— stories


During my childhood I always had the idea that sewing and making clothes were really boring things that my grandmother and old ladies used to do, maybe because they had too much free time. And in the “modern world” we didn’t need those skills. I couldn’t see myself doing this type of activity as I wasn’t patience enough for that.

As I grew up with an open mind I started trying out different things in my life and having new experiences that leaded me to new countries, new cultures, new skills, new languages… One big thing for me is the practice of Yoga which helps me a lot to discover myself and to learn more about feelings, controlling my mind and emotions, learning how to concentrate and being more patient.

I believe that all these together contributed in many ways to the understanding and joy that took place in myself during this workshop where I was introduced to different Upcycling techniques that made me change my mind about sewing, throwing stuff way and giving up clothes that I didn’t use. I am really glad with the results and very confident that I will be using this in my life and maybe one day my grand daughter will make her own journey into the “Upcycling world”.

Alessandra Gogoni, Spain

It had occurred to him that the designer of this machine had indeed confused it’s main function with it’s designing plans. Patchwork, yes that was the word patchwork. Pieces of equipment weirdly put together following a main idea but still not quite a fully made plan. It did annoy him a bit the fact that at the moment the music had stopped, but he was more intrigued by the fact that everyone was so focused they hardly noticed. That was something new for him; although when he was working he was focused to the point you couldn’t even talk to him he always became so annoyed when the music stopped he putted every on hold to go get it started again. But then again silence filled the room when that happened on his work, here there was not silence, he could hear the continuous humming of the needles mechanically piercing the clothes, the quiet voices making small talk in all sorts of different languages, the rummaging of clothes (Yes, that was what it was, rummaging of clothes, he was quite certain that he had no idea what that sounded like but indeed the sound coming from behind him was that, he was curiously certain of it.), the rushing foot steps and the occasional shout of grief or joy… Clearly not silence.

At which point his train of though was interrupted by the vague realisation that the piece he was trying to put in again obviously did not fit that spot. He had to focus more, and then with no warning the piece just clacked into something that clearly looked like the wrong place, and the machine was whole again. He shrugged and got up smiling trying to hide the fact he had no idea how he fixed this… Thrilled the girl he was trying to help thanked him sat down and began staring at the needle again. He could see the concentration in her eyes, the visualisation of the moment looked just like it had sounded, He took a look around the room, he saw the chaos, the mix of colours and emotions, the complexity of the moment and went slowly for his camera again to capture the pieces, to see the focus clearer, to join the shutter’s clack in this weird collection of sounds….

Giorgos, Greece

Usually I keep quite a few things around to be recycled or reused. How ever at some point they tend to stack up and end up getting thrown away, and then story starts repeating it self. Stumbling to the opportunity to come to this course I was given the chance to make better use of those that till now where thrown away. For me it was the first time I joined such a project and I feel overjoyed having learned so much.

The truth is that my father’s occupation has been for the past 35 years, sewing clothing mainly women’s, and rarely men’s and children’s too. So the idea or Upcycling clothes intrigued me; and since I already knew how to sew ( having helped my father in his work quite often..) it feels like something I can use a lot.

This whole experience for me was more that Upcycling, since I met people from all around Europe and I was given the chance to practice my English something I rarely find an opportunity to do.

Michalis, Greece

When I was a child my grandmother gave me as a present a beautiful tea cup made of clay and decorated with colourful flowers.

I just loved it so much!! One day, unfortunately the handle of the cup broke but since I liked it so much I decided to keep it as a pencil box on my desk where it is until now.

This training course has been very useful to me because it was a new-found experience and I learned how to sew!!!

Alexandra Tsoukala, Greece

Upcycling was a very traumatic experience for me because I came too close to lose the man of my life because of it. When I was a student I met a boy (that some years after became my husband). One day I decided to make something really beautiful for him like to surprise him by making lampshades for his room. I bought the metallic part of the lampshades and I looked around in his apartment to find a piece of cloth. Finally I found two shirts veeeeeeery old, with holes etc, I thought that they are useless and I sewed them as lampshades. I was sitting waiting for him very satisfied from my work and when he arrived he almost had a stroke! He started shouting “who has destroyed my favourite shirts? I carry them everywhere since I was 13 years old! You are totally crazy? Who cares if the lamps are without a cover?”

It was a good luck that he was really in love with me and he forgot it soon .But after that I’m always asking before Upcycling other person’s things. Upcycling has a very subjective point of view!

Eleni, Greece

(English translation after the Spanish version)

Durante el tiempo que hemos pasado trabajando con las ropas, he observado algunos comportamientos tipicos de la humanidad reflejados en el upciclyng y me he quedado muy sorprendida con algunos de ellos, y como nuestros comportamientos son muy similares a otros comportamientos animals, de vez en cuando veia animals en vez de personas. Asi que escribire aqui con los que mas me he reido:

LOS LOBOS: el primer dia, cuando se abre el Mercado de ropa para coger, intercambiar, regalar…me quede paralizada durante unos minutes (no muchos porque sino me quedaba sin telas bonitas) , cuando de pronto veo la gente tirandose al suelo rapidamente a por lo que mas le gusta antes de que se lo quite nadie…yo pense: pero como es esto? No nos vamos a organizar? Y despues pense, es que realmente esto no se puede organizar, asi que… me tire al suelo a buscar lo que finalmente se convirtieron en mis posesiones!!

LAS HORMIGAS: el Segundo dia de workshop y muchos (hasta el ultimo mometo aunque estuviera fuera del tiempo planificado para coser) pareciamos una comunidad de hormiguitas en verano, obsesionadas por trabajar lo mas possible y poder llevarnos nuestras ropas cosidas a casa como si despues viniera un duro invierno en el que no podremos coger una maquina de coser en similitud a la comida.

LOS PINGUINOS: O mejor dicho…la pingüina ( osea yo) bailando la danza griega ayer por la noche…cuando ya todos!!! Se habian aprendido los pasos (que solo eran 2 series) y yo NOOO!! Pero bueno, me diverti mucho intentandolo.

During the time that we have been working with clothes I observed some typical human behaviours that were reflected in the Upcycling and I was quite surprised about some of them and since some of our behaviours is really similar to animals behaviour sometimes I saw animals instead of persons. This is why I will describe here the ones that have made me laugh most.

THE WOLFS: the first day, when we opened the marked of used clothes that we could use for Upcycling, that could be taken, exchanged or given away as a gift…. I was almost paralyzed for some minutes (not too many, because if not I would have found no nice tissues left) when I saw the people throwing themselves on the floor over the things that seemed most attractive for the moment before somebody else could take them away…I thought: but how is this going to work? Won’t we organize ourselves? And then I thought, that’ s really impossible to organize, so….I threw myself on the floor as well in order to find the things that finally became my “possessions”.

THE ANTS: on the second day of the work shop (until the last moment even though it was outside the planned time for sewing) we resembled an ant hill in summer, obsessed with working as much as possible- in order to take home as much upcycled clothes as possible- like afterwards there was a hard winter coming when we couldn’t touch a sewing machine like it happened in other times with food.

THE PINGUINS: or more specifically said: the penguin (that’s me) dancing Greek dances last night…when everybody!!! already had learned the steps (it was only two series) and I hadn’t!! Well, I enjoyed myself trying anyway.

Begonia, Spain

For me all the clothes I have carry their story- and often they actually carry them around the world, since I buy things often while travelling. Some of them were in the bag of common use, so every once in a while I saw them appearing on other people and I was always, like ohh, look this is the skirt I bought in Buenos Aires in my favourite design store and this is the little T-shirt I brought from this marked and….

This is what makes clothes so special, because they are not only a piece of fabric but are full of the life of their owners, of their sweat, their energy, they are the closest things to us. Sometimes it happened to me that I wore a sweater of a friend and people that didn’t know us so well thought that I am her, because I was walking with her outer shell. And it really feels like that sometimes, when I borrow clothes from friends its like slipping into a different peel for a while- it works only so long as you don’t get used to it though.

Since clothes are so full of stories for me it is difficult to put them into trash, so the idea to make something new with them, give them a new meaning, transport them into the new period and mood I am in. Also I am satisfied to see them on other people…just so the story goes on.

During the time of this workshop I only worked on one piece, since I was busier to give support to other people. It’s a skirt that a friend gave to me while she was selling her whole house on the flea marked in Berlin, because she was moving to Istanbul. It was just a plain grey skirt and a bit too boring. But for the work I am doing at the moment I often need this kind of business clothes. So I thought I still need it to look a bit business like and serious, but it needs to be more interesting, I don’t want to be bored, not even when I work in such environments. So I changed some little details and I am quite satisfied with the result- because it came out as I had imagined it and that is not always the case while Upcycling things. And when I wear it now I will remember this workshop and the good times we had here and especially the dancing….and those thoughts will keep me good company.

Juliane, Germany

My First Encounter with a Thread and a Needle

Although sewing has always seemed a very useful skill to me, I have never really had much to do with it. But to say that I’m not familiar with how a needle and a thread work would be a lie. When I was a little girl I kind of naturally took off my Mum’s interest in embroidery and so my first sewing pieces of art were affixed buttons and colourful elaborate flowery patterns. All done by hand. Then, it turned out that a sewing machine was not only a huge dusty terrifying box safely hidden in a corridor wardrobe in my flat. Quite the opposite, it might have been used to make the work easier. Having obtained my father’s short introduction and a few pieces of advice how to operate this scary monster I tried to make friends with it. The whole process took me a considerable amount of time but after 3 bags, 1 destroyed skirt and 2 broken needles we got quite familiar with each other. So far, so good. However my machine suddenly got down with a terminal disease of most-of-the-parts malfunction. From then on, it has been trying to recover and I was slowly forgetting it …..until our Upcycling training. Now, inspired, I’m thinking of making friends with a new healthy machine….in wait for a fruitful cooperation,

Agata, Poland

The persons that few times are heard, or the ones that talk little tend to have beautiful stories to tell, simple stories, but although they are small stories they fill you with emotions…I love stories, especially the ones that older people tell the ones that are full of experiences. I believe my story begins at the 28 of January 1989, and I say I believe, because I am not totally sure, I always have this strange feeling of having been here before; this is why I think my story, like the stories of other people also doesn’t have a beginning and an end, and if it is like that I prefer to convince myself that it hadn’t , because if not how could we stand this absolute mediocrity in which we are slide without making a sound as if we have never existed. Yes! I like to think that it is like that, to have the certainty that the people and the special moments of my life will stay forever, because those moments of love were born in the bottom of a whole existence and will stay always in the bottom of my heart also, when we are already not there anymore.

Well…it has been some time ago, only few months , that my life has changed very much, because I have taken one of those decisions that influence your past, your presence and your future. I left my mother’s house to live in a little precious house in the country side with two marvellous people that take so good care of me. I started to be attached like a piece of glue to one of them, I think what has happened is that the glue has dried a bit and that’s why I am in this work shop in Berlin now. I learned a lot during these days with all these special and wonderful people. This has been unforgettable and even if I don’t see them again I will never forget them. The same as the Greek dance and the man playing the piano in a way that gave me goose bumps. I am very happy to be here and feel that I have a rebel spirit, going with the wind with my back pack on. In the bottom of myself I still reserve something of a nomad for whom the day to day routine of the alarm clock is really a torture….maybe this is why I like to do many different things every day of the week, maybe this is why I change the activity so often: taekwondo, tennis, soccer, swimming and now sewing…maybe that’s why


When I was a kid we had practical-technical classes and it was my big adventure with needles and threads for a few years. Before I had only little tries with creating clothes for my dolls and trying to create new clothes for myself as well

But in the primary school we had an opportunity to develop our practical skills. First it was an easy job – like sewing buttons and so on. Then we’re discovering different stitch. At the beginning we discovered the cross stitch, which I found as the easiest one. Then we had an adventure with the Richelieu stitch and other different types of stitch. We’re creating as well some kinds of easy part of clothes We were also crocheting and knitting, what I liked a lot. But especially knitting makes me nervous a lot – I was often making mistakes in it. But I still manage to do many shawls etc. But I never had contact with a sewing machine at school.

In my family I also didn’t had much opportunities to have a contact with this type of work. My mum was only knitting, but not so much. And rest family also isn’t so much interesting in those practical skills.

Due to this after finishing the primary school I didn’t had any contact with this kind of practical work. Those classes at school didn’t wake up any passion for it in me, so I didn’t continue. But lately I’ve heard some stories about upcycling and when I show the open call for participants of the training of trainers in it – I decided to apply. To be honest, I was a bit afraid – I couldn’t imagine how I’ll work on it after such a long break, how it will looks like and so on. At the beginning of the course I was stressed, especially that I was later in Klosterdorf than rest of the participants. So, I had double stress – related with my skills and integration into the group.

When I started to upcycle my t-shirt it appeared that more important is my creativity, ideas which I would like to implement than my skills. It doesn’t need to be perfect if I feel comfortable with it. It makes me more confident and empower my creativity Even if sometimes my fingers were hurting because of the needle – it makes me a lot of fun. And I found it very useful – both, on professional and personal level. And besides that creating something new from old clothes and some other old things and trash is a really cool feeling.

Now I’m thinking about the possibilities of using some parts of upcycling during the future projects which I will use. It can be done in different ways, creating a new methods for trainings. I think it can be very useful and also fun, so just need to find out how to combine it with rest of the programs

Agnieszka (Aga), Poland

Redesigning clothes is something I associate with my childhood, the times when I made a lifetime discovery. At the attic in my family house I found two Barbie dolls and a sack full of the-60s-kind-of-cloths. There were lots of flowery dresses and wide-bottomed trousers. As you could hardly buy anything in polish shops in the 80´s this were like treasures for me. And as crazy as an 11 year old girl can get I started sewing up all kinds of fancy clothes. I dreamed of my future as a woman, when I would finally wear high-heeled shoes, feeling glamour. During the training I could feel the same happiness of creating and sewing clothes. The most trouble and satisfaction caused me a dress which I could neither wear nor get rid of for a few years. After a little re-designing fit, a cut here a hem there if appeared that what solved the problem entirely was showing a leg, wiggle a hip and high-heeled catwalk.

Ola, Poland

(translation at the end of the text)

Mi relacion con el Upcycling empezo en el mismo momento en que alguien decidio que yo debia ser la pequena de una gran saga…..los jimeno.Para que os hagais una idea,primero nacio Olga,10 anos mayor q yo, un ano despues las mellizas(aunque fisicamente Pepa parece mayor q Rakel), al cabo de tres anos vino al mundo Coco,el unico varon, y tuve q esperar seis anos mas para q mis ojitos pequenitos vieran la luz.

Vinimos a caer en una familia muy particular donde el cabeza de familia era muy tradicional y la mamma openmind.Cuando mis hermanos eran pequenajos, todos,y digo todos vestian igual.las chicas con trajes y Coco con petos o pantalones y blusitas….por supuesto de la misma tela….imaginense…para cuando naci me esperaban cuatro trajes iguales esperando ser upcyclados por mi….demasiado trabajo para la pequena de la casa,no?

Asi q ano tras ano, primavera tras primavera yo reutilizaba los mismos modelos durante al menos cuatro temporadas…cuando me quedaba chico el pantalon de coco,pasaba al de Rakel,luego al de Pepa….y el mas deseado por ser el ultimo era el de Olga…y claro,encima esa ropa ya estaba pasad de moda…ellos nunca lo entendieron pero a mi casi me cuesta un trauma infantil…lo q se ahorraron en ropa casi se lo paso mas tarde en facturas del terapeuta…os prometo,hasta los 15…o 16,no tuve el placer de estrenar algo Nuevo, ni siquiera las bragas….

No es para tener pesadillas!!!!!!

ir a comprar ropa se convirtio en una autentica aventura…

Todo este entrenamiento me hizo adquirir un gran don…desyuyudar aquello q los demas habian encasillado en una cualidad energetica para ellos inamovible…asi herede musicas,juegos,dormitorios embrujados, bicicletas q estaban para el arrastre, …incluso fui capaz de sacarle los malos espiritus a la kingsize bed del frustado matrimonio de mi hermano q tras la rupture con su mujer no quiso conserver su cama….q mas tarde me reclemaria cuando descubrio q ya habia sido limpiada por la peke.

Upcycling es mi estilo de vida,eleva lo q tienes,lo q sabes,lo q sientes,lo q piensas….y trabaja para construer un mundo mejor.


My relation ship with Upcycling began in the same moment when somebody decided that I would be the little one of a great saga…the Jimeno family. In order to get an idea, first Olga was born, she is 10 years older than me, one year after there were the twins (although Pepa seems older than Rakel), 3 years later Coco arrived, the only boy and he had to wait for 6 more years until my little eyes saw the luz of the world

We happened to appear in a very particular family, where the head of the family is very traditional and the mummy is very open minded. When my brothers and sisters were small, all of them and I say really all of them were wearing the same style of clothes. The girls had to wear dresses and the Coco was wearing strange old style trouser and little blouses….of course made of the same material….imagine…in the time when I was born there were 4 dresses exactly the same waiting for me to be Upcycled to suit me…too much work for the little one of the house don’t you think?

So year after year, spring after spring I was wearing the same things over and over for at least 4 years….when Cocos trousers were too small for me I went on with the one from Rakel and after that the Pepa s…and the most loved one to be the last one was Olgas….and of course, this kind of clothes was long time out of fashion….they never understood that, but I have some kind of a trauma….what they have saved in cothes they had to pay later for the therapist….i promise you that until I was 15 years old..or 16, I didn’t have the pleasure to wear in anything new, not even my panties…

Isn’t this enough to get nightmares???

To go and buy clothes for me has converted itself in a real adventure….

All this practice (of using old things) gave me the great talent to demystify all that, that for the others was of an energetic quality that they thought were not able to change that. …so I inherited music, games, bewitched dormitories, bicycles that were meant for the flea marked…., I was even capable to get rid of the evil spirits of the king size bed of my brother s frustrated marriage, that after the divorce from his wife he didn’t t want to keep…although later he would come back and reclaim it when he found out that the “little one” had cleaned it.

Upcycling is my life style, cheer up the things you’ve got, the things you know, your thoughts and feelings….and work to make a better world.

Rocio, Spain



One Response to “— stories”

  1. 1 Sara Ramos


    Experience # 1: Christmas tree
    Last year we decided to build the biggest Christmas tree in our town. After some thought on how to do it, we decide to use card to build it. [Environmental awareness campaign] This way we could try to capture people’s attention to all the card/paper waste and its impact on the environment. At the same time, the issue of the illegal cutting of trees for Christmas decoration purposes could also be addressed. Our chosen material was toilet roles. But how to get the thousands of roles we would need? [Community involvement] The answer was to ask all the people who live in the neighbourhood where our project is implanted. Some flyers were hand out and the word spread. The roles started pouring in. After 3/4 weeks we didn’t know where else to put the roles but December had started and it was time to start our toilet role sculpture.
    [Youth participation] We asked some children and young people to join us and together we started building the tree. We made the supporting base with some longer roles (factories’ waste). After a while we concluded that we had to continue working outside (on the side walk) because if we continued, we wouldn’t be able to pass it through the door. After some more work we realized that we had to move the tree again, this time to its final location because it was already getting to heavy. A truck had to come and help us. We filled some bags with the roles and moved to our new location: a public space where the town’s Christmas parties for the children would take place. The building process was fun for the young people and for all those who saw them work! After too many broken staplers, we finally ended. [Intergenerational learning] But it was brown! We couldn’t have a brown tree! This was when some mothers joined us. They helped paint the tree green (if it were the teenagers painting, we would probably have a green tree, green floor, green walls and green ceiling!). These ladies also thought our young helpers to make some paper decorations (with old magazines) for the tree.
    [Creativity exploration] It’s fun to see what young people come up when given the opportunity. Needless to say that while the toilet roles where invading our project’s space, some young artists started playing with them… some very interesting objects came out of that. One of them was a beautiful star which was chosen to be put on top of our tree.
    [Of course, fun] In January it was finally time to bring down our tree. Again, we asked our young helpers to join us. What took us two days to build, took only a few minutes to completely destroy. There were roles everywhere and lots of roles’ battles going on. Finally, all the roles were picked up, put into bags and taken to a recycling bin.

    Experience # 2: Paintings
    In our project we have an art’s atelier for children every Tuesday. They love to paint but canvas can be a bit expensive considering the budget we have available and our young and inexperienced artists tend to not always get it right at the first attempt. [Budget saving] So, we decided to start cutting card boxes and making canvas for them to paint.
    [Discovering different ways to do things] Once we decided to make the experience more exciting. We brought wooden boxes, those kinds of boxes that contain fruits in groceries. We took out the nails and broke the wooden rips into small pieces. Then the children glued those pieces in the canvas making houses, trees, flowers and castles. They were then painted and I must say they are the most beautiful paintings we have in our walls. [Promotion of self-esteem] And the best part was to see the smile on their faces when the children discovered their master pieces on the walls.

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