Kurta necklaces, lehenga backpacks, sari earrings... who wants to DIY?

Meet the material girls, women from across India who use scrap fabric, old clothes and the tailor’s leftover to make gorgeous accessories.

mumbai Updated: Jun 23, 2017 18:33 IST
Lavina Mulchandani
Lavina Mulchandani
Hindustan Times
Jyoti Jadhav upcycles fabrics and old dresses to make purses, home decor and accessories.

You’ve probably looked at an old kurta and wondered if it could live longer as a dress or jacket. You may already know someone with a talent for crafts who’s given saris a new life as curtains. Every community has a resourceful member who knows just what to do with leftover material from the tailor. Fabric upcycling is getting trendier. Women across our cities are putting rejects and old materials to good use as accessories, planters and handbags. Take a look at some of them.


At Jyoti Jadhav’s home in Mahalaxmi, there’s fabric everywhere. Cartons are stuffed with Banarsi saris, colourful dupattas and scraps of silk. Jadhav, 32, sources her materials from across the city and gives the surplus and reject cloth a new, unusual lease of life – as cushion covers, clutches and hair bands.

From nuptials to new looks
  • The Purplesack, an online jewellery brand, upcycles your gold embedded wedding lehengas and fabric into clutches and tote bags. “We aim to make them economical and trendy,” says Tanvi Gupta, 28, founder. Janvi Ahuja, 26, an NRI from the US got a backpack made from her multicolour lehenga recently. “The kalis of the lehenga were turned into pockets,” she says. “It is the most asked about thing when I travel.” Gupta accepts all kinds of fabrics (except stretchy materials). She takes two days to complete an order. Visit thepurplesack.com.

“It started with upcycling my mother’s saris and turning the now-dated salwar suits I got for my wedding into wind chimes and handbags,” Jadhav she says. She turned it into a part-time business two years ago alongside a job at a corporate firm. “I take your fabric scraps and pretty much make everything under the sun from it. If you can imagine it, I can make it for you,” Jadhav promises.

Jyoti Jadhav makes jholas. handbags and purses out of all kinds of fabric.

Her most elaborate order: three dozen small purses from two gold-bordered silk saris. “It was a gift for customer’s haldi kumkum ceremony,” she says. Bags are easy - they take only a few hours to make a bag and prices start at Rs 50.

One of her customers Kajal Jain, 27, a physician from Byculla had a chiffon sari she wouldn’t wear. “It was very heavily embellished,” Jain says. “I got it turned into a pair of jholas. They go well with plain cotton dresses and even with jeans.”

Connect with Jadhav on 97735-92440.

Jasmin Kaur uses leftover fabric from the tailor to make studded earrings and jhumkas.


Jasmin Kaur, 25, runs a transport business with her father in Gurgaon and got an ikat kurta stitched for her mum at a boutique about a year ago. “I was not ready to let go of the leftover fabric,” she says. “It was too beautiful to throw away so I made a pair of earrings from the fabric and gifted to my best friend.” And just like that, she had an idea for a side business.

A pair of earrings by Jasmine Kaur, crafted from surplus cloth.

Kaur repurposes all kind of fabric from cotton to silk, and uses them in studded earrings and jhumkas, so you have options for each outfit. “I add a hint of metal to them for stiffness and glow,” she says. “I once had a customer who wanted a pair of earrings that stand out from her brocade fabric. After a lot of discussion, we decided on a design and that pair of jhumkas are still my favourite.” She usually takes about a week for an order.

Earrings start from Rs 500. Connect with Kaur at technocolourjewellery@gmail.com

From trash to treasure
  • Send over a piece of old fabric, a sari or a dupatta to Meghna Nayak, 32, founder of LataSita, a fabric upcycling brand from Kolkata, and she will make them into a trending outfit. “Once I get the fabric, I design patterns I think go best with it and send you sketches according to your preferences and body type,” says Nayak. “You can also suggest if you an outfit in mind.” If you give her a carton of kurtas and saris, she will keep sending you one outfit every month. Prices start from Rs 2,250 and you can connect with her on facebook.com/latasita/


Got a pair of denim jeans you no longer fit into? Give it over to Kavita Kakkar, 48, from Gurgaon, who will turn them into a garden planter. “I stitch the bottom ends closed, put a grow bag or discarded plastic pot inside the jeans so you can grow plants in them,” says Kakkar. “You just have to be sensible with what plants you grow in it.” Hint: grow species that need less water so the denim planter lasts longer.

Kavita Kakkar upcycled a Tshirt to make this necklace.

Kakkar also makes elaborate necklaces out of with old T-shirts and kurtas. Mala Bedi, 30, an English teacher from Delhi has a lot of clothes she cherished for over years. “I planned to dispose the straight-cut jeans that no longer excited me,” she says. But she planned to upcycle them after a suggestion from Kakkar. “I got two planters made, they are quite eye catching – the talk of the neighbourhood,” she says laughing. She also got a necklace made out of an old silk dupatta. “It has strings and colourful beads, I can’t believe it’s the same dupatta I planned to throw away.”

Kavita Kakkar made a planter from an old pair of straight-cut jeans.

Connect with Kakkar at kavita.kakkar@rediffmail.com, her planters cost Rs 650 and necklaces start from Rs 250

Today’s cast-off, tomorrow’s carry-on
  • •Manasi Vaze’s speciality includes purses and handbags that stand out from the cookie-cutter styles at the mall. “There is less of grey and white in my world,” says Vaze, 33, who’s based in Solapur. “I mostly experiment with strong colours and customise the bags. All sizes and all the patterns are doable for a price.” She takes two days to make a bag, and she also can make fire lanterns with a leftover fabric. Contact Vaze at manasikanishka@gmail.com, her bags start from Rs 100.

First Published: Jun 23, 2017 17:28 IST