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Article: Shot Colors- A Weaver's Magic Trick

Shot Colors- A Weaver's Magic Trick

In this blog post, we attempt to demystify the shot color technique which is unique and special to the craft of silk weaving.

Simply stated, a color shot is created when the yarns in the weft are a different color than the yarns in the warp. For instance, a fabric woven with a yellow warp and pink weft. 

Using the shot color technique to create completely news colors

The technique of shot colors helps achieve new color possibilities in textiles. For instance, you will be surprised to know that very often when you see a gray fabric, it may not have any gray yarns. Instead, it is often woven by marrying black weft with white warp or vice verse. Similarly, completely new colors can be created by using and combining yarns of two different colors. Theoretically the technique can be used with yarns of any kind. But it is only in silk that the colors integrate so seamlessly that viewing from even a hands distance, you cannot tell the individual yarn colors.

Using the shot color technique to achieve darker or lighter color tones

It is a common practice of coupling a coloured weft with a black warp to achieve a darker color tone. For instance using a red weft with black warp to create a maroon. Similarly, by using a white warp with coloured weft helps achieve a more pastel color tone. You get a beautiful baby pink pairing a pink weft with a white warp.

Using the shot color technique to achieve a beautiful iridescent color effect

Besides creating new colors and achieving darker or lighter tones of existing colors, there is so much more to the technique. Often we take the effect to the next level by using two contrast colors in the warp and weft, like yellow & pink, pink & orange, purple & pink, green & blue, to achieve an iridescent color effect where you see a beautiful transition in color when you look at the textile from different angles. For instance, when you look at a fabric or saree woven with a blue warp and green weft, you see a beautiful variation in color from green to blue and vice versa as you rotate the fabric or as the saree drapes in folds. 

Shot Color Effect in Banarasi Brocade Fabrics

A close-up image of a brocade fabric featuring a lovely shot color effect of Blue and Pink. Depending on the troughs and crests, you will see beautiful color variations.


Shot Color in Banarasi Sarees

The iridescent shot color effect comes to life only when the fabric has some folds and turns so that you can view different faces of the fabric even when looking from one angle. A saree or dupatta has inherent folds and drapes which enables the shot color effect shine through. Hence the technique's popularity among saree connoisseurs.

Banarasi sarees are often woven using a yellow warp and another colour weft to achieve a sunshine effect. If you slightly fold the fabric to make a wave, you will see a underlying yellow shade, which otherwise was not so evident. Yellow has this unique quality of pairing well with most colors and so often is a popular choice for the warp in shot color fabrics. Though not a rule, often the more subtle of the two colors is used in the warp and the more dominant color is used in the weft.

It is important to note that the iridescent effect can only be achieved on a yarn-dyed woven textile, and is most effective in silk. The unique color effect cannot be achieved on printed textiles, or on any textile which is overdyed or piece dyed. For example, while a banarasi Khaddi Georgette saree can be dyed into beautiful shaded colors, the shaded effect so obtained is not the same as shot color effect.

A shot color is also not to be confused with a multi-colour weave. The effect can only be achieved by using different colors in the warp and the weft. If we use two colors in just the warp, or only the weft, we achieve a multi-colour fabric, but not the iridescence of shot color.

The close up image shows a pink warp shot with an orange weft to achieve a beautiful subtle iridescent effect.

Though a very useful technique, shot colors needs to be chosen with caution. In attempting to create a shot color textile, it is important to choose color pairs that blend well to be able to create an attractive color effect. At HolyWeaves, we regularly weave random samples of shot colors and then put the most attractive ones to production. To give you a perspective, we can obtain as many as forty-five different shot color samples from yarns of just ten colors.

The color effect is subtle when the two colors used to create the shot are from the same color family or are close to each other, for eg, yellow and orange. However, often we go for a bold look by using two strong but distant colors like green and pink to create the shot.


Silk weaving in Benares have been using the shot color technique to create a magical color effect for centuries.

Does your wardrobe have one of these unique textile creations? 

We strongly recommend you give it a shot.

Sangam- HolyWeaves collection of shot color sarees, dupattas and fabrics.


If you found this article useful, please comment and share.



Do you weave custom silk fabrics? I am creating a new line of clothing and need custom fabrics; I like shot colors. Probably 4 different designs to start. Is that something you might be interested in? I am very desperate to find fabrics I like.

Please let me know.
Thank you,

Kathy Stakermann

Looking for authentic banarsee saree

Ritu Agarwal

Looking for authentic banarsee saree

Ritu Agarwal

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