Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Apr 25th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

The Fabrica

ae_fabricAt the end of Pacific Avenue sits a DIY fashionista’s gathering place

Surrounded by used sewing machines, heaps of scrap fabric, spools of thread and buttons, Elaina Ramer instructs a visitor on how to mend the hem of her shirt in the middle of The Fabrica: a hole-in-the-wall sewing and textile arts workshop that opened in March of last year. Ramer, Ann Altstatt and Stefanie Wolf are the founders of The Fabrica, where locals can take sewing classes for free (though donations are welcome), and bring in sewing projects to work on, like a visitor in the early days—a man who wanted to sew a yurt, a portable, canvas-covered, wood lattice-framed dwelling structure traditionally used by Mongolian nomads.

“It’s about the size of a small studio and definitely tall enough to stand up in,” says Ramer. “He was going to live in the yurt out in Corralitos and had yards and yards of heavy-weight canvas fabric, but he only had to sew straight lines. He came in for several weeks, twice a day every week, until he finished. Our space is limited, so he would sometimes stretch the canvas out into the courtyard to work there. He was very committed.”

This Do-It-Yourself nature of The Fabrica goes hand in hand with other non-profit stores next door. The Fabrica, the Bike Church, the Computer Kitchen, People Power, and Pedalers Express, are all located in the Santa Cruz Hub for Sustainable Living on the corner of Pacific Avenue and Spruce Street. The hub’s mission statement describes itself as “a resource center for DIY, human-scale technology and an advocate for livable, interconnected communities.” Projects within the hub support such messages as self-sufficiency and appropriate use of resources through their use of demonstrations, outreach, hands-on learning and educational opportunities.

ae_fabric2A cut above Do-It-Yourself at The Fabrica, a hub for seamstresses.On a visit to The Fabrica, Ramer is wearing a blouse in a slate grey color with cascading black lines and round smudges that are reminiscent of a Jackson Pollock painting. Ramer embodies the philosophy of The Fabrica in the way that she has made her own blouse. She twirls to show a black button at the back of her neck. “The fabric is cotton and had been a pair of parachute pants, which seemed to have been worn and washed a lot, so it's nice and soft,” she says. “I also made a matching pencil skirt.”

Visitors to The Fabrica can learn to make items similar to Ramer’s blouse by attending various classes that are all taught by volunteers. “Darn those Socks! With Damien,” invites visitors to “learn how to make a durable repair for knit items, like socks, using an easy needle-weaving technique.” “Introduction to Textiles with Patti,” asks the questions: “Have you wondered what the difference is between cotton and linen? Jacquard and sateen? Velvet and valour?” There is also “Sewing Machines 101 with the Fabrica Staff.” This “covers the basics of how of how to use a sewing machine: How it works, how to thread it, bobbins, tension, etc.”

Marie Wilkinson, who is certified by the Embroiderers Guild of America, leads the class, “Scrap Challenge,” where any projects ranging from pillows to clothes and beyond are made solely from scraps and other found materials available at The Fabrica. “When I retired, I didn’t want to just sit around with other old ladies and sew,” says Wilkinson. “I wanted to enjoy my craft with all types of people, regardless of their age and I am able to do that here.”

In addition to classes, The Fabrica also offers supervised open hours, complete with donated sewing machines and a wall full of recycled and scrap fabrics available for use. Open hours this summer are: Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursdays from 2 to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 4 to 7 p.m.

The rent for the small, non-commercial space is paid every month out of the pockets of the three women, though donations from visitors do cover some of the cost. “Being able to pay rent without always taking money out of our own pockets would be great,” says Ramer. But, because this is the current situation, each woman has not quit her day job.

“Having people come in here and work on stuff together was an important part of how we envisioned this workshop,” says Ramer. “We liked the idea of sitting around sharing ideas, drinking tea and just working on our stuff, without the exchange of money being important. We believe having to pay for it would discourage people from coming, and we want the shop to be used.”

Though the main goal of The Fabrica seems to be to provide a relaxing, yet productive, organization, there is also a great appreciation for recycling and restoration that those who created it hope to instill into visitors. “People really take pride in wearing a shirt that they made for themselves,” Ramer says. “Making stuff with other people or teaching someone to do something, you’re not just accomplishing whatever is created, you’re also forming a relationship with people. I think it makes our community stronger. The time I’ve spent in this building, I’ve made really good friends. It’s important to not rely on money and taking resources from the environment. We want to show people that their ideas for some projects are not so out of reach.”


For more information about The Fabrica, visit facebook.com/thefabrica or stop by 703 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz.
Comments (1)Add Comment
...
written by Ken Slosberg, September 28, 2011
I think this is fabulous!

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

We Can Rebuild You

A look back at how downtown Santa Cruz recovered from the 1989 earthquake

 

International Earth Day—Mother Earth Day

Every April 22, humanity celebrates International Mother Earth Day and Earth Day. As more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year, Earth Day has become the world’s largest civic observance. The massive concern to build right relations between humanity and the living being we call Earth is evidence of humanity’s love of the Mother. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 International Mother Earth Day, with a significant resolution affirming “the interdependence existing among human beings, other living species (the kingdoms—mineral, plant, animal and human) and the planet itself, the Earth which we all inhabit.” The Earth is our home. Celebrating Earth Day helps us define new emerging processes (economic, social, political) focused on the well-being of the kingdoms. Through these, humanity seeks to raise the quality of life, foster equality and begin to establish right relations with the Earth. We dedicate ourselves to bringing forth balance and a relationship of harmony with all of nature. Learn about planting a billion trees (the Canopy Project); participate in 1.5 billion acts of green. Disassociation (toward Earth) is no longer viable. We lose our connection to life itself. Participation is viable—an anchor, refuge and service for all of life on Earth. Visit earthday.org; harmonywithnatureun.org; and un.org/en/events/motherearthday for more information. From Farmers Almanac, “On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, companionship with nature! Go barefooted. Walk through woods, find wildflowers and green moss. Remain outside, no matter the weather!” Nature, Earth’s most balanced kingdom, heals us. The New Group of World Servers is preparing for the May 3 Wesak Buddha Taurus solar festival. We prepare through asking for and offering forgiveness. Forgiveness purifies and like nature, heals.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Mission Critical

How reading Lisa Jensen’s reviews taught me to love film
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Oral Fixations

Blown away by a Tuesday night dinner at Oswald

 

What would you like to see a TED talk about?

Hydrogen-gas cars that are coming this summer. Scott Oliver, Santa Cruz, Professor

 

Sarah’s Vineyard

Sarah’s Vineyard of Gilroy is known for crafting fine wines—and one of my all-time favorites is its Chardonnay. But this time, its Viognier has my vote.

 

Munch

East Coast meets West Coast in new meat lover’s paradise