On 26/27 September, Pepavana participated at the Groot Rotterdams Atelier Weekend.

Ruivenstraat Studios exist for only two years, not known to the public yet, so the event was an excellent opportunity to draw attention. Due to corona, many artists were not able to attend exhibitions or art fairs, and the support was very welcoming. At GRAW, more than 300 Rotterdam-based artists got the chance to showcase their work.

Pepavana looks back at a successful weekend; we had exciting visitors and conversations. The story behind the wool felt collection of bags, and gaiters got their interest, and many took the opportunity to order a made-to-measure pair of Pepavanas. Autumn has arrived!

For anyone who wanted to attend or missed it, we are open on appointment!

Since weeks I haven’t seen anybody except my man, kids, and dog. I cross the town by bike to my studio in the North. Holding my breath when wrong-way drivers pass me, seems rather stressful, but I love the serenity of my workspace with room for Reflections. And even without assignments, I am never out of tasks, never out of plans and ideas.
So we are in the middle of corona times, and I must visit Goelfija to take photographs. I postponed the visit. It is on the other side of the town. The car broke down. It is raining. Eventually, I go there. Worrying about entering the flat, touching doorknobs, encountering inhabitants at the stairways, in the corridor. But I saw nobody. And then my friend opens the door. We haven’t seen each other for ages, we suppress the tendency to hug each other.


Plants & potatoes

After washing my hands with detergent, Goelfija puts on the kettle and shows me her potato plants on the balcony, the first step to create a home garden. She is tired of buying in the supermarket, and like many others, she prefers to support her locals. Discovering more initiatives, she thinks about our situation. We are both fashion designers, having our own business. How is all this affecting us? We talk about the needs and possibilities. We are determined to survive by using our creativity. Must we adapt to new demands, or change everything that we are used to.
In the meantime, we drank our tea, and I took photographs of her, cutting patterns for Sewing Heroes, a local project we both participate in as seamstresses. I stayed much longer than I planned. The moment I entered her studio, annex living room, my ‘corona fear’ vanished. With the 50 mm lens on my Fujifilm, social distancing went automatically;). We took the time to catch up and share thoughts, reflect our situation realizing that we need to connect, but above all, have an open mind.

Suport your locals

“Goelfija Noerkajeva works as a fashion designer and is an experienced seamstress. She does commission work for others, like Pepavana. Many gaiters from the earliest collection were sewn by her. We know each other from collaboration on the couture collections of Marga Weimans. Goelfija is a hard worker; fair and fast! I can surely recommend her;)”

Find out more about her work resume at LinkedIn


The Russian way

Sitting here at Goelfija’s flat with a cup of tea, I feel no rush. We have reflections about our passions and picking tomatoes. That maybe it is not enough to only do your own thing. She tells me that during the Cold War, many artists, writers, and other free spirits had to keep a low profile. They kept their heads empty and body healthy by doing physical work in simple jobs during the day time, preserving their intellect for their activities in the evenings. We, too, must find a balance between our passion and what is necessary for the community, especially for creative entrepreneurs, to make a living.

Besides making a living, I notice that many of us start with a fresh slate, are open for new initiatives, cooperations. Like at this moment, our volunteer work for Sewing Heroes. But also begin learning new languages, just without any other reason than to feed the brain. I think it is a good thing because everything you start is the beginning of an experience that will enrich your life.

Artisan and custom made

Although the outlook of the one and a half meter society is not appealing to me, I feel the excitement too. Eager to create new concepts and products that are original ánd fitting for the present times. Local and handicraft businesses are more appreciated now. We want Artisan bread, get our coffee straight from the roaster, and have a custom made jacket. Goelfija and I realize we are already in business. We only have to tell everybody.

New friends & new plans.

I leave the apartment with a plant and the promise that we will keep in touch. At home, I catch up with the Sewing Heroes team. The project is flourishing. More and more people get involved sewing medical gowns or helping out in the organization, as the girls of Blauw Helpt, but also people from my network, like Monica, Iris, and Goelfija. We are all connecting! I feel confident these reflections on life now will turn into a positive effect.

All early-bird deals are at the bottom of this page!

Pepavana Experiences

What to do when the new projects come to an end before it even started all right? I am revering to the activities for Airbnb Experiences that I developed recently.

For many years now, I design and direct textile workshops for kids and adults, for private persons, schools, and cultural organizations. They take place ‘on location’ most of the time. 

To invite people to my studio, I created fitting workshops for travelers to Rotterdam and promoted them on the Airbnb platform. Unfortunately, before it could pay off, Corona put everything on hold; we had to postpone all activities until further notice. Check the agenda for early-birds bookings at Pepavana’s Airbnb experiences.

The annual kids-workshops that I do during the festivities on Kingsday (27th of April) is canceled. I am so sorry I have to miss all the wonderful kids and their spirits. But I want to make it up to you, so keep an eye on the website; Pepavana is preparing something to keeps this party going in your homes. And there is always the end of summer festival to look forward too.

What is happening now?

Of course, when you have your own business, big or small, there is never a dull moment, even during corona times! So what’s happening at the moment? 


how to show your love during corona times

For kids that have to stay at home, i’d like to tip the DIY loom set for weaving an elastic wristband, make a friendship band for someone you miss.

Having two bigger kids at home myself, one studying for exams, and one that works on assignments for Art School, I don’t need to homeschooling.

While I have to trust the Attic Boy doing his homework, I take the Art Girl with me to the studio if she has no conference schooling that day. When I am working on assignments for Pepavana or sewing for Sewing Heroes, a volunteer project to help professional carers with protective clothing, Art Girl is drawing dresses and tops.

early-bird deal

Draping & sewing.

I teach her how to make a toile, how to make a pattern from it. Make a trial version, and see how it looks, making adjustments, making a new pattern, sewing and unraveling, making adjustments and so on and so on, until it finally fits. 

So translating drawings into an actual piece of clothing is a challenge for a young girl, and I am proud of her! To keep up the sewing spirit, I also taught her to design, starting from a lower level of experience with success guaranteed effect.

She already made a skater- or hoopskirt and a wrap top. And she is eager to make lots of them in all kind of fabrics and variations;)

See you soon,

Love Pepa

Early-Bird Deals for you:

order now for future activities and save money

  • Are you interested in Private sewing lessons? Book now, and get 10% off, and we make a date when it is safe to meet at the studio, awaiting news from the government.  Use coupon code: “Safethedate10” at the checkout. The discount offer is only to use in the webshop during the lockdown.
  • The same for all other workshops and activities at Pepavana, book now and use coupon code: “Safethedate10” at the checkout, the date will be set later on.
  • Additional to the 10% discount, you also get the free DIY loom set for every participant when you order an Elastic Wristband Weaving Workshop now; the date will set when it is safe to gather with groups again.
  • Travelers get an Early-Bird discount of 20% on all Pepavana’s Airbnb Experiences when you book two weeks beforehand.

 Over the years, many kids have visited the Pepavana craft tent at the Deliplein. I have seen them grow up from toddler to teenager. Every year kids come by and ask what are we going to do this time? This year I am going to miss you and it feels soo unreal, I definitely hope we meet again next summer at these wonderful festivals. 

In the mean time enjoy the favorites of ten years crafting with Pepavana at your homes with the DIY kits for kids.

Recycling playground.

Since the startup of Pepavana in 2007, I have been using second-hand materials and fabrics to design new products and, at the same time teaching kids and adults my recycling skills. That all started at Studio Hergebruik at the Coolsingel in Rotterdam, a playground for recycling products ànd designers, spread out by initiator Jan de Haas.

For me, recycling was second nature, partly because of the lack of money and materials. Growing up at a barge, we often had to cope with the materials that were present because there were no shops around during a trip. My father was very creative in engineering with recycled materials. At school, we also learned all kinds of crafts, like woodworking and all sorts of needlework.

Sew, knit, and knot.

Then I had two skilled grandmothers who taught me how to sew, knit, and knot. I made my first pair of hippy jeans in the Seventies; I was twelve years old. Since then, I made all my clothes, using vintage linen from my mother’s wardrobe. Or I bought fabrics on the market from my pocket money. Even then, I started to use leftover fabric from the industries. Most of the time, it was little scraps that I had to sew together, or I designed ultra mini tops and lingerie from it; not strange considering it was the Eighties back than.

Teaching old skills

Back to teaching!. My second nature is still using the materials that are around. I know everything about recycling excising goods and materials, which allows me to design creative workshops and lessons for kids and adults and, at the same time, share my vision about sustainability.

We are not afraid of needle and tread

Nowadays, needlecraft and embroider lessons are missing at primary school. Not a lot of kids are educated at home in the skills that use to be standard in our times. I encounter kids that have never used a pair of scissors or are not allowed to hammer at home. I find it very important to learn kids to use their heads and hands. I am showing them that a little effort will result in more sustainable gadgets.

During the Pepavana workshops, I encourage kids and adults to use techniques whereby they make a creation that lasts longer and looks professional. Our motto is: We are not afraid of needle and tread. It is easy to attach stuff by using glue, and we do so, but I always offer them old fashion hand stitching. How to stick the thread through the eye of the needle. How to hold it instead of knotting the thread to the needle (taught at primary school or at home?). Everything they learn or try out is considered a victory. Showing how it works, doing it together, making small steps, is the beginning of consciousness by the new generation.

Pepavana workshops are not like other workshops. I design a concept, make examples, and build in different levels of experience. Sometimes workshops are attended by kids and adults and everything in between. They can learn each other under my guidance or work individually and finally go home with their handcrafted treasure.

Old Dutch skill Staphorster Stipwerk

Every time I recall old skills and crafts. Some that I use myself and some that I stumbled up upon, like Staphorster Stipwerk. Stipwerk is an old skool and cheap method of decorating fabrics by the woman of Staphorst. They were using spikes stamps and paint to make patterns on cotton or silk.

I found out that it is fun to make your own stamps, and I have to admit it is more complicated than you imagine at first sight. It is even more fun to do stipwerk, on black fabrics or jeans. Making patterns and combine all the different stamps.

Try out the various skills at Kings day.

For the next workshop, I prepared black bandanas and felt or leather bracelets that kids can work on with stamps and paint. Bring your old jeans to give it a new look.

Hammer spikes in a piece of wood, to create your own mark. Tie the leather bracelets on your wrist with a ribbon that you make by braiding or crotching wool treads, after you make beautiful stipwerk on the leather.

Pepavana is present with ‘Bandanas & Bracelets Stipwerk’ at The Royal Rollerdisco on April 27 during King’s day! Find us at Delieplein Rotterdam.

Open Studio Days 

We start in the new year with two days open studio with the Prepare-For-Winter Sale. We have discounted bags, hats & gaiters of felted blankets and tweeds — existing ánd new models. Many forgotten items in storage that are worthwhile looking at, can be purchased for €5,- to €25,-. Are you interested in the present wool felt collection? Then I am also happy to advise you. For on-the-spot orders and made-to-measure service, you get up to 10% discount. We accept cash and pin payments.

Tweed Mini Shopper Bags €15,- Blanky Bags €29,- Bonnets & Caps €25-€29,- Farmer Hats €49,- Blanky Gaiters €75,- Tweed gaiters €99,- Fashion gaiters €50,- and €75,-  

Free Workshop Making Mittens

Try & buy the wool felt mittens in motorcycle style, that are new in the collection! For the occasion they can be purchased now with 10% discount at the Open Studio Days or the webshop now, using coupon code: NOW10

But it is also fun to make your mittens from recycled sweaters, tee’s, knits, jeans, blankets and whatever you bring yourself.  I developed a simple pattern that you can easily adjust to your size and desired style. You can work on our sewing machines or use needle and tread. I will teach you techniques to personalize your mittens. It is free to join us at the workshop, but we ask a small contribution of €5,- for the materials that are available. Pay directly at the webshop to valid your participation for the free workshop. 

Next open studio dates with the free workshop:

  • Friday 11 January 15.00-20.00 hours
  • Friday  8 February 15.00-20.00 hours

Location: Ruivenstraat 39 Rotterdam. Please enlist for the Prepare For Winter Sale by sending an email, call or WhatsApp to +31641637798.

I look forward to meeting you!

In awaiting the new Studio Sale dates, you are very welcome at our studio for made to measure service or checking out all the unique examples on the shelves. Please contact me for an appointment or any question about the o.o.a.k. items.

Kind regards


A permanent spot

It was only one month ago that I got the opportunity to rent a permanent studio at the Ruivenstraat 39 in Rotterdam after I had to leave my studio on the Noordereiland. I rented Prins Hendriklaan 10-06 on a temporary base, which was excellent for the time being but now I am surrounded by fellow artists in a beautiful building with a great atmosphere in the Old North of Rotterdam.


We are still unpacking and organizing the former classroom. We painted away the bright blue on the woodwork to create a serene space. There is more than enough stuff that attracts attention already. We built two storage towers since the room is 4,5 meters high.  Like the other space, we have a workshop and showroom emerged. In the future, I would like to create a ‘piano nobile,’ perfect for the showroom and chill out.

If there is anybody who feels like helping me with building the construction, please contact me.

Back to work

So I am ready to pick up assignments and make new designs. Pepavana will attend several fairs this year. On 9, 10 & 11 November we will redecorate a hotel room with our best wool felt designs at ARA ART FAIR 2018. And we will attend the 10th edition of Meesterlijk on 30 November, 1 and 2 December.

I am looking forward to meeting you here or there:).

Studio Sale

And we will organize a studio sale soon, but before that happens, you are welcome to visit us for custom made orders or fittings. Have a peek at our shelves with summer items. So feel free to come around and profit from attractive prices on summer clothes and accessories.

Don’t miss updates and invitations by signing up for our newsletters at the bottom of this page!

The teaching assignment

Last week I was asked by Ebami Tom to co-host a sewing workshop at “Made in 4 Havens”, a maker space, located in the harbor area of Rotterdam West. Our assignment was to implement several skills and techniques on different levels for a small group of women. Most of them had little sewing experience, but we needed to challenge teaching the ones with more skills.

Made in 4 Havens

At the studio here at Made in 4 Havens, production of fashion items are made by local women for several clients already.

We could implement all these requirements, by teaching them how to sew a cotton tote bag with volume and pockets. Since I am a bag designer, I showed them a couple of bag designs that illustrated the different orders and difficulties. The students could choose to make one with a loose hanging inner pocket or a volume pocket on the front. They also had to make an application on it.


Kim and I gave instructions on how to use the industrial sewing machines and the lockers. The first step was to make a square test cloth on these machines. During class, we attended the students personally, guided them through the whole process of design and executing at the different stages of making a tote bag.

Eventually, all the students had used different skills at their level and made a personalized tote bag.

Kim van Eijnatten is a fashion specialist that, apart from teaching how to sew, keeps her footprint small by selling rare second-hand finds at “Nonsens Vintage.”

Ebami visited my studio in Heijplaat a couple of years ago in search for Rotterdam Designers, and later on, I attended the Design Market at Made in 4 Havens.

We were all excited about working together and hope this trial will result in a future series of sewing lessons.

We can look back at an excellent edition of Meesterlijk 2016. It is a yearly event with the most sympathetic designers and craftsmen that you can find in the Netherlands. Organized by Nicole Unicole. Since 2012 I am promoting the new accessory for high heels on this event and it is starting to pay off, visitors find their way to my stand.

I noticed that not only women stopped by but also men, and often it was men that chose Pepavanas for their wives or girlfriends. So I am looking forward to the next edition in December!

At Meesterlijk 2017 we will consummate the Continuous Collection with New Designs.

I will keep you posted!


Meesterlijk Design & Ambacht

1-3 December

Westergasfabriek Amsterdam

New dates in 2018:

November 30, December 1-2

Our temporary Showroom at location Sleephellingstraat is closed since a new happy owner bought the apartment. From January 2016 you can visit us at our new address. Studio and showroom are merged at Lokaal 06. Our new address is Prins Hendriklaan 10  Rotterdam. We are planning a little welcome party in the Spring this year so keep an eye on your mailbox for a personal invite.