Upcycling old uniforms is a great way to repurpose materials and reduce waste. However UPCYCYLING is hefty process that includes a lengthy supply chain. A lot of the ground work goes unseen and many may assume that it's simple. But here's a quick breakdown of what goes on behind the scene
1. Gather the uniforms: Collect the old uniforms that you want to upcycle. Make sure they are clean and in good condition. Get them delivered to KTJ. However due to lack of space, KTJ may stagger the deliveries to multiple trips or collaborate or partners up with other NGO/SE's that have the capacity to help store and sort.
2. Choose what type of product you want made: Decide what kind of gift products you want to make. Some ideas include tote bags, pouches, wallets, keychains, and pillows. Not all materials are usable and not all items are sew-able when the materials provided are not suitable. The best material to work with is cotton, thick polyesters or even PU leather. Satin, chiffon or other "slippery" materials is not advisable. Sometimes to make the garment useful, it requires a lot of "opening-up" and removal of previous sewing lines. This portion seems to take up the most when doing upcycling projects. We will have to see which parts are usable and which aren't.
NOTE: Transportation becomes a large part of this process. When the unused materials or uniforms are sent to us in boxes. We would have to dismantle them and delivery them in smaller parcels to the appointed tailors. And if the materials are not compiled at the clients side, and is delivered to us in multiple small shipments, then the logistics of the tailors increases as they would need to go back and forth to pick up materials. The best advice is to compile all the uniforms/materials before production starts.
3. Cut and prepare the uniforms: Using scissors or a rotary cutter, cut the uniforms into the desired shapes and sizes for your chosen products. Depending on the product, you may need to add interfacing or stabilizer to provide structure. Normally an upcycled product does not just include the recycled fabric. To make it functional, or sometime to thicken them, interface and lining is needed. And to function as a product we may need to add zippers, snaps, or other closures, as well as embellishments.
4. Finish the products: Once the products are sewn, trim any loose threads and clean up the edges. Strict quality checks are done for each piece as they are all handmade by various tailors. Depending on the product, you may need to press it with an iron to flatten out any wrinkles or creases. To add on logo applications, a new supply chain is added into the mix.
Logo Finishing (Optional): The logo design is sent to the printers to print them out on a Digital Transfer Film. The whole bulk of sewn items is then shipped to the printers for application. They are heat pressed one by one.
5. Package and gift: Once your upcycled products are complete, we will package them in a way that makes them suitable for gifting. Consider using recycled or eco-friendly packaging materials to stay consistent with the sustainability theme of upcycling.
Overall, upcycling old uniforms to gift products is a fun and creative way to give new life to old materials while also creating thoughtful and unique gifts for friends and family.
KTJ has made a full range of upcycled gifts for various clients.