the community scrap bag

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The Roshni Ghar project for women is based in Keighley. We have been running a Worn Stories project with their Suhoon E-Dil group for older women of Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage. The focus of the sessions is textile story telling and zero-waste crafting using discarded fabrics and old clothing donated by project participants. A call for materials also led to donations of shalwar kameez offcuts from a local traditional dressmaker and donations of fents from a market trader.

As a group we go through the scrap bag identifying partial sections of outfits: ‘this is a border’, ‘…part of a headscarf.’ There are conversations about the to-and-fro of fabrics bought in the UK – different categories – ready-made, part-sewn, uncut. These are often sent out to Pakistan and Bangladesh to be made up by tailors into shalwar kameez suits then brought back to the UK to be worn. The use of ordinary texiles like ones found in the scrap bag, items from everyday use – clothing, domestic projects, mass produced fabrics is described by artist Francoise Dupre as a textile-based ‘global reminder’ (Hemmings, 2014).

The activity shown in the above images involves using scraps from our community scrap bag. We are piecing small squares onto heat-activated interfacing to create a ‘new’ fabric. Collating materials together, piecing, patching, reconstructing into a new whole has a heritage that goes back centuries. Our activity has offered an opportunity to use fabric as a reminiscing tool and for learning new textile skills. A participant commented, ‘ We have made beautiful things out of stuff that would have ended up in the bin.’

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