Sometimes you just want to try something new to get your inspiration flowing again. In Bright Tries, our team goes out to do just that. In this episode, happiness writer Tiên visits the F.A.C.E. Vietnam “Fashion for Soul” Jeans to Bag workshop. Here, she practices the art of reusing, turning a pair of old jeans into a new bag.
Hi! I am Tiên, although most people will know me by my nickname, Tiên Alien. I sometimes joke and say that I came to Earth to try new experiences. Like this jeans-to-bag workshop for example. If you’re excited to learn more about that, read on!
F.A.C.E. Vietnam “Fashion for Soul” workshop: Turning old Jeans into a Bag
Jeans are an indispensable item in our wardrobe. But did you know that creating a pair cost nearly 10,000 liters of water? So for us to throw away old pants, would be quite wasteful.
As someone who deeply cares about the environment, a new workshop from F.A.C.E. Vietnam caught my eye. F.A.C.E (Fashion Art. Contemporary. Emotion) is an organization that aims to research, teach and share new thinking around fashion and design in Vietnam.
For this workshop, the organization partnered with Brother and Style-Republik and invited us to prevent yet another pair of jeans from ending up as landfill, and turn it into a handy bag instead. So on a sunny Sunday morning, I got up early to prepare for the first “jeans class” in my life.
Upon entering the F.A.C.E. Vietnam workspace, I can’t help but be impressed and excited. Minimalist white walls stand out with innovative recycled collections of jeans. Immediately I feel my focusing on creating something help me temporarily forget any difficulties in the “outside world.”
Reduce, re-use, or recycle?
Each workshop is limited 15 participants. We come from many different professions, backgrounds and are of different ages. But we have the same love for fashion and a collective desire for reducing the amount of waste that can come with it.
As a concept, sustainable fashion is a familiar one in Vietnam by now. Multiple designers and brands, like Linda Mai Phung and DAWN, have played their part in bringing fashion from sustainable fabrics to the market.
However, for a student on a budget like me, buying clothes made from recycled materials is not always attainable. That’s why I choose to limit shopping and instead go for recycling or reusing existing items.
To start creating products, the first thing we need to do is to come up with ideas
Our lecturer today is Ms. Dieu Phuong. She says there are many things that jeans can be recycled into. Teddy bears, bags, pillowcases, the sky is the limit.
But to start creating products, the first thing we need to do is to come up with ideas. The idea is to turn one or two old pairs of pants into a functional and fashionable bag. Once we have our idea, I start sketching the design on paper.
As I like handy bags that can hold books and laptops, I cut the fabric to a 40 x 40 cm shape. The bag straps I use are pieces of cloth, 12 x 65 cm (12cm is horizontal will be folded 4 times to sew straps) in size.
Getting to work: cutting, sewing, sharing
After finishing the drawing, it’s time to cut the fabric. Immediately I start learning something new. A trick for cutting the fabric. As the teacher tells us, the point is to cut a line similar to the the length of the scissors. Then, simply lift the scissors to cut, and that the fabric won’t tear.
Once the fabric is done, I sit down at the sewing machine. I haven’t sewed for a while, and when I see the sewing machine, I gasp. How can I turn this piece of fabric into a complete bag during just one lesson?
Luckily for me, the machines here are quite modern, handy and gentle. They allow me to create beautiful embroidery patterns. In addition to the teacher and the collaborators, the surrounding students also help me wholeheartedly. From sharing some leftover fabric, to showing each other how to sew.
Learning beyond sewing
I quickly realize that I’ll pick up more than just sewing skills during the workshop this morning. I learn to give and receive through sharing and exchanging experiences with my fellow students.
Sewing also teaches me to be patient and meticulous. A misplaced seam has to be removed and redone it from the beginning. So to save time and effort, it is best to take put a lot care into every single little detail from the beginning.
I learn how to persevere when I keep having fabric slip out of the machine. Leaving me to reassemble my project many times. When I got used to my hands, I found myself more accurately cutting cloth and using sewing machines like the designers I often watch on television.
I feel like I can do something that I didn’t think I could do, and do it well. It gives me confidence in myself – not just for this project, but for many more to come. With each stitch, my perceived limits are disappearing more and more.
After 5 hours of hard work, the bag is finished. It’s a bag, that may not be as good as my friends’. But I really like it, because it is the product of my own efforts, plus the loving help from everyone around me at the F.A.C.E. Vietnam workshop.
Now, every time I put the bag on my shoulders, I feel that I am contributing. Not only in protecting the environment, but also in inspiring people around me.
Photos: Lê Huỳnh Hiếu