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The Making of a Sevya Fair Trade Scarf

Sevya’s hand-woven scarves and shawls are entirely handmade and each piece is the beautiful culmination of a process that involves many intricate steps, each performed by an artisan who is highly skilled in their craft. The entire process is done by hand and without the use of any electricity, which means that there is very little carbon footprint involved and many people are able to earn a sustainable livelihood from this handiwork.

The first step in this process is starching and degumming the yarn. For cotton scarves, the yarn is first starched so that it is easier to weave on the pit looms. This starch solution is made from rice that is boiled in water. For silk scarves, the silk yarn is first degummed, which allows for the threads to be more easily separated and aligned properly for the loom.

Silk Yarn for Handmade Indian Scarves

Artisan degumming the silk yarn.

Once the yarn is starched or degummed, it is sent to another group of artisans for dyeing. These artisans are masters of preparing and fixing the dyes, and it is done over a wood fire. The yarn is repeatedly boiled in the dye mixture until the exact color is attained.

Indian Artist Prepares Dyes for Making Hand Woven Scarf

Mixing the dyes

Indian Artist Dyeing the Silk Yarn for Fair Trade Scarf

Artisan dyeing the silk yarn over a wood fire









After dyeing, the yarn is hung on lines outside in the sun for drying.

Natural Silk Yarn for making Fair Trade Scarf

Silk yarn is dried in the sun after dyeing

Once it is dry, the fine yarn is rolled onto a small barrel using a spinning wheel. Women typically do this stage of the process, as it is something they can easily do in their own homes in between other household work.

Cotton Yarn Spinning for Handmade Scarf

Artisan spinning cotton yarn onto barrels


These small bundles of yarn are then reeled onto bobbins using a spinning wheel or “charkha” and a bicycle wheel. Both men and women are involved in this step of the process.

Spinning Cotton Yarn for Handmade Scarf

Artisan spinning cotton yarn onto bobbins

Once the bobbins are made, they are arranged in a tall wooden frame as per the design of the scarf, and the threads are then connected to the drumming barrel.

Bobbins of Thread set for Weaving Fair Trade Scarf

Artisan setting the frame with bobbins


The warp of the scarf is then set on the drumming barrel and the fine yarn is combed and netted so each thread is separated for the hand-weaving process.

Indian artists Preparing Yarn for Cotton Scarf

Artisans comb and net the yarn for setting the warp

The loom is then set and the weaver uses a combination of foot pedals, throwing the thread shuttle, and hand levers to adjust the weft as per the design of the scarf. These artisans come from a long lineage of master weavers and have tremendous skill and knowledge in their craft. Only they possess the skills required to make such intricate and delicate weaves using these fine natural yarns.

Indian Weaver making Fair Trade Scarf

Weaver making Sevya’s Indira Silk and Wool Scarf

Once the scarf is woven, it is removed from the loom and an artisan braids the ends to create the beautiful tassels.

Indian Artist Braids Tassels for Fair Trade Scarf

Artisan braids tassels at ends of cotton scarf

The final steps are washing the scarf in multiple washes to remove any starch and to bring out the inherent soft texture of the natural yarns. The scarf is then ironed, packed, and ultimately delivered to many shops throughout the world. It is a rich and beautiful process, involving many hands and hearts and sharing the ancient hand-loom traditions of India with people around the globe.

Handmade Silk and Cotton Stripes Scarf from India

Sevya’s Samita Stripes Scarf drying in the sun after washing

Sevya’s fair trade, handmade scarves are more than beautiful fashion statements—they are a vital link to our human heritage of respecting and communicating what is sacred through art.  Each handmade scarf is a treasure that conveys what is real and lasting, and is vital to the well being of our planet and our selves. We honor this treasure every time we wear one of these beautiful handmade scarves.