projects look rich and royal!

Vintage sari (saree) border, available on Rayela's Etsy shop.

I just listed several vintage sari borders on Etsy.  Hmmmmm....  Do I really, really want to sell them?  No, no, no!!!!  I want them!  Oh, the difficulty of parting with such gorgeousness!  But, I have my own stash, so I just have to do the right thing and pass them on to others who will also know how to use these wonderful remnants.

These sari borders are all from India, rayon, and commercially manufactured.  At least, I assume that none of them have been hand woven.  They are probably around 20 years old, salvaged from saris that became worn, torn, or stained.  Handwoven saris from the good old days actually included real metal threads in the brocade (silver, copper, brass, and even gold).  Until around the 1970's, those old saris that were damaged were burnt to recover the metal content.  Then, the fiber lovers from the West started buying up vintage textiles in Asia and a new market opened up for salvaged textiles.  Now, there are many cottage industries in India and Pakistan that work solely with these salvaged textiles, making quilts, pillows, bags and other things out of the handmade embroideries and weavings so abundant in their ancestral traditions.

The great thing about these sari borders is the length.  Most of the rolls I listed have around 7 yards of length to them, plenty to work with in any project!  Because of their age, they do have weak spots and small tears.  I usually use a light fusible backing to support those areas.

The rich colors and metallic threads transform plain fabrics and projects into royal beauty!  Those of you who enjoy a Victorian look will especially love what the borders can do for your projects.  Imagine them accenting curtain bottoms in a room that blends old and new....  Ah, yes!

Rayela Art hats, using ultrasuede and vintage sari borders.

I've used the sari borders in hats, bags, pillows and in one quilt.  Projects need to take into consideration the fragile nature of the borders.  So, using them on a jean jacket or a purse that will take a beating might not be the best use of the trim.

 Rayela Art evening bag: ultrasuede, sari border, beads and trim.

I had great fun using the borders in a quilt that I made for a friend.  I really need to get a better photo of the quilt, but here is one that will at least give you an idea of how the border was used:

The border frames the top and bottom of the quilt.  You can see the top here.  This is a huge quilt, part of the reason why I haven't gotten a good photo of it yet.  Terribly difficult to display with proper lighting.  It took me nine months and over 1,000 hours to make.  

There.  Now you have an idea of what you can do with these vintage sari rolls.  Click here to see what is available on my Etsy shop.  If I am out of stock, know that I will get more in soon.  Have you used these in your work?  I would love to hear about your ideas on how to use them, too!



  1. Those take me back to India! Gorgeous!


  2. Just looking at these images has been so inspirational! I have just installed some exceedingly plain (lower cost of course) curtains in our living and bedroom areas, and now I know how to make them more "suitable" - Sari Borders! Thanks Rachel.

  3. You're welcome, Helen! I love incorporating old remnants of many kinds into new projects. Ties in a bit of history, gives new life to something that might have been thrown away, and it makes it unique from anything you could find in a store!

  4. These Vintage sari braids and borders are some of my favourite things to work with. I have a collection of these myself and use them in my crazy patchwork and fibre art work. You may view some of them on my blog. I am also about to post another piece which is almost ready. I am so glad I have discovered your blog and Etsy shop as I now know where to get more all thanks to Barbara.
    With thanks for such gorgeousness!

  5. Thanks, Suzi! I just took a look at your blog. Beautiful work! I can see why you like the sari borders...


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