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.

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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

How Do You Teach Knitting & Machine Sewing to Kids?

Posted by Laura Kelly on Tue, Jan 22, 2013 @ 11:38 AM

Teaching Kids to KnitHow do you teach your child to knitt?  To machine sew?  To embroider?  It is really very simple and what we do everyday in classes, camps and workshops.  Hint: It isn't about crafting at all.  

 

  1. With patience - Try a new craft and you will remember how frightening it is, how much you don't want to make a mistake, how silly you feel when you don't get it right.  Kids feel all that too.  Make sure you let them know it is ok to make mistakes.  Everyone does.
     
  2. With love - Remember it is about passing something down, not about teaching perfection.  They will ALWAYS remember you were the one that taught them.
     
  3. With fun - Our philosophy is that if we make our classes fun, kids will keep coming back.  If kids keep coming back they will eventually learn with time, with age and with motor skills.  The goal is to keep them coming back!
We hope you will find time to craft with your kids.  You'll get more out of it then they will:)

Tags: kids knitting, education, Kids' craft class

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

Enjoying the Holidays at The Handwork Studio

Posted by Eva Laverty-Wilson on Thu, Dec 22, 2011 @ 08:03 PM

Winter Window Display
Despite the lack of plummeting temperatures and snowy scapes in Narberth, it sure is beginning to look a lot like winter at The Handwork Studio (just take a peek at Miss Julia’s fabulous snow-covered hills and wrapped presents nestled in the windows)! It’s hard not to get into the holiday spirit when events like this month's Dickens Festival, holiday workshops, and hat and scarf making with Alex’s Lemonade Foundation are happening all around us - not to mention Winter Camp this week and next week at the studio!
Julia, Eva, Alisha
Just last week I had the privilege of celebrating the holiday season with some of my favorite people: The Handwork Studio instructors, of course, at our annual holiday party. Amid piles of homemade cookies (we can bake, too!), twinkling lights and a life-size sewing machine cake, we all shared our stories about joining this incredibly unique and ever-growing family. Our team is a truly special group of women who are not only talented but who also share their love of kids. I am so very grateful to share the holidays with them.

As you all prepare for the holiday season, remember we are here to help you entertain your kids during your last minute shopping. Check out our Winter Camp schedule and join the fun, continuing next week. And if you’re still looking for last minute gifts for your favorite crafter, check out our list of this year’s holiday favorites.

Sitting behind the desk, chatting with you on the phone, and working with your children has been a great pleasure this year and I look forward crafting with you all in 2012!

Miss Eva

Tags: fiber arts, Narberth, Kids Camp, Fun, fun kids activities, activities, camp, Narberth kids' activities, Kids' craft class

Kids' Craft Classes: Join the Fun and Bring A Friend!

Posted by Eva Laverty-Wilson on Wed, Nov 16, 2011 @ 05:29 PM

HandWork 199When Miss Laura first asked me to reflect on my crafting experience, I paused - was I really a crafter? As a child, I loved to create, whether that was drawing, making clothes for my dolls, or learning to knit with my mom and friend who lived across the street. Years later at the age of 16, I joined the Handwork Studio as a assistant instructor during the summers, learning along the way from Miss Sally and Miss Julia how to thread a needle and how to work a sewing machine without hopelessly tangling it (and myself) in thread.

Now, six years later, I am thrilled the be back as an adult - it was this warm, lively, and incredibly talented group of women who were the reason why I continually returned year after year. Throughout my childhood and young adulthood, I realized I had undoubtedly been influenced by the crafting community: memorable elementary and middle school art teachers, Handwork Studio instructors and colleagues, and especially my mom, whose interests have ranged from knitting, quilt-making and embroidery to weaving and felting (her current passion), never failing to teach me or ask for my input along the way. Apart our variety of textile talents though, up until last Tuesday, my mom and I shared another similarity: neither of us could crochet. Yet with the help of our own Miss Meredith, I have finally learned! Why am I so excited about this? Finally, after years of learning from my mom, I can finally return the favor.

Who do you love crafting with? We are so excited to announce our first ever “Bring A Friend To Class Week” at the Studio - it’s the perfect opportunity for your kids to share what they learn with us with a friend. It’s so wonderful seeing your kids teach their friends - something we love to do every day!

Interested in joining the fun? View a schedule of Winter Classes, which start December 5th. We can’t wait to see you there!

Tags: b2c, free craft event, Kids' craft class

Kids Craft Class & a Movie at Bryn Mawr Film Institutue this Saturday

Posted by Laura Kelly on Tue, Sep 27, 2011 @ 10:13 PM

 

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One of the greatest things about teaching kids' craft classes is the opportunity we have to partner with great businesses in the area.  This week we are fortunate to work with with The Bryn Mawr Film Institute.  We're kicking off this Halloween month with a movie and craft event on Saturday October 1st. 

This week's movie The Goonies will be playing at 11:00am and after the movie, come out and join us in making prirate masks.  

Here is a description of the movie:

Just as their town is going to be taken over by a country club, Mike and his friends, “The Goonies”, discover an ancient pirate map in the attic. Determined to find the lost treasure of One-Eyed Willie, they face a family of criminals, ancient booby-traps, and sibling rivalry. Starring a young Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Martha Plimpton, and Corey Feldman,The Goonies is an adventure film that’s fun for the whole family.

To learn more about the Bryn Mawr Film Institute Kids Matinees.  We hope to see you there!

Your friends, Miss Julia & Miss Alisha

Tags: fun kids activities, free craft event, Narberth kids' activities, Kids' craft class