Deconstructing collective preconceptions of waste by Revaluing the handmade

Nyein Chan Paing

Unravelled 100% cotton picnic mat formed into knit swatches. 1 x 3 ply, 1 x 6ply. Both swatches left uncut and draped as a halter neck dress . The scale of the original textile offers room for rapid ideation and freedom of creative play





The space between the nude body and the dressed body contains a plethora of information which can help us to understand why we don’t feel comfortable wearing bedsheets in public spaces and touch on the ways in which we may perform self-surveillance in private. I have purposely removed the human body from the equation because of its potential to hold incredible meaning and created a textile body made of scraps to get us closer to seeing waste as a habitable environment.

This scale has allowed me to create rapid toiles of potential fashion outcomes utilising my final samplers/swatches. 

Working with the help of needlecraft and other craft books acquired from
local opshops I have aimed to get in the way of my own bias’ toward specific materials such as bedsheets and picnic rugs which often harbor stains and tears or come in odd/challenging shapes. This process gives me a glimpse into the exact moment we decide that a certain material won’t do and why we throw things away.

At these specific moments I have unravelled my biases by using methods of
literary deconstruction informed by Jacques Derrida. This unravelling aims to show that what we think is waste may not actually be waste and small acts of divergence can create a new dialogue for our bodies. 

Prototype 2. Series of swatches,
top left: 100% cotton offcuts, cut down into strips, woven and then quilted down, top right: an unravalled picnic rug 100% cotton, spun using a handmixer and a chair, middle left: deconstructed shirt with images of waste embroidered (apple core, food waste) middle right: cotton sateen bed sheet with common household waste (old shoes, mouldy tomatoes, fishbones and bana skins), bottom left: cotton sateen sheet aged seam patchwork, bottom right: cotton picnic rug off cuts from a pair of shorts I made patchworked(cut-piece)

Detail of one prototype outcome: I love the look of visible stitchwork on this toile. Roughness and imperfection are halmarks of the handmade, esp. at the homecrafter level. I haven’t cut any remaining lengths of thread nor into the samplers which inspires new designs like the cullotte pants . The aged texture of the pants comes from the seam of a gathered bed sheet.

Design Development: I poured over domestic needlecraft kits and eventually came up with my own designs that represent waste in all its glory. My initial sketch was of a pile of food waiting to be composted (image on the far right) I used the thread I unravelled from the picnic rug as floss, to embroider the sketch onto an old shirt. These samplers were then formed against my doll

Inspiration image: Deconstructing bedsheets/picnic mats down to thread and creating knits/wovens at multiple scales. A time-consuming process that isn’t industrially feasible at human scale presents a different opportunity during the ideation process at miniature scale. It’s rewarding and provides the maker with new material opportunities.

Moving image of my favourite sampler ( embroidery and applique waste motifs) draped over miniature doll.
No cuts made, simple joins for easy taking apart.