Purls of Wisdom

Alumni Profile Series: Emilie Patton

Posted by Cameron Lee on Sun, Oct 21, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

We’re happy to share the third installment in the Alumni Profile Series, which features profiles of the Handwork Studio graduates (and some current members) and gives you an inside look into their lives!

For a shorter biography of Emilie Patton, check out the alumni page of our website!

Emilie Patton headshot-1

Name: Emilie Marie Patton
Age: 21
Education: Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, Final Year
Majors: Fibers and Material Studies

 

Who is Emilie Patton?

Emilie Patton (Emilie, not Emily, a mistake I made the first time we emailed) has a bright, bubbly personality and a friendliness about her that makes me look forward to speaking with her even more. Before we get into the meat of the interview, I realize that both Emilie and Julia Haines, a Handwork Studio alumnus I interviewed a few weeks before, both attend the Tyler School of Art at Temple University and are both majoring in Fibers and Material Studies. When I ask Emilie about it (without specifying Julia by name), she guesses who I’m talking about immediately, and tells me that in addition to being in the same, relatively small class at Tyler, they also danced together in high school. Small world! 

Here’s Emilie Patton in a flash: The last thing she watched before our interview was a series on Netflix called Haven, which she describes as a police show, but also a milder version of Supernatural. She laughs as she tells me she’s on season three and only started it two weeks ago. If Emilie could be an animal, she would be a rabbit, because “they have such nice eyes, eat grass all day, and hop around.” I ask what she wants to be when she grows up, and Emilie tells me that she plans to be “a working artist.” She pauses. “Well, a successful working artist,” she adds with a laugh.

 

Early Involvement in Handwork and The Handwork Studio

Emilie first truly got involved in the handwork world when she started taking classes at the Handwork Studio in 6th grade. She took a sewing class with her friends and made pajama bottoms, and from then on she just “really liked going there.” Emilie attended a Handwork Studio class every summer, and sometimes she would attend classes at night during the school year as well. I wonder if she expressed any interest in handwork before she started going to the Handwork Studio classes, or if her parents just decided to enroll her, and she makes it clear that she “was really interested in it. My great grandmother was a seamstress, and I’ve always wanted to learn how to sew because I learned hand sewing from a family friend when I was around 6. My mom doesn’t know how to sew, and my grandmother who lived an hour and a half away couldn’t teach me because I wasn’t there, so going to this was the best option that I had to learn to do this skill that I really wanted to learn.”

Emilie fondly remembers when she took the Fashion Bootcamp at the Handwork Studio when she entered high school. She tells me that it was a nice environment, a really fun class to take and that she and her friends had a good time making garments together. “It was a good highlight of my childhood.”


Emilie’s Journey

Emilie patton outfitsUnlike Julia, who decided to apply to Tyler very shortly before the deadline, Emilie was aware that she wanted to go to art school earlier, but she also struggled with choosing between art and another path. Emilie was originally going to attend school for pharmacy (her dad’s a pharmacist, and her mom’s an ICU nurse), but then she took art classes in high school and realized that she could apply the skills she loved, like sewing, to 3D art, amongst other things, and “it kind of took off from there.” At the end of her sophomore year of high school she told her parents that she didn’t want to go to school for anything related to health care, but art instead.

Emilie is from Havertown, PA, a place she describes as a “small town,” so everyone knew her parents and knew that Emilie originally wanted to go into a medical field. When she decided to embark on her art school journey, not everyone was thrilled. “Some of my high school teachers told me that I wouldn’t find a job,” she admits, but a beloved high school art teacher helped her get to where she is now. “You’ve got to find those people who believe in you and stay with them.” Emilie pushed through the confusion and criticism and took AP art her junior year of high school, an experience that solidified her love for art and convinced her that she was making the right decision by planning to go to art school. “Junior year is when I was like, no I want to do this. I do not want to be a pharmacist for the rest of my life; I want to be an artist. I think taking an art class and seeing I could apply those skills, helped.”

When I ask Emilie if she has had any job or internship experience related to handwork, she hesitates. “This is not like a ‘true job,’” she says, “But I used to teach kids in my neighborhood how to sew. Like on my own, with my friends. I would make bags and bring them to class, and a lot of people asked me where I got them, and I told them I made them by sewing. And in middle school a lot of people wanted me to teach them. I did that freshman year too, in my dorm.” I tell her that even if she doesn’t consider that a “true job,” it’s still really cool. I would love to learn handwork, and if I had a peer who could teach me how to do it, that would be so much easier. Rather than try to teach myself, or go to a class. “I taught myself how to knit,” Emilie laughs, "And it’s a lot easier to learn from someone else.”


Emilie’s Art

Emilie Patton (front)We cycle back around to talk about the Tyler School of Art, and what Emilie’s life has been like attending school there. What kinds of classes does she take; does she concentrate on something specific in her major; does she mostly take studio classes?

“I focus more on garment construction,” she tells me, “And on the ideas of processes. I really like to weave my own fabric. The idea of making something completely from scratch really intrigues me, and I usually focus my work on garments and exploring the body through clothing. A lot of the classes I take are - I took a garment construction class last year and a weaving class, and that’s kind of where it started - but I like taking classes that are more hands-on in physical processes. Silk screening, natural dyes, everything’s kind of from the ground up. That just really intrigues me.” Emilie typically takes three studio classes a semester, and one non-studio, so much of her time is focused on actually making art.

In my experience, artists go through a period when they come into their style and discover their artistic voice, and this period can last anywhere from a few months to a few decades because style is always evolving. I ask Emilie to tell me about her artistic passion, how and when she developed her style, and whether her interest in building structures from the ground up was something she always wanted to do, or whether it came into play later. “It came into play later,” she responds. “Way, way later. I’ve always liked the idea of the processes of things, but more recently, last semester, it took hold. I was in Rome for four months for a semester abroad, and there were no fibers classes over there, so I was taking whatever I could that was craft centered. I took bookbinding, paper making, and a sketchbook class. I really struggled. I had the worst block ever, it was awful. It wasn’t until the very end until one of my professors told me ‘Just don’t think’ and it clicked. So I started making things, not as a concept, but that the way of doing things is in itself an art.”

Emilie told me at the beginning of the interview that she wants to be a working artist. I wonder if she has any idea what she wants that to look like.

“My goal in life is to own my own brand in a sense. I’m really interested in functionality. I want to do work based on making something functional in someone’s life, not just extremely contemporary, which I don’t have an exact knack for. I’m jealous of people who have that knack. I would love to own a store where I could transform my work into things people can use every day in their lives, and become almost a household name, in a way. That’s always been something I’ve wanted to do.”


Trials and Successes

When I get to the part of the interview where I typically ask what the interviewee is the proudest of, or for an accomplishment of theirs they’d like to share, I’m pleasantly surprised when Emilie wants to give me two. Both pertain to garments she’s made, at two different times in her life. Emilia Patton (back)-1

“Senior year I made my prom dress, and it was one of my favorite dresses I’ve ever made. It doesn’t fit me anymore, but it was just something I didn’t think I’d be able to make structurally. I made the pattern myself, and I never did that before, and it was something I was really proud of.” She had to sew herself into it, she laughs, but it was worth it. “The second one was designing a three-piece collection of 11 pieces total for a class I took last year. I made a killer pair of pants that were completely pleated around the bottom that took me five days to make. I worked on them for like 12 hours a day, and when I was done I was so happy, and they looked so good on my model, and I was like ‘Yes! Finally!’”

When I ask Emilie the opposite - to tell me something she wishes she could change about the past few years - I’m surprised by how similar her answer is to the one Julia Haines gave me. “I wish I had a better sense of my artwork a couple of years ago. Going through that struggle of finding your own style is really hard. Because you doubt yourself a lot.”

Close to the end of the interview, Emilie tells me another story about her time at the Handwork Studio. “This is my second year working at the Handwork Studio, and I had the opportunity to help teach the Fashion Bootcamp last year, and I’ll be doing it this year as well if there are enough campers. And it’s really inspiring to see these girls who are like 13 and 14 make a two-piece collection from scratch, from fabric they get to choose, and they get to design everything, and they find patterns and alter patterns. It’s so inspiring seeing that as someone who does this almost as their career. Seeing it start so young kind of reignites the fire and makes me think 'Yes, this is what I want to do! This is great!' It’s so great having these kids get this environment that, a lot of times, they don’t get at school or anywhere else, and people saying, 'You can do this, we believe in you.' And then they do amazing things. It’s crazy. A girl made a dress based on the night sky, and I helped her dye it, and she put all these stars on it, and it was beautiful. Like that came out of your mind. You made that. It’s such a nice feeling that you can help these girls get there.”

I want to end with some advice Emilie offered for any kids at the Handwork Studio who may be inspired to follow the same path as her, or just to pursue their passions: “Stick with it, because there’s going to be times when you wanna give up, and you think your work isn’t good enough or it’s too hard or stressful. People will try to tell you that you’re in school for something you don’t need but stick with it, because you want to do something you’re going to enjoy for the rest of your life. If it’s something you’re passionate about, keep it.”


Photo 1: Portrait of Emilie Patton
Photo 2: Emilie's designs
Photo 3: Emilie wearing her designs, front
Photo 4: Emilie wearing her designs, back

Tags: Alumni Profile Series, Alumni, The Handwork Studio, Handwork, Emilie Patton

The Handwork Stories: Ana Castro

Posted by Mattie Solomon on Sun, Oct 14, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

In this series we have been sharing stories about the people and places where The Handwork Studio team members find inspiration for their craft. In order to expand our community we will explore the different ways that people got their start in sewing, knitting, and other needlework crafts. This series explores the art that goes behind this craft and understanding the sources of inspiration for different people, and this week will be introducing you to Ana Castro!

Artful Thinking

AnaAndLinusWhen asking studio administrator Ana Castro about the moment she caught the crafting bug, she paused for a moment, and attempted to trace herself back to that singular moment. After lingering over the thought, she responded, “Well, I never wanted to be anything other than an artist,” which truly speaks to the meaningful way in which Ana has viewed the journey of her craft throughout her entire life. Some people can pinpoint an exact moment when they were taught a certain craft, or maybe trace it back to a certain person, but for Ana, it seems that creativity has been at the forefront of her life from the very beginning.

Ana has always been surrounded by creativity, and a lot of her inspiration today comes from her Costa Rican background. The colors and textiles that come from that area really inspire a lot of her work, and she loves to infuse the styles of their traditional interior design into the pieces she creates. Along with her Costa Rican background, Ana also finds a lot of inspiration, especially when it comes to her color palate, from the style of the 90’s and the different toys she had when she was growing up. So, while one side of her pulls her towards the image of the traditional Central America home, another brings her towards her childhood in the states.

Growing up, Ana said she spent a lot of time by herself, therefore finding imaginative ways to express herself. “I’m an introvert, and you know a lot of people wouldn’t realize that when they meet me,” said Ana. A lot of her work is then inspired by the kinds of activities she did when she was younger, while discovering who she was. Most of her work is inspired by the body, and by movement and dance specifically. She says that a lot of her pieces mimic this sort of fluffy and plump feeling. Although never fully realizing it, Ana sees now how her childhood has found its way naturally into her work today.

AnaDressingLoomAnother part of who inspired Ana’s creativity growing up were her parents. Both of her parents are chefs, and she said that seeing them be creative helped foster creativity within herself. “They were so resourceful, and everything had to be made a certain way,” mentioned Ana, and it was the ways in which they always thought outside of the box which allowed her to think that her career as an artist could be what it is today.

Ana got her degree in crafts from University of the Arts in Philadelphia in 2014, where she fell in love with the entire creation process. During a critique for one of her earlier pieces, she realized that the work she creates has more meaning than just its materials. “I found that everything has a connotation whether you want it to or not. That was an inspiring moment and I chose to pursue that kind of craft after that point.” Then after University, Ana was drawn to the vision of The Handwork Studio, saying “I thought it was really lovely that they were expanding the audience [for needle arts] and that they were fostering a community.”

AnaArtworkNow, Ana embraces the meditative practice of her craft and loves being able to pass on these fiber arts techniques to kids today. “The projects they make become a part of their life in a much different way than store bought toys. We give kids the autonomy to pick every single part of their piece out, and that way they will value it so much more highly,” she said. By giving kids the opportunity to make these crafts a part of their life, Ana believes that more and more kids will be able to find ways of expressing themselves in the creative ways she did growing up.

____________________________________________________________________________

Click here for a look at our summer sewing camp options for your child. Also, be sure to check out our store and our new partnership with Simplicity Sewing Patterns

Tags: The Handwork Stories, sewmorelove

Alumni Profile Series: Sharon Baranov

Posted by Cameron Lee on Sun, Oct 07, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

Welcome to the second installment in the Alumni Profile Series, which features profiles of the Handwork Studio graduates (and some current members) and gives you an inside look into their lives. Happy reading!

For a shorter biography of Sharon Baranov, check out the alumni page of our website!

Sharon headshot-1

Name: Sharon Baranov
Age: 18
Education: First year at the University of Pennsylvania
Major: Mechanical Engineering

 

Who is Sharon Baranov?

Sharon Baranov photoset 2Before I even speak with Sharon Baranov for the first time, I am eager to meet her. Laura Kelly, the founder and owner of the Handwork Studio (THS), told me that Sharon’s love of fashion took her on a unique path: to mechanical engineering. I was intrigued from the start, and anxious to get the chance to hear her story. When the video call connects and we introduce ourselves, I am immediately put at ease by Sharon’s calm demeanor and friendly face.

She laughs as she tells me that the last thing she watched was an episode of The Vampire Diaries on Netflix, and when I ask her what animal she would be if she had the choice, Sharon decides on a cheetah because of their speed. Sharon tells me that in addition to engineering she paints, sews, and does fashion design. Her favorite type of art is probably making clothes, but the week before our interview she took a still life painting class (where she tried oil paints for the first time) and loved it.

When she grows up, Sharon most likely wants to do something in mechanical engineering, but she also wants to relate her engineering back to fashion, because she finds that “they’re kind of intermixed a little bit because they’re both about making things.”

Sharon painting 1

 

Early Involvement in Handwork and The Handwork Studio

Sharon started sewing at a remarkably young age. Her mom bought her sewing kits from Joann Fabric that she really enjoyed and she attended a knitting class at another camp and had a great time, so her mom signed her up for classes at the Handwork Studio. She tells me that she was 5 or 6 years old when she started attending the Handwork Studio, and I’m taken aback. I played sports for close to a decade, and I didn’t even start that young. I figure that someone else in Sharon’s family must have been interested in handwork if she got involved that early, but she shakes her head. “No one else in my family really did sewing. My two older sisters had learned to knit so when I first started knitting one of my sisters (who is about ten years older than me) was starting to help me, but she didn’t know a lot. She couldn’t really cast on or anything, so then my mom sent me to the Handwork Studio.”

Sharon has been a part of the Handwork Studio family for virtually her entire life. When I ask her about her journey with the Handwork Studio, she tells me that she started taking hand sewing lessons after camp, and then she did doll making, and then once she was old enough she started machine sewing. (She had a private teacher that taught her how to machine sew before she began to machine sew at the Handwork Studio because she wasn’t yet old enough to be in the class. If anything evidences Sharon’s dedication to the craft, this is it!) “Once I was old enough to do [machine sewing] at the Handwork Studio I took a class every week and a bunch of my friends did it with me because my mom told their parents about it so I would take the doll making class on Monday kind of by myself or with one other friend and for machine sewing it would be me and like six of my friends. We would go for the Friday class. And after that they kind of...I guess by the time we went to middle school they had stopped and I kept going, and by then I stopped taking classes and did volunteering in classrooms. And then once I turned fourteen, I started working at the Handwork Studio.” Sharon blazer

I relate to Sharon’s experience with her friends dropping out of handwork classes. The older I got in my sport, the fewer girls there were. It’s telling of Sharon’s dedication and love for handwork that she stayed committed even when those around her found other things to do. Even after Sharon aged out of the Handwork Studio, she remained involved, working at the Narberth studio through summers and school years.

I can’t imagine that the Handwork Studio has been anything less than formative for Sharon because of her lifelong relationship with it, and she agrees wholeheartedly. “It definitely had a lasting impact on me because it kind of got me going in sewing, and I had really great teachers, and they were really fun. Especially because I had a lot of friends that went with me and I made friends that kept me going. Taking sewing classes by yourself - which I also did with a private sewing teacher - can sometimes not be as motivating because you’re by yourself. With a bunch of friends you’re all picking your projects together, and it just makes the experience really fun. Eventually, as I got older...they still kept me on volunteering because I was too old for the classes. I never had a break when it was like “Oh I’m too old for the classes but too young to work.” They just kept me going with it.”

Sharon immediately launches into a story when I ask if she has a favorite anecdote or experience that she wants to share. She tells me about this “huge fat bunny that one of the teachers had knitted a while ago” that sat in the studio that all the kids loved to play with. “One summer,” she recalls, “I decided that I wanted to make it. So they just let me do my own thing, and every time I had the chance, I would work on knitting this bunny. They weren’t very strict that I had to do every project and they let me do my own thing. It was really exciting because I finished the bunny and it was a huge bunny.” She forms a circle with her arms, indicating how large the project was, and laughs. “It was really cute.”

 

Sharon’s  Journey

Sharon prom dress 1-749459-editedI start to ask Sharon what her life has been like after leaving the Handwork Studio, then laugh as I tell her that the question doesn’t make much sense because she never really left. Instead, I ask her to talk about the most significant way handwork plays a role in her life, outside of working at the Handwork Studio of course. She tells me that the Handwork Studio taught her “about the fun you can have with sewing,” so now she focuses more on doing projects that make her happy. “I just finished making my prom dress in April, and I just do little fun projects. I don’t make it something that is difficult for me; I just do what I like. That’s what they taught me.” I nod as I take notes, then stop in shock when I realize what she just said. She made her prom dress?

“It was really hard,” she admits, “because I decided to make the pattern for it myself, so that was really difficult, but once I got the pattern it kind of went a lot smoother and I was able to finish it.” I could never even dream about doing something like that, and I make sure to ask her more about it later. For now, I ask her about any handwork-related job or internship experience she may have had. She thinks for a moment before telling me about her 3-week internship for a tailor that she completed as her senior project, alongside making her prom dress. She worked at a store called SewRob near where she lives and got to see more of the business side of sewing. I’m always interested in the business side of the art world, and what logistically goes into making a company like that function, so I ask her about it. Did she focus on administrative tasks? Fashion related work?

“I saw what he was doing with the tailoring and the pinning, but I didn’t work as much with the actual sewing of stuff because it’s still his business and he had to let his workers do their own thing,” she explains. “But I basically checked if everyone finished the work right. I would take a pair of pants and press the hem and make sure there weren’t any threads hanging off, and then I would check it off. I also watched him pin different dresses. A bride came in, and I was able to see that.”

 

Sharon’s Art

Despite pursuing a career in something outside handwork, Sharon makes it clear that sewing will always be her hobby. She chose not to embark on a fashion career because she likes being able to make clothes for herself, and she likes the freedom of making patterns for things she wants. “That’s how I got into engineering,” she says. “I was thinking that I really like making things and fitting them together and seeing how they work.” When I ask her to elaborate, she tells me the story of how she moved from fashion to engineering. Sharon photoset 1

“I went to Parsons for a three-week summer program, and I did fashion illustration there which was a lot about putting the design and the colors together and stuff like that. And I liked it and thought it was really fun but it wasn’t really what I was going for. I was thinking a lot more about the patterns and how you can construct different clothes, and that’s really what I like to do. I don’t do as much fashion illustration at home; I just like to put things together and make the actual clothing. I know there are jobs like that in the fashion world but right after Parsons I had physics in school (my junior year) so we started doing projects like building a catapult or a bridge. I saw that I liked those two and how making those things connected to making the patterns in my sewing. I was thinking that if I get a degree in mechanical engineering and learn a lot about how things go together and how you make things then if I don’t like doing anything other than doing that with clothing then I can always go back and use what I’ve learned from my degree in mechanical engineering and apply it to clothing.”

 

Trials and Successes

When I ask Sharon what she’s done over the last few years that she’s the proudest of, I’m thrilled to hear her say her prom dress. She goes into detail about the process and design.

“Basically it’s this corset pattern, and it’s not like anything I’ve made a pattern for before so at the beginning I was really struggling. I did pattern draping on a mannequin, and it took me six tries and so many months to do it and finally I just was like ‘This is close enough’ and started cutting out fabric and making it into the dress. And as it came together it felt really good because I got so many compliments from people who were like ‘Oh my god, how’d you do this’ and it felt really good to see a final product. And that's really what I like about sewing. You get through the whole process which can be really challenging sometimes, but then you get a product in the end that you’re really proud of.” Sharon prom dress 2

I tell Sharon that that’s something that really interests me about handwork. As a visual artist who normally sticks to drawing and painting, I don’t really know what it’s like to use your artistic skills to make something intrinsically functional and to be able to wear your creation. Sharon agrees, saying that “You’re really close to your clothes. A lot of people express themselves through their clothing or just like nice clothing, so I feel like when you can make it for yourself, it’s just really nice. And it feels really close, even more sometimes than a painting.”

I pose the opposite question: What is something Sharon wishes she could change about the last few years? She pauses for a second, then tells me that she wishes that she’d kept sewing more after she decided not to pursue fashion as a career. Before she attended the Parsons program, Sharon had sewing teacher that had her make something new every week, and even though it was challenging, she wishes she had kept up with that schedule. Sharon essentially took a six-month break from sewing and only really got back into it to make a dress for her winter formal, her junior year. “It was a little bit of a sore topic, but I wish I had kept going because there are so many things I could have made during that time…then I did my junior formal dress, and it was like, okay, I really miss this.” She’s coming into the realization that she needs to find a way to keep sewing in her life (which is why she took this summer off from work - to make art), and I understand that struggle. It’s always a balance to keep space and time for your art alongside everything else school throws at you.

I reach my last question for Sharon. Does she have anything else to share about the Handwork Studio?

“It was a really good experience and made sure that I’ll always have something that I like to do and that I’ll always make time for. It helped me approach the arts. My mom is very into sports and stuff, and she’s never done any art, and my older sister was into painting, but I’m the first one to get into sewing. So it really helped me find ‘my thing.’”


Photo 1: Portrait of Sharon Baranov
Photo 2: Sharon wearing three of her designs
Photo 3: Painting of Sharon and her sisters
Photo 4: Jacket designed by Sharon 
Photo 5: Sharon in her prom dress, front 
Photo 6: Sharon wearing three of her designs
Photo 7: Sharon in her prom dress, back

Tags: Alumni Profile Series, Alumni, The Handwork Stories, Handwork, Profile, Sharon Baranov

The Handwork Stories: Alisa Cavanaugh

Posted by Mattie Solomon on Sun, Sep 30, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

In this series we have been sharing stories about the people and places where The Handwork Studio team members find inspiration for their craft. In order to expand our community we will explore the different ways that people got their start in sewing, knitting, and other needlework crafts. This series explores the art that goes behind this craft and understanding the sources of inspiration for different people, and this week will be introducing you to Julia Yosen!

A Family Affair

Screen Shot 2018-08-07 at 3.08.00 PMFor Alisa Cavanaugh, her connection to needle arts has been somewhat of a family affair. After learning crafting skills from her grandmother when she was younger, Alisa continued that legacy and passed those skills onto her own children. Teaching her kids how to tap into their creativity is something that Alisa values a lot and finds super important in any kid’s life.

“Kids don’t always have the opportunity to express themselves, but at The Handwork Studio, a child can learn something no matter their age, and walk away with something that they created ton their own. I think every kid needs some sort of outlet to be creative,” said Alisa, and it has definitely been a creative outlet that has struck a chord with her eleven-year-old daughter and nine-year-old son. Both of Alisa’s children have really connected with The Handwork Studio, but their journey and passion with needle arts is very different from one another.

Alisa’s son has more of an eye for detail and does not mind the kind of patience it takes to complete some projects. He has really loved to do embroidery because of the time and skill it takes to complete this. Alisa has also recently taught him how to corner to corner knit, and he will often stitch alongside her. This image really reflects the moments Alisa shared with her grandmother, who taught her how to cross stitch. “I ended up spending some time with my grandparent when I was young, and I remember sitting with her on her sun porch and just stitching with her. Her walking me through it and explaining the counting. I liked that it was kind of like a puzzle.” Even though her son may not be able to complete as many stitches as her, he loves figuring it all out with her.

Her daughter on the other hand, will have a project in mind and want to complete it right on the spot. Alisa said she really likes machine sewing, but sometimes has trouble with the amount of time that goes along with it. A few weeks ago, at sew tech, she was super excited to make an otter from all of the kinetic threads involved. Even though the project took some time, Alisa said that seeing each step be completed and having an end goal within each day helped her feel motivated and excited about coming back to the same project day after day. Alisa’s daughter ended up being super proud of that and loved all of the conductive pieces that allowed her to really see her progress. Alisa says both of her kids, however, love to do these things because it allows them to be creative.

Before becoming a Program Manager at the Narberth Studio, Alisa worked just down the street from the Studio. When she discovered the program, she thought about how great of an idea it was. She loved the idea that kids who were not learning these types of skills could have the opportunity to see what they could accomplish and what they could gain from learning needle arts.

When asking about her own connection to The Handwork Studio, and the impact she thinks it has on kids today, Alisa said, “It’s a great place because I enjoy what they do. It’s a great opportunity for kids to learn something a little different, and you know? It’s something my kids enjoy too!” So after sending her own kids to the camp during a winter workshop, Alisa let her career lead her back to the program her children loved so much.

“It's always been about a gift of love for me,” said Alisa. Creativity and this love of creating things through handwork is something that lies very close to home for her. After learning how to cross stitch and do other arts and crafts from her grandmother and aunt, Alisa loves being able to find a way to pass these kinds of skills onto her own children and all of the children who discover The Handwork Studio.

__________________________________________________________________________Click here for a look at our summer sewing camp options for your child. Also, be sure to check out our store and our new partnership with Simplicity Sewing Patterns! 

 

Alumni Profile Series: Julia Haines

Posted by Cameron Lee on Sun, Sep 23, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

The Alumni Profile Series will feature profiles of graduates (and some current members) of the Handwork Studio and give you an inside look into how they maintain their passion for the craft! We hope that learning about the alumni will inspire your kids to follow in their footsteps and help them see that no matter who they are, what their background in handwork is, and what they hope to be when they grow up, they can do anything they put their minds to!

For a shorter biography of Julia Haines, check out the alumni page of our website! 

Julia Haines Headshot

Name: Julia Claire Haines
Age: 22
Education: 5th year student in the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA
Majors: Fibers and Material Studies, with a certificate in Art Education
Website: www.juliaclairehaines.com/

 

Who is Julia Haines?

I sit down to talk to Julia Claire Haines on a sunny Thursday afternoon in the summer. There is a brief bit of fumbling as we both try to get our video and audio to work, but after a very friendly introduction, we get down to the interview.

Julia Haines Portrait

After asking some standard questions about her education and age, I tell Julia that I want to ask her some fun questions, so our readers can get to know her a bit more. I end up learning that the last thing Julia watched on TV was an episode of the second season of Netflix’s Queer Eye with her mom and that if she were an animal, she would be a hedgehog because she is “small and dutiful and sometimes prickly, but mostly soft.” When I ask Julia what her favorite type of art is, she immediately tells me that fiber art is her passion. She uses fabric and other craft-based mediums to create 2D and 3D works, and she particularly loves silkscreen printing on fabric and embroidery. To Julia, handwork is a very directional and soothing process.

When I ask her what she wants to be when she grows up, Julia responds enthusiastically with “A lot of things! But I graduate next year, and when I graduate, I want to teach art, either in Philly or one of the surrounding districts.” She wants to teach at a public school, preferably K-12, and credits working with elementary aged students at the Handwork Studio for helping her become more open to teaching younger children. 

 

Early Involvement in Handwork and The Handwork Studio

Julia’s formal introduction to handwork is synonymous with her introduction to the Handwork Studio because she became involved with both in elementary school when her mom won a week’s worth of classes for her in a raffle at the Alex’s Lemonade Stand annual fundraiser. Before attending the Handwork Studio’s classes, Julia tried - unfortunately unsuccessfully - to teach herself to knit and was interested in sewing and embroidery, so she loved learning these skills in a more structured setting at the Handwork Studio. After being a part of the Handwork Studio family for several years, Julia took a brief break, then came back as a CIT for some time during high school. Then, she tells me, “I went to Tyler and I kind of returned to my roots, I think because, for me, my foundation in art is definitely through sewing and handcraft and not necessarily in drawing and painting. So once I became more confident in my abilities as an artist at Temple, I started really diving into fiber practices again.” Julia currently works as a counselor at the Narberth studio and ended up applying for the position after bumping into owner and founder Laura Kelly this spring.

I ask Julia to reflect on the experiences she had at the Handwork Studio as a child and how they impacted her, and she makes it clear that they “were definitely formative. I learned how to do these skills that pretty much transferred to my university education, which is kind of cool, I think. To learn something when you’re like ten years old, eleven years old, and that actually comes into your college experience.”

Another part of Julia's experience at the Handwork Studio that impacted her was the atmosphere. “I remember feeling so comfortable and safe when I was there and that contentment that I felt while I was there was a good gauge in every other situation I found myself in growing up. Whether that was like formal activities or with friends. I kind of knew what this really nice, gentle comfort was.”

 

Julia’s Journey

There are plenty of kids at the Handwork Studio who want to pursue pathes like Julia’s and go to art school or continue to involve handwork in their careers in some way, so I ask her about her work experience and what led her to decide to attend the Tyler School of Art. It turns out Julia has been involved in a lot over the past few years and loves to keep herself busy, and the diversity of her work experience only reflects the sentiment that she wants to be a lot of things when she “grows up.”

The summer after her freshman year at Tyler Julia worked as an education intern at The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, where she researched their Navajo textile collection and compiled an information booklet for docents who lead student tours. She also worked for the same foundation the summer after her sophomore year of art school, but this time she went into their classrooms and evaluated how well the artists were teaching kids about the Barnes artwork and helped expand the children's’ critical thinking and analysis skills. This same summer Julia worked for Anthropologie as a display intern. In between all this Julia has worked on the sets of several movies doing costumes, photography, and production work, and in addition to working at the Handwork Studio this past summer, she was the blogger and insight editor for one of her professors, who sells tufting guns. Handwork, she says, has basically played a roll in all the jobs she has had so far.

As someone who briefly considered going to art school myself, I am genuinely interested in Julia’s choice to go to the Tyler School of Art, which she describes as a very last minute decision. She tells me that she took advanced art in high school but never considered art school because she thought it meant mostly drawing and painting realism and she wasn’t as good at that as she wanted to be. When she was a senior Julia was accepted to Temple University as a biology major, but January of that year she decided impulsively to apply to Tyler and scrambled her portfolio together in a month. “It was the smartest and the dumbest thing I’ve ever done,” she laughs when I tell her how impressive that is.

HWHaines12-1Once she got to Tyler, Julia never took any class or experience for granted because she just got in “by the skin of my teeth - the day before the deadline-” so she was open to any and all critique about her work. When I ask her what her typical day looks like, Julia tells me that her class schedule is pretty low maintenance - three studio classes a semester, each two and a half hours long and twice a week, and then two or three other classes that occur one to three times a week. This past year Julia went to the studio every day after classes, especially when she was busy preparing for her thesis show between November and January, and she easily spent 40 hours there each week. She admits that spending so much time in the studio can sometimes be rough, but that having friends both in the studio to keep her company and friends outside of the art school to keep her grounded and supports her makes it better. “If you love it, it’s fine,” she tells me. “It’s the only time that your only obligation is just to make art and if you don’t take advantage of it, you’re not being smart. At the end of the day, it’s fun.”

 

Julia’s Art

IMG_0719+copy+2I ask Julia to describe her art, and from where she draws inspiration. Does she have a theme that most of her art revolves around? Has that developed with college? “I’ve reached the most mature phase of my art where there’s this theme I’m really engaged with,” she tells me, “And mediums I’m very committed to so I’m able to compound my work one on top of another.” She warns me that she’s essentially reciting her artist’s statement and can send it to me if I’d like (she does!), but explains the concepts behind her art anyway.

“I’m inspired by the impact that genetics play in our lives, both biologically, geographically, and politically. I draw a lot of inspiration from my mom’s side of the family who immigrated to the US at the turn of the century to a coal town and exploring how each generation changes but how these initial industrial towns that were hubs of immigration have gone into a decline and that is often politicized by all sides of the political spectrum. I’m sort of evaluating the romanticization of these industrial towns and how they impact the future generations. And the mediums that I work in to explore this theme are screen prints that I print on fabric, and these prints are derived from photographs that I’ve taken specifically of the town that my great-grandparents and my grandparents grew up in, specifically their blocks and their houses. And I’m especially fascinated with these very small but beautiful details in architecture such as shingles or molding that I then try to extrapolate on a much larger scale either through installation or soft sculpture. And I play with either very muted or very vivid colors depending on what emotion I’m trying to evoke with the piece.”HWHaines11-1

I’m impressed that she can speak so openly and eloquently about her art considering it’s difficult to analyze your own work, and she tells me that it definitely took her a long time to focus on that theme. When you first go to art school, she says, people are “making art about just anything” and she got caught up in that wave, because “it’s hard to be introspective and not oversimplify yourself.” Over the years she’s focused more on making art for herself and not for others, and, in her words, “a lot has changed politically since I entered freshman year in 2014,” she is now more interested in “why politicians target these towns and what they had to gain from them.”


Trials and Successes

HWHaines001I warn Julia that we’re getting to the end of my long list of questions, but that I still have a few important ones left. I ask her what she’s done that she’s the proudest of in the last few years, and she says her thesis show without hesitation. Many complications went into the show, and she spent a wild two months putting it together, but in the end, it was worth all the stress. She tells me that she took a lot of things that were painful to her and translated them to a large-scale installation - larger scale than she had ever done before - and it turned out great. After her thesis show, Julia had to prepare for another show in April, and she said that through all this stress she learned how to trust her decisions more.

When I ask Julia what she wishes she could change about the last few years, she answers me easily, and confidently. “I could be hard on myself and I could say ‘I wish you were more honest with your art practice and you weren’t trying to make art for other people and you were just focusing on yourself first and other people second.’ Because I feel like at the beginning I was very focused on what my critique would be like and what people would think of it, not necessarily what I even thought of it. I was just picking stuff that I thought looked good or was pretty. So if I could, I would go back and change that, but I feel like that’s just something that happens with time and there's no point in being sad about that. I would have been more selective about some of the people I chose to spend my time with. I think your gut instincts are usually correct about people, and I should have relied on those instincts more. Academics wise I wouldn’t really change anything. I think things happened the way they were supposed to.”HWHaines004

I think that’s a great philosophy, and I tell her so, and she, humbly, shakes her head and thanks me.

Finally, we reach the last of my many questions. Does Julia have anything else to say about the Handwork Studio? She thinks for a good moment before telling me that being back at the Handwork Studio and in that community of educators has been wonderful and that it is great to see people’s passion and how much they support each other.

“[The Handwork Studio] definitely changed a lot of things about my life, and I know it will change things about other people’s lives too.”


Photo 1: Portrait of Julia Haines
Photo 2: Julia with her project, "In This Last of Meeting Places," 2018
Photo 3: Piece from "In This Last of Meeting Places," 2018
Photo 4: Piece from "In This Last of Meeting Places," 2018
Photo 5: Piece from "In This Last of Meeting Places," 2018
Photo 6: Piece from "Point of Replication," 201
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Photo 7: Piece from "Point of Replication," 2018

Tags: Alumni, Alumni Profile Series, The Handwork Studio, Handwork, Profile, Julia Haines

The Handwork Stories: Julia Yosen

Posted by Mattie Solomon on Sun, Sep 16, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

In this series we have been sharing stories about the people and places where The Handwork Studio team members find inspiration for their craft. In order to expand our community we will explore the different ways that people got their start in sewing, knitting, and other needlework crafts. This series explores the art that goes behind this craft and understanding the sources of inspiration for different people, and this week will be introducing you to Julia Yosen! 

“For the Love of Teaching”

After graduating college with a fine arts degree, Julia Yosen found herself at a quarter life crisis asking herself, “What am I supposed to do with this?” This all too familiar end of college standstill is something that a lot of art students face, and leaves many with the question: well, what about teaching?

164085_512037776023_2250635_n (1)For Julia, teaching seemed to be the best option, but in that choice lies a path that she believed to be quite limiting. Julia moved from Vermont back to her hometown in Pennsylvania in 2006, and it was while she was working at a Joann Fabric, that The Handwork Studio fell into her view.

An almost serendipitous job opportunity was presented to her, and in that job, she could connect some of the many things that she feels connected to and is so passionate about. Melissa, a teacher at the Handwork Studio, connected with Julia while she was working at the cutting counter at the Joann Fabric. Melissa opened up an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of something that would “revolutionize needle arts.” With a dream to connect a new generation of kids to needle arts, Julia jumped at the prospect of being an instructor for one of the first workshops and programs The Handwork Studio ever held. That was when her start with The Handwork Studio began, but her connection to needle arts and crafting goes back a little earlier.

Julia first fell in love with crafting as she walked through the aisles of an A.C Moore. The arts & craft store’s endless creative possibilities excited the crafting gene in Julia. Two of her best friends and her would go down into her basement and move from one project to the next, which mimics the kind of collaboration and creative exploration that she would be facilitating at The Handwork Studio camps some years later.

Whether it was making clothes for their American Girl dolls by cutting up a box of their old clothes or making pig puppets they found in the back of the book, The Wonderful Pigs of Jillian Jigs, they were never short of crafts to tackle. “It was always the three of us in our basement, making all of these terrible projects. We would stay down there for hours,” said Julia, and it was here that she caught the bug for crafting.

As a kid who would always be starting her next project, Julia believes that there is something so empowering about creating something on your own. When you use your own hands to create something, there is a lot of pride that goes along with that. Julia did not discover her love for arts and crafts on her own but dedicates a lot of it to the things her mother and grandmother taught her when she was young.

Julia said her mother was always crafty, and her grandmother was a great painter who also taught her how to cross stitch. Although she says she was not that great at it, there is still something so powerful when having someone teach you a craft such as this. Although she originally thought teaching was something quite limiting, Julia has now come to understand the power of teaching needle arts to those who may not have had the same childhood she did.

“You want to be that inspirational person for these kids, and you want to create that environment where they are going to be excited about what they are doing,” says Julia while discussing her passion for working with The Handwork Studio. Even though it may not be where she thought she would be, having the ability to inspire a new generation of crafters fills Julia with an undeniable excitement. Julia believes that a lot of this creativity starts off “when we were little, and we are crafting and exploring,” and over the years, Julia has helped many little ones find their own creative gene within.

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Click here for a look at our summer sewing camp options for your child. Also, be sure to check out our store and our new partnership with Simplicity Sewing Patterns

Tags: The Handwork Stories, sewmorelove

Upgrade Your Back-to-School Wardrobe! 10 Fun & Crafty Ways to Upcycle Clothing

Posted by Marjanna Smith on Sun, Sep 02, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

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                      Source: Google Images

Looking for a fun, unique way to be creative with your family? How about a cheap and eco-friendly one? Try upcycling, the perfect combination of originality, creativity, and sustainability for you to try with your kids. Read on to find out what it is and how you can do it at home.

What is Upcycling?

Upcycling is the reuse or repurposing of an old object into a product that is more useful or more beautiful than the original. Upcycling can be super simple and kid-friendly -- for example, instead of throwing out old CDs and magazines, you can make them into mosaic picture frames and woven coasters. It can also be more complex, such as repainting and repairing a piece of furniture instead of kicking it to the curb.

Why is Upcycling Important?

You may be thinking, “Why should I take the time to upcycle? Isn’t recycling good enough?” Well, there are a lot of reasons why upcycling is so important. First, let’s establish the difference between recycling and upcycling. While recycling involves breaking down material to be reused (which decreases the material’s value), upcycling is all about finding new, creative ways to reuse the material (thus increasing its value)! So, like recycling, upcycling reduces the amount of landfill waste you generate; however, upcycling also creates a new product that has a functional and/or decorative use.

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                        Source: Google Images

Next, let’s talk about waste. Remember that helpful catchphrase that everyone uses when talking about how to be more eco-friendly? Reduce, reuse, recycle! Well, I recently learned that these three actions are actually in order of importance. First and foremost, we should make the effort to reduce the amount of things we buy and resources we use (i.e., taking shorter showers and avoiding impulse purchases that we don’t really need). Next is reusing, which includes upcycling! Last is recycling -- so, while it's obviously important to recycle, it is more important to prioritize those first two steps over recycling.  

What Can I Upcycle? Why Should I Upcycle Clothes?

Upcycling can be done with any object or material you can think of -- if you can repurpose, modify, or personalize it, you can upcycle it. For this post, I decided to focus on a popular material of choice for "upcyclers": clothing. Clothing is a great medium for upcycling because it is versatile, available, and can be modified in an infinite number of ways. Clothing is also a big issue when it comes to keeping our planet clean. In 2014, the U.S. alone generated approximately 32.44 billion pounds of textile waste even though 95% of all textiles have the potential to be reused or recycled. This number will only continue to increase unless we raise awareness of this issue and the different ways we can reduce, reuse, and recycle clothing.

Now that you’ve learned how upcycling is an economical, eco-friendly, and creative activity, you must be ready for some inspiration! Whether you have thrift store finds, hand-me-downs, or old clothes of your own, here are 10 different ways you can upcycle them with your kids.

1. Tie-Dye

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Tie-dye is a fun, kid-friendly way to upcycle that never goes out of style. This easy DIY will instantly upgrade any plain, light-colored clothes (and it can camouflage stains). Dye a t-shirt, tank top, skirt, pair of leggings -- or even accessories like headbands or socks! Thinking outside the box is encouraged. Let your kids’ imaginations lead the way as they combine colors and patterns into their own custom work of wearable art. Check out this guide to tie-dye for plenty of tips, tricks, and pattern ideas.

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Don’t have any white clothes laying around? Don’t worry! If you have solid-colored clothing, try tie-dyeing with bleach for a new twist on this classic activity.

2. Freezer Paper Stencil

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Who knew that you could use freezer paper and paint to add a design to a t-shirt? I didn’t until I found this tutorial on how to do it, and it looks as simple and fun as the pictured results.

3. T-Shirt Tote Bag

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Basically all you need to make this tote bag is an old t-shirt, sharp scissors, and 10 minutes. This no-sew project is a great way to repurpose a t-shirt that is too big or no longer worn.

4. Patches, Pins, and Appliques

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Personalize an old hand-me-down (or even cover up stains or holes) by adding some 3D art to your clothes! You can buy patches, pins, and appliques at craft stores and online, or you can make them yourself! See this tutorial for no-sew felt appliques and this tutorial for no-sew fabric flowers. And if you’re up to the challenge, you can try making embroidered patches by hand.

5. Stamped Clothes

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To make your own printed clothing, all you need is a stamp and some paint! You can buy stamps of all kinds at your local craft store, or you can make a quick DIY stamp out of a kitchen sponge, sponge brush, or even a potato! Then simply dip your stamp in acrylic or fabric paint and press it onto any piece of clothing that you want to make 100% cuter.

6.Throw Pillow

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Your child doesn’t have to say goodbye to that beloved t-shirt that has become too small to wear -- preserve it as a throw pillow! Try the no-sew, hand sewed, and machine sewed version depending on your available equipment and skill level. Leave the shirt plain or embellish it with buttons, sequins, fabric stickers, or paint designs! 

7. Unconventional Dye Techniques

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Looking for something different from the average tie-dye or bleach methods? Try using some Elmer’s glue to draw a design or make a pattern with found objects and let the sun do the work!

8. T-Shirt and Tank Top Upgrades

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Cutting up a top is a surprisingly popular DIY project -- and there are sooo many ways to do it. Turn a regular old t-shirt into a cold shoulder top, workout tank, or tie-front tank. Also, don’t hesitate to explore the internet for hundreds of other ideas.

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If you're looking to use an old shirt in a completely new way, you can repurpose t-shirt fabric! From a simple headband to a woven pillow, t-shirt “yarn” has many colorful and practical applications.

9. Peplum Shirt

peplumtutorial

Embrace the timeless style of a peplum shape in your upcycling endeavors! Convert an oversized t-shirt into a peplum top or increase the charm (and length!) of a shirt by adding a different colored fabric for a trendy color block effect. While this project can be created through hand sewing, it is also an excellent way to practice and develop basic machine sewing skills.

10. Denim Shorts Upgrades

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Cut an old pair of jeans into shorts and make them stylish using a variety of techniques! This video shows how to do modifications such as adding lace, bleaching, painting, and adding patterned fabric.

 

Have fun with your new, upcycled clothes! And don’t forget to share your upcycling projects with us on Instagram using the hashtag #SewMoreLove so we can see your wonderful creations!

If you and your family is feeling inspired after your adventures in upcycling, make sure to check out The Handwork Studio’s camps and classes so your child can continue to make more handmade art! Our students flourish in our nurturing environment, and we encourage creativity and original projects while developing handwork and needlework techniques for multiple skill levels.

Tags: sewmorelove, Machine Sewing, Studio, Gifts, Kids' craft class, tie-dye, Upcycling, Embroidering, Kids Activities, Eco Fashion, Inspiration, Fall, embroidery, teach kids to knit, fiber arts, stitch, Fall Class, Fall Class Registration, creativity, imagination, How to Tuesday, kids programs, crafts, kids knitting, Kids' craft class, Sewing Machine, Fashion Design, Fashion & Machine Sewing, Fashion Bootcamp, camp, fun kids activities, project ideas, kids, activities, Teen Fashion Bootcamp, Fashion, Fun, Sewing, Knitting, eco friendly, DIY, clothes, clothing, thrifting, back-to-school, blog, blogging, mom blogs, craft blogs, tutorial, upcycle, sustainability, sustainable fashion, kids DIYs, DIY ideas, DIY projects, t shirt DIYs, repurpose clothes, t shirt pillow

Quilting: Learn Its Unique American History and How to Start Making Your Own Quilt Today!

Posted by Cameron Lee on Sun, Aug 26, 2018 @ 10:10 AM

Good morning and welcome to the last of the summer activities blog posts! My final topic is somewhat fitting for these final days of summer vacation as we move into the chilly fall season: quilting! I remember helping to make class quilts when I was in elementary school, so I hope that this post inspires you and your kids to start your own family quilt today.Camper holding memory quilt-674506-edited

A quilt, as defined by Merriam Webster, is a “bed coverlet of two layers of cloth filled with padding (such as down or batting) held in place by ties or stitched designs.” Therefore, quilting is the process of making a quilt! Quilts have three main components: the top, a piece of fabric that is often decorated, the bottom, and the filler, which is the padded section sewn between the top and the bottom to form a kind of sandwich. Quilting has a history that predates the United States, but since the tradition of quilting is so intrinsic to the history of this country, I thought we could start there.

English, Welsh, and Dutch settlers brought their handwork skills with them when they traveled to the New World, as well as their knowledge of the use of padded fabrics in clothes, bedding, and armor all over the world. In the US, quilts had many uses throughout the years, starting mainly as a way to keep people warm at night and prevent cold wind from coming thro

Chintz Whole-Cloth Quilt, circa 1815, United States Courtesy American Folk Art Museum

ugh doors and windows, and evolving into an expressive art form. In the 1700s and 1800s, thousands of quilts were made by women in the US, and many were passed down for centuries.

One of the most popular forms of quilts in the early 1800s was a whole cloth quilt, which was made from a single piece of fabric on the top and another large piece on the bottom, and most of the decoration on this form of quilt was made using corded or padded material. Inspiration for whole cloth quilts came from East Indian fabrics because the highly valued imported Indian cotton was too prized to be cut into pieces. The medallion quilt is anoth

er kind that drew inspiration from Indian art and was decorated with a central image surrounded by other designs. The patchwork or pieced quilt was made from scraps of fabric sewn together, which saved crafters from having to buy large swaths of fabric. The applique quilt, on the other hand, was considered very elegant and was made by using extra pieces of fabric and incredibly detailed needlework to decorate the quilt. Only the wealthy typically had the time and expenses to make this type of quilt. Quilting was so crucial to American communities that it was a tradition for mothers to make their children quilts before they left the house, and for women to sew twelve quilts, including their bridal bed quilt before they were engaged.

“Log Cabin”—Single Block “Courthouse Steps” Variation, by Loretta Pettway, circa 1958Although quilting practices and foundations were brought to the US via European settlers, the country also has a history of African-American quilting traditions that trace back to slavery. Although most textiles in Africa were woven and not quilted, the bold, geometric, colorful aesthetics of fabrics like kente cloth served as inspiration for enslaved women, who were often taught to quilt in order to make help and serve their mistresses.

In the ‘50s and ‘60s, the practice of quilting died off some but came back in the ‘70s and ‘80s as people expressed a desire to return to handwork skills in the face of increased mechanization. Quilting became an important part of the feminist movements in the ‘70s because it served as means of artistic expression, and after the bicentennial celebration of the United States in 1976, it became a representation of national pride and love for the country.

Unlike sewing, the actual process of quilting hasn’t changed too much over the years, so it is a really cool way to feel connected to women who lived hundreds of years ago, and it is also an amazing way to create a family heirloom that can be passed down to your kids, their kids, and their kids! When starting out quilting, the most important tip is to keep it simple. Choose simple patterns with lots of straight lines, rectangles, and squares, use larger pieces of fabric so there will be less sewing involved, and maybe even buy patterns with precut fabrics so that you don’t have to spend time measuring and cutting your own. You will probably need sewing pins, safety pins, sewing scissors, thread, a seam ripper, a measurement tool, a fabric pencil or a marker, and a rotary cutter, as well as your fabric and patterns! The four stages of quilting include preparation, making the quilt top, quilting, and finally binding it all together, and if you can sew a straight line and are willing to follow instructions, you can definitely make your own quilt! Quilt by Emma Redmond

Now that you’ve learned all about the uniquely American history of quilting, you can grab your kids and get started on your own! For detailed quilting instructions, check out this awesome blog or this great article. If you want your child to have handwork experience but you’re not sure about helping them yourself, you can always send them to the Handwork Studio’s amazing classes.

Finally, I hope everyone has an incredible school year! It’s been awesome learning about different kinds of handwork with you this summer, and I hope this blog series inspired you to get out there and try these crafts yourself! As always, post a picture of your incredible creations on Instagram with the hashtag #SewMoreLove so we can see your art! Happy quilting!

Image Descriptions:
1) Camper holding Memory Quilt, Handwork Studio camp
2) Chintz Whole-Cloth Quilt, 1810-1820
3) Quilt by artist Loretta Pettway, 1958 
4) Quilt by artist Emma Redmond

Tags: Quilting, Quilt, Handwork, Memory Quilt, Inspiration, Fun, Summer, Summer Camp, Kids Activities

Learn about Wet Felting and How to Try Out This Awesome Craft Yourself This Summer!

Posted by Cameron Lee on Sun, Aug 19, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

Kid wet felting, Narberth Handwork CampGood morning crafters! Do you remember when we learned about dry felting last week, a technique used to create felt from wool with a barbed needle? Well this week, as promised, we are going to learn about wet felting. Wet felting can be defined as the process of continually rubbing wool fibers together with mild soap and warm water to form a firm, felted object,” and is often better for beginner felters to learn before they start needle felting because it does not involve any sharp objects. The history of wet felting is closely aligned with the history of needle felting - the tents and yurts made by Nomadic people of Asia are most often wet felted - so let’s jump right into talking about the craft! 

Wet felting involves creating rectangular fabric made of several layers of wool (not plant or synthetic fibers because those won’t felt well), applying water and mild soap, and sponging or agitating the wool to encourage the fibers to lock together. In dry felting, the wool is agitated with a needle rather than water, but in the end, you will have a tight, sturdy felt fabric no matter which method you use. By the end of the felting process, the wool can shrink down to more than 50% of its original size, one of the reasons that wet felting is a craft more concerned with the feeling and the process of creation rather than the precision of the end result. (A good felting tip is to measure the size of the layers of wool you create before you begin applying water so you can measure just how much the wool tends to shrink).

I am no expert at wet felting, but I’m going to attempt to share my knowledge of the process with you so you can test it out with your kids at home! First, the materials. Before you start crafting, you need to make sure you have everything you need to felt: wool, a spray bottle, hot water, mild dish soap, a large sheet of bubble wrap, netting or tulle, and a bamboo mat or a towel. You can also grab some scraps of wool or yarn for decoration if you prefer! Once you gather all your materials, you should lay down the mat or towel on a large, flat surface, like the kitchen table, and then place the bubble wrap, bubble side up, on top. Then, after pulling your wool into strips about half a foot long, you can start to lay them down on the bubble wrap, all facing the same direction. Try to make a layer of wool and fill in all the empty gaps, and when you finish with the first layer, you can start the second! The second layer should have the strips of wool oriented 90 degrees to the first layer, so the second layer of strips crosses over the first. Keep creating layers rotated 90 degrees from the one below them until you have four to six layers of wool, all stacked in a rectangle on top of the bubble wrap and the mat! If you want, you can make some designs on top of your wool with the scraps of colorful wool and yarn you gathered earlier! Kid with wet felted creation, Narberth Handwork Camp

Once you’re done with the layers, it’s time for the water. Place the netting or tulle on top of your wool, making sure it is all covered, and then fill your spray bottle with the mild liquid soap and warm water and spray it onto the wool. Use enough water so that the wool gets thoroughly wet, but not so much that water starts to spill out from underneath. After the wool is all wet, gently rub it with your hands. In this part of the process you are agitating the wool, an essential step in creating felt. After about ten minutes you want to roll up your mat (or towel) with the bubble wrap and wool inside, making sure that the roll is tight. Slide some rubber bands on the rolled mat or towel to keep it together, and roll the whole thing back and forth across the table for ten or so minutes, then unroll the mat or towel and flip the felt over before rolling it up and rolling it around for ten more minutes. After you’ve rolled both sides, unroll the mat or towel, carefully separate the felt from the bubble wrap and netting, and then gently rinse the soap out in tepid water. Once all the soap is gone, carefully squeeze out the water, and roll out the felt again on the mat to flatten it before leaving it out to dry!

Artist Andrea Graham's Wet Felted Art

Once again, there are many different ways to wet felt and dozens of tutorials to follow, but I hope my tips and tricks helped. If you want to try a slightly different, simpler kind of wet felting, check out The Handwork Studio’s YouTube tutorial on how to get started! If you already have some understanding of how to felt and are looking for inspiration for new projects, take a look at this amazing list of wet felting projects or this slideshow of great felt creations to try!

We hope that this blog post convinces you to get out there and try wet felting today. Incredible felt artists like these inspire me to try this craft one day, and I hope they inspire you too! If you want to send your kids to The Handwork Studio this summer to learn how to wet felt, among many other amazing crafts, don’t worry! The summer isn’t over yet! We still offer camps and classes so your kids can have a fantastic experience learning a new, special skill. As always, if you do end up trying a wet felting project, post a picture of your creation on Instagram with the hashtag #SewMoreLove so we can give your art the love it deserves!

Image Descriptions
1) Child in background, rainbow wet felting project in foreground, Handwork Studio camp
2) Child with wet felting project, Handwork Studio camp
3) Wet felt art by Andrea Graham

Tags: Felting, Wet Felting, crafts, Handwork, Inspiration, Summer, Kids Activities, activities, Fun, Summer Camp

Learn about the History of Needle Felting and How to Make Your Own Adorable Felt Creations This Summer!

Posted by Cameron Lee on Sun, Aug 12, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

If you’re like me, the term “felting” might not ring a bell when you first hear it, and you may be confused about its significance. But chances are you have seen a felted creation before and not even realized it!

Martha Stewart penguin needle felting

Felting is the “process of separating, tangling, and relocking animal fibers found in items such as yarn or wool,” and can either be achieved through a wet technique (which we will talk about on the blog next week!) or a dry technique, which is typically done with a needle. When needle felting, t

he crafter uses a special barbed tool to repeatedly stab into the wool, pulling the fiber into itself and ultimately creating a round, firm shape. Once this firm, felted piece of wool is created, you can add more felted shapes or pieces of wool to form a sculpture!

Felting has been around since the Neolithic period, and samples of felting date back to the Bronze and Iron Ages. Felted creations were used to keep people warm and dry during a time when knitting wasn’t yet invented! Nomadic people in Central and East Asia still practice felt making, using the craft to create rugs, tents, and clothing both for themselves and for tourists, and Roman soldiers made breastplates, tunics, boots, and socks out of felt because it is a relatively speedy process that requires fewer tools than some other handwork techniques. Legend has it that Saint Clement of Metz and Saint Christopher filled their sandals with wool while fleeing persecution to protect them from blisters and that at the end of their long journey all the walking and sweat had turned the wool in their shoes to felted socks! These days felting has come back into fashion in Great Britain, Scandinavia, and the United States, and more modern designs and techniques are always being invented to adapt to current felting trends.felted creatures, Narberth handwork studio

Felt is used in anything from cars to musical instruments to picture frames, and to create hats, jackets, decorations, pillows, and bags, but its most exciting usage is probably to create figurines and sculptures! Animals are very popular to make with dry felting because their fuzzy hair and fur is easily copied using wool. Before you start trying to create needle felted sculptures, however, you’ll need some tools. The first thing you should acquire is wool! It may be beneficial to do some research on the best type of wool for felting because there is no general consensus in the felting community on which type of wool is better, but I am confident that you will find the perfect material for your project! Next, you need a felting needle, which has sharp barbs on it that all point in the same direction in order to pull the wool into a firm, sculpted shape. Finally, you should have a foam block or a sponge on which to felt so that you don’t hurt yourself or damage your needle or the table while stabbing your wool.Chick needle felting feltify

Once you’ve gotten your needle felting tools, it’s all about practice! You can start by following this Handwork Studio YouTube tutorial to learn how to make a felted turkey or this YouTube tutorial to learn how to felt an owl, just in time for fall! You can also try these really cool felted spider earrings to get you in the mood for Halloween. If you want to create something more summery, you can also make a chick, a rabbit, or a koala, all out of spheres, or check out this list or this site to find more amazing step-by-step needle felting lessons. Needle felting is an incredible activity to try with your kids this summer, and not only is it fun to pass the time, but they end up with adorable figurines and sculptures at the end! If you’re not so sure about teaching your kids how to needle felt on your own, you can always send them to The Handwork Studio’s camps and classes so they can learn amazing handcraft skills, make friends, and have a wholesome, unique summer experience. If you do try out needle felting, post a picture of your creation on Instagram with the hashtag #SewMoreLove! We would love to see the fantastic things you create. Have a great week, try some needle felting, let us know how it went, and then tune in next week to learn about wet felting! 

Image Descriptions
1) Person dry felting penguin, Martha Stewart
2) Dry felted figures, Narberth Handwork Studio camp
3) Dry felted chick, Feltify
4) Dry felted snails, Narberth Handwork Studio camp

Felted snails, Narberth handwork studio

Tags: Felting, Dry Felting, Needle Felting, Handwork, The Handwork Studio, Kids Activities, activities, Fun, Summer