A way of recycling and up cycling old garments
The fashion in all things these days is to cut down on waste, recycle and hopefully upcycle. Young women in 18th century Japan were counselled to “Never abandon fabric if it can wrap three small red beans,” Fabric, a rare and expensive commodity, was to be recycled and reused. Worn-out or damaged kimonos were torn into strips and used as weft with a new cotton or warp. Traditionally the sakiori (saki = rag, oru = weaving) technique was used to make sturdy work clothes but today the colours and textures of the woven strips can be appreciated for their own beauty.
- Find a fabric you want to recycle. I used silk scarves bought from the charity shop for my project. One or two scarves would make the bag I think. If you have any other thin material that would be fine and even buy bags of fabric strips (Julie!!) they will do fine.
- Use a loom at least 50 cm or more (for the bag) but of course any loom will do if you just want to practice.
- The warp should be quite strong cotton. Ashford 5/2 cotton is ideal but any strong thin string would get you started.
- Next the fabric is cut into strips, 1inch/2.5cm will do fine. I found a rotary cutter is good but scissors can be used. For certain fabrics the strips may fray. A little does not matter as they will be hidden in the weaving, but test before you spend hours cutting the strips to find it does not work well. You can make continuous strips by not cutting to the end, the fold disappears into the weaving.
a) send the shuttle though the warp
b tidy the selvedge so it does not pull
c) change sheds
d) weave a pick with the 5/2 cotton to hold the fabric in place
e) beat hard with the bevelled stick or dining room fork (or tapestry beater) (I actually did 3 picks with the cotton and I think there is too much black in the weave so if I did it again I would use just one pick on the 5/2 cotton.
f)Weave with the fabric strips again
If you want to try it out and make the bag I give you the instructions here. It is taken from the Ashford Handicraft blog (do a Google search if you like) page 2 for the 7th January.
Weave structure: Tabby (plain weave)
You will need:
Loom: Knitters Loom 50cm/20ins (or any rigid heddle loom 50cm or wider)
Reed: 12.5dpi (50/10cm)
Warp Yarn Quantity and Colour: Ashford 100% Unmercerised Cotton 5/2, ne 5/2, 848m/927yds, (3½oz) 200gm cone, #48 Coral Red
Weft Yarn Quantity and Colour: 100% silk cut ripped into 2.5cm (1in) strips
Other: Optional lining in dyed silk 115 x 40cm (45½ x 15¾ins) - lining is optional.
Total warp ends: 204
Total warp length: 1.5m (5ft)
Finished width: 38cm (15ins)
Finished length: 114cm (45ins)
Warp the reed in the unmercerised cotton.
1. With the cotton doubled, weave a 12mm (½in) seam allowance.
2. Weave the fabric alternating one pick of the silk strips and one pick of the single cotton.
3. Beat well between each row. Rather than using the reed to beat use a Tapestry beater or a similar tool, a fork can also work.
4. Cut the ends of the silk strips on the diagonal (see first diagram below) to eliminate bulk when adding new strips.
5. Continue weaving until the length is three times the width after making an allowance for shrinkage, take-up and seams.
6. Finish with a 12mm (½in) seam allowance in the doubled cotton
1. Remove from the loom and secure the ends with a zigzag stitch.
2. Hand wash in warm water and a little liquid soap and lay flat to dry. When still a little damp cover with a soft cotton cloth and press with a warm iron.
3. If lining the bag, sew lining to fabric right sides together allowing a 1cm (½in) seam allowance. Turn in the right way and sew seam together.
4. To assemble the bag fold and sew the fabric as shown in the diagram, A to A and B to B.
5. Pull up the corners at C to make the bag.
6. Attach inkle braid at corners for handle.