Purls of Wisdom

Machine Sewing: Learn Its Wild History and Why You Should Try It This Summer!

Posted by Cameron Lee on Sun, Jul 29, 2018 @ 10:10 AM

What enjoyable, kid-friendly summer activity has a history filled with theft, sabotage, and fortune? Your first thought might be that there aren’t any, but it might surprise you, as it surprised me, to find out that machine sewing fits all those categories! How is that possible, you might ask? Keep reading to find out more, and learn how to teach your kids to machine sew today. hands using sewing machine, close up

As I mentioned, machine sewing has a long and rather complicated history that originated with hand sewing, something humans have been doing for thousands of years. Early humans used bones and horns for needles and animal sinews for threads. The first real sewing machine was patented in 1755 by a German gentleman named Charles Weisenthal. Weisenthal never actually designed the sewing machine, but he had the idea and acted upon it, so he’s pretty important.

After him came an Englishman named Thomas Saint who in 1790 created plans the first sewing machine. It was to be powered by a hand crank and used for leather and other materials. (Unfortunately, he never built it, but a man named William Newton Wilson made a replica in 1874 based on Saint’s plans, and it actually worked!)

The first truly successful sewing machine came in 1830 when a French tailor called Barthélemy Thimonnier invented a machine with a curved needle that used one thread. The French government patented Thimonnier’s invention and commissioned him to produce uniforms for the French army, but about 200 tailors burned his factory down (with him inside!) because they thought his machine would destroy their business. Luckily Thimonnier survived, but his machines were burnt to a crisp.Painting of Isaac Singer, Singer Company

Ultimately a now famous man named Isaac Singer drew inspiration from the many machine designs and plans that came before him to create the Singer sewing machine. The Singer Company became an incredibly famous and well-loved brand, and Singer died with a personal fortune of $13 million to his name. At a time when the average American household income was $500, Singer managed to sell his machines for $125, and they were extremely popular. Although Singer reportedly didn’t care much about sewing, he did care about money, and he built his company into one of the world’s leading sewing machine suppliers for many years.

Even though the history of the sewing machine is intriguing, to say the least, you might still be wondering why you would need a sewing machine when hand sewing is seemingly less expensive and potentially less challenging to learn, but machine sewing definitely has its benefits. For example, machine sewing can save you money on clothes and other items once you learn how to make them yourself. You and your kids can also customize clothes, blankets, and other items and make them personal to you in a way that store-bought things won’t necessarily be. If you are a non-traditional size you can make clothes that fit you, and express your personal style through special items that you make for yourself! Learning how to machine sew can also save you a trip to the tailor if your child accidentally rips their clothes because then you can fix them right up at home. You and your child might even be able to start a business with your new machine sewing skills, like The Handwork Studio’s very own Anna Welsh, and sell clothes and items you make to friends, family, and others. Like knitting and crocheting, machine sewing also helps strengthen your mind and relieve stress, so in addition to being a fun activity for you and your kids, it is a beneficial one as well!Girl working with sewing machine, The Handwork Studio

If you’re like me and aren’t sure exactly what parts make up a sewing machine, you can check out The Handwork Studio’s YouTube videos on getting to know your machine and its components. Here are a few of the basic parts of the sewing machine to get you started. Sewing machines also allow for crafters to use a variety of stitches! Most machines have settings for straight stitches and zigzag stitches, and higher level machines also have decorative stitches, blind stitches, and stretch stitches. Each stitch has a different use, and once again, it is always beneficial to do some research on which stitches are best for what you and your child are trying to create.

I hope this blog post inspired you and your kids to get informed, go out and buy a sewing machine, and learn how to use it today! If you still want some extra help or guidance, don’t hesitate to check out The Handwork Studio’s camps and classes, particularly the Fashion & Machine Sewing Camp for children ages 9-15, and our line of Simplicity Sewing Patterns. We can’t want to see what you and your kids dream up with your new sewing machine skills. If you want to share anything with us, post it on Instagram with the hashtag #SewMoreLove! Happy sewing!

sewing machine with Handwork Studio Simplicity Sewing PatternImage Descriptions
1) Close up, hands using sewing machine
2) Isaac Singer, founder of The Singer Sewing Machine Company
3) Child working on sewing machine at Handwork Studio camp
4) Sewing Machine with a Handwork Studio Simplicity Sewing Pattern 

 

 

Tags: history, Machine Sewing, Summer Camp, Sewing, Fun, Fashion, Summer, Handwork, Fashion & Machine Sewing, Sewing Machine, Inspiration, Kids Activities

Embroidery: Its History, How To Teach Your Kids, and Why It Makes For Great Summer Fun!

Posted by Cameron Lee on Sun, Jul 22, 2018 @ 10:15 AM

So far in this blog series, we’ve learned about kumihimo, knitting, and crocheting. Each is special in its own way and attracts a variety of people, but just in case you aren’t interested in any of those, we thought we would discuss another handwork craft today that’s just a little different from what we’ve talked about before. Here’s a hint: It involves a needle, thread, fabric, and a whole lot of creativity. That’s right: we’re here to talk about embroidery!

Butterfly embroidery, emillieferrisEmbroidery is a personal favorite craft of mine because of the amazing representative capability of the art: you can make a design or pattern with embroidery like you can in kumihimo, knitting, or crocheting, but you can also create a hyper-realistic animal portrait or depict an entire, detailed scene. Embroidery, or “the art or process of forming decorative designs with hand or machine needlework,” employs dozens of different techniques, has an extensive history, and can be used for any number of things. Let’s dive in!

Embroidery is global, and has history all over the world. Ancient Egyptian tomb paintings depict embroidery on clothes, hangings, and tents, and some Ancient Chinese silk robes were decorated with embroidery. In Northern Europe, embroidery mostly focused on Christian themes until the Renaissance, when embroidery became more of an amateur craft rather than a profession and crafters could experiment more with their designs. Certain indigenous tribes in North America practiced quillwork, in which they would embroider skins and bark with porcupine quills, and other North American embroidery practices mimicked European styles, yet tended to be simpler. During the Industrial Revolution, France was the first country to mass produce embroidery through the use of machines.

There are many different ways to embroider, and many different stitches you can use. Embroidery can be done in the crewel style, which uses two wool threads and dates back to medieval periods; you can do needle painting, which is typically used to create realistic images; you can try stumpwork, which creates more dimensional designs; and finally, surface or freestyle embroidery, which encompasses anything else! This style of embroidery is most popular today because it allows crafters the most freedom to explore what they want to design.

There are many kinds of stitches to use when you embroider, but some of the more simpler and more popular ones to teach your kids are the running stitch, the back stitch, and the split stitch. The running stitch is used for outlining and creating straight and curved lines, and there is space in between each stitch. The back stitch is also used for outlining and creating straight and curved lines, and the stitches should be touching.  The split stitch, which you use for outlines, lines, and filling a shape, is created by splitting the last stitch to create the next. If you or your child wants to achieve a specific look, it may be beneficial to research what kind of stitch would work best for your project!

Dog embroidery, The Handwork Studio Although the type of stitch and style of embroidery are necessary to determine before starting a project, it is also important to know how to teach your kids to embroider! In general, it is good to keep your thread from twisting around while you work, keep your hands clean, and create uniform stitches by marking your fabric, but helping kids out with handwork can be particularly challenging, especially if you aren’t familiar with the craft yourself.

When you and your kids start, they should work on fabric scraps and use big stitches to help them get the hang of the movements and processes. Make sure you choose bigger threads, thicker needles, and a medium weight fabric that is easier for kids to hold and use and show them some examples of what they can achieve to get them inspired. Maybe even invite over a friend and make the lesson a fun social event! After making sure your kids understand the dangers of scissors, needles, and other tools you may be using, make sure the lesson is fun and memorable, and choose a time that your child wants to learn so they can get the most out of it.Girl with her embroidery, Garrison Forest Handwork Studio

If you can’t teach your child to embroider yourself this summer, The Handwork Studio has amazing camps and tutorials where they can learn these awesome skills from incredible teachers, surrounded by kids their age! And remember, if you and your child create an embroidery project that they want us to see, post it on Instagram with the hashtag #SewMoreLove! Happy embroidering!

Image Descriptions
1. Embroidery of a butterfly by @emillieferris on Instagram
2. Camper's embroidery, Philadelphia School Handwork Studio
3. Camper with embroidery, Garrison Forest Handwork Studio

Tags: embroidery, Fun, Summer, Handwork, Inspiration, Kids Activities, Embroidering

Crocheting: How It Is Different from Knitting, and Why You Should Try It This Summer!

Posted by Cameron Lee on Sun, Jul 15, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

So you’ve decided to try out handwork with your kids this summer, but you can’t choose between knitting and crocheting. What are the differences? Which is easier? Do they both offer the health benefits that we discovered knitting helps with in our last blog post? If you were never taught the difference between the two, it can be daunting to figure out how to start. You may have a family member that knits or crochets, but you’re not quite sure what goes into the different processes, and you’ve never thought to ask them why they prefer one form of the craft over the other. In this post we’ll explore the history of crocheting together, talk about the differences (and similarities!) between knitting and crocheting, and help you figure out which of the two you’d rather learn first! (If neither seem right for you, check out this blog post on kumihimo, a form of Japanese braiding, and an awesome summer activity for your kids.)Hands crocheting with blue yarn and crochet hook

Crocheting, or the process of making “a piece of needlework by looping thread with a hooked needle,” has history in many countries around the world. A lot less is known about the origins of crocheting than knitting, but some researchers believe that the art originated in Arabia and traveled around the world via Arab trade routes, while others believe crocheting was born in South America or China. Even though the history of crocheting is not very well documented, its role in the world has been very important! After the Irish potato famine in the mid 1800s, for example, families survived on money they made from selling their crochet projects, and when millions of Irish people immigrated to America to escape the famine, they brought crocheting with them.

Early crochet projects were made using anything from hair to grass to animal fur as yarn, and animal bone, horns, old spoons, and wood served as substitutes for the crochet hooks used today. One of the main uses of crocheting in 16th century Europe, for example, was to imitate the fashionable lace that wealthier people could afford, but that people of the lower classes couldn’t. Nowadays people crochet afghans, blankets, scarves, hats, shawls, socks, tote bags, and more!

Now that I’ve told you all about crocheting and knitting, it’s time to learn about the similarities and differences between the two so you can pick which to try first! Both crocheting and knitting can be done by following patterns and you can make mostly the same projects using either technique. They require similar sets of skills - hand-eye coordination, patience, determination to see a project through to the end - and because of this, crocheting offers many of the same health benefits as knitting.

Crocheting and knitting, on the other hand, don’t use all of the same supplies. Instead of using two needles like you do when you hand knit, crocheting is done with a single hook. Although there are knitting machines that help mass produce clothes, no machine has yet been invented that properly mimics crochet stitches, so almost all crocheting is done by hand.  

There is no simple answer to which process is easier: some people find crocheting more natural to pick up and others think knitting is less difficult. Because you can make very similar projects with knitting and crocheting, whether you wish to create a blanket or a hat shouldn’t stop you from exploring one or the other. If you want to help teach your child how to knit, check out our last blog post for some amazing resources on getting started!

Crochet hook and purple yarnIf you wish to try crocheting, you have many options for how to begin! You can send your kids to one of The Handwork Studio’s summer camps where they can learn all sorts of crafts, or you can check out The Handwork Studio’s YouTube tutorial on how to get started crocheting and learn right alongside your kids. No matter which technique you choose to learn and how you decide to explore it, The Handwork Studio will be right by your side with resources and guidance.

If you and your child work on projects that you want to share, post a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #SewMoreLove! We would love to see what you and your young crafters create this summer!

Tags: Knitting, Crochet, Fun, Summer, Handwork, Inspiration, Kids Activities, Crocheting

Knitting: A Fun Summer Activity That’s Also Good for Your Health

Posted by Cameron Lee on Tue, Jul 10, 2018 @ 05:15 PM

Do you ever notice that your child is feeling stress, helplessness, or anxiety? Whether they are caused by school, work, or other daily worries, these negative emotions can sometimes get overwhelming. Everyone has their way of dealing with them, from bubble baths to relaxing yoga to playing sports, but there’s one method of helping eliminate this negativity from your kids’ lives that is a bit more unconventional: Knitting. 

 Stock photo of knitting needles and yarn

Hear me out! Knitting, a process that involves the repeated interlocking of loops of yarn using needles, has been around since the 5th century and spread from the Middle East to Europe to all over the world. People everywhere learned to make sweaters, scarves, socks, and all sorts of things with this handheld craft, and eventually, it became so popular that machines had to be invented to make the process faster. Its popularity only grew and spread with the recent resurgence of handmade knitting, and now it is popular amongst people of all ages!

Knitters and scientists alike have conducted studies, experiments, and research all to figure out if knitting has health benefits, and they discovered some amazing things. One study shows that knitting can “reduce chronic pain, boost mood, reduce stress, treat panic attacks...boost confidence,” and more. The repetitive movements, hand positions, and mental stimulation of knitting can help cheer you up and make you feel safe, and feeling the soft yarn can soothe you and calm you down.

Child (boy) smiling with Wonder Knitter

Another study finds that knitting can prompt your brain to release serotonin, a chemical that affects your mood, and it can also lower your heart rate by 11 beats per minute, creating a sense of calm similar to what you feel when you practice yoga. Knitting is different than yoga, playing music, and other calming activities, however, because research speculates that crafting encourages neural pathways in your brain to stay healthy. This means that knitting can help your brain stay strong as you age, and lessen the chance of memory loss and cognitive impairments.

In addition to being great for your health, knitting is an fantastic skill to learn both for personal gain and to combat loneliness. When you or your child finishes a knitting project, you get to wear your hat or scarf or socks knowing that you made them, or give them to someone else knowing that you gave them something unique that no one else could have done the same. When you are on the bus, or in a car, or in a waiting room, knitting is an amazing conversation starter, in addition to helping you feel productive and pass the time. You and your child can also make friends because of knitting! You could join a knitting club, or attend The Handwork Studio’s classes or camps, and unite with others around a shared love for the craft.Two children (girls) smiling with knitting projects

Whether you or your kids wish to start a new activity, make some friends, strengthen your brain, or simply feel good, knitting is a great solution. You and your child can even improve your bond by learning to knit together by getting your own knitting materials and watching The Handwork Studio’s knitting tutorials. If you are stuck on how to approach teaching your child to knit, check out this article for some tips and tricks to make the process as seamless and happy as possible. Summer is also a great time to try something new, acquire a fun, useful skill, and make memories that your family will cherish forever!

 Two children (girls) smiling with Wonder Knitters

 

Image Descriptions
Image 1: Stock photo of knitting needles and yarn
Image 2: Child smiling with Wonder Knitter
Image 3: Two children smiling with knitting projects
Image 4: Two children smiling with Wonder Knitters

 

 

 

Tags: Summer Camp, Knitting, Fun, Summer, Handwork, Inspiration, Kids Activities, Health Benefits, Health

Summer: Let Kids Relax and Get in the Flow with Ancient Japanese Braiding

Posted by Cameron Lee on Sun, Jul 01, 2018 @ 10:06 AM

Another school year ends, and another summer begins. Suddenly kids are hanging around the house without the daily routine of school and after-school activities, and they may complain that it is too sunny and hot to go outside. Everyone has experienced this phenomenon, whether you are a parent or a kid yourself, and it is easy for kids to get stuck in the endless cycle of sitting in front of the TV in the air-conditioned family room all day, eating snacks and losing all that fantastic free time they were so highly anticipating while still in school.

So many kids spend too much time watching TV or on their phones, letting some of the greatest joys of this time of year pass them by. Having so much time on your hands can seem like a negative when you’re not sure what to fill it with, and although electronics and screen time are a child’s first go to, they can quickly become overused, and prevent kids from participating in activities that they don’t have time to explore during the school year.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that kids should be immersed in activities the first day after school ends - nobody wants to go from the stress and strict routine of school to another strict routine. Summer should be a time for kids to alleviate stress, learn something new, and find tColorful marudai kumihimo braidsheir flowengaging in an activity or passion for which they have so much love that they don’t even notice the time passing.

Being in flow, or experiencing that sense of overwhelming joy that comes from doing something you are really passionate about, is something we don’t incorporate enough in our daily lives, but that can easily be remedied. Activities like kumihimo, an ancient form of Japanese braiding, can help kids find their flow, learn something new, help with fine motor skills, and forget all about that summer slump. Kumihimo dates back well over a thousand years and was traditionally used by Samurai warriors to hold their armor together and provide a grip on their sword hilts. It was even used to prevent tea from being poisoned!

Although handmade kumihimo became less popular over the years as Japanese braiders invented machines to do the braiding, the art is still practiced in Japan (and all over the world) today. People still use kumihimo braids to tie down the wide sashes called obi that go on kimonos and to tie their haori jackets. At the same time, people like Martha Stewart are featuring kumihimo in their magazines and blogs, explaining how to use a kumihimo disc, the modern version of the traditional marudai and takadai stands used to create the braids. 

Kumihimo braid bracelets

Kids can even learn how to do kumihimo themselves through The Handwork Studio’s YouTube channel and at our summer camps. Summer is a time for kids to challenge themselves to try new things and learn new, fun skills, and kumihimo is a great place to start. It is educational, engaging, and kids become a part of an ancient history of Japanese braid-making when they try their hands at the art. Kumihimo braids can be used for all sorts of awesome things like shoelaces, bracelets, necklaces, and bookmarks, and it

Kumihimo braiding discwill feel great for your kids to be able to wear or use something they made. Once they become a master at the braiding technique, they can even try out more complicated and colorful patterns!

So, once again, if your kids are bored at home, watching too much TV and stuck in ruts, you should encourage them to learn kumihimo. Whether they try it on their own by ordering some of our kumihimo materials and following a YouTube tutorial or come to one of The Handwork Studio’s many locations and participate in our summer camps, your kids will find passion in kumihimo, find their flow, and make the most of their summer! 






 

Tags: Kumihimo, Summer Camp, Kids Camp, Fun, Summer, Handwork, Inspiration, Kids Activities