So farewell then Cybercafé and hello Singercafé, at least that’s
what they're saying in the capital's 10th arrondissement
after France’s Vogue magazine, no less, praised the initiative
of two Paris residents for bringing back the sweatshop. Except
... its not a sweatshop, despite what its url
says, it’s a very 21st century approach to home economics.
Home economics? That's what young girls at primary school in some
parts of the world last century would have called “domestic
science” - cooking, sewing and keeping home. Not apparently
part of the agenda of the thoroughly modern woman, hence the sweatshop
The two naturalised Parisiennes, Sissi Holleis, 38, an Austrian designer with her own label, and Martena Duss, 28, a makeup artist from Switzerland, say the idea is to offer café visitors sewing machines that can be rented by the hour, instead of computers.
Ten Singer sewing machines in fact, state-of-the art equipment
supplied by the Singer company along with one sophisticated machine
capable of elaborate embroidering, an eclectic supply of vintage
dressmaking patterns, thread and other material including sewing
kits, all decoratively displayed as the cafe owners' contribution
to beating the crisis and still be turned out in fashionable restyled
clothes. "We don't throw anything away where we come from,
" says Sissi Holleis speaking for both their home countries,
"so we figured it was a good idea to show others how to reshape
their wardrobes from clothes lurking in the depths, or that no
longer fit or just look a little last season.”
Cybercafes are of course by now very de mode and
these days, in the bigger cities, as common as pastis, so why
not something different, something like a couture café.
Owners Sissi Holleis and Martena Duss
Sew as you go as it were and if you don’t know-how, Sissi and Martena offer couture courses with a
cafe coin that serves delicious Paris pastries and frothy coffee.
Indeed it goes further than that and offers couture demonstrations using some of Paris’ more funky
who in turn invite other designers along.
In addition and every Wednesday evening (1900-2100) the café,
has a patch-up-your-English patchwork sewing circle at which participants
can hone two skills .As they toil over their patchwork , their
mentors guide them in English conversation and pronunciation patch-working
to brush-up your English as it were. This multi-tasking sewing
circle is run by two English seamstresses Jenny and Louise, who
say they opted for patchwork because "it's a great craft
to work on in a group. Traditionally it's an activity where people
get to know each other and chat as they work, "stitch 'n
bitch" if you will” is
their own description of their unorthodox approach to classes
in patchwork and English. Over the summer the café ran a special
learn French in the morning and knitting in the afternoon course
as a complement to the patch up your English classes
Additionally Sweat Shop arranges workshops for children and adults, beginners or advanced, under the
watchful eye of fashion professionals. Sweat Shop even arranges workshops for birthdays or other rites de passage in the lives of a young women.
Among upcoming courses at the café are Saturday 16 October, an exclusive WORKSHOP between 15h - 19h about Lace work on fabric under tutored by Sandrine, a Sonia Rykiel
The owners themselves write about their café
in this way:
“Sweat Shop is a cafe couture, a new creative concept situated near the hotspot
St Martin canal in Paris. Imagine 10 work stations equipped with 10 Singer sewing machines and one central communal table. Join one of the
five courses offered every week and perfect your knitting and sewing skills or meet one of our guest designers for an
haute couture encounter."
Sewing Terminals at Couture Café
"Not unlike a cyber cafe, you come whenever you please,
rent a state of the art sewing machine by the hour and start sewing.
Welcome to our world of creativity and discovery, of DIY ethics,
a piping hot cup of tea and funky furniture. Enjoy organic delicacies
courtesy of our New York neighbours at Bob's Juice Bar. Bored
with buying, wearing, throwing away? Fix that seam, make a dress
out of those trousers or even design and create a brand new shape.
Sweat Shop is where your dreams and projects come alive, here
for those wanting to learn, create, transform, practice or recycle..."
10 Singer sewing machines for rent by the hour, make-your-own dress
kits by courtesy of the Belgian designer Carolin Lerch of Pelican
Avenue, knitting supplies from Bergère
de France, and language classes.
Machine rentals start at €6, coffee and pastry (from Bob’s)
13 rue Lucien Sampaix, Paris, 33-09-52-85-47-41, www.sweatshopparis.com.
Sweat Shop French to order.