Applique derives its roots from French culture and it means ‘something applied’ or a thing that has been applied. It is ornamental needlework done on pieces of fabric which are together sewn or stuck on to a larger piece to form a picture or pattern. This technique is very common in some kinds of textiles. In this, patterns are created on pieces of fabric and then these smaller coloured patches are attached on to a larger base fabric mostly of contrasting colour or texture. Like patchwork (piecing), it is a method of constructing or embellishing quilts.

Appliqué is used worldwide as a decorative technique for banners, clothing, and display pieces. Molas are made by the Kuna Indians of Panama by the reverse-appliqué technique in which the upper layers of cloth are cut away and turned back to expose the lower layers. The work is used to create attractive, vibrant quilts, wall hangings, linen and clothing.

applique tent

(Source: Artist Kartik)

In India, the craft is popular in the Saurashtra, Banaskantha, Patan and Kutch regions of Gujarat. The color palette of appliqué artists of Gujarat varies from warm to cool, white on white, bright and festive to natural and neutral tones today. It was once mainly practised in Pipli, Odisha, especially for banners during the Lord Jagannatha Rath Yatra. Within Odisha, Puri city and Pipli town are renowned for the origination, tradition and survival of the art and craft of applique. Today, Pipli is known worldwide to be the centre for many artisans and workshops that still practice long established techniques in the creation of traditional and contemporary applique items. But today it also finds use as adornment on large canvas fabrics like the saree.

A recent applique installation done by our artist Kartik Chauhan

applique installation

(Source: Artist Kartik)

Like patchwork, appliqué designs were often inspired by everyday life, especially the flower garden. They also commemorated political and philosophical views. This timeless artistic fabric can suit any occasion as well as celebrations like a get-together, informal bashes, social parties and other events. Its vivid hues make it the center of attraction at any gathering and adorn the wearer with spunk and vivaciousness, making it perfect for such occasions.


(Source: Artist Kartik)

One incredible artist who has been honing this craft is Kartik Chauhan who has been involved in the Applique industry for the past 15 years from conducting various cluster development programs and workshops at grass root level for women artisanal empowerment to exploring international avenues for trade facilitation and giving the artisan that enriching platform for growth and prosperity.

Flaunting the dexterity of a pair of skilled hands, small abstract patterns of applique adorning a garment or animal motifs with trees enhancing home furnishing have tickled our curious nerve since time immemorial and will continue doing so.


~Written by Khushi Daryani


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