Purls of Wisdom

Handmade is Heartfelt: 5 Tips to Guide DIY Gifts

Posted by Laura Kelly on Wed, Nov 21, 2018 @ 07:42 AM

Learn to Sew 5 Holiday Gift Giving Tips

A handmade gift is always a hit. Whether it's for the holiday season, a birthday gift, or even to just celebrate a Tuesday. However, we understand that sometimes going handmade can feel daunting which is why we put together this handy list of 5 practical tips to help you make thoughtful homemade gifts for your loved ones. 

1. Make Your DIY Gift Personal

How you ask?  Become a detective of course! We have found that the best way to pinpoint the perfect gift is to begin by creating lists about your recipient(s). Includes on your list their interests, big upcoming events, and even talk to other people that your recipient(s) are close to.  Sometimes outside perspective can offer a lot of insight. Ultimately, the goal is to find ways to better understand your gift recipient and in return give them a something they will truly appreciate.

2. Bigger is NOT Always Better 

Sometimes grandiose plans can lead to disappointment and frustration. No one needs to ruin  their gift-giving experience with a "Pinterest Fail".  When making gifts, especially if you want to do it for multiple people, think about your timeline (how long do you really have), what materials are accessible to you, how much are you willing to spend, and what skills you are already comfortable with?  Sewing ten king size quilts for your family members might not be a realistic option if you have never sewn before and it is already Dec. 23rd. However, cute patchwork pillows might be perfect for your skillset and super useful, fun, and decorative for the receiver.

3. Learn a New Crafting Skill, It's Healthy!

Even though we just mentioned to think about what skills you are comfortable with, there is nothing wrong with learning something new and using it to help create gifts. While, it might take some time to learn a new technique, often simple versions of many crafting skills can be learned quickly and still allow for you to create a wow gift!  Hats, scarves, pillows are all easy handmade gift ideas that can be really impressive.  Also, as an added benefit to making gifts and learning new craft skills, there are studies that proclaim long term benefits that crafting can be a stress reducer, it can help keep your mind and hands sharp, boost your confidence and much more. See an article on "The Unexpected Benefits of Crafting"

4. Give the Gift that Keeps on Giving and Give the Gift of Creativity! (Say that 5 times fast!)

Sometimes in all the hustle and bustle of life, making a handmade gift is just not in the super fancy scrapbooked cards, so flip the switch and give the gift of creativity!  An experience gift is an awesome way to create lasting memories and make something too!  Think about signing your loved one for a creative class that might match their interests such as cooking, painting and even knitting. Added bonus, sign up for a class together so this can be a special experience for the both of you! 

5. Where To Start?!?! 

Holy Moly, where to even begin on this one. The internet can be a great place to start but we all know that the interwebs can suck us into the black hole of no return and often can lead to being overwhelmed and paralyzed on where to begin.  To help get your footing (or hands!) into the world of Handcrafts, we have a list of Handwork Studio resources to kick your gift-making into gear!  

Handwork Studio Craft Kits and Tools

Handwork Studio Video Tutorials

Simplicity Sewing patterns by The Handwork Studio

Classes and Workshops (Narberth, PA only)

Handwork Studio Pinterest Page  

Another great option to help get you started is is to sign up for Social Media groups that focus around crafting and you will have a whole hive of creative folks to inspire you, offer advice and even  bounce ideas and opinions off of. 

Holiday Gifts for girls Crafting Scarf kit

Devon with her Handmade Hat and Scarf

With all this being said, we know life can get busy and it can be hard to find the time but we want to cheer you on and know we are here to support you in this well worth it endeavor. If you ever have any question for ideas or where to start feel free to reach out to us at support@thehandworkstudio.com.  Here's to a wonderful season of crafty creating!!

Tags: Kids Birthday Parties, Machine Sewing, Summer Camp, Sewing, Gifts

Quilting: Learn Its Unique American History and How to Start Making Your Own Quilt Today!

Posted by Cameron Lee on Sun, Aug 26, 2018 @ 10:10 AM

Good morning and welcome to the last of the summer activities blog posts! My final topic is somewhat fitting for these final days of summer vacation as we move into the chilly fall season: quilting! I remember helping to make class quilts when I was in elementary school, so I hope that this post inspires you and your kids to start your own family quilt today.Camper holding memory quilt-674506-edited

A quilt, as defined by Merriam Webster, is a “bed coverlet of two layers of cloth filled with padding (such as down or batting) held in place by ties or stitched designs.” Therefore, quilting is the process of making a quilt! Quilts have three main components: the top, a piece of fabric that is often decorated, the bottom, and the filler, which is the padded section sewn between the top and the bottom to form a kind of sandwich. Quilting has a history that predates the United States, but since the tradition of quilting is so intrinsic to the history of this country, I thought we could start there.

English, Welsh, and Dutch settlers brought their handwork skills with them when they traveled to the New World, as well as their knowledge of the use of padded fabrics in clothes, bedding, and armor all over the world. In the US, quilts had many uses throughout the years, starting mainly as a way to keep people warm at night and prevent cold wind from coming thro

Chintz Whole-Cloth Quilt, circa 1815, United States Courtesy American Folk Art Museum

ugh doors and windows, and evolving into an expressive art form. In the 1700s and 1800s, thousands of quilts were made by women in the US, and many were passed down for centuries.

One of the most popular forms of quilts in the early 1800s was a whole cloth quilt, which was made from a single piece of fabric on the top and another large piece on the bottom, and most of the decoration on this form of quilt was made using corded or padded material. Inspiration for whole cloth quilts came from East Indian fabrics because the highly valued imported Indian cotton was too prized to be cut into pieces. The medallion quilt is anoth

er kind that drew inspiration from Indian art and was decorated with a central image surrounded by other designs. The patchwork or pieced quilt was made from scraps of fabric sewn together, which saved crafters from having to buy large swaths of fabric. The applique quilt, on the other hand, was considered very elegant and was made by using extra pieces of fabric and incredibly detailed needlework to decorate the quilt. Only the wealthy typically had the time and expenses to make this type of quilt. Quilting was so crucial to American communities that it was a tradition for mothers to make their children quilts before they left the house, and for women to sew twelve quilts, including their bridal bed quilt before they were engaged.

“Log Cabin”—Single Block “Courthouse Steps” Variation, by Loretta Pettway, circa 1958Although quilting practices and foundations were brought to the US via European settlers, the country also has a history of African-American quilting traditions that trace back to slavery. Although most textiles in Africa were woven and not quilted, the bold, geometric, colorful aesthetics of fabrics like kente cloth served as inspiration for enslaved women, who were often taught to quilt in order to make help and serve their mistresses.

In the ‘50s and ‘60s, the practice of quilting died off some but came back in the ‘70s and ‘80s as people expressed a desire to return to handwork skills in the face of increased mechanization. Quilting became an important part of the feminist movements in the ‘70s because it served as means of artistic expression, and after the bicentennial celebration of the United States in 1976, it became a representation of national pride and love for the country.

Unlike sewing, the actual process of quilting hasn’t changed too much over the years, so it is a really cool way to feel connected to women who lived hundreds of years ago, and it is also an amazing way to create a family heirloom that can be passed down to your kids, their kids, and their kids! When starting out quilting, the most important tip is to keep it simple. Choose simple patterns with lots of straight lines, rectangles, and squares, use larger pieces of fabric so there will be less sewing involved, and maybe even buy patterns with precut fabrics so that you don’t have to spend time measuring and cutting your own. You will probably need sewing pins, safety pins, sewing scissors, thread, a seam ripper, a measurement tool, a fabric pencil or a marker, and a rotary cutter, as well as your fabric and patterns! The four stages of quilting include preparation, making the quilt top, quilting, and finally binding it all together, and if you can sew a straight line and are willing to follow instructions, you can definitely make your own quilt! Quilt by Emma Redmond

Now that you’ve learned all about the uniquely American history of quilting, you can grab your kids and get started on your own! For detailed quilting instructions, check out this awesome blog or this great article. If you want your child to have handwork experience but you’re not sure about helping them yourself, you can always send them to the Handwork Studio’s amazing classes.

Finally, I hope everyone has an incredible school year! It’s been awesome learning about different kinds of handwork with you this summer, and I hope this blog series inspired you to get out there and try these crafts yourself! As always, post a picture of your incredible creations on Instagram with the hashtag #SewMoreLove so we can see your art! Happy quilting!

Image Descriptions:
1) Camper holding Memory Quilt, Handwork Studio camp
2) Chintz Whole-Cloth Quilt, 1810-1820
3) Quilt by artist Loretta Pettway, 1958 
4) Quilt by artist Emma Redmond

Tags: Summer Camp, Fun, Summer, Handwork, Inspiration, Kids Activities, Quilt, Memory Quilt, Quilting

Learn about Wet Felting and How to Try Out This Awesome Craft Yourself This Summer!

Posted by Cameron Lee on Sun, Aug 19, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

Kid wet felting, Narberth Handwork CampGood morning crafters! Do you remember when we learned about dry felting last week, a technique used to create felt from wool with a barbed needle? Well this week, as promised, we are going to learn about wet felting. Wet felting can be defined as the process of continually rubbing wool fibers together with mild soap and warm water to form a firm, felted object,” and is often better for beginner felters to learn before they start needle felting because it does not involve any sharp objects. The history of wet felting is closely aligned with the history of needle felting - the tents and yurts made by Nomadic people of Asia are most often wet felted - so let’s jump right into talking about the craft! 

Wet felting involves creating rectangular fabric made of several layers of wool (not plant or synthetic fibers because those won’t felt well), applying water and mild soap, and sponging or agitating the wool to encourage the fibers to lock together. In dry felting, the wool is agitated with a needle rather than water, but in the end, you will have a tight, sturdy felt fabric no matter which method you use. By the end of the felting process, the wool can shrink down to more than 50% of its original size, one of the reasons that wet felting is a craft more concerned with the feeling and the process of creation rather than the precision of the end result. (A good felting tip is to measure the size of the layers of wool you create before you begin applying water so you can measure just how much the wool tends to shrink).

I am no expert at wet felting, but I’m going to attempt to share my knowledge of the process with you so you can test it out with your kids at home! First, the materials. Before you start crafting, you need to make sure you have everything you need to felt: wool, a spray bottle, hot water, mild dish soap, a large sheet of bubble wrap, netting or tulle, and a bamboo mat or a towel. You can also grab some scraps of wool or yarn for decoration if you prefer! Once you gather all your materials, you should lay down the mat or towel on a large, flat surface, like the kitchen table, and then place the bubble wrap, bubble side up, on top. Then, after pulling your wool into strips about half a foot long, you can start to lay them down on the bubble wrap, all facing the same direction. Try to make a layer of wool and fill in all the empty gaps, and when you finish with the first layer, you can start the second! The second layer should have the strips of wool oriented 90 degrees to the first layer, so the second layer of strips crosses over the first. Keep creating layers rotated 90 degrees from the one below them until you have four to six layers of wool, all stacked in a rectangle on top of the bubble wrap and the mat! If you want, you can make some designs on top of your wool with the scraps of colorful wool and yarn you gathered earlier! Kid with wet felted creation, Narberth Handwork Camp

Once you’re done with the layers, it’s time for the water. Place the netting or tulle on top of your wool, making sure it is all covered, and then fill your spray bottle with the mild liquid soap and warm water and spray it onto the wool. Use enough water so that the wool gets thoroughly wet, but not so much that water starts to spill out from underneath. After the wool is all wet, gently rub it with your hands. In this part of the process you are agitating the wool, an essential step in creating felt. After about ten minutes you want to roll up your mat (or towel) with the bubble wrap and wool inside, making sure that the roll is tight. Slide some rubber bands on the rolled mat or towel to keep it together, and roll the whole thing back and forth across the table for ten or so minutes, then unroll the mat or towel and flip the felt over before rolling it up and rolling it around for ten more minutes. After you’ve rolled both sides, unroll the mat or towel, carefully separate the felt from the bubble wrap and netting, and then gently rinse the soap out in tepid water. Once all the soap is gone, carefully squeeze out the water, and roll out the felt again on the mat to flatten it before leaving it out to dry!

Artist Andrea Graham's Wet Felted Art

Once again, there are many different ways to wet felt and dozens of tutorials to follow, but I hope my tips and tricks helped. If you want to try a slightly different, simpler kind of wet felting, check out The Handwork Studio’s YouTube tutorial on how to get started! If you already have some understanding of how to felt and are looking for inspiration for new projects, take a look at this amazing list of wet felting projects or this slideshow of great felt creations to try!

We hope that this blog post convinces you to get out there and try wet felting today. Incredible felt artists like these inspire me to try this craft one day, and I hope they inspire you too! If you want to send your kids to The Handwork Studio this summer to learn how to wet felt, among many other amazing crafts, don’t worry! The summer isn’t over yet! We still offer camps and classes so your kids can have a fantastic experience learning a new, special skill. As always, if you do end up trying a wet felting project, post a picture of your creation on Instagram with the hashtag #SewMoreLove so we can give your art the love it deserves!

Image Descriptions
1) Child in background, rainbow wet felting project in foreground, Handwork Studio camp
2) Child with wet felting project, Handwork Studio camp
3) Wet felt art by Andrea Graham

Tags: crafts, Summer Camp, Fun, Summer, activities, Handwork, Inspiration, Kids Activities, Felting, Wet Felting

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

Knitting: A Fun Summer Activity That’s Also Good for Your Health

Posted by Cameron Lee on Tue, Jul 10, 2018 @ 05:15 PM

Do you ever notice that your child is feeling stress, helplessness, or anxiety? Whether they are caused by school, work, or other daily worries, these negative emotions can sometimes get overwhelming. Everyone has their way of dealing with them, from bubble baths to relaxing yoga to playing sports, but there’s one method of helping eliminate this negativity from your kids’ lives that is a bit more unconventional: Knitting. 

 Stock photo of knitting needles and yarn

Hear me out! Knitting, a process that involves the repeated interlocking of loops of yarn using needles, has been around since the 5th century and spread from the Middle East to Europe to all over the world. People everywhere learned to make sweaters, scarves, socks, and all sorts of things with this handheld craft, and eventually, it became so popular that machines had to be invented to make the process faster. Its popularity only grew and spread with the recent resurgence of handmade knitting, and now it is popular amongst people of all ages!

Knitters and scientists alike have conducted studies, experiments, and research all to figure out if knitting has health benefits, and they discovered some amazing things. One study shows that knitting can “reduce chronic pain, boost mood, reduce stress, treat panic attacks...boost confidence,” and more. The repetitive movements, hand positions, and mental stimulation of knitting can help cheer you up and make you feel safe, and feeling the soft yarn can soothe you and calm you down.

Child (boy) smiling with Wonder Knitter

Another study finds that knitting can prompt your brain to release serotonin, a chemical that affects your mood, and it can also lower your heart rate by 11 beats per minute, creating a sense of calm similar to what you feel when you practice yoga. Knitting is different than yoga, playing music, and other calming activities, however, because research speculates that crafting encourages neural pathways in your brain to stay healthy. This means that knitting can help your brain stay strong as you age, and lessen the chance of memory loss and cognitive impairments.

In addition to being great for your health, knitting is an fantastic skill to learn both for personal gain and to combat loneliness. When you or your child finishes a knitting project, you get to wear your hat or scarf or socks knowing that you made them, or give them to someone else knowing that you gave them something unique that no one else could have done the same. When you are on the bus, or in a car, or in a waiting room, knitting is an amazing conversation starter, in addition to helping you feel productive and pass the time. You and your child can also make friends because of knitting! You could join a knitting club, or attend The Handwork Studio’s classes or camps, and unite with others around a shared love for the craft.Two children (girls) smiling with knitting projects

Whether you or your kids wish to start a new activity, make some friends, strengthen your brain, or simply feel good, knitting is a great solution. You and your child can even improve your bond by learning to knit together by getting your own knitting materials and watching The Handwork Studio’s knitting tutorials. If you are stuck on how to approach teaching your child to knit, check out this article for some tips and tricks to make the process as seamless and happy as possible. Summer is also a great time to try something new, acquire a fun, useful skill, and make memories that your family will cherish forever!

 Two children (girls) smiling with Wonder Knitters

 

Image Descriptions
Image 1: Stock photo of knitting needles and yarn
Image 2: Child smiling with Wonder Knitter
Image 3: Two children smiling with knitting projects
Image 4: Two children smiling with Wonder Knitters

 

 

 

Tags: Summer Camp, Knitting, Fun, Summer, Handwork, Inspiration, Kids Activities, Health Benefits, Health

Summer: Let Kids Relax and Get in the Flow with Ancient Japanese Braiding

Posted by Cameron Lee on Sun, Jul 01, 2018 @ 10:06 AM

Another school year ends, and another summer begins. Suddenly kids are hanging around the house without the daily routine of school and after-school activities, and they may complain that it is too sunny and hot to go outside. Everyone has experienced this phenomenon, whether you are a parent or a kid yourself, and it is easy for kids to get stuck in the endless cycle of sitting in front of the TV in the air-conditioned family room all day, eating snacks and losing all that fantastic free time they were so highly anticipating while still in school.

So many kids spend too much time watching TV or on their phones, letting some of the greatest joys of this time of year pass them by. Having so much time on your hands can seem like a negative when you’re not sure what to fill it with, and although electronics and screen time are a child’s first go to, they can quickly become overused, and prevent kids from participating in activities that they don’t have time to explore during the school year.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that kids should be immersed in activities the first day after school ends - nobody wants to go from the stress and strict routine of school to another strict routine. Summer should be a time for kids to alleviate stress, learn something new, and find tColorful marudai kumihimo braidsheir flowengaging in an activity or passion for which they have so much love that they don’t even notice the time passing.

Being in flow, or experiencing that sense of overwhelming joy that comes from doing something you are really passionate about, is something we don’t incorporate enough in our daily lives, but that can easily be remedied. Activities like kumihimo, an ancient form of Japanese braiding, can help kids find their flow, learn something new, help with fine motor skills, and forget all about that summer slump. Kumihimo dates back well over a thousand years and was traditionally used by Samurai warriors to hold their armor together and provide a grip on their sword hilts. It was even used to prevent tea from being poisoned!

Although handmade kumihimo became less popular over the years as Japanese braiders invented machines to do the braiding, the art is still practiced in Japan (and all over the world) today. People still use kumihimo braids to tie down the wide sashes called obi that go on kimonos and to tie their haori jackets. At the same time, people like Martha Stewart are featuring kumihimo in their magazines and blogs, explaining how to use a kumihimo disc, the modern version of the traditional marudai and takadai stands used to create the braids. 

Kumihimo braid bracelets

Kids can even learn how to do kumihimo themselves through The Handwork Studio’s YouTube channel and at our summer camps. Summer is a time for kids to challenge themselves to try new things and learn new, fun skills, and kumihimo is a great place to start. It is educational, engaging, and kids become a part of an ancient history of Japanese braid-making when they try their hands at the art. Kumihimo braids can be used for all sorts of awesome things like shoelaces, bracelets, necklaces, and bookmarks, and it

Kumihimo braiding discwill feel great for your kids to be able to wear or use something they made. Once they become a master at the braiding technique, they can even try out more complicated and colorful patterns!

So, once again, if your kids are bored at home, watching too much TV and stuck in ruts, you should encourage them to learn kumihimo. Whether they try it on their own by ordering some of our kumihimo materials and following a YouTube tutorial or come to one of The Handwork Studio’s many locations and participate in our summer camps, your kids will find passion in kumihimo, find their flow, and make the most of their summer! 






 

Tags: Kumihimo, Summer Camp, Kids Camp, Fun, Summer, Handwork, Inspiration, Kids Activities

The Handwork Stories: Homemade Halloween

Posted by Mattie Solomon on Fri, Jun 08, 2018 @ 02:44 PM

Creating a Larger Picture

Whether it is a grandparent, a teacher, a parent, or a friend, the people that make up The Handwork Studio all have a person or a time that can be linked to that first moment they were inspired to pick up a craft. Where one finds inspiration is often a personal story, and this series will work to uncover some of those amazing stories. I will be having conversations with members of The Handwork Studio’s team about the places where they gain their inspiration from and then sharing those stories with you! With each story, we will weave together a picture of the team here at The Handwork Studio by hearing from some familiar faces and some new ones. 

To start off this series, I thought I would introduce myself, and share some of my own connection to needle work. My name is Mattie, and I am a blogging and Social Media intern for the Handwork Studio. I am a senior attending the University of Maryland, where I study English Literature and Professional Writing. When I am not studying in College Park, or creating content for The Handwork Studio, I love to flip through fashion magazines, watch excessive amounts of HGTV, and count down the days until my next adventure.  

Stitching Together Generations

D61137A5-69A7-4303-B67D-FC1B4EA61A86Crafting is a special kind of art because it is not necessarily something that you go to school for or learn about in some art history book. For me, it has been something passed down from the generations of women who came before me, and it is exciting to think how I can pass it off to loved ones in the future. The women in my life have always been handy with a needle and thread, and anytime they mention something that they have created with their own two hands, you can see the undeniable joy and love that seeps through every seem.

Growing up, my mother used to make all of my siblings and my Halloween costumes. It seems impossible to me that she hand made all of these while having four young kids and still working, but I think for my mom, it was only natural to create and sew together things for the people she loved. She said that it would take her weeks to make all four of the costumes for my siblings and me. I cannot imagine thinking about Halloween all the way back in August! One of her favorite costumes to make was one where I was a flower bouquet. She said, “I made you a bonnet with all of these silk flowers that I had to individually hand sew onto the fabric. I loved the way it turned out, and you looked so cute with your tuffs of blonde hair and dimples.” Taking the time to make a butterfly or batman costume was done out of love, and that has been the lens through which I have viewed the art that goes behind needle work.

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My mom was not just handy with a sewing machine, but also seemed to effortlessly succeed with every craft or art she set her mind to. The scrapbooks that line packed book shelves, the hand painted furniture adorned with ornate floral designs, and the carefully planted flower pots on our porch have filled my family home with the love and care my mom has showed with everything she does.

Seeing these symbols for family around my house inspired me to be like my mother in these ways and ask her at every moment to teach me whatever she was working on. After learning how to knit and sew from her mother, it seemed completely normal when I asked her if she could teach me how to knit when I was about 12 years old. Maybe this itch to create is something I inherited from my mother and grandmother, but I think it is also a product of being around such inspirational and hard-working women.

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My mom always tells me about the times that I would imitate my grandmother as she would knit. I think this kind of imitation has infected me with the passion to create, and the passion to create for those that I love. I am working to be as good as my mother and grandmother, but for now I do not mind sitting on the sideline and watching them weave together what they love most in the world

Stories like mine are shared among so many people and across so many generations. If my story reminded you of someone in your life who inspired you to pick up a craft or art, share your story down in the comments below. We would love to hear your story and see how we can grow this community of thoughtful teachers and learners! 


Click here for a look at our summer sewing camp options for your child. Also, be sure to check out our store and our new partnership with Simplicity Sewing Patterns

Tags: Summer Camp, Summer, Fashion & Machine Sewing, The Handwork Stories, Inspiration

Maker Monday: Fashion Designer Madeline Kaplan

Posted by Kelsey Underwood on Mon, Aug 21, 2017 @ 11:00 AM

IMG_5566-1.jpgName: Madeline Kaplan

Age: 24

School: Drexel University, B.S. Fashion Design, class of 2016

Website: madelinekaplandesigns.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since she was five, Madeline (Maddy) Kaplan had a love for designing clothes. Maddy, who graduated from Drexel University with a fashion design B.S. in 2016, continues to pursue the passion that ignited when she learned how to sew at The Handwork Studio.

“When I was 5 years old I would staple fabrics together, and soon after I learned how to hand sew,” she said. “I would transform things like pant legs into scarves, and would add embellishments. I started going to lessons with Laura Kelly at her home and that's when I truly discovered my love for this world of creativity.”

Today, Maddy works as a fashion designer specializing in children’s apparel. Rather than her inspiration stemming from as specific element, she finds people and items she encounters throughout her everyday life inspiring. 

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“Colors and fabrics also give me a lot of inspiration, and I frequently use that as my jumping off point,” she said.

Maddy said she is most proud of her designs from her senior collections at Drexel.

“I designed and created an award winning kids collection,” she said. “It is whimsical and fun. I really stayed true to myself as a designer.”

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Although an award-winning designer, Maddy encountered obstacles while completing her degree at Drexel. One of her biggest challenges: a tailored coat.

“I picked a really complex design, when most of my classmates stuck to more simple silhouettes,” she said. “My design looked like one piece from the back, but in the front it had a separate cape. Halfway through constructing it, I was having a lot of trouble figuring out how to make it functionable.”

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Despite her challenges, she persevered and completed her piece.

“It turned out just as I had imagined it in my head, and it gave me an enormous sense of pride knowing that I was able to construct something like that,” she said.

Maddy finds that her fashion design mindset allows her to view the world differently than others.

“I look at everyday objects, and more frequently than not, I think about cool designs I could associate with them,” she said. “In my mind, design is everywhere--when you’re walking down a street, when you’re eating breakfast, what you’re thinking about right before you go to bed. It surrounds us everyday.” 

In regards to advice for aspiring fashion designers Maddy said, “Stay true to yourself. I know it sounds cliche, but it’s really the best advice someone can give. Since I graduated, I’ve faced several challenges. The fashion industry is extremely fast paced and hectic. There’s always a lot going on and sometimes you fall behind. You just have to focus on yourself and what makes you happy in the long run. You have to find your niche and where you fit in. That’s what’s really important.”

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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 Maddy's passion for sewing and fashion? You can find our summer camp programs here. For project ideas join our YouTube Channel or visit our Store.

#TheHandworkStudio #Narthberth #SummerCamp #HandworkandMachineSewing #FashionandMachineSewing #FashionDesign #KidsCanSew #Drexel #LearntoSew

Tags: Design, Summer Camp, Narberth, Fashion, Fashion & Machine Sewing, Fashion Design

Maker Monday: College Fashionista Katie Hitchens

Posted by Kelsey Underwood on Mon, Jun 26, 2017 @ 11:01 AM

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Name: Katie Hitchens

Age: 21

School: University of Delaware (UD)  

Studio: The Handwork Studio

Bio: Katie Hitchens, a rising fashion merchandising senior at the University of Delaware, became a fashionista at a young age. A Disney princess at heart, Hitchens frequently insisted on dressing her best, which often meant wearing a Cinderella gown. 

 

 

Designer Fashionista   

Katie’s love for fashion transformed into curiosity and desire to learn about apparel design and construction. As a high school student, she completed courses in textiles and clothing learning machine sewing, hand sewing and apparel design. During her high school career, Katie actively participated in Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), a family and consumer sciences student organization. Passionate about apparel construction, she competed in the Fashion Construction STAR Event at the 2013 Delaware State FCCLA Leadership Conference.

Among her creations, Katie is most proud of the draped gown she entered. Draping consists of creating a sewing pattern from scratch by arranging and pinning fabric pieces onto a dressform. Katie said initially mastering the draping technique was a “nightmare.” On a deadline for competition entry, she was determined to turn her design into a reality.

“I kept pushing myself until I finished,” Katie said. “Draping was the first time I felt like a true designer.”

Although she faced challenges, Katie persevered and her hard work earned her a silver medal at the competition.

College Fashionista

As a college student, Katie discovered her passion for the business side of the fashion. Katie aspires to work as a product developer in the fashion industry--blending her love for apparel design and business together. This summer, with her roots in fashion construction and passion for styling, Katie will pass her fashion construction skills onto the next generation of students at The Handwork Studio as a lead counselor and blog for the College Fashionista as a Style Guru.

Inspired Fashionista    

As a Style Guru, Katie’s recent fashion inspiration has come from her fellow members of the Guru Gang. Although spread across the world, social media has linked the fashionistas allowing them to share their ideas with one another.

“Everyone has unique and interesting ideas,” Katie said.

Among social media platforms, Katie’s favorite is Pinterest.

“I’m practically on that app on a daily basis,” Katie said with exclamation.

She looks forward to what the summer holds.

To Future Fashionistas

In regards to advice for future fashionistas, Katie said, “It sounds cheesy, but follow your dreams no matter how big. I never imagined that I would end up interning for College Fashionista as a Style Guru. Even if you don’t think you have a shot, take it anyway. You never know what great places it might take you.”


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

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

Tags: Machine Sewing, Design, Locations, Summer Camp, Sewing, Fashion, The Handwork Studio, Summer, Fashion & Machine Sewing, Fashion Design, Glamorize Your Doll

Counselor Spotlight

Posted by Libby Foxman on Tue, Aug 16, 2016 @ 11:00 AM

The Handwork Studio employs creative and passionate people every year. These people are often artists, teachers, students, or anyone with an interest in helping children develop amazing handwork skills that kids will find useful in every aspect of their lives. Miss Caelie is a first year junior counselor but has been a part of The Handwork Studio family for many years.

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            Before Miss Caelie was a counselor at The Handwork Studio, she had been a camper for many years. Like many of the campers we have at The Handwork Studio, when she started, she did not have previous experience with any of the techniques. She is now a junior counselor, teaching all new and old campers how to sew, knit, weave, and more. She loves the sense of community that is present at The Handwork Studio. Everyone is supportive of one another and all hold similar passions.

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            At The Handwork Studio’s Narberth location, Miss Caelie assists the lead instructor, Miss Alyssa, at Handwork Day Camp. Handwork Day Camp is for children aged 5 to 12. At this program, campers get an introduction to hand and machine sewing, knitting, weaving, and wet felting. Miss Caelie’s favorite project at Handwork Day Camp is the stuffed owl. Campers cut out a stencil of an owl, stuff it, and hand sew it together. They also get to decorate their own project with needle felting. The introduction to these techniques will allow campers to successfully go onto The Handwork Studio’s other camps, including Fashion and Machine Sewing, Glamorize Your Doll, Sew Tech, and Fashion Boot Camp.

            When Miss Caelie is not at The Handwork Studio she loves acting and reading. Like the work done at The Handwork Studio, these two activities provide Miss Caelie with a creative and relaxing outlet. Miss Caelie is going to begin her sophomore year of college this fall where she is pursuing a degree in science. While she plans to get her PhD before settling into a career, she hopes to be a science teacher and thinks that her time working at The Handwork Studio will help her discover her teaching style and give her the confidence to continue on this career path. The campers at The Handwork Studio are very well supported by counselors, like Miss Caelie. They are constantly encouraging campers to challenge themselves and help them with whatever they need.
           If you are interested in The Handwork Studio as a place for your child to learn useful handwork skills from great counselors like Miss Caelie, head to our website to register.

Tags: Handwork Day Camp, Summer Camp, Sewing, Knitting, The Handwork Studio, miss caelie