Creating new life for left over fabrics

Every now and then two of my great passions come together: colors and fabrics. And when they do, I am totally happy. I recently worked with Women on Wings’ business partner MORALFIBRE in Ahmedabad. This brand has been around for more than 10 years and stands for organic cotton and animal-friendly silk. Their slogan ‘let us bring ethics back to clothing’ hits the nail perfectly: MORALFIBRE is about making fabrics and clothes, with hands and heart, without burdening the earth.

Staring at fabrics
MORALFIBRE’s founder Shailini Seth Amin is an architect who turned social entrepreneur. In her own designed bungalow, just outside Ahmedabad, she has a beautiful studio where she creates and sells mainly clothing, but also smaller accessories like jewelry and bags, and stuffed animals. She and her team are always looking for new ways to process fabrics. Before I met the team, I wondered how we could share inspiration. Probably I could add my expertise of color schemes. Especially if items also find their way to Europe and America, because not every color scheme works for every region. That is why our two-day workshop started by staring at those cupboards full of fabrics. Large patches, small pieces, fine designs, woven stripes, block prints and multicolor fabrics, really the entire color circle was available.

Looking for a new life
What kept piling up in recent years were pieces of fabric left over from the production of clothing or other items. It resulted in cupboards full of beautiful organic cotton rags and bits. Wonderful for someone like me to look at, of course, but to be able to use them again is even better. Those beautiful left overs deserve something better than being called ‘waste’. They deserve to become something new! So after the staring at fabrics, the real work began. First, we spread out fabrics on tables and on the floor to sort everything by color, for a good overview. I immediately saw the power of the fabrics with their many nuances and an amazing depth in color palettes.

How many yellows…
I saw saffron yellow, lemon yellow, sunflower yellow, yellows that are turning olive and green, and also orange. So many yellows! And the same applied to other colors. With each color I pulled out of the closet, the overall color scheme got deeper and richer. I saw more and more possibilities. I thought of creating a summer scarf. We cut sample patterns from newspapers, so that we could create something like a tangram puzzle. This puzzle became a large-sized scarf which enables MORALFIBRE to reduce its left over materials faster, and also creates a product with a good selling price.

Rebel with a cause
When I work with color palettes, I look for tension, maybe even for friction. A bit of contrariness, some rebelliousness. A color combination has to create that something special. It should wow you. That is allowed in what you wear, it is certainly also allowed in what you add to your interior. Maybe it looks easier, and safer, to combine similar colors. But with predictability, dullness lurks. If you go one step further, magic happens. Then you get a wow combination.

Forget predictability
What is a wow for me as a color specialist? That can go either way. Looking for the most optimal contrast color in the color wheel is certainly an option, but I usually don’t look for that predictability. I prefer to take the color next to the most optimal, to sort of create a positive friction. Or I put ton-sur-ton shades together, but add ‘an odd one out’. And when I use soft pastels, I would probably create an accent by adding a spicy, energetic color.

New designs
For MORALFIBRE I created beautiful color palettes and a few designs for scarves. The team made sample color cards which will make it much easier to sort the left over fabrics and create something new with that palette. So instead of starting a design process from the product, start from the color palette. I really look forward to seeing what more new products from left over fabrics the team will come up with.

Color specialist / designer / stylist
Expert at Women on Wings since 2017
Find out more about Marie-Gon.