Bangladesh Trip - PART TWO Thanapara Swallows Craft




Part two of a four part series through Bangladesh. 


TSDS Website - click here to view


Born out of the desire to empower marginalized rural women and enabling them to realize their full potential the handicraft program is one of the biggest programs at TSDS since 1973. The purpose was to provide a platform of rural women where they could have a place to produce products and get a fair market price. 

The Handicrafts Program is divided into five sections: Weaving, Sewing, Embroidery, Block Batik and Coconut shell button making. In each of these sections, the villagers make products either by special order or for general sale.  Items produced range from handloom fabrics, to bed covers, wall hangings, women and children clothing to various types of bags.  These products are sold largely in Japan, UK, Denmark, Korea, Taiwan, Australia and Sweden. The organization is a member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), ECOTA Fair Trade Forum, and Bangla Crafts.



Dyeing area

  • 2 large waterbeds

  • area for cold dye 

  • hot water clay cooktops

  • Use long bamboo sticks 

Watched the tour guide measure the dye out as per book instructions and pour the dye into the hot clay pot. We each had a turn at using the long bamboo sticks to turn the loops of yarn through the dye pot. The women made this look so easy!

The stages usually include: primer/prep, boil, dry, cold water and dry 

Will either do a hot or cold dye depending on desired product. 

The women are paid per loop of yarn they dye. 




Bobbin making

  • Within a long patio like area 15+ older women sit on small stools using a spinning machine to make the bobbins ready for weaving.

  • Much easier for older women as it is less eye intensive.

  • We all had a go at this stage.

    • Was the easiest of the stages we tried. It was much like threading a bobbin on your machine but rather through a wheel - more manually 




Warping Room 

  • large rack with all the bobbins then wraps into fabric over large wheels

  • two big wheels in room. 







  • approx 8-10machines in one room and another room with approx 5 

  • if they are weaving checks or stripe they use a needle to measure the width - very resourceful 

  • We each had a go at using the weaving machine - in which you had to use both feet on the pedals and hands to pull a leaver etc. I feel as though we all would have gotten the hang of it if we had more opportunity to practice however we did not want to waste the womens' time and mess up their work too much. 




Embroidery room 

  • 3 large beds on which the women work on 

  • using the cotton tread they dye 

  • we got given a small embroidery hoop and a piece of scrap fabric with a design drawn. Although I have done some embroidery in the past it was very challenging! I broke the needle, which was very humorous for the women.

  • It is a very time consuming stage and takes the women approx. 1 day to complete one item depending on the design. 





  • large room with over 14 industrial machines

  • large industrial iron 

  • 2 large cutting tables


Patternmaker/ tailors room upstairs 

  • only 2 pattern makers - which would be challenging and stressful considering the amount of brands they supply for. 

  • 2 large tables 


Sales room 

  • a retail space with some unwanted samples utilised as examples. 

  • spent a lot of time here!


Fabric Store room

  • one room for new season fabric 

  • other for rejected fabric 

  • all cotton fabric 


Dye room 

  • large shelf with all the dyes

  • scales area for measuring 

  • book for measurements 

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