This Mardi Gras we saw a lot of New Orleanians taking the time to make their own fabulous costumes from scratch. ricRACK, a sewing and textile recycling non-profit, played a huge role not only providing fabrics and supplies, but also teaching sewing and costume construction classes.
Putting the focus on community, ricRACK — a place to learn how to sew, create, grow, imagine, re-use, sustain, and succeed — has championed interactive sewing and construction classes for kids and adults of all ages. Its sewing classes and crafting camps for kids also highlight the need for more awareness surrounding fast fashion and ways to extend the life of one’s wardrobe.
Anyone can visit the non-profit in Central City to learn more about the textiles we use every day, and ways we can change our shopping habits and creative outlets to ease the burden fast fashion has on our planet.
This new year brings additional opportunities for locals across the Big Easy to learn more about the basics of sewing and clothing construction, alterations, and so much more. There will be new spring classes offered for adults as well as summer camps for the youth.
The Earth Day celebrations on April 22 will feature a designer challenge for talented clothing and costume designers around the city. If you or someone you know is interested in participating in the Earth Day Designer Challenge, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Otherwise, make sure to stop by on Friday April 22, with special in store events, silent auctions, kid’s crafting tables, and other local “green” organizations information tables.
The day I visited, the after-school sewing program was in session, and 17 year old Isa Davis from The Net Charter School, told me she felt inspired to start to sew from her grandparents. With an old sewing machine and a passion to create, Isa used the knowledge learned from ricRACK to repair ripped clothing and teach other family members how useful it can be. At the Fashion Institute of Nola, Isa is a part of the youth program there to also learn more about design, modeling, and photography. With such accessible resources available to NOLA youth, and with ricRACK’s training, the sky’s the limit for the aspiring designer.
Another student in the after-school sewing program, Devante Vancourt, spoke about the challenges and successes of clothing and fashion design. Also a student of The Net School, as a first timer he started small and grew confidence to create bigger and better pieces.
“My creative side comes out when I step in the building,” Devonte said.
Wanting to go against the grain, and do something different is the beating heart of his fashion sense and vision. Making clothing for people who feel like an outcast, he sees his future clothing line as something that speaks to a different side of the industry. As a beginner, there has been trial and error, but learning from one’s mistakes only makes you better; finding the fun in mistakes is part of the journey.
“I come from the generation that was lucky enough to have home economics and sewing taught in school”, says Alison Parker, founder of ricRACK. “Now, if our parents or other family members don’t teach kids how to sew, how are the youth going to know how to thread a needle or sew on a button?!”
All ricRACK sewing classes include information about social responsibility, the current state of fashion, and the future of the clothing industry. It is part of the experience of the local one half thrift/fabric store-one half sewing studio.
Putting the focus on serving the larger community of New Orleans, and showcasing individual talent is at the heart of ricRACK. Creating awareness of the environmentally harmful effects of the fast-fashion industry, offering sewing classes for people of all ages, and giving new life to preowned pieces of clothing are just some of the ways that ricRACK gives back to the Crescent City.
Open Wed – Sun: 10am – 6pm
1927 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.