Do you know what a fab lab is? Or that there is one specializing in textiles and design in the 15th arrondissement of Paris?
If to the first question, you guessed “a really cool laboratory”, you are mostly correct!
The Fab Lab
Also known as digital fabrication laboratories, fab labs are places where you are provided with access to the environment, skills, materials and technology required to make (almost) anything. The main idea behind the Fab Lab initiative is to build a global network of distributed laboratories for research and invention that encourage local communities to get acquainted with the machines, materials, design process and engineering that go into innovation.
The Homemakers Fab Lab in Paris 15 keeps all of these promises and more, as they aim to accompany users from the beginning to the end of their project for prototypes and small production runs, providing personalized advice, access to industrial-grade machinery and offering workshops centered around eco-friendly co-creation. Their motto is “reduce, reuse, recycle” and they support students, creators, designers, entrepreneurs and amateurs in a bid to simplify and make the creative process more accessible to everyone.
For more information on Homemakers Fab Lab the machines they rent by the hour such as 3D printing, textile printers, professional embroidery, laser cutters, sewing machines check out their website.
This may all sound quite complicated and probably like it doesn’t really concern you if you’re not especially tech-oriented or in the textile industry, but that’s the beauty (and philosophy!) of Fab Labs: everyone can learn. That’s exactly what I did one cold rainy afternoon at the Homemakers Fab Lab in Paris where I attended a two-hour workshop, led by Kristina, in charge of Circular Design and the Textile Repair Club at the Homemakers Fab Lab. The workshop showed us how to transform a discarded pair of jeans (read: husband’s jeans, of course, not mine!) into a snazzy water or wine bottle bag.
The workshop was in English (they also do French of course) and although our levels of experience with sewing were quite different (ranging from absolute beginner -me- to expert), no one lagged behind and most importantly, it was fun! Before I describe my experience, you should know that I am not a fast learner. In sewing class (I grew up in a country where little girls had sewing class and little boys went off and did something with hammers), my exasperated teacher told me I could color while the other kids made cute patterns on handkerchiefs…
As such, I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to follow along or that I would make some awful mistake and thus completely ruin my chances of leaving with my own bottle bag. Not so, thanks to Kristina’s perfectly clear explanations. One of the things I loved the most was that she would make sure I got the hang of doing each step myself. In the end, I got to do many things that I’d never done before, like use a sewing machine, for example. Each participant got to personalize their bottle bag with their own sashiko pattern and make something unique. At the end of the workshop, I had my own wine bottle bag, that I had made! It was a great experience and it was great to know that at least a part of this old pair of jeans that would have otherwise been thrown out was reused to make something nice, that I could use for a long time from now.
While we were there, Kristina also showed us pillow covers that she had made from an old pair of jeans and (very cute) baby clothes made from repurposed T-shirts. The T-Baby workshop would make a great and unique activity for a baby shower.
Kristina at Homemakers also has a Textile Repair Club where you can bring in your favorite piece of clothing that has been torn and repair it creatively so you can continue to enjoy it.