Textiles and Fashion Up-Cycle project 2012: students create up-cycled blankets and scarves for a winter charity drive project.

The LISOF Textiles and Fashion students, briefed to construct functional and beautiful scarves or blankets from off-cut, end-of-roll and other textile waste, were challenged to consider ways of constructing fabrics through weaving, knitting, felting, patching, knotting and other creative possibilities. The winter warmer products were created from these limited resources (and at no cost, other than time and attention to detail) and donated to the Mount Olive community centre in Lehae, Soweto, Johannesburg.

“The fashion industry is one of the most polluting and socially challenged industries”, says Wendy Schultz, Textiles and Fashion lecturer. According to global research cotton production alone is the second most polluting crop after corn, and the industry has long outsourced production to low wage countries, exploiting low levels of regulation. The Nordic Initiative Clean and Ethical project N. I. C. E. presented the 3rd Fashion Summit 2012 in Copenhagen to launch awareness and share knowledge towards innovative solutions and an improved sustainability footprint for the global fashion industry. There is an untold amount of textile waste created in the production of fashion, and this LISOF project aimed to create a difference by showcasing how these small off-cuts can be transformed into something of much greater value than its parts: up-cycling at its best.

Some students cut the textile off-cuts into long, narrow strips which were turned into knitting or knotting yarns, integrating stripes of different colours and textures into scarves and blankets, while others plaited the strip yarns, or turned them into lacey macramé shawls. Smaller fabric pieces were quilted together, threaded into plush 3-dimensional scarves, or patched into intricate patterns and designs.

Wendy Schultz joined NGO facilitator Jonna Slappendel at the Mount Olive Community centre in Lehae on Tuesday 10 July 2012, to hand over the selected blankets and scarves. Many members of this community care for extended families with single incomes and enormous challenges. An elderly lady Elizabeth Khaba received a large patch-worked blanket, a definite contribution to the comforts of her household of 13 young children. Another blanket was donated to Mama Mfiki who cannot walk and is therefore dependent on the care of others.

“A shy fourteen-year old girl Angelina Dibakwane with stage 4 aids accepted the pretty pink knitted scarf for herself and a striped knitted scarf for her mom, with gratitude beyond my expectations”, said Wendy. The project certainly shows that creativity can make a difference and sometimes with very little, beautifully crafted and innovative products can be accomplished. We will certainly like to continue with this project in the future.


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