Putting together a new line from leftovers

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Sandhya Soman

Cut pieces, waste material turned into attractive bags, clothes

CHENNAI: It is the bits and pieces that have gone into the making of the attractive bags, clothes and cellphone pouches at the Co-optex showrooms here.

Cut pieces and leftover material from the long yardages have been effectively put together by city-based women self help groups (SHGs) in the past three months to create a variety of products.

No waste, no sweat. Just colourful bags, pouches, clothes for newborns, nighties and inskirts by a set of confident women tailors, says Co-optex managing director M.P. Nirmala. "We had lots of leftover material in various lengths... sometimes just two inches of cotton. Instead of auctioning the material we decided to give them to various SHGs attached to social welfare organisations," recalls Ms. Nirmala.

The process started before Navratri, with Co-optex seeking the help of Anna MGR Magalir Thittam to identify organisations such as Marialaya, Asha Nivas and Fathima Convent. They also sought help from colleges, including Stella Maris, MOP Vaishnav and SIET. After meeting scores of tailors and providing training and designs to the would-be-tailors, the organisation started selling material by fixing rates per individual piece. By navratri some of the products were on display at the Pantheon Road showroom.

"It was a sell out, particularly the garments for newborns in pure cotton made by Girukampakkam Womens Society," says Ms. Nirmala.

The groups, consisting of women and girls rescued from streets, have surprised the officials and designers with their ingenuity.

They came up with cellphone pouches with embroidery and glasswork. Their toilet bags made of handloom material had waterproof material lining the insides, says designer-consultant Kalyani Pramod. "They are intelligent people. They just need to be made aware that seams should be straight and edges and corners perfect for mark up to high-end market standards," says Ms. Kalyani.

"What we need to is to consolidate the design line so there will be sustained production and income for these women," says Ms. Kalyani.




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