Purls of Wisdom

Maker Monday: Eco Fashionista Kelsey Underwood

Posted by Kelsey Underwood on Mon, Jun 12, 2017 @ 11:00 AM


Name: Kelsey Underwood

Age: 21

School: Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)

Studio: The Handwork Studio

Bio: My name is Kelsey Underwood and I am a second year counselor at The Handwork Studio. I am also a fashion merchandising senior at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. Passionate about eco fashion, I recycle old fabric and clothing by transforming them into new pieces.


Scrappy Kid

As a child, I learned how to sew before I learned how to write my name. Since both of my parents worked, my grandparents looked after me during weekdays. My grandma often sewed and mended on her sewing machine. Sitting on the floor right at her feet, I would collect and quilted pieces of her scrap fabric together. My grandma taught me the beauty behind each fabric; telling me stories of when and where she purchased each one.

Fast forward 18 years, I am a two-time top gold Delaware State Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) Recycle and Redesign STAR Event winner, 2013 gold National FCCLA Recycle and Redesign STAR Event winner and 2014 silver National FCCLA Recycle and Redesign STAR Event winner.

Thrifty Inspiration

When planning my designs, I visit thrift stores to search for standout fabrics. When creating eco fashions, I find designing with an open mind is the best approach. Searching for reusable garments in thrift stores with very specific design expectations can cause frustration. The stories of vintage textiles inspire my creations.

A Vision in Curtains

While on a trip at the local thrift store, I spotted pink and silver floral curtains that had a purpose of becoming a chic, European cocktail dress. I am most proud of my curtain cocktail dress not only because it is award-winning, but also because I overcame several obstacles while working through the construction process. 

Working with old fabrics definitely has its challenges. For this particular project, my first challenge occurred while still in the thrift store. The beautiful, pink curtain did not have enough yardage to construct the entire dress. After searching through numerous racks, I found a beautiful white curtain. During the construction process, while stitch ripping a seam, I soon learned that my sewing machine needle left permanent holes in the fabric. Thankfully, I could strategically sewed the new seam on top of the fine holes. This project definitely taught me patience, precision and perseverance.

Teaching Green

As a busy college senior who studies long hours and serves as Collegiate DECA at VCU president, I struggle finding time to sew during the school year. However, my summers working  as a counselor at The Handwork Studio are full of fun, sewing and eco fashion! I always encourage my students to recycle by transforming their scrap fabric into hair accessories, belts, scarves and more. I am so excited to work with such talented and inspiring students again!

To Future Eco Fashionistas

I advise kids who are passionate about both art and eco fashion to set goals, write them down, share them and take action. Your art and contributions, big or small, matter and make a huge impact on the world! Creating eco fashion projects is so rewarding and fulfilling. You not only reduce waste in landfills, but also create a unique, new look!

Be sure to check back every week to meet another amazing maker!

Want your children to learn and be inspired by Kelsey this summer, you can find her at our Avalon, NJ Camp, West Chester, PA and our Newark, DE Camp. For project ideas join our You Tube Channel or visit our Store.
#Avalon #IndependenceSchool #WesterChester #SummerCamp #MachineSewingCamp #CraftCamp #KidsCanSew #VCU

Tags: Machine Sewing, Avalon, Design, Fashion, West Chester, Eco Fashion, Newark

Summer Camp By The Beach | Avalon

Posted by Megan DiFeo on Thu, Jun 26, 2014 @ 09:57 AM

Summer Camp at AvalonOur Summer Camp mascot, Sheepy, loves the beach and so do we! We are pleased to return to Avalon again this year for another fun filled summer learning knitting, crochet, needle felting, machine sewing and fashion design and much more. In addition to Avalon, Camp is now running at multiple locations in Pennsylvania, Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia. You can access a full list of locations here.

There is still plenty of time to register your child for our opening at Avalon next week on Monday, June 30th. You can register online here.

If you have any questions please contact Miss Alexis at the studio- 610.660.9600or simply contact us here.

Here is a closer look at what The Handwork Studio is all about!

Tags: Avalon, Summer Camp

You Can Go Home Again | Summer Camp is Back East!

Posted by Alisha Tillman on Thu, Jul 12, 2012 @ 07:21 AM

There are two phrases about home that have always stuck with me.  One is “There’s no place like home” and the other is “You can’t go home again”.  In spending the last two summers traveling with Miss Julia teaching summer camp, I have learned that they are both true, and at the same time one of them is totally wrong.  Home for us is of course Narberth Pa; with our cozy studio and glass windows that we wave hello through every day, but for Miss Julia and I home is now present in Dallas, Texas and even found us on the beaches of Avalon.

DSCN5326 resized 600

Leaving Dallas was bittersweet, because we have developed such close relationships and bonds there that we know we will be back soon to return to our Texas home.  And while there are 1,000 miles between us now, the anticipation of coming “home” to the northeast was palpable.  While we didn’t make it to Narberth this past week, we did spend the week in Avalon where on the beach one day we bumped into a familiar face that we used to see every Saturday morning in our Handwork Class.  We chatted with her and her family and her mom shared the fun of watching us trek across the country “I’m so glad you’re home!” she exclaimed upon seeing us; and at that point even though we weren’t in Pennsylvania, seeing them made us realize that you can come home again, that there is no place quite like it.


--Miss Alisha

Tags: Dallas, Avalon, Summer Camp, Handwork