The procurement of raw materials and verifying their usability is the first and a very important step. The process starts with the selection of the silk yarn, which is of various qualities and imported from various production centres. Raw silk is specially treated for brocades and the process requires considerable patience and labour. The cost of raw materials varies depending upon the type of yarn.
In the process of reeling (tying the yarn in a bundle), the threads are separately mounted on the reeling machine, for the warp (tana) the yarn is rolled on a shuttle (dharki). The yarn for weft (bana) is firstly mounted on a charka and then rolled on the bobbin.
Dyeing of yarn in a particular color usually involves immersing the reel or cheese of yarn in the dyeing tank.
The most important and creative process in weaving a saree is its designing. Once a design has been chosen, the Nakshaband first works out the design of the fabric on a large graph paper. This work is called Likhai. The design is then hand punched on to stencils, known as ‘Naksha Pattas’. These Naksha Pattas are used in the handloom to trace the design on to the fabric. An average Banarasi saree requires hundreds of Naksha Pattas. More intricate the design, greater the number of Naksha Pattas used in the loom.
The most complicated part of the whole process is weaving, where the sari is woven on a handloom. Traditionally, Banarasi sarees are woven on pit looms. The tana (warp), the longitudinal threads, are held in tension on the loom and lifted up. The bana (weft), the latitudinal threads, are placed in a shuttle. As the shuttle moves back and forth, the warp and weft threads are interwoven.
Depending on the weaving technique employed, Banarasi sarees need to go through the final process of cutting. This involves manually cutting the tiny threads left on the reverse of the fabric. The sarees are then folded and packaged.