Madras is a lightweight cotton fabric with typically patterned texture and plaid design, used primarily for summer clothing—pants, shorts, dresses and jackets. The fabric takes its name from the former English name of the city of Chennai, India (Madras) . This cloth also was identified as, "Madrasi checks." Madras is hand-dyed, hand-warped, hand-woven and hand-finished in almost 200 tiny Tamil villages. And all these precious, time honored crafts are encouraged and protected by the government of India.
One style popular during the 1960s was called bleeding Madras. It used dyes that were not colorfast in a typically plaid design, resulting in bleeding and fading colors that yielded a new look to the fabric each time it was laundered. In the clot's heyday, over 150.000 new plaid patterns were fashioned, using homemade vegetable dyes that bled, ran and blended to create a stunning effect. So whenever you put on your Madras plaid think about it's history.