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Bleeding Madras Check & the Sari from Maheshwar #AtoZChallenge 2017

Image for Bleeding MadrasImage for Bleeding Madras


[Tweet “Genuine Madras Check is Guaranteed to Bleed”]

Bleeding Madras Check!

Now why would anyone in his right mind buy a fabric that bleeds? Well, it would seem the right thing to do if you were a rich American holidaying in the Caribbean during the Great Depression. 

Madras check has a checkered history and it is worth noting that the city of Madras owes its very existence to the cloth that the British wanted. Madras cotton has been around for years as a cheap cloth worn by the poor working class men. It is characterised by a patterned plaid that looks the same inside out. It is handwoven and rough with slubs because it is made of short staple cotton fibre that can’t be combed.

This lightweight fabric is still in great demand overseas especially for casual wear and used in both men’s and women’s garments. And even though the colours bleed with every wash, this is considered an advantage rather than a flaw !

Madras has long since changed to Chennai but the fascination for this fabric still remains. Check out this fabric for yourself and find out why.

 When silk meets cotton  you get the sari from Maheshwari

On the banks of the Narmada, the small textile town of Maheshwar has been weaving its saris for many centuries now.   It has a distinctive weave of self woven stripes or checks and is a blend of cotton and silk. Handwoven to yield a fine tissue like fabric, this fabric is fit for a queen.

It is said that Rani Ahilya Bai Holkar , the warrior Maratha Queen, brought along two weavers from Gujarat to weave saris that were Regal enough for a queen yet simple enough for a young widow.

Its richer cousin the Chanderi takes its inspiration from nature . The Maheshwari motifs are inspired by the severe walls of the fort  which are seen in the borders of the sari . Traditionally, the sari was in dark, somber colours , especially the saris I remember my mother wearing . I loved their thin self woven stripes in a shade slightly darker than the base colour.

Today’s Maheshwari has replaced the maroons, aubergines,  deep green, dusky browns and black by lighter pastel shades .

However, innovation was necessary to keep this handloom industry alive. And once again, it is the descendants of the Holkar Queen who have come to the rescue with  their not-for-profit organisation Rehwa . Thanks to their efforts, this handloom town is buzzing once again with weavers busy making fabric for saris and more.

Image for Rehwa Maheshwari Fabric


I do hope you are enjoying these textile traditions of India.

Wishing all those celebrating a happy Easter, and to all those participating in this challenge a happy Sunday break!

See you on Monday.

Disclaimer : I am neither a textile manufacturer nor a historian . I am just passionate about textiles and fabrics. I have gathered all my information from the Internet. Please excuse any errors and omissions.

Join me and hundreds of other bloggers participating in the #AtoZ Challenge 2017. You can also find me @Blogchatter and #Blogboost

Image for BellyBytes


A granny who always sees the humour in life and tries to do things differently. When others make cupcakes, this granny makes banana fritters. When she’s not busy chasing her grandchildren who love making her run around, she indulges in her passions of reading, writing, meeting friends and watching movies. And somewhere between all this she enjoys travelling and cooking!

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31 Responses

  1. LadyInRead says:

    while i love the Madras checks in everything around the house(clothes, towels, bedsheets etc), the Maheshwari silk is new to me..
    LadyInRead recently posted…L is for LagoriMy Profile

  2. Kalpanaa says:

    Love Maheshwaris, Chanderis and madras checks. Can’t get enough of them really.
    Kalpanaa recently posted…Made for each otherMy Profile

  3. Vinodini says:

    I did not know about Madras checks till now. I mean I’ve seen them but I had no clue that the colors bleed and that they’re so popular. I’m a big fan of Maheshwaris for the way they do justice to each color.
    Vinodini recently posted…To be a Man #AtoZChallengeMy Profile

  4. Surprisingly, I actually knew a little it about this. This and Chanderi, actually. 🙂
    And yes, you need to make extra efforts in today’s day and age to keep these methods alive.
    Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan recently posted…Make-A-Wish Foundation : The Batkid story #AtoZChallengeMy Profile

  5. I have read about the bleeding madras checks and personally love them, even though they do make me look boxy!
    I love how the fabric softens with each wash.

  6. Deepa says:

    I have never heard of them but have seen many ladies wearing them. I didnt know they are called Madras checks. Good info.
    Deepa recently posted…Money- Do you discuss Money Matters with kids? #AtoZchallengeMy Profile

  7. Yes, I am truly enjoying reading about Indian textiles. The variety that our country has is simply awesome.

  8. That’s interesting! I didn’t know they were called bleeding madras! I would like to buy some Maheshwaris though.
    Shubhangi @ The Little Princess
    shubhangi srikanth recently posted…M – 5 tips to Tame the Monkey MindMy Profile

  9. Tina Basu says:

    i didn’t even know the checks had a name! I knew it as checks or at best plaids!!
    Tina Basu recently posted…Microwave Carrot Mug Cake – 2 minute mug cake recipe | #AtoZChallengeMy Profile

  10. Shilpa Garg says:

    Interesting stories about these two textiles. But tell me, why is Madras Check considered to be good even though the colours bleed with every wash!?!
    Shilpa Garg recently posted…Finding AnyaMy Profile

  11. JazzFeathers says:

    Absolutely fascinating stories. I had no idea there was such history behind these fabrics.
    The ‘bleeding fabric’ is quite an inspiring subject for a writer 😉

    The Old Shelter – 1940s Film Noir
    JazzFeathers recently posted…Masculinity (1940s Film Noir – #AtoZChallenge)My Profile

  12. Liz Brownlee says:

    Gorgeous – I LOVE Indian materials. I also have other clothes made in Nepal, also very brightly coloured and beautiful – in fact, my poetry coat was made there. ~Liz – thanks for visiting me!


  13. Amrita says:

    I don’t like bleeding fabrics.But Maheshwari silk I really like.Thanks for spreading great info about our heritage
    Amrita recently posted…Mommy Hacks to Save Sanity: #Monday Mommy MomentsMy Profile

  14. Neha says:

    Lovely read as always! Our handlooms and weaves have such a rich variety and history. How I wish they are marketed well the world around!
    Neha recently posted…MaternalMy Profile

  15. Shalini says:

    Oh wow!!! Some more names added to my saree shopping list. Was unaware of both of these.

    Mother India Temple in Benares

  16. I adore Indian handloom sarees/materials! All of them, can’t get enough! Enjoyed your post thoroughly.

    Nilanjana Bose recently posted…N is for…Nourhanne… and… Nasri… and… Nomads…My Profile

  17. I love Maheshwari sarees, I use them when I take workshops because of their cool look and stays as you wore the first time.
    Launching SIM Organics This April
    *Menaka Bharathi *
    Menaka Bharathi recently posted…Out-Jump Your Nutritional Intake – Microgreens – Do You Know ThemMy Profile

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