How My Unique Prints Are Brought to Life…

In a World Increasingly Made By Machines, Handmade is The ultimate Luxury!

In one of my recent blog posts ‘What does my brand stand for?’ I talked a bit about how my prints come to life. It was a brief overview of the process, from coming up with designs, how we print our fabrics in India.

You can take a look at that blog here if you haven’t seen it yet. I want to talk not only about my prints and designs, but why I choose to have everything handmade. So, let’s explore that for a minute.

Handmade is Still The Ultimate Luxury…

Machines are great at turning out fast fashion. But for pieces that you want to love forever, which last and radiate quality for years to come, handmade will always shine.

A person will ensure quality control at every stage of production. The human eye notices things in a split second, where a machine usually won’t. And the personal touch is far greater, the detail more precise. Every garment is handled with care and attention, the people that are making it, really want it to turn out. Otherwise, that’s a lot of their effort wasted.

You just don’t get that input with a machine alone.

This is why I go halfway around the world to have my prints made.

How Are My Prints Created?

First, my print designs are inspired by life experiences, from travel to recreation and more. I conjure up ideas, put paint to paper, create a mood board and once I’ve got the base direction for my design, it’s time to share with my wider team.

I’ve got a great set of designers in Europe that work closely with my ideas. They disassemble my designs and uncover each layer and piece of it to come up with the best color palette to compliment the shapes. And they’ll switch up the composition to see if it works better for a repeat pattern e.g., should it have one flower or two, should the lines be horizontal or vertical.

There’s a lot of artistry that goes into creating something new and unique. It’s an exciting process but can be a very time consuming one.

In fact, it can take up to a year to have a print ready. And once it is, off it goes to India.

Step 1 - Carving My Designs Into Print Blocks. We’re Off To India!

I love the effect that comes off a block print. It’s not computer generated or printed, so it usually has softer edges, a slight but attractive variation in the print impression. It just looks more bespoke.

“Why go all the way to India, surely people block print in the US?”

Well, India has been doing block printing for centuries and they are considered the very best at it. And nowhere else do they replicate this exact same process. It’s a true skill and art form that has been passed down for generations. It’s really special, at least we think so…

When I met Ankit and his team at a fashion trade show in Delhi back in 2017, I was over the moon. Their amazing blocks used for printing traditional Indian patterns were truly incredible.

Of course, I had to ask, “Can you create blocks for my style of print, will that work?”

Ankit had no reservations. He was completely confident in the skill of his team. So, we set about getting a sample print made – just to make sure this traditional process would produce the look I was hoping for.

And boy did it! I love the organic look to block prints. None of this super precise computer-generated work that lacks personality and a human touch.

For me, and my brand, it’s handmade artistry all the way…

Ankit’s team are fabulous at creating intricate details within both wooden blocks and screen printing. (We currently use both techniques for printing.)

However, it’s the block printing that is truly astounding to see in action. So, let me share a great video showing you this technique in real life, so you can see just how much skill goes into it.

Step 2 - Getting My Designs Printed Perfectly, By Hand!

Ok, so we have our blocks made. That’s a technical and highly artistic job done. Now Ankit’s team needs to mix up the colored fabric paint, carefully dip the blocks in and print them onto the beautiful cotton fabric – by hand!

Because this is all done by a human, rather than machines, every print will be slightly different to the next. Very minor unique differences such as color tone, transfer pressure etc.

There’s a huge amount of skill involved here too. And it can be a time-consuming process. Most of my prints take around 6 different blocks to achieve the final design. That’s a lot of carving and stamping, but mostly a lot of love gone into it! Take a look at the next video to see my prints come to life in color…
By the way, the print you see in this video is our new filigree design that will be released very soon!

Keep an eye out for products sporting this beautiful new print on our website or sign up to make sure you are kept up to date.

Step 3 - Turning The Printed Fabric Into Finished Pieces.

Once the fabric is printed, it needs to dry. Now, the traditional way of doing this is to let them dry naturally in the sun. No chemical use, or machines that badly impact the environment – they simply take them to the roof and stretch them out in the glorious heat of Jaipur.

It’s amazing really, if you fly over Jaipur, or even stay somewhere high enough to look down across the vibrant city, you can spot an array of gorgeous patterns and colors reflecting the sunshine. We love it!

After the fabric has dried, a pattern cutter creates the pieces that will be sewn together to make each garment. Part of that comes with cutting out the scalloped edges. The shapes are hand drawn using a template to ensure preciseness, and then carefully cut out with a handheld cutting machine.

From here, the seamstresses, and seamsters take over and do what they do best! This is where the incredible skill of scalloping continues. Though a machine is used, it takes a huge amount of dexterity and finesse to get the scalloping just right.

Many fashion houses choose to let a machine do all the work without human intervention. It works, but the quality just isn’t the same. The scalloping loses its form and becomes more of a wave – it’s just not what I would want with my designs. Have a look at the scalloping and finishing process in the clip below.

What’s Your Favorite Print?

I hope you can see why I love our prints so much. It’s not just about seeing my ideas come to life, it’s also about using methods of print that have been around for hundreds of years.

Every print tells a story, and that to me is such a wonderful thing – I hope you’ll agree.

I love that my collection is handmade, from the printing to the highly skilled scalloping. It may mean that each item is that little bit more exclusive, but I think that’s a plus.

Wearing something that has received a high level of attention throughout its production, beats buying a cheaper quality that a machine has pulled together.

I would love to know, what’s your favorite print of my collection so far?
Let me know via Email, Facebook or Instagram – I look forward to hearing from you 🙂

Shop My Favorite Prints


   About me  

I founded Heidi Carey in 2016 with a simple goal: To create beautiful, timeless accessories for my friends and their friends. I understood who they were at their core, and what types of things we all were looking for as we all moved along in our lives. It’s why my pieces are conceived for the woman who values both elegance and understatement; versatility and superb value.