In this special Re_wind series of blog posts, each member of our team has been asked to pick their favourite project of 2016 and share it with the MAKLab community. Following on in the series, our Operations Director Kirsty Mooney has decided to write about RE_SEW, one of the first projects she was involved with when she started out with our team.

Ready, Steady... Go! 48 hrs to rethink our approach to textiles

Throughout 2016, MAKLab supported Stella Jones on a self-led internship as part of her Duke of Edinburgh award. Stella worked alongside studio mentor Andrew Tibbles who mentored her through the process of choosing her internship project and carrying it out. After working with our former textile technician Iona Barker to make her own prom dress from scratch, she chose as a project to run a fashion hack for 16 - 18yr olds over a week-end, using the textile equipment available at MAKLab. Seeing the MAKLab model of reducing waste by making scrap material from larger projects freely available to members for testing purposes, Stella was inspired to share this mentality with others in our local community.

The concept of RE_SEW was born. A 48 hour textile hack encouraging young people to re-purpose waste textiles into something new, something exciting and something thought provoking. 

A call was put out to members and volunteers across our network to donate surplus clothes and fabric to be used in the hack. We received many weird and wonderful bags which were squirrelled away for the hack. Local textile businesses rose to the challenge and kindly donated rolls of surplus fabric to the cause. 

clothes_re_sew

Stella kicked off the hack with a quick meet and greet on the Friday evening to introduce our participants to the team of volunteers working alongside her for the event. After everyone had a chance to mingle, we unveiled the Aladdin’s cave of fabric tucked away in our basement event space. With everyone's head spinning with ideas, we agreed to meet the next morning and get to work. 

Saturday morning saw a queue of excited teenagers waiting to get into our Charing Cross studio and get making. The basement was quickly filled with the sound of fabric ripping and sewing machines buzzing. With skilled volunteers on hand to give pointers on topics from pattern cutting and stitching to durability of material, the participants were free to fully explore the topic.

Samantha O’Hagan from Runaway Roxie discussing material properties

Samantha O’Hagan from Runaway Roxie discussing material properties

During her internship, Stella had mentioned that very little information was available in schools on career opportunities in textiles other than becoming a fashion designer. In an attempt to tackle this knowledge gap, short talks from our volunteers were programmed throughout the day to spotlight the many job types and industries that worked with textiles in a creative or industrial manner. Chloe Harrison introduced the participants to her alternative ethical taxidermy practice, creating textile interior design pieces with Studio Gnu. Lynne Wilson discussed the latest advances in the green manufacturing of textiles in Scotland. Iona Barker spoke about her volunteer led enterprise Say it Ain't Sew, drawing from her experience as a seamstress to run community based sewing classes and Sam Ohagan discussed starting her own enterprise with Runaway Roxie, making bespoke clothes, costumes and bridalwear.

Iona Barker talking about her career as a seamstress

Iona Barker talking about her career as a seamstress

After a weekend of making, the participants were invited to showcase their creations on Sunday evening. They highlighted the issue each garment or product was intended to tackle, what they had learned during the hack and what they might approach differently if another revision was created. The final designs, including a coat/bag combi hack, upcycled shoe designs, textile art sculptures and a fressh take on handbag designs, were displayed in our window to allow the public to marvel at the wonderful creations.

RE_SEW on display at Charing Cross

RE_SEW on display at Charing Cross

Redirection of waste materials from landfill is something the team at MAKLab feel very strongly about and to have this event created from inception to delivery by one of our youngest members was a source of great pride. Reflecting on the event, Stella and Andrew believe that through the process of disassembly and investigation of the fabrics, they were able to help the participants become more aware of the dangers of fast fashion and the ethical and environmental issues surrounding it. The physical process of making a new product from these disassembled pieces of textiles and the sharing of skills and resources between all participants at the hack helped to encourage learning through play - especially useful for building confidence in self and ability during those awkward teenage years.

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To find out more about potential volunteering opportunities at MAKLab, email us at hello@maklab.co.uk.