At Metaphor Racha, we have designed a system wherein, every three months or so, we receive excess/waste/damaged bits & pieces of textile from a few textile co-operatives of North Karnataka.
Of course, we buy them at a 10% markdown price. The heap of fabric (image 1) consists of around 300 meters. Every year we convert 1000s of meters of trash to treasure, & it wouldn't be possible without your encouragement.
These fabric scraps, sent by bus, once collected here in Bengaluru, are thoroughly checked, & then sorted into three heaps - Soiled, fabric-damaged, & ready-to-use.
Depending on the severity, soiled fabrics either get hand-block printed or over-dyed. The damaged portions are cut out & carefully patch-worked. Once ready, the scraps get sent to industrial wash for a de-sizing process, where the starch & dirt gets removed. Also, textile bleeding & shrinking is taken care of.
The fabric debris that comes out of the washing machine, a size of a double-decker bus, is sent for polishing. The polishing unit is where all the bits of fabric are stitched together and run between 2 rollers & steam pressed. (The nightmare of sending scraps across the town, in a commercial carrier, with DC & E-way bills, the minimum quantities, & pleading with the wash/polishing units to complete the work on time is for some other time)
Once the block-printed, hand-dyed, washed, & polished textile reaches back to our unit, our tailors remove the sutures, & segregate them colourwise.
The oh-wow-so-pretty coloured ones are joined together (skilfully flat-seamed) & are made into garments. Some of the printed ones & longer pieces are used as trims. The way-too-coarse fabric is used as lining for our bags/pouches. The who-would-wear-such-colours pile is sent to the hand quilters to convert them into lovely Koudis. Nothing gets wasted.
Compared to buying new textiles, upcycling the scrap is more tedious, labor-intensive, & hence expensive. As it's unwise to waste resources, we go that extra mile to collect, conserve, & convert handmade fabric into a utilitarian product, as long as you promise that you consciously consume & care.