Weaving A New Life For Old Fabric

Handloom fabrics are the antidote to fast fashion. We love seeing them being made and hearing the clack of the loom just as much as we love wearing them, so we're happy to share videos of some of our fabrics in production.

Upcycyling has long been a part of the local handweaving tradition in India, where our handloom fabrics are made. Women tear their old saris into strips and repurpose them by weaving rugs or — even better — joyfully striped fabrics like this, our Upcycled Stripe handloom cotton. As the name implies, this is a way of turning the old into something new.

How is it made? While the fabric is on the loom, the torn strips of cotton sari are carefully placed into the weft to create the bright stripes. As we see in this video, after weaving a certain amount of solid blue fabric, the weaver is ready to add a stripe. The contrast upcycled “yarn” is wound on another shuttle. Watch as he shoots it through the warp from left to right.

Next he’ll throw the blue cotton back to the left to lock that contrast strip in place. Each stripe is made of two rows of sari "yarn", so he’ll send the contrasting shuttle through again from right to left. With the stripe complete, he’ll be ready to weave another inch or two of blue cloth.

upcycled fabric repurposed cotton for slow fashion sewing

Voila, a new fabric is born! This technique, known as khesh, breathes new life into a sustainable fabric and adds unexpected color, too.

Recycling worn fabrics is a time-honored tradition in many cultures. This fabric is part of that practice of cherishing textiles and avoiding waste. With these methods old clothes gain new lives when re-made into new fabrics or objects.

 

Here's another of our fabrics being woven last summer:

For a yarn-dyed check like this, the contrasting white weft thread is on an extra shuttle. The weaver keeps it close to hand on the woven cloth until needed. When it’s time to insert the check, he’ll swap the shuttle with green thread for this one with white thread. Just one shot of white to make this single-thread check, then another band of green, and so on. This fabric, our Emerald Check, is also available in Wedgwood blue.

sustainable handloom cotton fabric

Whether you’re aiming for a sustainable lifestyle or just love wearing and sewing with beautiful textiles, try human-made, fairly-traded natural fiber fabrics! Find these and other handloom fabrics in our shop.

Watch How Are Handloom Fabrics Made? A Film

Learn more about handwoven fabrics on our blog:


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