The raw silk is first cleansed with caustic soda in the desired shades of color, with the threads being separated out carefully. Golden zari threads generally procured is quite costly, for the threads are so fine that they are used in double and the woven fabric achieves a shine like a golden mirror. The texture also is very smooth with the density of roughly 160 ends and 170 picks per inch.
Gold having become costly and not so easily available, silver zari is used. The silk used in the warp is even while that in the weft it is a two-fold ply lightly twisted. No wonder with such material used and plenty of it the weight of the saree also increases substantially.
The warp is made in the peg or drums warping process and tied as a ball towards the back of the loom. The material would do for making two sarees and roughly 11.5 metres length. Colored silk is generally used in figure work or the creation of shapes. The border is solid and there are extra weft figuring threads.
The weft being different for the body and the borders, three shuttle weaving is adopted, two for the borders and one for the plain body. This process of weaving therefore makes it seem that the border is like a patch, separately woven and stitched on to the body. A particular type of saree may have a separate pallu warp of silk twisted on the body.
The warp threads are of golden zari forming a ground upon which angular brightly colored silk threads are woven, designs being formed from the interlocked weft technique creating a tapestry effect.
It is said that there is an influence of the close-by Ajanta Caves, through its Buddhist paintings figuring as woven motifs. e.g. Kamal or lotus flower, swan, the gold coin, flowering vines, the peacock set in a circle like a bangle (Bangadi Mor), the tota-maina (parrot mynah couple), the pheasant bird, Narali etc.
The star attraction of the Paithani saree is the Pallu or end piece that features an attractive motif with large dimensions. Some of the popular motifs are:
- Muniya, a kind of parrot used in borders and always found in green colour with an occasional red touch at the mouth
- Panja, a geometrical flower-like motif, most often outlined in red
- Barwa, 12 strands of a ladder; 3 strands on each side
- Laher, design is done in the centre to strengthen the zari
- Muthada, a geometrical design
- Asawali, a flower pot with a flowering plant
- Mor, a peacock