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    Print Perfection – Traditional (and Amazing) Ways of Printing on Fabric

    Print Perfection – Traditional (and Amazing) Ways of Printing on Fabric


    Travel the world, and you’ll discover a huge range of traditional printed materials; from the intricate floral fabrics of Asia, to the geometric patterns of Africa. We’ll often appreciate the design and colour of these great garments – without knowing how the effect was achieved; and just how complex some of the printing methods are!

    Here’s a glimpse into some of the world’s most fascinating fabric printing techniques.

    Traditional Fabric Printing Methods

    • Woodblock printing. India is well-known for producing some of the world’s most detailed fabric designs. Whilst many of their materials are stitched or woven, wood-block printing is also frequently used; which is ideal for producing repeating patterns on cloth.

     The carving of the wood block is an art-form in itself; and requires a team of specialist wood-carvers, who transform a block or plank of wood into an intricate pattern. Ink is then applied to the block, which is then pressed on to the cloth. This method is also used by many artisans across South-East Asia.

    • Indonesia (and in particular, Java) is famous for Batik fabric printing; though it’s a technique that’s also used in Malaysia, Bangladesh, Singapore and Nigeria. Firstly, the cloth is washed and beaten, then the artist applies the pattern in hot wax, using a pen-like instrument. Then, the piece of fabric is dyed and the wax removed; which reveals the beautiful pattern underneath.

    Each country has their own variation on batik – both in technique, and the patterns they use. For example, Javanese batik often uses repeating geometric forms, Japanese batik features animals, birds and flowers, and European batik frequently uses images of houses or people.

    • Screen-printing. China is the birthplace of what we now know as screen-printing; though the technique has changed beyond measure over the years. Dating back as far as the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279AD), it’s essentially a form of stencilling. The fabric is pulled tight over a frame, then a stencil is fixed in place, and ink applied over the surface. When the stencil is removed, it leaves a visible pattern.

    These days, the technique is much more sophisticated; and uses chemicals plus a specialist mesh to create a more detailed design.

    • Tie-dye. One of the most modern forms of fabric printing is tie-dying – which originated from the US in the mid-1960s. Forever associated with bohemian ‘hippy’ culture, tie-dye essentially involves folding, scrunching or binding a garment (often with rubber bands), then dying the fabric. After the binding is removed, a vibrant, psychedelic pattern is left.

    More sophisticated forms of tie-dye feature additional steps; such as extra applications of dye, multiple dyes used in sequence, or using different forms of ‘resist’ – for example a stencil, rather than a rubber band.

    • Calico printing originated in India, and initially used the wood-block printing technique. However, in the 17th century, Europeans started to adopt the style, and adapted the printing method, using copper rollers to create the pattern instead.

    Hargreaves and Company, in Preston, Lancashire, were the first to mass-produce calico-printed material – in 1785.

    Traditional Fabrics, Modern Techniques

    Of course, these days, printing methods have been updated, enabling artisan fabric makers to work at a quicker pace. However, the remarkable patterns, imagery and form are still evident in the garments we see today – and each one has a rich history behind it.

    If you’d like to see some examples of traditionally-inspired garments, click here.

    Hmong Fashion: The People, Their History, and Their Textile Legacy

    Hmong Fashion: The People, Their History, and Their Textile Legacy


    You’ll often spot Hmong people in travel brochures, Asian fashion edits and publicity material – due to their iconic, vibrant clothing. Traditional Hmong garments, worn by people across the world, feature complex patterns, embroidery, indigo batik and bright, eye-catching colours; and they’ve been inspiring travellers and fashion-followers alike for years.

    However, there’s more to the Hmong than their clothing. Read this article to learn more about their fascinating history, culture and traditions, and how their fabrics still continue to be worn today.

    The Origins of the Hmong

    The Hmong claim to originate from the Yellow River region of China, in around 3000 BC; though some experts state it was later than this. It wasn’t until the 1800s that they began to migrate; first spreading to Indochina, then to Northern Laos, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam, to avoid oppression.

    After the Vietnamese war, many more Hmong people migrated to Thailand as refugees. However, due to the fact that several had joined the communist party during the war, they were persecuted. To this day, some are still denied citizenship rights, or proper titles to the land they cultivate.

    In the 21st century, there are Hmong people living across the world; including Australia, France and the US. However, 95% still live in Asia.


    The Hmong have a rich, fascinating culture. Traditionally, a shaman leads the tribe, and plays a vital role in the complex funeral and marriage rites. During times of illness, he will enter a trance to visit the underworld and relocate the soul of the ill person in question; and at times, he even undertakes a political role within the village.

    The New Year is particularly important to the Hmong, and is celebrated on the 30th day of the 12th lunar month. During this time, the family and ancestral spirits are honoured; and unmarried boys and girls are encouraged to play games together, in the hope of sparking a marital match.

    The Importance of Textiles

    Textiles play and integral role in Hmong culture. Indeed, they’re considered so important that girls as young as five are taught to embroider, to prepare them for the task of creating marriage and funerary fabrics in later life. They learn how to perform the more complex processes of indigo dying, garment construction and applique at a later stage.

    Hmong Fabrics – Story Cloths

     Hmong fabrics are renowned across the world; thanks to their rich colours and intricate designs. Their story cloths are particularly celebrated. Prior to the 20th century, the Hmong had no form of written language, and instead, communicated ideas and narratives onto beautifully intricate pieces of cloth.

    This practice wasn’t limited to females – even the male members of the village would create story cloths, to convey the story of their people to the outside world, and in some cases, to reveal the extent of their persecution.

    Flower Cloths (Paj Ntaub)

    Their flower cloths (sometimes referred to as rose cloths) are also prized throughout the globe, and feature a range of patterns that are important to the Hmong culture, with evocative names like ‘elephant’s foot’, ‘tiger’s face’ and ‘bird’s wings’.

    The name ‘flower cloth’ derives from the Hmong belief that, if they wrapped their babies in these pieces of fabric, they would be disguised as flowers, and evil spirits wouldn’t be able to steal them.

    Modern Interpretations

    As global tourism developed, more people visited the Hmong tribes of Asia, and fell in love with their spectacular garments and fabrics. Over time, their rich patterns, indigo dyed materials and detailed embroidery began to be incorporated into modern garments, and valued by a new generation of people.

    The Hmong’s remarkable talent with textiles has left a powerful legacy, and many choose to wear Hmong-inspired garments in recognition of their visual appeal and cultural importance. If you’d like to explore our range of Hmong-inspired clothing, simply click here.

    A brief history of Harem Pants by Forgotten Tribes

    A brief history of Harem Pants by Forgotten Tribes

    How Well Do You Know the History of Harem Pants?

    Modern harem pants are associated with laid-back living and casual culture; with a comfortable fit and a liberating sense of unrestrained style.

    They’re so deeply entrenched in Western fashion, that it’s easy to forget that harem trousers have been around for centuries - in several different locations around the world. The name itself gives a clue about their origins, but how often do you ask yourself where the evocative name ‘harem pants’ came from?

    Here’s some insight into the history of these iconic trousers – and their fascinating journey from the deserts of Africa to the fashion-forward cities of the 21st century.

    A Truly Persian Pant?

    The exact origins of the baggy harem trouser that we know and love are unknown. It’s been suggested that harem pants were first worn by Persian men, as long as 2,000 years ago. However, others disagree with this, and suggest that the first true harem trousers were developed later than this; in the Middle East, North Africa or Turkey.

    This would go some way to explaining the name. A term ‘harem’ is defined as a ‘sacred place for female members of the family’ in Arabic culture. Harems were usually made up of wives and concubines, and men were forbidden to enter. 19th century illustrations showed Northern African women from harems wearing large, tulip-shaped trousers to preserve their modesty – and this is where it’s generally agreed that the name originated.

    Harem Trousers’ Asian History

    It wasn’t just Africans, Turkish or Middle-Eastern people donning harem pants. There’s strong evidence to suggest that a similar style of trouser was also being worn in south-east Asia; particularly among the Hmong people of China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.

    However, there were marked differences in style. Whereas Arabic harem pants had a distinctive tulip bottom to each leg, Hmong harem trousers were often wider and lower on the crotch.

    Harem Pants - French Army Fashion

    In the 19th century, French military recruits serving in Northern Africa observed the locals wearing comfortable harem trousers. The soldiers saw the benefits of wearing loose, airy material in the hot desert – and swiftly incorporated the style into their uniform. It’s suspected that this is how harem pants were first introduced to Europe.

    The suffragettes were famous for spurning constrictive corsets and skirts, and were the first European women to embrace the harem pant style; which resulted in predictable protest from their conservative counterparts. In America, Amelia Bloomer made it her personal mission to convince fellow females that harem pants were more comfortable than restrictive dresses – and her legacy was to give the trousers another popular name… the bloomer!

    It wasn’t until 1920s France, when the designer Paul Poiret incorporated harem pant-inspired fashion into his designs, that the iconic trousers started getting serious attention. His combination of exotic harem trouser, combined with Arabic-inspired head-dresses and kaftans, went against the popular belief that women should stick to skirts; and he was criticised for his ‘sexualised’ and ‘inappropriate’ designs.

    Moving Harem Trousers into the Modern Era

    The flowing hippy styles of the 1960s and 1970s were undoubtedly inspired by Poiret’s iconic designs. However, it wasn’t until the 1980s that harem trousers were finally given the recognition they deserved. The humble harem trousers’ most celebrated outing was on the rapper MC Hammer, whose deep red, shiny pants, combined with a bold yellow tailored jacket, went down in history as one of music’s most memorable outfits.

    These days, harem trousers have become a firm favourite in fashion circles; with celebrities such as Rhianna, Heidi Klum and Jennifer Lopez being papped wearing them. Modern harem pants often feature bold, Asian or African-inspired prints as an homage to their origins. Asymmetric tasselled designs hark back to north African styles and exceptionally low crotches are very reminiscent of the Hmong take on the harem trouser. Best of all, harem pants can be worn in a variety of situations – from festivals and days out on the beach, to a night out with friends… and every occasion in between.

    To explore our range of harem pants, visit the Forgotten Tribes site.

    Southern Thai Chicken

    Southern Thai Chicken

    Looking for inspiration for tasty but easy to cook diner? How about some Southern Thai Chicken :)
    Here's how it's made:
    5 chicken thigh cutlets, skin on and bone in (around 2.5lb / 1.2kg) (Note 1)
    4 garlic cloves, crushed
    2½ tbsp fish sauce
    2½ tbsp oyster sauce
    1 tsp white pepper, ground
    3 tbsp very finely chopped coriander/cilantro stems (as finely as you can mince with knife)
    1 tbsp ground turmeric
    ¼ cup brown sugar (or finely grated palm sugar)

      1. Combine Marinade ingredients in a bowl.
      2. Add chicken and coat thoroughly in Marinade. Marinade for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight. (Note 2)
      3. Preheat oven to 180C/350F. If you remember, take chicken out of the fridge and bring to room temperature.
      4. (Optional) Line a tray with baking paper/parchment paper (to save cleaning up), then place chicken on the baking tray, skin side up. Scrape all Marinade out of bowl and dab onto chicken.
      5. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until deep golden brown and chicken is cooked through. If it is too brown before cooked, cover loosely with foil and return to the oven.
      6. Allow to rest for 3 minutes before serving with rice and fresh slices of cucumber.
      7. Stove: To cook on the stove, heat a skillet over medium heat. Place skin side down and cover with a lid. Cook for 5 minutes or until the skin is dark golden. Then turn and cover with a lid again, Cook for 8 to 10 minutes until cooked through. Rest for 3 minutes before serving.
      This recipe was found on please check it out for some more awesome recipes.