Remember when you ripped your mother’s favorite designer saree with those stilettoes you wore at your cousin’s wedding? She didn’t say a word to you, but her eyes betrayed her resigned sadness. There’s something about ruining a favorite saree that shreds your heart. It feels wrong to discard something so intrinsic to our culture and traditions. But what if there was a way to preserve your old sarees?
Here’s a list of ways you can repurpose your designer saree so that you can treasure it for years to come.
Get it back in your wardrobe: A saree ripped or soiled is not a saree lost. Here are some ways you can keep that loved old saree in your cupboard and in your list of favorite things to wear. Dresses made from old sarees have drama and are unique in their design. Sarees can elevate your outfits into statement pieces and will keep your clothes interesting and varied.
A refurbished saree: Most sarees rip at the border or the pallu. Depending on where the damage is, you could replace the ripped zari border with a new piece patched in it. If the pallu is ripped, you could cut off that section and attach a new pallu piece that goes with the general design and color scheme of the saree. If you’ve stained the saree, you could perhaps employ a creative interpretation of the saree and add some 3D motifs or similar patches to hide the stain.
A salwar suit or kurtas: Sarees make for exceptional salwar suits. The borders and pallu allow you to play with the design of the salwar or kurta and make some interesting choices. Kurtis made from old sarees contain the element of surprise of traditional material in a contemporary cut.
Palazzo pants: You can create some incredibly interesting palazzo pants from a printed saree. The loose, undefined nature of palazzos comes to life with your mother’s old sarees especially if you use the zari border or pallu.
Dupattas: A chiffon or silk saree can be made into a beautiful statement dupatta. Stunning!
Shirts: Why not make a formal shirt out of a silk saree that has an interesting design? Traditional motifs add character to a contemporary structure of a shirt and leaves you with an interesting result.
Skirts: Put those 9-yards to work and create a full skirt with dramatic flair. The thin material of the saree is more suited to the flared variety of skirts rather than fitted ones. Mix and match sarees for an interesting effect.
Suits: Why make a traditional pantsuit when you can have a desi version? Such a stunning effect and it says so much about your style.
Lehenga: Converting your old saree into a full lehenga is a no-brainer. The styles are similar and complementary. A saree with lots of embroidery will make for a stunning lehenga.
Maxi dress or gown: Dresses made from old sarees are light, airy and beautiful. A silk saree can be converted into a lovely evening one-piece gown.
Crop tops: Desi crop tops, anyone? Such a stunning effect when worn with more western attire such as a coat and jeans.
Anarkali dresses: Anarkalis are still in vogue these days and you can convert a saree into a beautiful one. You could also take pieces from different sarees and sew it together to make a bright, colourful and interesting anarkali. Just like kurtis made from old silk sarees, anarkalis also can be made from silk or crepe sarees.
Capes or kimono jackets: How about a cape with a desi twist? Jackets, shrugs, capes or kimonos with a little desi flair make for such interesting pieces that you can wear atop of a black t-shirt and black skinny jeans.
Potlis and other fabric bags: More than just clothes, old sarees can also be made into potlis and fabric bags. They make for such interesting accessories no matter what you wear.
Jewellery pieces: Another way to repurpose your old saree is to take stripes of the old saree and twist it till it becomes rope-like. Secure it with a clasp and add an oxidised pendant and you have a stunning necklace with an interesting fabric chain. You can do the same to accessorize your wrists.
Outfits for the kids: Little dresses made from old sarees are the best way to let your kids wear tradition. You can even make little shirts from your mom’s old saree and thereby let your son be part of the saree tradition.
For the love of all things home décor: Sarees are so versatile that you can even use them to accessorise your home. From cushion covers to curtains, you can find little ways to use them. Sandwich swatches of old saree fabric between acrylic for unusual coasters that make for lovely gifts. You can use a saree as a fabric room separator to create some privacy without cutting out the light. You can also create a table runner from a particularly exquisite piece of saree that is sure to be interesting dinner time conversation when you have guests over. You can use silk sarees to wrap gifts. Convert an old saree into a lamp shade for a stunning night-time effect. You can also take a patch of the saree and have it framed for some wall art. A fitting way to remember your dadi or mother who loved her sarees well.
In this age of repurposing and living a zero-waste lifestyle, converting your old sarees into pieces of art or fashion that you can continue to use makes sense. Let the mighty saree live on!