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

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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

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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: 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

Getting ready for another fabulous Summer at The Handwork Studio!

Posted by Melissa Haims on Wed, May 23, 2012 @ 12:42 PM

Summer camp is right around the corner and I've been spending the month of May at Rosemont College in our storage rooms sorting, folding, cutting, piling, and labeling. There has also been an extraordinary amount of shopping, as you can imagine! This image is of the room I'm working in right now!

getting ready for summer camp! 

When I started here 5 years ago we had 2 summer camp loactions; Rosemont College and our studio in Narberth, PA. This summer we will be in 22 locations across 7 states!  I've been sourcing our materials for all of the camps for the last 3 years. Throughout the year my team and I develop a robust curriculum and then research the best vendors to partner with. I look at prices, materials and the manufacturing locations. It's my job to buy the best quality (cottons, wools, bamboo knitting needles) at the lowest costs and pass the  savings on to our clients so our camps can remain affordable. I'm also concerned about sustainability, which might surprise you since (unless you are talking about nature camp) you don't really here about the environment and camp in the same sentence. But... did you know that all of our felt is made from recycled plastic bottles? It is! Additionally, I try to buy local, whenever possible, and I never pay for shipping! (Mostly because I'm buying local and can go pick it up in The Handwork Studio Van!)

The Van!

One of our favorite local vendors is Gaffney Fabrics. I know I’ve blogged about them before, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention them here. As a business partner, The Gaffney family (Joe + Lenore and their daughter, Kate) understands our needs and our students.  The search all year for the fabrics that they think we might like and then we work together to determine costs and quantities. 

I would also be remiss if I didn’t' mention that Kate Gaffney and I went to grade school together and life brought us back together through our business adventures... This photo was taken in the 8th grade. That's me on the left. And yes, Kate is still that much taller than me. But she doesn't have braces anymore.

Miss Melissa and Kate Gaffney

From Fiber Crafts to Fashion Boot Camp, I look forward to sharing our hard work with your campers this summer. 

                      XOXO

                     Miss Melissa

Tags: kids knitting, Story Time, crafts, kids programs, creativity, imagination, teach kids to knit, stitch, Summer Camp, Kids Camp, Sewing, Knitting, Crochet, Fun, kids, fun kids activities, activities, camp, Handwork, Kids' craft class

Crafting Mother's Day - Handwork Studio Style!

Posted by Eva Laverty-Wilson on Wed, May 09, 2012 @ 09:36 PM

This card is made of machine sewn fabric!Happy Mother’s Day everyone!!

As you can only imagine everyone around here at The Handwork Studio loves our mothers. Many of you probably even found your passion for needle arts from your mothers. And we even love each others’ mothers! I can’t even begin to tell you how many great things I had heard about Julia and Alisha’s moms even before I met them! (Hi Randi and Gail!) And then there was that time that Julia and I Skyped with my mom and my cats! Boy, was that funny!

So this Mother’s Day you should show your mother how much you love her! And what's a better way to show her by making her something! I actually got my idea for part of my mother’s day present from The Handwork Studio itself. It is based off of one of the projects we made for Spring Break Camp. We made the cutest ‘Hoppy Spring’ greeting cards that I translated into a card for my mom. You can see my inspiration here at an earlier blog post: Crafting Spring Camp at The Handwork Studio.

I used lots of fabric, did some appliqué, sewed on some paper, gave it some structure with card stock, and presto-chango we had a mother’s day card!! The background of the card is even some vintage fabric I picked up at a tag sale with my mom in my home town.

Sew your own Mother's Day card!

So you can see that you can make your mom a present out of anything! Get creative! And don’t forget about Dad! Father’s Day is right around the corner…

-Miss Amanda

Want to get creative with us this summer? Summer Camp is also right around the corner!

Register Now!


Tags: crafts, creativity, imagination, Sewing, kids, project ideas

The Handwork Studio's 5th Annual Student Art Exhibit...Sew Beautiful!

Posted by Laura Kelly on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 @ 10:08 PM

There’s something to be said for the First Friday’s in Narberth.

The stores are open late, live music fills the air and on that first Friday in May, The Handwork Studio is abuzz with the glowing laughter and pride of our artists.

This year, the studio celebrates it’s 5th annual Student Art Exhibit.  The exhibit is an opportunity for all of our artists to showcase their finest works and share with friends, family and the community at large the fruits of their very crafty labor.  And quite frankly, it’s awesome.

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I hope that you’ll join us this year as our studio is transformed into one of the Main Line’s most exclusive art hangouts on Friday May 4th, from 7pm-9pm.  Come out and enjoy the show!

As we wrap up the 2011/2012 year, we’re looking ahead to Fall 2012 and beyond!  As of May 1st our Fall Session will be available for you take part in.  I recommend that you plan early so that once registration opens you’ll be off and running before you can say “yarn”!  You can register online by clicking here Fall Class Registration

Or you can call us in the studio, we always love speaking with our friends, new and old.

We hope to see you on First Friday!

Tags: kids knitting, handwork classes begin, kids art classes in narberth pennsylvania, Kids Birthday Parties, art exhibit, creativity, imagination, First Friday, Fall Class, Registration, Fall Class Registration, Summer Camp, Narberth, Kids Camp, Crochet, kids, fun kids activities, activities, Narberth kids' activities

Chicken Cube for the Soul | Crafty Creations at The Handwork Studio

Posted by Julia Yosen on Thu, Apr 12, 2012 @ 11:16 PM

How do the sayings go?  No two chicken cubes are alike?  Or, "Is a chicken cube but a chicken cube by any other beak?"  These are deep questions we ponder at The Handwork Studio... 

What I am trying to say, is that when ever we introduce a new project we have an example of what it will look like in the end, this is so everyone can see and understand what they will be making. After six years of running classes at The Handwork Studio, I am still amazed everytime in the way each person interprets the same pattern.    

Over spring break camp this year our Curriculum Director, Melissa Haims designed one of my favorite projects of all time, Bouillon, the Cube Chicken.  This funny creation is basically six squares sewn together to create its cube structure.  What really makes this project interesting is that Buillion does not come to life until you add all the accoutrements.  We provide a shmorgasborg of buttons, embroidery floss, wool roving, felt, etc., etc.  and campers go to town.  All of sudden our plain old cube starts taking on a life of its own.  I will let the pictures speak for themselves to show what a little imagination can turn into.

 Chicken Cube Project  Chicken Cube Project

Chicken Cube! Chicken Cubes

Tags: crafts, spring, creativity, imagination, Kids Camp, Sewing, Fun