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Philly Swap presents Holiday Craft Market with Flying Kite in Frankford, Dec 16

4 Dec

Flying Kite’s been working hard to expose different parts of Philadelphia to you through its On the Ground program ( We are teaming up with them to bring you a Holiday Craft Market to Flying Kite’s current space in Frankford.

It’s time for holiday shopping local! Area crafters and other vendors will sell their wares. We’ll highlight artists who use recycled materials, and we will have plenty of activity stations for you to get yourselves into the holiday spirit.

Check back here as we plan to highlight the vendors who will be participating this and next week leading up to the event.
Refreshments will be made available for purchase. FREE to attend! All ages!Interested in hosting an activity or vending? Vendor tables are still available. Apply here:

Full event listing can be seen on Facebook at: Frankford Holiday Craft Market will take place at St. Mark’s Church and is VERY EASY to get to. Take the Market-Frankford line to Church Station and walk 2 blocks north. Driving? We have free parking too!

Additionally we’ll be highlighting and working with the Frankford CDC, Councilwoman Sanchez, and the Mural Arts Program to celebrate the Mural Arts Program’s Frankford project, the targeted facade improvement project focused on the 4600 block of Frankford Avenue and the new rain garden at Womrath Park. Learn all about it at the Holiday Craft Market!


Philly Swap @ Greenfest this year!!

9 Sep

Clean out your closets and bring your clothing, accessories, toys, books and more! Philly Swap and Greenfest have teamed up to bring you a community swap that will be on-site at this year’s event.

Items collected will include: gently used and clean clothing (men, women, children, baby), toys, and books.

About Greenfest: Greenfest Philly is the largest environmental festival in the Philadelphia area. With over 100 exhibitors and vendors, Greenfest is the place to learn about living sustainably while having fun! This event has something for everyone: shopping for local green wares, great food, live music, live demonstrations, kid-friendly activities, and more. Greenfest Philly is scheduled on Sunday, September 9, 2012 from 11am to 5pm in the historic Headhouse Row. More info at:

About Philly Swap: What started as a citywide clothing swap, Philly Swap has since inspired the swapping of all things! From exchanging ideas and supporting collaborative projects in communities, to promoting recycling and up-cycling of textiles, crafts, clothing, Philly Swap is dedicated to the act of sharing resources, skills, and imagination. We host workshops, demonstrations, and other events to continue the spirit of swapping and creative reuse in neighborhoods throughout the Philadelphia area. More info at:

Hope to see you there!!

HELLO & Happy 2012!

19 Jan

We know we’ve been quiet for a while but we’ll be back soon with some updates for you. Hope your 2012 is off to a good start and we’ll talk to you soon! Any questions/ideas, you can reach us at

See you at the Trenton Avenue Arts Festival!

21 May

Philly Swap will be at today’s Trenton Avenue Arts Festival. We have Philly Swap bags for sale ($3). Come by and say HI. Also, stay tuned for upcoming summer and fall Philly Swap events. See you in Fishtown!

Don’t miss out on these March events!

3 Mar

Hello, Friends! After taking a bit of a blogging hiatus, Philly Swap is awakening from our winter hibernation and is excited about the promises of Spring! In the upcoming months, we’ll be partnering with local businesses and artists to host film screenings, smaller swaps and upcycling workshops. In addition to showcasing artists on our blog, we also want this to be a space to promote the efforts and events of other amazing creative and socially-minded folks. Check out this webinar (register with the discount code listed below) and this free entrepreneurial event taking place this month!

ATTENTION READERS: Enter the code “sfdfriends” to receive a 50% off discount on this webinar!

Behind the Seams with Kristin Haskins Simms, Best Strangefruit

On March 16, 2011, The National Association of Sustainable Fashion Designers is hosting the Sustainable Fashion Entrepreneurs Circle in partnership with SBN to welcome Project Runway season 8’s Kristin Haskins Simms for an evening of fashion-minded conversation. A Philadelphia native, Ms. Simms wears multiple hats as a self-taught apparel designer, freelance graphic designer, and adjunct professor in graphic design. She’ll share stories from her time with Heidi, Tim and the rest of the Project Runway gang, offer insights into launching her company, Strangefruit, and show off some sneak peeks from the new clothing line!

This interactive event will bring together regional fashion entrepreneurs to swap ideas, discuss challenges and engage in meaningful dialogue. Let’s create and support fashion that is not only good looking, but also cares about the good of our community, our economy and our planet. How can we help to make fashion more sustainable? Come and find out.

This event will be held at SBN Conference Room, 1528 Walnut Street, 21st Floor Philadelphia, PA 19102, and registration is FREE. For more information or to register, please visit

Sammy Davis Vintage

24 Sep

Have you heard? Vintage fashion curator and stylist Sammy Davis joining us at Philly Swap! Thankfully, you don’t have to wait until next Sunday to hear her story, and learn more about how she hopes to help her audience take steps to become practical environmentalists… through the pillar of fashion.

Philly Swap: Give us some background. How did you get into DIY work?

Sammy Davis: My DIY trade is in vintage fashion and sustainable style. I started “thrifting” – the act of going to thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army to shop – as soon as I could drive. I grew up in rural Lancaster, Pennsylvania where the options for alternative fashions were limited. So instead of succumbing to the mainstream, mass produced styles of the mall, I searched and seize my own unique style from the racks of my neighborhood thrift store.

I carried my penchant for thrifting into my early 20s as a student at Temple University. I shifted into the vintage arena after discovering that vintage was a shopping industry – I could go to a store like South Street’s Retrospect or Old City’s Sugarcube and immediately discover amazing vintage pieces. In other words: I didn’t have to dig!

Now, I am a curator and stylist of vintage fashions spanning the late ’60s to early ’90s. I acquire the best, most high-quality vintage pieces from thrift stores, estate sales, and the closets of women across the northeast US and present them in an accessible way to the contemporary woman through my company, Sammy Davis Vintage. [link:

PS: What do you like about Philly? Is it a good place to do what you do?

SD: My home-away-from home is Philadelphia. I lived here four years for college at Temple, and if New York City hadn’t pulled me away, I would probably still be living here today.

Philadelphia is a wonderful middle ground for the rising entrepreneur: You have the support of brilliant, creative and business-savvy people around you, without the financial pressure of having to start something that becomes financially successful right away.

I plan on someday opening a vintage store and eco-conscious clothing boutique and juice bar in Philadelphia. Thanks to lower overhead and higher opportunity for investment, Philadelphia is a great breeding ground for DIY-ers to take their trade and create a permanent brick-and-mortar fixture for customers new and old.

PS: DIY projects have never been more relevant than they are right now. Whether the motivation is to minimize one’s carbon footprint or maximize what’s in the bank, people are showing an interest in reusable materials, local goods and creative projects to do at home. What are some simple steps we can take to be more financially-sound and environmentally-friendly in our creative projects?

SD: Part of learning how to incorporate financially-sound and environmentally-friendly materials in your creative projects is learning to see the world through a different lens.

For example: The other day, I was washing a salsa container before placing it into my recycling bin when I began to admire the design of the glass.

I then thought, “I wonder if I could use this for something else?” So, I removed the jar’s wrapper and placed it in my cupboard for the day I’d be inspired to use it. Wouldn’t you know that a few days later, I was inspired to use the jar for help positioning bracelets in a creative, aesthetically-pleasing way.

We move quickly in life. Slow down and allow your environment and its belongings to sink in, and your peripheral vision will grow and allow you to naturally utilize your surroundings in an environmentally-sound, creative way.

PS: What recycled materials do you use in your work and where do you find them?

SD: The beauty of vintage and thrift: it is recycled clothing!

Vintage is not only about dressing for style, it’s about dressing for sustainable style with substance. This the platform of Sammy Davis Vintage: to invest in pieces that stand the test of time and trends and lessen the carbon footprint of your retail spending power by purchasing what is essentially recycled clothing.

Buying vintage from boutiques or a local thrift store and refraining from buying mass produced, poorly made pieces will influence the supply chain to adopt sustainable practices and maintain socially ethical business practices. Right now, sustainable living is about being a practical environmentalist. It’s about small steps that incorporate sustainable practices seamlessly and painlessly into your daily regiment and personal consumption.

PS: How do you think about the audience for your work? Who is it you want to reach?

SD: Sammy Davis Vintage is the platform for women (and men!) to become inspired by sustainable style. I exist to help my audience learn how they can take steps to become practical environmentalists through the pillar of fashion.

Style is what makes you feel great. It’s what I like to call “feel-good fashion” – no matter the print, the color, the size, the fit, the material – if it makes you feel good for whatever reason, then that’s your personal style. Stick to the style that makes you feel best, and your confidence will take you anywhere you dream.

PS: What’s your take on the recent proliferation of the DIY/craft sales online, such as Etsy? Do see this more as a network of support, or as competition for your sales?

SD: Online markets such as Etsy, and the online vintage marketplace Market Publique [link:, are wonderful outlets of support and most importantly for our customers: offer validation and legitimacy of our brands.

The online marketplaces of today that are recognized by the average consumer give your business credibility without actually having a brick-and-mortar store. The overhead is whatever you want to make it, and your audience has unlimited access to your brand thanks to the 24/7 power of the digital space.

It’s wonderful for artisans and DIY-ers to connect with customers and fans in the flesh, and then have an online space to direct them for future purchases and contact. There’s never been a better time to “experiment” with your product thanks to the proliferation of risk-free online marketplaces.

PS: What comes first, the material or the project? Are you inspired by a specific material and develop a project around it, or do you first envision a project and seek out the materials to suit it?

SD: My “projects” are probably best defined as the photo shoots I produce using vintage and thrifted fashion. What always inspires me and inspires me most: how fashion can empower women to gain confidence and trust in themselves and others. I call this “feel-good” fashion – the understanding that by investing in a product that makes you feel good and also does good for the environment and its people, that you are investing in the style AND substance of yourself.

I create projects – whether it is the product itself, a photo shoot, an event, a newsletter – with the intention to make my audience feel good. The materials come naturally thereafter, as inspired by what’s available in the thrift store and my subconscious absorption of current and future trends that look great and feel great on women of all types and backgrounds.

PS: Do you work out of your home, or in a separate studio space?

SD: I work out of my Spanish Harlem apartment when using my computer to manage my web site, facebook fan page, twitter account] and Vimeo page []. I’m also a co-producer and co-host of television show RoadHug which keeps me chair-bound for at least a few hours of the day.

My vintage collection is currently housed in a showroom space at my local Manhattan Mini Storage unit. It’s here that I host private sales, showings and fittings. I’m currently working toward having SDV collections in various boutiques around NYC and (hopefully!) Philadelphia as I begin to promote the SDV name in brick-and-mortar stores.

PS: Many of us are not as good with tools as we’d like to be. What are some tips and tricks to fake it till your skills make it?

SD: When it comes to “thrifting,” my number one bit of advice: Come armed with a plan! You know when you walk into a grocery store, and you immediately head for the food section where you’d like to buy an item from your grocery list? The same tactic works well for thrift stores – they are not for the casual, first-time shopper.

I often hear people say they “get overwhelmed” upon entering a thrift store. But if you come armed with some ideas on your “shopping list,” – think what kind of piece or color – then you can search and seize to find the best piece for you.

Thanks, Sammy! For more tips of the thrifting trade, check out Sammy’s interview with HerCampus.

Are YOU a Swap Stakeholder?

24 Sep

What does it mean to be a Philly Swap Stakeholder, you ask? Well, you will you be helping the event to grow and creatively expand its scope,  while receiving some super cool services. In addition to general event access that includes:

  • unlimited swapping
  • silkscreening stations
  • speaker series
  • workshops
  • kids activities

Stakeholders ALSO receive:

  • a goodie bag
  • Philly Swap Shopping Tote
  • Access to sewing alteration stations
  • Personal Stylists to help you transform your swap finds into a complete look
  • Chair massages
  • Bang trims
  • Access to the Philly Swap Lounge, where you can kick up your feet!

Salon & spa services will be provided by American Mortals and Fringe Salon!

Don’t pass up this offer to experience Philly Swap as a Stakeholder!  Purchase your tickets online today!

Something Indigo

18 Sep

This summer, Kelly Cobb, a member of the Philly Swap team, celebrated her wedding in DIY style. Following the wedding custom for a bride to wear “something old, something new, something borrowed, something indigo” (okay, so the color is traditionally said to be “blue,” but we’re not sticklers for tradition), Kelly put her creative hands to work. Check out Kelly with her hands in the indigo pot!

She and her partner are artists so wanted to have a ceremony that reflected our interests. Also, they were working with almost no budget.

Kelly re-purposed a dress for her ceremony (originally a RED Nanette Lapore found at an overstock store) by removing the color and indigo dying it. Her textile friend with a studio set up the indigo vat for her as a wedding gift!

She also dyed fabrics used for flower arrangements and decorations.

Kelly’s art focuses on fashion and textiles (100-mile suit), while Aaron’s art focuses on sound and video (lure projects). Congratulations to the happy couple and thanks to Kelly for her great work on the exhibition and educational components of this year’s Philly Swap!

handbags to hats: the handmade and one of the kind works of amber zaraza

13 Sep

The final countdown has begun!  Amber Zaraza will be joining us on at Philly Swap on October 3rd and gives us a preview into her fantastically creative world below…

Give us some background. How did you get into DIY work?

I started sewing around the age of 12. The first thing I ever made was a simple handbag, cut from an old pair of blue and white polyester houndstooth pants that I had gotten at a thrift store. I finished off the handbag with a crystal clasp that I took off a sweater I found in my mom’s closet. I had no idea that what I was doing would be considered DIY/up cycling, literally I was just using what I found around the house.

Formally, I obtained a BA is Fashion Design and entered school with intentions of becoming a bridal designer. During my time in college I began making handbags for myself and soon they caught on with friends. When strangers began approaching me about the handbags I was carrying a little light bulb went off and in 2005 I started phea jean. Originally, I made only custom handbags, but now I am happy to say the phea jean repertoire now includes hats, wallets, scarves, hair accessories, and dresses.

What do you like about Philly? Is it a good place to do what you do?

I really love Philadelphia and I see it as a great place for artists, in particular DIY folks, to actively create on a regular basis. Compared to other cities I’ve lived in on the East and West Coasts, Philly is a really affordable place to live. I think this factors into the creative process in a few ways: first of all people have more time to partake in creative endeavors instead of working 5 jobs like a maniac just to be able to cover living expenses. This leads to less stress and a more conducive, welcoming environment for the mind to explore ideas and be creative. So, it’s a cheap city, but there’s also a lot at our fingertips and I find everything to be quite accessible. There are so many artists working in every medium you can think of. Art is really all around us in Philadelphia. I can think of over half a dozen artist collectives, and groups that offer skill swaps and supply swaps and next to free classes. Its great to participate in shows and there are a number of boutiques offering consignment and other options to local artists.

DIY projects have never been more relevant than they are right now. Whether the motivation is to minimize one’s carbon footprint or maximize what’s in the bank, people are showing an interest in reusable materials, local goods and creative projects to do at home. What are some simple steps we can take to be more financially-sound and environmentally-friendly in our creative projects?

I definitely try and use what I’ve got around the house, rather than buy new materials. I save everything, even small remnants. I’m still finding uses for “scraps” I’ve collected from over 10 years ago. I like the ideas of using recycled cardboard for tags or packaging (ie flipping a cereal box inside out and using it as a mailer). I also save clear glass jars and put buttons in them.

How do you think about the audience for your work? Who is it that you want to reach?

Well, honestly, I want to reach anyone who has a love for art/fabric/design and who understands and values the one of kind, handmade quality of my work. I have teenagers wearing my dresses and I have women in their 80’s carrying my handbags. Some of my customers are fellow DIYers, and some can’t sew a lick and just appreciate the workmanship. I think that the audience for DIY work and the interest in supporting the local community is expanding and I’m always eager to talk about my work because I love it and it’s something I am very passionate about.

What’s your take on the recent proliferation of the DIY/craft sales online such as Etsy? Do you see this more as a network of support or as competition for your sales?

I have very mixed feeling on the subject of online craft sales through websites like Etsy.

I think it is a good place for people to browse and become familiar with the types of handmade items people are capable of creating. I also think it’s great for people who live in areas that don’t have local boutiques or handmade stores. On the other hand, I see a lot of repetition and similar items, where one is not necessarily better than the next. This is a turn-off for me and the exact opposite of what (in my opinion) the DIY/handmade scene should represent which is more along the lines of originality and showcasing ones creativity. And let’s be frank, anyone can start an Etsy shop. I see these sites as neither friend nor foe.

What do you hope the future holds, for you and the arts and DIY scene in Philly?

I am so fortunate to be able to do what I love. I will be so happy to continue designing, sewing and (the best part of running a DIY operation) being my own boss! I hope to keep being inspired and meet other people who are as committed to this movement as I am. I am looking forward to seeing more local and independent businesses popping up and flourishing. I hope more people come out and support the artists in Philadelphia- whether it be at craft shows, art openings, or joining any of the creative groups in the city- or better yet starting a new one and letting me know about it.

In the immediate future (like tomorrow), I’m hoping for a new intern!

What comes first, the material or the project? Are you inspired by a specific material and develop a project around it, or do you first envision a project and seek out the materials to suit it?

When I come across an amazing material that I am inspired to use I will look at the pattern or texture of the fabric and envision how it will fit with a pattern that I already have in existence. It also depends on the type of fabric and size, whether it will be enough for a handbag or just as an accent on a wallet. While every item that I create is one of a kind, I do have over 20 pattern templates that I work off of. I’m not much for pre-planning or sketching, I let the materials speak to me and I improvise as I sew.

What recycled materials do you use in your work and where do you find them?/Name your 3 favorite places in Philly to find reusable craft materials.

I’ll use anything that will run through my sewing machine including shower curtains, table cloths, curtains, scarves, tea towels, etc. I’ve even had friends salvage upholstery fabric from discarded chairs. Aside from using actual fabric from old clothing, I pay attention to the smaller details in the form of notions. I’ll take buttons, trims, and even seam rip out zippers and re-use them.

The places I find the most usable materials are not necessarily Philly specific-

I go to a lot of flea markets and thrift stores because I prefer to use mostly vintage materials; however, my number one source of materials is family/friends. I am beyond fortunate to have so many amazing fabrics/notions donated to me quite frequently. I believe that sewing is an activity that people become very excited to start and perhaps overambitious at first buying more materials than necessary. Sewing takes a lot of time and patience and its easy to become discouraged so all the materials then go into a box never to be seen again until I come along. I’ve received massive amounts of materials that have been handed down from past generations. Whatever I can’t/won’t use, I swap or give away for free online. I suggest talking to people and letting everyone know that you can re-purpose any fabric!

These days, we can learn knitting (or other folk arts) by reading an online tutorial (namely, in isolation), while past generations of crafters often learned in a knitting circle (namely, in community). How does this impact the artist community and the future of traditional folk arts?

The internet has its uses, but it is very impersonal, so I wouldn’t suggest using an online tutorial as the sole tool in learning any traditional folk art. The purpose of knitting circles and sewing groups is to learn a new skill, but it is also to have social interactions and engage with like-minded people in the community. Can you become good at something you learned from an online tutorial? Sure. But I think a natural step in creating something is being able to share your accomplishments with others. Being involved in the community aspect of any art that you are pursuing will only enhance your experience; whether its to get feedback or tips from other people or just get an idea of what other people are coming up with. I have found that everyone has something to share and can offer a different perspective or method of working. That need will never change and I think that is why we are seeing more and more groups in existence to support the artist community.

Many of us are not as good with tools as we’d like to be. What are some tips and tricks to fake it till your skills make it?

I’m not sure that sewing is one of those skills that allows for faking it til you make it, nor would I necessarily subscribe to or promote that way of thinking. Assuming that what you are sewing will have some functionality, if it isn’t done correctly, it will be obvious and most likely fall apart. So, in my opinion, it’s best to do it right the first time. This being said, I think a good sewing foundation starts with mastering a straight stitch on a machine and if you don’t have a machine, a basic hand-stitch will do. Go slow and work on even stitches. If you aren’t comfortable putting in a zipper, use Velcro or a magnetic snap. Start simple and then build from there. Enlist the help of friends. Practice, practice, practice…sewing and PATIENCE! And of course have a seam-ripper handy at all times. Sew what you know you are capable of accomplishing, so that you don’t have to fake it. In my opinion its better to have something that is simple and sewn good, than an overly complicated design with poor construction.

Visit today!

Inspiring creativity & illustrating happiness: Katie Holeman of The Lettered Set

17 Aug

We are pumped to have so many new artists on board to  share their artistic skills at this year’s Philly Swap! One such artist is Illustrator and stationary maker Katie Holeman. Here she talks about her life-long love for art-making, her design process, and what motivates her to create.

Philly Swap: Give us some background.  How did you get into DIY work?

Katie Holeman: I was truly lucky that my parents saw and nurtured my creative side early in my life. I still remember painting rocks and working with clay in pre-school. My experience with crafts began during my elementary school days in the 4-H craft club. Decoupage, stenciling, making paper . . . all that good stuff. I was a studio art major in college and did a lot of illustration and printmaking.

PS: What do you like about Philly? Is it a good place to do what you do?

KH: Philadelphia has done so much for my artistic career. I lived in New York City for five years and one thing I noticed immediately in Philly was this sense of community and openness. It’s been really easy and fun to get to know other people in the art world here.

PS: What are some simple steps we can take to be more financially-sound and environmentally-friendly in our creative projects?

KH: As an illustrator and stationery designer, I work with a lot of paper. I do my best to make sure I only use paper made from post-consumer waste. Thankfully it’s easier and more affordable to do that nowadays. All of my printing vendors default to environmentally conscious materials. Aside from making eco-conscious shopping decisions, take a look at your scraps before you toss them in the recycling bin. A misprint or extra sheet could make the perfect bookmarks, gift tag, or wall decoration.

PS: What recycled materials do you use in your work and where do you find them?

KH: I’ve actually started to make my own paper. It’s in the early stages but for now, I am using my handmade paper to make journals. For my Philly Swap workshop, I am going to teach people how to turn regular household items into stamps for handmade note cards and gift tags.

PS: How do you think about the audience for your work? Who is it you want to reach?

KH: I started creating illustrations and stationery for my family and friends. From there I was inspired to start my own blog,, as a way to promote my work and inspire creativity in others. I’m still learning about who my core audience is but I figured out early on that I should create things because it makes me happy. I blog because it makes me happy. If it’s forced, it won’t work. When I make note cards, the ones that sell well are the designs that I really love.

PS: What’s your take on the recent proliferation of the DIY/craft sales online, such as Etsy? Do see this more as a network of support, or as competition for your sales?

KH: I have mixed feelings. As a vendor, it’s really hard to stand out on Etsy. There are so many creative people out there and a lot of us do a lot of the same things. Stationery design is not a niche market so I’ve really focused on my illustrations and woodblock prints as a way to offer a unique product. On the other hand, I follow the Etsy blog and really appreciate the links, tips, events that they do to help artists grow their businesses.

PS: What do you hope the future holds, for you and for the arts and DIY scene in Philly?

KH: I hope that the arts and DIY scene in Philly continues to grow and garner more attention city- and nation-wide. I’d love to see more creative workshops and events sponsored by the city and larger corporations. My hope is that the arts will reach deeper into the communities and nurture the precious, innate creativity in children before it starts to fade.  I want to continue to inspire others and continue to be creative for a living.

PS: Many of us are not as good with tools as we’d like to be.  What are some tips and tricks to fake it till your skills make it?

KH: This one comes from a book called Drawing on the Right Side of Your Brain. Flip a photograph upside down and draw the lines of the scene exactly as you see them. When you’re done, flip your drawing upside down. You will be surprised at how good your drawing looks!

Thanks, Katie! To see more of Katie’s work, visit today. You’ll have the chance to meet Katie and learn more about her process at Philly Swap on October 3rd!