Saturday, September 18, 2010

Project Upcycle


Project Upcycle is a venture which was started by Shruti in November 2009. Shruti lives in Sangli, India and having visited the slums she knew she wanted to do something to help the women there earn a little money.

Here is her story in her own words.

"After giving birth to my son I had a whole load of clothes that did not fit any more. I did what normal Indian women would do. Selected a few and gave them away to my maids. But still I was left with three bags full of them. I gave them to a ‘boharin’ – a Maharashtrain woman, who goes from door to door collecting old clothes and giving stainless steel utensils in return - A modern version of the old barter system.

Prema – that was her name – told me then that with the dropping prices of new clothes and an awareness about looking good, people were not buying these old clothes as much as they did earlier. All that she could give me, in return for 3 bags full of clothes was a small ‘dabba’ ( a small tiffin box)

The thoughts lingered in my mind for quite a longer time than I thought it would. The next time, I had a few old clothes left – and this time there were just a couple of dresses, I decided to make something creative out of them. I ended up using the dupattas to make these lovely pillow covers.


They were just wonderful and my friends didn’t believe i had used my old clothes to do them. I was happy. But still was left with the dresses of those dupattas. My mind got racing again. What could I make out of them?

My living room was being renovated at the time. Complete with a wooden trussed roof and a warli painting on one wall, it was a complete traditional looking. I was looking for a good seating to be kept there. My husband, Rohit, and I both liked the idea of having a ‘bajla’ a woven cot mostly foundon indian ‘dhaba’s, in our living room.


Then another idea struck me.Instead of buying a woven cot, why dont I weave one out of my old clothes? I got my carpenter to make a frame using leftover wood and got to work. I cut up strips of my dresses and made them into a stool. Both of us were happy with the result. And we made 3 more. (I gave away one to my brother)


As a part of project at work, I had to visit the slums in the city. Meeting the women there really changed the way i thought. I felt i had to do something for them. But at that time, i did not know what.


It was in November 2009, when i thought of ‘up’cycling old clothes as a business venture. I started off with just a couple of women doing the sewing. But soon the idea grew to a larger scale and today i have about a 50 women who work for me.
I am happy to say that, these women earn a decent INR 200, working from home. And since I teach them to sew new things, they increase their skill also. The range of products is from doormats to bedspreads and cushion covers to mobile pouches.
We also came up with the idea of making grocery bags from old newspaper. Currently we can manufacture about 50,000 to 1,00,000 bags a month.


Shruti’s – the ‘up’cycle shop, was started as something that I could occupy myself with during the break that I took from my work, following a short illness. But soon, it has been a very successful enterprise with an ever-increasing list of clients."


Shruti is now also trying to organise a donation of 40 quilts for children in an orphanage in Sangli. You can read more about her project here and find out more about the orphanage here.

Shruti is looking for old wips you might have lying around, fabric pieces you might not want anymore etc that she can have made into quilts for the children in the winter months. If you might be able to help please contact Shruti on her blog or send us an email to customerservice@fatquarterly.com and we can forward it to Shruti.

20 comments:

  1. I love this story. What a great way to bring old things back to life in such a rewarding way.

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  2. I am disappointed that there weren't any instructions about how to make a rug with old t-shirts. I saw the rug on Pinterest and thought it was beautifula and original, but your blog/site seems to be asking for fabric pieces to make quilts for children. An honorable intention, but misleading. Can you tell us how to make the rug?

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    1. I found this tutorial on how to make a t-shirt rug, I think it would work. http://mollykaystoltz.com/t-shirt-shag-rug-tutorial/

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  3. I too was disappointed that no instructions were given to make a rug. Misleading to say the least.

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  4. why no instructions???

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  5. i was extremely excited to see the t-shirt rug too...just like the previous people who posted. I clicked on the link thinking it would give me instructions. i was very disappointed too.

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  6. Would also like direstions to the t-shirt rug. I am very disappointed!

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  7. I'm with everyone else....so disappointed that there are no instructions.....

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  8. Then explain how you did it! Thats all we want to know....

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    1. I found a tutorial on pinterest... and they just used a rug matte (you know, the thing that keeps the rug from sliding, and cut 1 inch by 5 inch strips and poked them through one hole and up through another. Depending on how full you want it, will determine how many spaces you leave between each row of strips. I can't wait to make one out of my children's old clothes

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  9. Was it done like a hook rug, did you tie it through a mesh canvas just explain HOW!!!!

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  10. Please give instructions on the T-shirt rug!!

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  11. Could you please give instructions to complete one of the t-shirt rugs?

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  12. I love all your ideas! Keep them coming!

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  13. Yeah, I'd say this was a "bait and switch" type of pin; the photos don't even seem to go with the story. I made a huge rug for my son out of old t-shirts years ago, and I'd definitely recommend the latch-hook method. You can buy big pieces of blank latch-hook rug canvas online. The hook automatically knots the cloth strip, so you can wash the rug later without losing pieces, and once you get the hang of it, it's fast! (If you just thread each strip through by hand, it takes a lot more time, and pieces will fall out when laundered.) I do recommend reinforcing your canvas before making the rug, by dabbing dots of fabric glue on the joins all around the outside edge. Some of the newer rug canvases will come apart at the edges when wet otherwise. There's also a method of making a t-shirt rag rug on a sewing machine: http://pinterest.com/pin/286823069989407524/

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  14. since there are no instructions on how to make it. What are you wanting to do sale it? If so then you should be on Ebay not pinterest. very disappointing

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  15. Also disappointed, no instructions.

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  16. Thank you, Christina Mendoza! That is a good site, with clear instructions, for a rag rug that can be made on a sewing machine and can be washed easily. It's a good solution.
    Another very good tutorial for making a latch hook rag rug can be found at http://xoelle.com/2009/05/t-shirt-latch-hook-rug-tutorial/ with clear instructions and pictures.

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  17. I must say I'm disappointed, too - with the number of negative comments! Folks, there are gazillions of photos on Pinterest that are not linked to instructions. Some photos are great for inspiration. AND, if you want/need instructions, just do a search. There's bound to be someone out there who has posted instructions for most any project.

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  18. Did non of you disgusting people read what the article was about? How is is made?! How about be touched by the article and buy one. Fair enough it's not pintrest appropriate with no instructions but for goodness sake how rude, bratty and arrogant are your comments on a wonderful story?!!!

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