There are plenty of articles and discussions about the wasteful textile industry. Really, to produce less cloth waste doesn't take much effort. It's already been figured out for us. We don't need to reinvent the wheel here, we just need to re-address /reassess how we use it. Skills our grandmothers and great grandmothers had to reuse cloth are especially important to fight textile waste. Traditionally, textiles were reused and recycled and repurposed until they literally fell apart. Old clothing was used for quilting. Sweaters that couldn't be darned were unravelled and re-knit into mittens, hats, socks, or squares to make blankets. Discarded wool clothing would be cut into strips and used to hook rugs, braid rugs or weave rugs. All of these recycled items created new items: quilts with stories, rugs that reminded you of your childhood, mittens and socks you recognized as your old sweater, or a hooked rug filled with images made from the colours of your winter coat. These traditional crafts are not as popular to make anymore, but they are having a bit of a comeback. What we have to do with these revived crafts is encourage the reuse of textiles around our homes, instead of buying all our fibres new at the fabric store. Even a combination of new and used material would cut down on waste, and still produce beautiful quilts, garments, or rugs.
Recycling cloth is a fantastic resource, but mending is definitely the first defence in being less wasteful. When traditional and non traditional meet we get great trends like visible mending. It is a motivating movement where clothing and other textiles are repaired with creativity and flare. It is not necessary to try to make the cloth as good as new, with unseen restoration. Quite the opposite, the idea is to make the textile repair into something interesting and eye catching. Patches and embroidery fix-ups are fun and unique.The trend is growing strong. There is lots of information about darning sweaters and other knit goods with new innovative techniques. There are lots of books, videos, tutorials, and inspirational posts on how to develop darning and embroidery skills to do this kind of visible mending. Individuals are encouraged to put their own touch on their clothing and it is a wonderfully creative way to reduce textiles in the landfill.
I am influenced by the old traditions to reuse fabric, and inspired by the the new mending movement. It is important to me not to create excessive waste. I try very hard to use my scraps and not send them to the landfill. As the remnants get smaller so do the products I design. When cloth or yarn is too small to make anything it gets saved for stuffing.
I have been considering lately about encouraging others to get on board with creating less textile waste by mending or recycling their textiles. Therefore, in the near future I will be offering squares of my woven remnants for sale for your visible mending, quilting, patching projects, or for whatever you can imagine!
I would love to hear from you about what you would use the squares for! You can reply in comments.