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What Is Sari Silk Yarn? The Story Behind The Recycled Ribbon

June 04, 2018 4 min read

Sari Silk Ribbon is not only a beautiful fiber, but it has a fascinating story behind it’s origin as well. It can be used in so many different projects, from classic fiber work such as knit and crochet, to trendy DIY projects and jewelry making.

The Tradition Behind the Sari

The Sari, or often called Saree, is a traditional garment worn by women throughout India. Sari quite literally means “strip of cloth” in Sanskrit, and its origin is traced all the way back to the Indus Valley Civilization, which existed from 2800-1800 BC. Sari’s were originally made from cotton, but around 2000 BC silk began to be woven into garments, thus becoming the classic Sari that we are the most familiar with. Embroidery and dye techniques applied to the silk showed the status of the woman wearing it, with more colorful and ornate embroidery representing wealthier women. While the style and draping evolved over time, Saris continued to be a staple in Indian women's wardrobes, particularly for weddings. After a few years of wear, Saris start to come apart, and instead of throwing out the elegant fabric, crafty women would salvage pieces and create other items from them, such as pillow cases and other home items, and even children’s garments. This recycling endeavor became more popular in at the run of the 21st century, with stores opening up specifically for this purpose. Soon thereafter, the Sari Silk Ribbon was born.

Woman wearing a red Traditional Sari next to a weaving loom


What is it?

Sari Silk Ribbon is made from 100% Sari Silk material. It’s often called “Recycled Sari Silk Yarn”, but don’t let that fool you! Sari Silk Ribbon isn’t actually made in the same way that traditional recycled goods are made, but rather it is derived from remnants of Sari material that is either left over from creating the full Saris, or from Saris that are no longer wearable. As opposed to throwing this material into landfills,  this material is salvaged and created into something usable.

green Sari Silk Ribbon being spun on a swift by a woman sitting on the ground wearing a pink and red sari

How is it made?

Sari Ribbon consists of hand torn strips of leftover Sari material, that is then sewed together to create one continuous strip that is then rolled into a skein. Due to how the material is woven together, traditionally on a loom, once torn, the sari material rips in a straight line. Sometimes, the edges are kept frayed or unfinished (such as our Tibet Jewels Sari Silk Ribbon) while other times, the edges are seamed to create a more finished look (such as our Multicolored Finished Edge Sari Silk Ribbon)


two balls of yarn showing the difference between unfinished vs finished edges of multicolored sari silk ribbon, all on a white background with black text that reads 'Unfinished, Finished'


Dyeing and coloring can occur either before or after the ribbon is made. In order to create the most uniform skein, dyeing happens after the ribbon is torn, sewn, then wrapped into a skein, and can be pigmented using natural dyes (such as herbs and fruit), or synthetic dyes. Even with this methodology, each skein of Sari Silk Ribbon is truly one of a kind, due to the slightly different techniques of each artisan, changing environmental factors, and materials on hand.

Two men standing next to a metal dye bath holding large pieces of sari silk ribbon yarn in yellow, and wearing aprons and masks

 

Projects + Patterns

Sari Ribbon can be used for anything and everything, from traditional knit, crochet, and weaving projects to jewelry making, gift wrapping, mixed media art and even floral arrangements. Generally, Sari Ribbon is a super bulky fiber, meaning that the it is a thicker threaded fiber (ours are approximately ¼” thick), and lets you create projects much quicker than a smaller thread, such as lace.

Here are our some of our favorite Sari Silk Ribbon Projects:

1. Tasseled Sari Silk Clutch 

Woman's hands holding a turquoise Tasseled Sari Silk Clutch in front of a white tee shirt that reads 'Work of Art' and standing in front of a white wall

2. DIY Boho Earrings

Woman's fingers holding out pink DIY Boho Earrings in front of a white background

3. Silk Hippie Fringe Vest

Close up of woman wearing black jeans and turquoise Silk Hippie Fringe Vest

4. DIY Recycled Dreamcatcher

Multicolored DIY Recycled Dreamcatcher hanging on a white wall next to a white plant stand and potted house plant

5. Springy Capelet 

Mannequin wearing a pink Springy Capelet in front of a white painted brick wall

6. Tibet Jewels Woven Table Runner

Tibet Jewels Woven Table Runner on a black tabletop with a wooden bowl and large potted houseplant in front of a large window

7. Boho Statement Necklace  

multicolored Boho Statement Necklace on a white background

Tips + Tricks 

  • Be sure to always handwash your ribbon, and lay it flat to dry! It is a natural, delicate fiber, and putting it in a washing machine and/or dryer will compromise its integrity. Also, avoid using essential oils during the wash process, as it will stain the fiber.

    Note: Sometimes Sari Silk Ribbon will smell when you first get it. Not to fear! This is completely normal for natural silk products. Silk has a naturally musky, earthy smell, which can be enhanced after being packed in a box and sent from India. Along with that, India has a humid climate, with plenty of rain; their monsoon season is 4 months long, and lasts from June to September!  If Sari Ribbon is made and packed during a particularly humid and rainy period, the smell can intensify. If it still smells after it is dried, you can either place it out in the sun, or put it in a sealed bag with dryer sheets.

  • If you are using Sari Ribbon for a knit or crochet project, be sure to work loosely a super tight tension will make it so much harder to work with!
  • When woven, the ribbon has the tendency to scrunch up, and can create surprisingly dense and heavy fabric, so be more open than you normally would with another fiber! Due to its delicacy, we recommend using it as a weft yarn as opposed to a warp yarn.
  • As you unwind your skein and begin to work with it, handle the yarn carefully, as the strips are subtly sewn together

Want to see a specific project with our Sari Silk Ribbon? Comment below and let us know!