Recycled Sari Silk Ribbon – New to the Ragged Life Shop

At its heart, rag rug making is all about recycling. We use up old textiles and clothing that would otherwise go to waste; turning them into something beautiful. Over the past fews years, the Ragged Life team and I have made it our mission to not only target our own personal textile waste, but also find homes for offcuts from textile manufacturing as well. That’s what led us to partner up with the Yorkshire mills and save the beautiful 100% wool Blanket Yarn from ending up in landfill.

Our latest recycled textile hook-up is sari silk ribbon. We’ve used it in a few of our rag rug pieces over the years, but up until now weren’t able to get hold of a reliable enough supply to do more with it. My mum’s vibrant checked rag rug below was made using a mixture of sari silk ribbon and other fabrics. The sari silk ribbon really stands out as it has a beautifully rich sheen and depth of colour.

Checked Sari silk ribbon rag rug

And, here is a little sneak peek at one of the projects coming up in my new book, which was peg loom woven entirely in sari silk ribbon. I just adore this subtle pastel palette.

Sustainable sari silk ribbon peg loom woven cushion in pastel colours

The good news is that after hunting around for a sustainably sourced supply, we are now selling 100g skeins of sari silk ribbon on the Ragged Life Online Shop. We currently have thirty three different colours available, so there’s truly something for everyone. Read on below to find out more about what sari silk ribbon is, why it’s so great to rag rug with and a few FAQs you may have. Thanks for reading!

The sari: A short, little history

A sari (or a saree) is a garment traditionally worn by women in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal, but also all over the world. The word “sari” literally translates to ‘strip of cloth’ and usually consists of a single piece of unstitched fabric, which is draped across the body.

The origins of the sari are thought to go back a very long time. In fact, they can be traced to the Indus Valley Civilisation, which flourished during 2800–1800 BC. So, yep, pretty old. Originally, saris were predominantly made from cotton, but later silk started to be woven into the garment, which resulted in the silk saris that we know of today.

Saris come in all different shapes, sizes and colours, and are often embellished with beautiful embroidery to make them even more stunning. Saris have continued to be a staple garment for women to this day.

Although saris are a fairly practical garment, after a considerable amount of wear, they do begin to come apart. Rather than disposing of them, instead women would repurpose the fabric into new textile pieces.

Women wearing colourful saris
Photo by Lewis J Goetz

So, what is Sari Silk ribbon?

The clue is kind of in the name, but sari silk ribbon is a long strip of recycled sari silk material. It is generally either the offcuts from full saris that are produced during manufacturing or salvaged remnants of old saris that are no longer fit to wear. These strips are generally sewn or tied together to make beautiful and colourful ribbons.

Depending on how the sari silk ribbon is made, sometimes it has a frayed edge from tearing, and sometimes it appears more finished. Both sorts of ribbon look great and have their place in rag rugs.

The true beauty of sari silk ribbon is that no two will ever be the same. Each one is individually handmade and unique. Some even have remnants of embellishment and embroidery in them.

Colourful recycled sari silk ribbon for sale in the UK

Why is sari silk ribbon so great to rag rug with?

When you search for sari silk ribbon, you’ll find plenty of ideas of how it can be used, including, but not limited to knitting, crochet, mixed media art, gift wrapping and jewellery making. However, we mainly use it in our rag rug projects. Here are some of the reasons why it’s so great to work with:

  1. Silk has a beautiful sheen, which adds depth and lustre to any rag rug project. If your project is looking slightly flat then even a small amount of sari silk ribbon will help to elevate it.
  2. Sari silk ribbon comes in pre-cut strips. These tend to be the perfect width to loopy rag rug and short shaggy rag rug with, reducing the time taken to prep your fabric.
  3. It comes in a gorgeous range of colours. We’ve hand-selected thirty three different colour sari silk ribbons to start with, so there are endless colour combinations that you can make.
  4. Sari silk ribbon is super soft. It feels amazing in a cushion or rug.
  5. If you run out of a certain colour, we can get more of it. This means you won’t have to change your design part way through a project.

Where can I buy it and how is it sold?

Like all of our Ragged Life products, our recycled sari silk ribbon is available for purchase over the Ragged Life shop. The ribbon is sold individually in 100g skeins, giving you the opportunity to really mix up your colour palette and get creative, or in pre-selected groupings of five colours if you prefer us to do some of the design work for you. Below are some examples of the different colours of sari silk ribbon that we have available:

Frequently asked sari silk ribbon questions:

Below we’ve compiled what we believe to be the most helpful questions and answers that will give you all the information you need about sari silk ribbon. We hope you find them useful… 

Can I do all the rag rug techniques with sari silk ribbon?

Absolutely! Our sari silk ribbon can be used for the shaggy, short shaggy and loopy techniques of rag rugging. It is particularly brilliant for the loopy technique, as it comes in one long strip. As some of the sari silk ribbon is relatively narrow, you may need to double up two pieces of ribbon into one hole when working with it for the shaggy technique.

Below is what the sari silk looks like in the short shaggy technique:

Short shaggy sari silk ribbon rag rug

Is there anything I do differently when working with sari silk ribbon?

Nope, there’s really no difference in the method. The only real difference is that our sari silk ribbon is slightly thinner than say our 100% wool blanket yarn, so you may need a bit more fabric to complete your project. Other than once you’ve got your skein, you’re good to go.

How much sari silk ribbon do I need to make a cushion/ rug?

This is a difficult questions as the amount of fabric you will need is determined by which of the rag rug techniques you’re doing, how large you make your loops, how long you cut your strips, how far apart you’re spacing your rag rugging etc… However to help us answer this question, we did do a little sample. Our standard 40 x 40cm cushion cover took two and a half skeins of sari silk ribbon to complete in the loopy technique.

Based on this experiment, we predict it would take approximately 10 skeins of sari silk ribbon to cover one of our medium 100 x 60cm rugs hessian in loopy rag rugging.

We are still working out the quantities for the shaggy technique, so please do bear with us.

Can I start rag rugging straight away or is there anything I have to do with the sari silk ribbon first to prepare?

The sari silk ribbon comes in a skein (a plait). Click this link to see how to unravel a skein of sari silk ribbon.

If I buy a skein of sari silk ribbon which has patches of other colour in it, will I be able to see the different colours when I start rag rugging?

Absolutely! Like our blanket yarn, if you find the ribbon has flecks of other colours or embroidery in you can be sure it will create a unique and interesting design. This adds interest and individuality to a design:

Orange autumn sari silk ribbon

Is the finish different to using clothing/ other fabrics?

Yes, aesthetically the sari silk ribbon gives a much richer depth of colour and adds an element of sheen to the rag rug designs. The texture of the fabric is super soft and feels wonderful on the skin.

Do you recommend rag rugging projects with sari silk? E.g. if I wanted to make a basket trim or flower rather than a cushion or rug?

Part of the appeal of sari silk ribbon is how versatile it is in terms of its use in various different craft projects. Sari silk ribbon has been used in knitting, crochet, weaving, textile art and jewellery making. The beautiful hand cut strips would definitely be ideal for crafting other rag rug projects. The elegant nature of sari silk ribbon would look stunning as a rag rug flower bouquet or rag rug basket trim. The rich colours would add an extra flair to the designs.

Thanks so much for reading 🙂 We hope we answered all your questions about our gorgeous sari silk fabric.

As always, if you’d like to be kept informed then why not join our Rag Rug Community on Facebookfollow us on Instagram or join our fortnightly newsletter here.

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As always, happy rag rugging!

Elspeth x

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