“When you are involved with the making and makers of cloth, then each scrap of textile is precious”, says textile designer Padmaja Krishnan, founder of Padmaja, a studio in Mumbai, India, that promotes mindfulness in designing, buying and using garments and textiles.
While leftover textiles were always precious to Padmaja, in the past few years she has been consciously working on the Ke-Sa project that is inspired by the tradition of Buddhist monks hand-stitching garments from used clothing.
For the Ke-Sa collection, cotton and silk factory scraps are sourced and upcycled to create artistic textiles that are then fashioned into jackets and sari blouses/crop tops, as well as customized upholstery, cushion covers, bedcovers and throws.
The inclination to upcycle cloth stems from Padmaja’s childhood when her grandmother and mother would layer and quilt sections of used garments to create “memory quilts that were a piece of nostalgia for the family. "One such quilt made from my father's shirts is most precious to my family especially after he passed away."
At Padmaja’s studio, the upcyling process is slow, mindful and intense. Textile scraps are sorted by colour and texture, the pieces coordinated and arranged according to a colour story, and then hand-stitched a piece at a time into a patchwork textile.
The patches of this textile are then outlined by machine stitches; a backing fabric is fused on the reverse of the textile, and then the two layers are quilted as well as designs created by machine stitching. After this, running stitches are hand worked to highlight the edges of the joints.
The textile that emerges is seeped with tactility from the stitches and the softness of the different scraps. And its artistic character makes it akin an art work whose ethos flows into the garment or upholstery it is fashioned into.
Padmaja is also happy to craft memory quilts for customers who bring garments of loved ones to have an art textile crafted that will hold a special place in their homes and hearts. “It is respect for old fabrics, sentiments, and memories that inspire me to work with these textiles, and craft a beautiful textile that will be special for the family member or friend. It brings me joy to repurpose old fabrics and garments into textiles that bring hope and meaning for people and the world”.
Written by Brinda Gill
Find out more about Padmaja here: www.padmaja.shop