The two friends behind reMade Dxb, Theresa Tsui and Paula Horsfall, are staging a handmade revolution from their brand new sewing parlour in Dubai. They are unlikely revolutionaries: Paula is obsessed with mustaches and Elvis. Teresa has a laid-back rocker style about her and manages to look both feminine and hip in a Guns N’ Roses t-shirt and worn-in jeans. They were so overwhelmingly themselves that before they even had a choice I decided the three of us would become thick as thieves.
Theresa believes that “Kids don’t learn how things are put together anymore. Within two generations that kind of knowledge dries up. Handmade is huge right now, but the people who love it don’t know how to make it. That’s what we want to change.”
The two hope to bring us city folk back to a slower and less wasteful time when a shirt with a hole in it would be patched by hand or repurposed into quilting fabric rather than thrown out with the trash, a time when gifts for good friends were homemade with real thought.
The ladies, who are both originally from the UK, started off hosting workshops in their Dubai homes. Their sewing circles soon grew so popular they were able to move to a small parlour located on the second floor of design store, Object and Elements, set in a warehouse in Al Quoz. Paula makes plain that they are passionate about reviving traditional crafts and making them accessible and available, because “Anyone can craft. When it comes to hand sewing there is no failure—if yours doesn’t look like everyone else’s it’s just different.”
This is not your mother’s dowdy craft room nor is it an expat enclave. ReMade DxB has the vibe of an old-time sewing parlour and is literally packed with handmade bunting, lace, offset by quirky artifacts like a pink Mosque alarm clock and various Elvis paraphernalia hoarded by Graceland-doting Paula. The ladies are well-versed in the region’s history of art and carpet weaving and regularly take trips to local fabric shops, souks, and flea markets to pick up bits and pieces of local culture. They are even planning a trip to Tehran in the near future.
ReMade’s atmosphere is non-intimidating, experimental, welcoming, and brings together makers of all ages and backgrounds. Throughout the day, ladies sipping from mugs of piping hot builder’s tea surround the parlour’s single table. When I first visited reMade, a recent Texas transplant (complete with endearing twang) was crocheting baskets from a yarn she’d created by cutting used plastic grocery bags into strips. Theresa was working on a traditional carpet loom, part of a ten week Persian kilim weaving workshop being offered. The banter—particularly between Paula and Theresa—was epic.
Although I do not have any visual art ability whatsoever, I soon found myself playfully mixing paints (something I hadn’t done since grade school) and participating in a printmaking workshop taught by the talented and encouraging Heather Conyers. Paula swears, “I can teach anyone to sew within two hours or less.” Although I was doubtful, I did manage to learn how to proficiently thread a needle, reattach buttons, and hand stitch a simple pillow in a single afternoon. Next time she claims to have the power to teach me to proficiently operate a sewing machine through a remade workshop that will earn me my “Sewing Machine Driver’s License.” I have visions of adding golden epaulets to all my favorite blazers. Thanks to Paula and Teresa, I’ve joined the handmade revolution.
Photo Credits: Images courtesy of reMade Dxb
reMade Dxb posts all class and workshop announcements on Facebook here.