A fun workshop about the clothes we wear

With Maria Pantel


SAT 6TH MAY 2023, 11AM – 12:30PM


When: TUE 16TH MAY 2023, 10:30AM – 12PM



My mini shop in the library offers you sweets of a special kind. It begins with a WORD PLAY:

SweetShop instead of Sweatshop

SweetShop / Sweatshop sound similar. They only differ by one letter, but with two completely different meanings.

SweatShop is lack of freedom, exploitation and the tough reality about making a living.
SweetShop is innocence, pleasure and childlike enjoyment.


In my workshop you’ll choose one or more sweets from my sweet collection to transform an item of your clothes.

The sweets are small patches of fabric.

Every single patch is charged with a story or a thought. But each individual material can also stand on its own. And it is looking for a spot on your garment.

Together in the group we talk about the items of clothing you have chosen to bring and the sweets you have selected. Then you decide where you want to sew/glue/pin on the sweet, with my help if needed:

  • Jacket, coat, trousers, dress, skirt, sweater, t-shirt, blouse, vest, socks, hat, scarf…
  • Front, back, outside, inside, top, bottom, visible, invisible…

The icing on the cake is a SweetShop label that can overwrite the original label or be applied to the garment in peaceful harmony.

This way we are creating an exclusive SweetShop collection from very different items of clothing that will now connect us.

Perhaps a starting point to take a closer look at what we wear and buy clothes more consciously.



Usually we are not happy about marks/stains on our clothing. We are trying to hide them and ideally get rid of them.

Here is a childhood memory from my sister:

My then 8 year old sister has a big blue felt pen mark on her pink ballet dress. To resolve the issue she adds more blue marks hoping it would turn the single spot into an interesting pattern. Unfortunately it doesn’t impress her ballet companions and she gets mocked.

Of course my inventive sister now works as an artist.

My spots or marks are artificial and are very desirable.

Material: painted (textile paint) cotton jersey (secondhand t-shirts).


This pretty vintage lace was bought in Paris.

Here is the attached memory to it:

A five day trip to Paris many years ago. For the first time I am apart from my then two year old son for more than two nights.
In the evening, lying in my hotel bed, a feeling of intense longing and fear is overwhelming me.
Knowing there is the sea and over 1000 km between my son and myself is very hard to bear.

The remaining time in Paris was wonderful but it was pure joy to reunite with my son.

Intricate, filigree lace, like the invisible connections we share with people we love.

Material: Leavers lace (made in France), Synthetic


One of the oldest surviving garments in the world is made out of linen. It is a 5000 years old Egyptian dress, the Tarkhan dress. Amazing!

During my fashion studies I worked with antique bed linen. In bed we reveal all of our true facets and show our vulnerability as human beings. This linen here comes from a small antique shop in Hamburg. When first visiting the shop, the shopkeeper seemed disinterested and absent-minded. There was an uneasy, nearly hostile atmosphere in the air. I bought a piece of linen and quickly left the shop.

About a year later I went back to the store. I braced myself before I entered expecting the same atmosphere. There he was, the same man but with a completely different demeanor. Not really friendlier, but somehow transformed:

Same face but like someone else living in the same body. I bought another piece of linen and left the store confused.

Material: antique bed linen. Background image: a work by Louis Bourgeois


My husband’s grandmother used to own this teddy fabric. Winnie was a great character with a big sense of humour and kindness. She was in her late 70s when I met her first. She had a soft spot for cats. Most of the time a cat was planted on her lap when she was sitting on her chair chatting with a friend having a cup of tea. I am now fortunate to live in the house she bought as a widow in the 1960’s. Her good spirit can still be felt in the house.

Material: vintage plush fabric, 70s/80s, synthetic and wool

The photo below shows Winifred, her husband Bill and daughter Margaret. Image of the hare, detail from a painting by Ludger Tom Ring d.J. 1560


A memory from my apprenticeship as a seamstress: During an internship with a costume designer, I was supposed to try on a dress for an absent customer. The young and always well-dressed manageress of the studio is visibly unimpressed by my underwear, adorned with holes and held together with a safety pin. Back then I was embarrassed. Today I have to laugh about it: underwear styling à la punk.

Material: safety pins, ribbed cotton jersey, white, blue and black


The scraps of fabric here came from cutting out the above MARKERS. Such cut-offs are usually thrown away. On closer inspection, they have their very own charm, and their own importance. They are like markers of blind spots or blank spaces. The unwanted is always a part of the whole.

Material: Secondhand T-Shirts, cotton jersey in white, light green and pink

On photo 1 & 2 you can see works by Henri Matisse in the background, photo 2 shows a picture by Ferdinand Hodler.


These crochet rosettes are cut out of a large crochet tablecloth. I bought it in Dublin in a charity shop. It has stains and is ripped but I was impressed by the obviously time consuming handicraft. Someone took the time to crochet such a large item.

I would like to know what was going through this person’s head during the endless hours of creating it. I love the idea that each rosette represents an invisible flow of thoughts.

Material: cotton yarn, hand crocheted

8. tripping

Hand stitches on felt, like small visible steps: sometimes purposeful and orderly, sometimes aimless and random. We also leave such traces behind every day, both visible and invisible.

Felt is a mysterious material. Hair tightly hooked together forming a new entity.

Material: Wool felt in different tones and buttonhole yarn

9. journey

I live right beside the Irish Sea. Living beside the sea is never boring. The rhythm of the tides and the ever changing moods of the sea influences life. The beauty and irrepressible power of the sea is amazing.

Now and then the sea washes old oilskin and tarpaulin onto the beach. The material often undergoes major changes during its journey through the water. It shows cracks and discoloration and has a very specific, slightly tart smell. The sea has inscribed itself in the tough and bulky material without completely destroying it.

Material: Oilskin & tarpaulins transformed by seawater in yellow, blue, green and red, 6-10cm tall

10. picking-flowers-forever

As if picked: flowers cut out of vintage fabric. They don’t wither, but these flowers aren’t meant to last forever either.

The painful desire to capture a perfect moment, knowing full well that this is not possible! Everything is constantly in motion, and constantly changing. Go with the flow!

Material: vintage fabrics from the 70s and 80s

Photo: Malick Sidibé, Nuit de Noël, 1963

HOWTH LIBRARY, PHONE 890 5026, TUE 16TH MAY 10:30AM – 12PM

Please register at the desk of your chosen library listed above or phone.

Idea & concept SweetShop by Maria Pantel 2021.

Any questions? Please contact me: info@mariapantel.com