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

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

Maker Monday: NYC City Fashion Designer Lizzy Gee

Posted by Kelsey Underwood on Mon, Jun 19, 2017 @ 11:00 AM

http://www.lizzygee.com/

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Name: Lizzy Gee

Age: 21

School: Pratt Institute

Studio Location: Brooklyn, NY

Website: http://www.lizzygee.com/

Bio: Lizzy Gee, a rising senior fashion design student at Pratt Institute, has been creating as long as she can remember. She discovered fashion design at The Handwork Studio at the age of eight.

 

 

Fashion Design

Lizzy describes fashion in two words: “wearable art.”

“I discovered fashion design was my favorite form of creating since it combines function and art,” she said.

A comprehensive process, fashion design involves numerous skills to transform sketches into fashion pieces that speak the creator’s vision.

“There's illustration, digital illustration, technical drawing, print design, machine sewing, hand sewing, and so on,” Lizzy said. “Some designers are better at certain stages of the process, compared to others, which helps to differentiate their aesthetic (from other designers).” 

Design Inspiration

Personal experiences and interests inspire Lizzy’s fashion design concepts.

“Anything can possibly inspire me, but overall beauty, love, and humor are the main elements where I find inspiration,” Lizzy said.  

Unique mixes of these elements generate Lizzy’s brilliant ideas--typically involving a story--that she then tells through her designs.

Top DesignLizzy Gee Romper

Lizzy takes most pride in her Rainbow Ruination Romper. 

“It combines much of what I try to achieve through concept and function,” she said. “I designed all textiles as well as the silhouette to show the colorful pollution that is hurting our environment by creating textile patterns with my photography and a silhouette that references hazmat suits used for environmental cleanup.”    

In addition to telling an environmental message, the entirely organic romper provides functional sustainability through the bodice’s ability to transform into various styles. 

Design Challenges   

Lizzy Gee DesignLizzy believes challenges are part of the fashion designer job description.

“Part of the fun with design is to challenge my craft in order to improve,” she said. “I love designing for people in all walks of life, so, in order to see how my ideas transcend different body types and occasions, I must research and plan my design in order to avoid issues once gone on to construct.”     

One of Lizzy’s most recent capsule collections consisted of menswear pieces, new territory for the designer who typically constructs unixsex or womenswear.  

“Even though I was much more anxious to combine my style with menswear, after researching to solidify my line up and creating samples of the garments to fit on the model, the collection came together,” Lizzy said. “I felt even more satisfied with the final product by having overcome the obstacles.”

Everyday Design

Living in an exciting place like Brooklyn, Lizzy has inspiration and ideas constantly around her. She captures all her findings with her camera and files them at her studio.

“I am lucky to have found a profession I love to do even in my free time,”she said. “ I can have a drink with a mini-umbrella, put on a playlist, and sketch new designs anywhere I go."

Design Advice

Lizzy Gee 3.jpegWhen it comes to advice for future fashion designers, Lizzy said, “Try not to listen to others expectations or judgments until you have listened to your own. If what you dream is less practical, you can make it practical by showing the world it can be done. Take every opportunity that has the potential to help you achieve your dream. It may not happen overnight, but determination is what builds your dreams. And most importantly, have a ton of fun!”


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

Want your children to learn and be inspired in the same classes that jumpstarted Lizzy's passion for sewing and fashion? You can find our fall classes here. For project ideas join our You Tube Channel or visit our Store.

#TheHandworkStudio #Narthberth #FallSession #HandworkandMachineSewing #FashionandMachineSewing #DesignStudio #KnittingStudio #HomeschoolerClasses #KidsCanSew # Workshops #BirthdayParties #Pratt 

 

 

 

Tags: kids art classes in narberth pennsylvania, Kids Birthday Parties, Fall Class, Fall Class Registration, Machine Sewing, Design, machine sewing classes begin, Classes, Fall, Open Design Studio, Narberth, Knitting, Fashion, The Handwork Studio, Fashion & Machine Sewing, Sewing Machine, Narberth kids' activities, Philadelphia, Narberth, PA

Why summer camp is the perfect place for kids to discover their true passions

Posted by Libby Foxman on Tue, Aug 02, 2016 @ 11:00 AM

It is typical of children to have a new interest every week. They are constantly exposed to new and exciting things. However, it is also during this period that a lot of children find their true passions. At summer camps, children are exposed to a lot of new activities where they are constantly learning things, which make it a great place to discover what they are truly passionate about.

 

They Will Try Many New Things

            At any type of summer camp, whether it is a sleep away camp, day camp, or specialty camp, campers will constantly be exposed to new things. This can include sports, arts, theatre, and even people. The exposure to new activities and people will allow young campers to learn about things that they haven’t before. As they see their new friends at camp trying the new activities, they will be encouraged to do the same. Hopefully one of the new activities will become a life long passion for a camper.

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Creative and fun environment

            Summer camp is supposed to be a fun and stress free environment. This atmosphere allows children to try new things without having to worry about being tested on it. The fresh, exciting atmosphere of summer camp will encourage children’s creativity so that they are able to really explore all of the new things they are participating in. In this creative and supportive environment, campers may experience a new excitement for any activity they try. This environment won’t make children feel self-conscious when they are trying something that they don’t know how to do. Instead, both counselors and campers will support them in the new activity by providing guidance and encouragement.

 

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They are out of their comfort zone

            Great things can happen when a person ventures outside their comfort zone. For a lot of young children, going to camp is one of the first times they are away from home. They are in a new setting with new people participating in new activities. For these reasons, summer camp is a great place to do things you are not accustomed to doing. Whether it is trying out for the camp play or playing a new sport, campers are required to do something where they are not comfortable. While this may be scary at first, once they decide to try, they may find that they love it.

 

            At The Handwork Studio, campers are taught new skills and are given the chance to create their own handmade projects to bring home. These skills can give them a great introduction into needle art, machine sewing, and fashion. If you think your child would be interested in any of The Handwork Studio’s programs, visit our website or call 610-660-9600 to get more information.

Tags: Machine Sewing, Summer Camp, Kids Camp, Fashion, The Handwork Studio, Sewing Machine

Fashion Bootcamp Runway Show @ Sidwell Summer

Posted by Megan DiFeo on Fri, Jul 25, 2014 @ 11:14 AM

Fashion Bootcamp Sidwell Friends This was our first summer offering Fashion Bootcamp With Sidwell Summer in Washington DC. The program was a huge success and we are so grateful to each of our eight Fashion Bootcampers for really bringing so much inspiration and talent to the sewing table.

The Campers worked with Miss Linda Lee who brings over 40 years experience in the Fashion Industry to the classroom.  Miss Linda led each of our campers through an amazing design journey where they created inspiration boards and then worked to sketch their designs. Once the concept was on paper they had a workshop with Jay Mccarroll, Season one Winner of Project Runway.

They gathered lists of of their sewing supplies and started to understand the fundamentals of bringing their collection to life. Once the lists were created, they took a field trip to fabric stores where they could source their design supplies.

The program culminated with an amazing fashion runway show where they shared their designs with family, friends, and other campers. Want to see the whole Fashion Bootcamp photo gallery? Just use the link below to jump over to our Facebook Page.

Thank you to each of our Fashion Bootcap Designers that made this first time program at Sidwell Summer a huge success!

 

Post by The Handwork Studio.

Tags: Summer Camp, Sewing, Sidwell Summer, Fashion Bootcamp, Fashion & Machine Sewing, Fashion Design, Sewing Machine

What Kind of Sewing Machine Should I Buy My Child?

Posted by Megan DiFeo on Wed, Jul 02, 2014 @ 07:00 AM

Gary Eagle EnersaveEach summer we work with thousands of campers to teach them all about machine sewing and needle arts. To do this, we have to have a lot of sewing machines; almost 200. Our machines stand the test of time and that is thanks in large part to the amazing quality of the Janome brand. However, we also have a machine sewing magician of sorts in Gary O'Connor from Eagle Enversave. Gary works dilligiently each spring to go through a thorough matenance process on every single one of our machines. All machines are purchased and maintained by Gary. To say we couldn't do this without Gary is an understatment. His work and support helps make machine sewing a reality at The Handwork Studio.

Eagle Enersave is located in Drexel Hill, PA and has been in the industry for 40 years. Eagle Enersave only sells the best, most reliable machines because they offer free service and we could not do that with inferior products According to Gary, keeping customers happy is always a good idea. On partnering with The Handwork Studio Gary says, " I think it is wonderful that you folks are creating a fun, interesting place for young people to cultivate these skills. Too many schools have decided these programs are not as important as others.The satisfaction these children get from their new skills is priceless." If you visit his store you are likely to meet his adorable dog, Trevor who is pictured above.

We are often asked which sewing machine parents should purchase for their child. The machine we've chosen to work with  is the Janome MyStyle 100. It is a simple basic workhorse. We love this machine because kids can grow with this machine as their understanding of machine sewing increases. Most importantly, these machines can take a lot of work, which is an important factor for us since we run so many programs throughout the year. This machine has a drop down bobin which minimizes jamming. Most importantly, the MyStyle is a real sewing machine that is built with quality and durability. Most sewing machines you see for kids are much more similar to toy machines that are generally inexpensivily made. These lower grade sewing machine will be frustratinf for a beginner sewer because they will not opearte with ease. Meeting frustration at every turn cab be a huge detterant in learning to machine sew. This is why it is important to us to have your child work with a machine that results in an easy-understanding of machine sewing mechanics and produces a professional grade stitch. We've included a quick video that gives you an overview of how simple the MyStyle is to operate!

If you are interested in a Janome MyStyle, we highly reccomend you order your machine from Gary at Eagle Enersave. If you aren't local, Gary will have your new machine shipped to you.

If your child is showing an interest in sewing or fashion design, consider enrolling them in our Fashion & Machine Summer Camp Program. Please contact us if you have any questions about purchasing your new machine or in regards to summer camp. We are happy to help in any way we can.

Tags: Eagle Enersave, Janome, Summer Camp, Sewing Machine