Purls of Wisdom

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


                      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.


                        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


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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

4 Projects to Get Ready For Summer

Posted by Libby Foxman on Tue, Jun 21, 2016 @ 11:00 AM

As the weather continues to heat up, we know that summer is here and with that comes a whole handful of preparations to make sure that your kids are ready for the beach, camp and whatever else you have planned. Here a 4 fun ways to get your kids ready the summer:


Tie-Dye Your Own Beach Towel:

            Rather than going out to buy brand new beach towels that you threw away last summer, find an old white one (or even some old bed sheets) in your linen closet and tie-dye it! You can roll up the towels however you want and tie it up into sections with rubber bands. Once that is done, get your tie-dye ready – it is probably easier to buy some at a store but there are ways to make your own using food coloring. Now that everything is prepped, put on your gloves and you can start tie dying by squeezing the dye into the each section of the towel! Make it as colorful and crazy as you want but be sure to let it dry for 6-8 hours before untying it and rinsing it off with a hose.




Make a Pillowcase:

            When going away to sleep away camp, its always comforting to bring something personal from home. A great project to do with your camper before they leave for the summer is to make a pillowcase. All you need is two pieces of fabric, needle, thread, and whatever you want to use to decorate your pillowcase. The fabric can come from an old blanket or you can buy it at your local crafts store. To make the pillowcase, measure out the two pieces fabric to be the same size – or a little bit bigger- than your pillow. With your needle and thread, sew three sides of the pillowcase together, leaving one opening at the top for the pillow to fit into. Now that your pillowcase is made, you can decorate it by sewing on other patches of fabric or get iron-on patches. This is a great way to send your kid off to sleep away camp with a little bit of home.



Decorate Your Backpack:

            At summer camp, whether it is sleep away or day camp, campers’ bags usually get thrown in with everyone else’s. So what better way to make your camper’s bag stand out than by decorating it with some patchwork? This is very easy to do and you hardly need to buy anything! You can use the same backpack from the school year and some old t-shirts or blankets. Along with these supplies, you’ll need a sewing needle and thread. Cut up your old t-shirts and blankets into shapes or letters and then sew them directly onto your backpack. This is a great project to get your kid ready and excited for camp this summer!


Make Your Own Sleeping Mask:

            A camper’s bunk at sleep away camp is usually nothing like their bedroom at home. They will probably be in a cabin with the rest of their age group who might be using night-lights and flashlights late into the night. A great project to do before they leave for camp is to make their own sleep mask. It will be a thoughtful reminder of home and help make the night a bit more peaceful. All you’ll need is two pieces of fabric, a piece of elastic, and two cut outs shaped like you mask and then you are ready to sew it all together either with a sewing machine or by hand. Click the image of the sleeping mask to be linked to The Handwork Studio’s How-To-Tuesday video to get a step-by-step tutorial on how to make your own!



If your child has an interest in sewing, design, or any other handwork crafts, go to The Handwork Studio website for our fall and summer camp schedule and live chat with Miss Catalina or call 610.660.9600 to see what would be best for your camper!

Tags: How to Tuesday, Summer Camp, Sewing, Knitting, The Handwork Studio, Summer, fun kids activities, activities, camp, Handwork, tie-dye

Meet The Campers

Posted by Catalina Lassen on Tue, Jun 14, 2016 @ 10:54 AM

       At The Handwork Studio, we pride ourselves on our campers’ enthusiasm, passion, and dedication to what they are learning in their classes. We hope to inspire hard work and creativity into their creations that will lead into a life-long passion. My name is Libby Foxman and I am the Marketing, Public Relations, and Social Media intern at The Handwork Studio this summer. I am excited to be a part of this team and share with you blogs and updates on social media. I first heard of The Handwork Studio from my sisters, Emily and Grace, who took camps here and had amazing experiences.


       Emily Foxman, who is now 22, participated in the Fashion Boot Camp at The Handwork Studio when she was 15. There, she was given the opportunity to design a collection and create 2 dresses. She says that the highlight of the class was visiting Mood Fabric Store in New York City. Emily says that Fashion Boot Camp helped develop her love of fashion and would recommend it because it was “an extremely effective way to learn so much about the fashion industry in one summer.” What Emily had learned in Fashion Boot Camp has made itself relevant in her everyday life. She now has a fashion-focused instagram and blog and enjoys designing her own pieces in her free time.




       My youngest sister, Grace, who is now 12 years old, took Fashion and Machine Sewing Camp at The Handwork Studio. She remembers it as a fun and unique experience. In the class, she was taught to use a sewing machine and the other skills needed in order to create her own projects. The students made laptop cases, bags, and sweat pants. Grace says she “felt fulfilled when [she] was able to make her own things.” Our teachers strive to create this sense of fulfillment in their students because we want them to see how hard work and dedication can pay off. Grace says she would recommend this class to others who want to learn life-long, useful techniques because “it was a fun and unique experience that introduced [her] to great friends.” 




       The Handwork Studio offers a number of summer camps including, Handwork Day Camp, Fashion and Machine Sewing, Fashion Boot Camp, Sew-Tech Camp, and Glamorize Your Doll. Be sure to check out The Handwork Studio website to see the full summer schedule and live chat with Miss Catalina to find the best class for your kids. 



Tags: Sewing, kids, camp, Handwork

Sewing Camp: 3 Benefits of Attending a Sewing Camp

Posted by Laura Kelly on Mon, Jan 25, 2016 @ 03:30 PM

As a parent today, you have a plethora of summer camps, classes, and programs to help build an enriching and fulfilling summer for your children. With so many different options to choose from and some that you didn’t even know existed (hello, handwork camp!), it’s important that you have a complete understanding of what the individual camps offer.


Our favorite type of camp is of course handwork! Sewing camp is a unique opportunity for your children to not only learn a historically important life-skill, but also explore areas of their creativity that other outlets can’t offer. Here are three more benefits of choosing a sewing camp for your kids this summer:

A Step Back From Technology

If technology is the way of the future and the future is now, it makes sense that our children are more tech-savvy than could ever hope to be. They’re growing up in a world without VHS, landlines, and phone books. It’s exciting to see how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time.

But, with all types of progress, it’s important that we still hold dear the foundations of our past. Children (and adults) are building beautiful things with the use of computers, but they can also build equally beautiful things with their hands. Sewing camp isn’t about stitching a straight line; it’s teaching children that with planning, dedication, practice, and a little bit of luck that their straight line will become part of something bigger. A dress, doll, hat, scarf, bag. Reminding children that they are powerful is something that sewing camp does oh, so very well.

A Unique Creative Platform

Creativity is unique experience for everyone. No one on earth will experience the thrill of creation the exact same way. Allowing your creative child to explore multiple platforms to express their own creativity gives them the ability to hone in on what they love most about creating and in which way they love to do it.

Sewing camp goes beyond a pattern and fabric, it opens the possibilities of unique expression through giving children the freedom to create their own clothes, accessories, gifts, etc.

A Whole Lot of Fun!

Last, but never least, sewing camp is fun! What’s the point of spending an entire summer in a camp that is boring, unengaging, or worst downright miserable!?! Sewing machines, professional tools, reams and reams of fabric, buttons of every shape and sizes, beads, glitter, ribbon and hours of guided creation - what could be more fun than that?

Choosing through the many options of camp classes and schedules might seem overwhelming, but having the understanding of what each type offers is the first step. Interested in finding a sewing camp near you? The Handwork Studio offers Summer Camp in 10 states plus Winter Break, Spring Break, classes, parties, Girl Scout visits and Workshops in Narberth, PA! To find a camp near you that offers one of our classesvisit our Locations page!

Find a Camp Location

Tags: Sewing, camp, Fashion & Machine Sewing

Spring Break Camp is Enrolling in Narberth!

Posted by Megan DiFeo on Mon, Mar 16, 2015 @ 08:38 AM

Spring Break Camp

We can feel the weather warming up, can you?  This must meanSpring Break Camp is fast approaching! If you are planning out your child's break, please consider our camps as an option for your child. Camp is offered by the day in our cozy Narberth studio!

Hop over get the details on  Spring Break Camp for ages 5-12.

Narberth Studio

Private Schools: March 18th - March 27th

Public Schools: March 30th - April 1st

Pricing and options in Narberth:


Full Day  

     9:00 - 3:00 PM       


Half Day  

      9:00 - 1:00 PM      



      1:00 - 3:00 PM      



Tags: camp, Spring Break Camp

Summer Camp is Here at The Handwork Studio!

Posted by Megan DiFeo on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 @ 12:00 PM

Summer Camp Opens (1)



It's with great excitement that we share with you our Summer 2015 schedule and announce that our registration is open for many of our locations.

We know as summer creeps closer that many parents like you are trying to schedule their child's activities during the months schools are closed. We are grateful to be a consideration for you and wanted to share a few notes about our summer camps that we thought you might find useful.


1. Craft your child's summer! Our camps are built almost entirely on weekly sessions. This means you can choose as little or as many weeks as the program is offered in your area. This make scheduling your child's summer that much easier. Our only minimum is that there be a full 1-week commitment! It's that simple.


2. BYOH - Bring your own hands! Your child only needs a few things for our camps - an open mind, a set of hands, a lunch and a snack. We've got everything else covered for you and them. Your child doesn't need any previous experience because we've hired trained artists and educators that have extensive knowledge on how to teach these crafting skills to children.


3. Do you need extended day care? Many of the schools and partnerships that host our programming offer these services so that your children have a safe and fun place to hang out while you wrap up your day. Each location page will indicate if extended day care is offered.


4. Did someone say discount? We're currently offering a 20% discount on any Full Day registration paid in full at any of our 14 selected locations. Pick your location, find a program and check out before February 15th. We're happy to help you save!


5. Payment options are back! Spreading your child's camp registration fee over a few months can be relieving! We've got you covered with payment options. Simply choose this option when checking out on our registration site and your card will be charged the initial $100 deposit and the other payments will be spread out evenly moving forward. It's automatic and it's easy! Please note that Full Day Programs are currently discounted and not available for payment plans until February 16th. If you have questions, please call the studio or contact us.

Here's to warmer weather and crafty good times just a few months away!

Tags: Summer Camp, camp

Sneak Peek From Miss April | Fashion Bootcamp

Posted by Julia Yosen on Fri, Apr 18, 2014 @ 02:00 PM

Fashion Design

A Sneak Peek Into April's Studio + New Collection    

Thank you so much for following along with our videos for the last few weeks.  We hope that you've learned more about our Teen Fashion Bootcamp Program in addition to our new instructor and Project Runway All Star, April Johnston.


This week, April invites you into her personal studio to take a sneak peek into a collection she is working on for Fall 2014! This is a special treat indeed and we hope this video inspires you and your chlld to start thinking about the collection they could start designing with Miss April this summer! Click the image above or click here to see what she's working on. 

You can check out past videos on our YouTube Channel here.  


April will be leading the program in our Rosemont location only and space is limited - register today to reserve your seat for this special fashion opportunity.  

Got questions? We've got answers. Simply reply to this email and let us know how we can help! Know someone who might enjoy this video? Forward this message to a friend! You can also call us at the Studio Monday-Friday from 11 am - 7pm at (610)-660-9600.

We hope to see you this summer at Fashion Bootcamp!


Have a great weekend!

Miss Julia

Tags: Machine Sewing, Design, Summer Camp, Fashion, camp, Fashion Bootcamp

Teen Fashion Bootcamp | A Truly Unique Camp Experience

Posted by Megan DiFeo on Sun, Apr 13, 2014 @ 12:30 PM

Fashion Bootcamp 2014

Teen Fasion Bootcamp - A  Truly Unique Experience    

April Johnston, our Teen Fashion Bootcamp Instructor and Project Runway All Star, is back this week with more information on our popular Teen Fashion Bootcamp for kids ages 11-15.

Today's video is all about why The Handwork Studio is a special place and our programming in one-of-a-kind. With over eight years experience, April explores how we work to inspire your child and help take their creativity to the next level. Click here to watch her video!

April will be leading the program in our Rosemont location only and space is limited - register today to reserve your seat for this special fashion opportunity.  

Got questions? We've got answers. Simply call Miss Alexis at the Studio Monday-Friday from 11 am - 7pm at (610)-660-9600.

We'll see you next Friday with another video from Miss April.

Have a great weekend!

Tags: kids programs, Fashion Fashion Bootcamp, Summer Camp, Kids Camp, Fashion, kids, camp, Kids' craft class

Questions To Ask When Searching for Summer Camp

Posted by Megan DiFeo on Fri, Mar 21, 2014 @ 11:59 AM

Questions To Ask For Summer Camp
Knowledge is power and before you register your child for a camp program you should trust that your child will be happy and safe while having an amazing summer camp experience. We've collected a list of some important questions to ask before you register your child for a needle arts, machine sewing or fashion camp program. We included our answers below!

Are you affiliated with the American Camp Association?
Yes. We have been a member for seven years and teach at the local ACA Tri-State Conference each year.

Does your camp carry adequate insurance?
Yes.  We have millions of dollars in insurance coverage

How long has your camp been in existence?
The Handwork Studio has been in business for 13 years and we've been running our camp programs for 9 years.

Does every camper have their own sewing machine?
Yes. In our Fashion and Machine Sewing and Fashion Bootcamp programs, all campers will have their very own machine to work on.

What is your camper to staff ratio?
We have a 6 camper to 1 staff member ratio.

What are the ages and experience requirement for your staff members? 
  • Lead Counselor-  To qualify for this position Applicants must be at least 21 years of age with experience leading a classroom and extensive experience working with children in other setting.  Must be and comfortable teaching many of our crafting techniques.

  • Specialty Counselor-  To qualify for this position applicants must be a minimum of 20 years of age with experience working with children and working with many of our crafting techniques.

  • Junior Counselor-  To qualify for this position applicants must be a minimum of 17 years of age and have a strong desire to work with children and a passion for the needle-arts.

  • Counselor in Training (CIT)-  To qualify for this position applicants must have an interest in working with children and in the needle arts.  Applicants must be between 14-17 years of age.

Do you run background check on your employees?
Yes. For every employee we run comprehensive background checks and contact personal and professional references for the specific regulation required by the state in which the camp is held

Will my child be creating projects all day long?

Children will create projects during certain parts of the day. We also take breaks and eat lunch together. We find that the children enjoy the projects more when they are broken up with other group activities like stories and games.

Tags: Summer Camp, camp

Fashion, Crafting and Machine Sewing Camp Launches Summer 2013

Posted by Laura Kelly on Tue, Jan 15, 2013 @ 10:08 AM

machine sewing camp, fashion camp, teach kids to sew

teach kids to knit, summer camp








Tomorrow Marks the Launch of Summer Camp 2013!

We've been working very hard the past few months to continue to make our programs better and better for you and your children. We know as a parent, you have lots of choices for your kids so we want to wow you by teaching your kids to make really cool projects, have them learn something new, create an environment where they will have a really fun time, and make sure they feel valued and loved with our amazing team of counselors.  We hope you join us!


New Exciting Happenings for Summer 2013:
1) We've kept our full day 2012 pricing the same for the summer 2013 in most all of our locations!  
2) Added New Locations - This year we are happy to work with:
  • Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, PA
  • Park School in Baltimore, MD
  • Lawrenceville Day School in Lawrenceville NJ
  • College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown NJ
  • St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School in Alexandria VA
  • Congressional School in Falls Church VA
  • and back to Newtown Friends School in Newtown PA
3) Of our 26 locations, now 16 of them have before and aftercare!
4) For our Fashion and Machine Sewing Camp,  we will continue to use Simplicity Creative Design Group patterns as well as teach from Brett Bara's book Sewing In a Straight Line.  Brett is a author, television host, blogger and designer and every camper in this program will receive an autographed copy of her book!
sewing straight cover lo
5) Fashion Bootcamp this year continues to offer unique opportunities for young designers interested in the fashion world.  We will again give them access to the industry:
  • meet and talk with designer Tamar Daniel
  • brown bag lunch and discussion with Brett Bara (see above) in NYC and receive an autographed copy of her book
  • tour of the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Arts summer fashion exhibition
  • learn to walk the runway with a fashion model
  • meet with designer Jay McCarroll, season one winner of Project Runway and Fashion Professor at University of Philadelphia.
  • and our annual tours of Philadelphia's Fabric Row and NYC's fashion district  
Our long time student, Lizzy at Miss Crissy's Fashion Show
Miss Eva is in the office Monday-Friday to answer all your questions and help you to register (610)660-9600.  We look forward to working with your kids this summer.  

Tags: Summer Camp, The Handwork Studio, camp