Today, I am starting a new series called Sewing for the Tween. If you have one of these tweens in your house or family, you will know that they are notoriously picky and clothing in the mall is not always appropriate for their age. Sewing for your tween is the answer, but how do you go about doing this? Which patterns come in tween sizes? How do you choose what to sew? What about fabric? Where do you find fabrics that will sew nicely AND please your tween? How do you, personally, survive the decision-making process? I am here to answer these, and other questions! And I will add more posts to this series as I navigate these potentially stressful waters with my nearly 11 year old tween daughter.
So, first of all, if you don't drink alcohol, I suggest you find some sort of tea or bubble bath to help you relax because sewing for a tween can be stressful. They change their minds a lot! They are picky and sometimes unbending. They might know what they want, in their head, but they will have a hard time explaining it to you. Be patient. Guide your tween gently because too much will push him or her away.
Next up, to figure out what to sew, look for clues! I looked around and realized that this is my daughter's favorite skirt, something made by Fresh Produce several years back. It is getting a bit short so I asked her if she would like me to try her one in another color and she agreed! Now, of course, I cannot find a pattern anywhere that matches this skirt, but it doesn't look hard so I decide to wing it! More on that later. We went through my fabric stash and, surprisingly, she picked out some navy blue cotton lycra fabric to use for her skirt.
My next clue about what to sew is this drawing my daughter made. When she drew this I remembered that I had some knit fabric similar to the top. I showed it to her and she agreed, it would make a great top.
My third recommendation is to stick to tried and true patterns but, of course, you have to start somewhere with new patterns. However, I had tested the Birdsong Patterns Tshirt pattern and knew it would work well with this child. So, that is the top pattern I chose. If you have to start from scratch with a pattern, be sure to include your tween in the process of choosing the pattern. This can be a challenge but I highly recommend Etsy or Ebay for finding vintage patterns or pdf patterns that suit her look.
Now, through this all, you have to walk a fine line between letting your tween choose what you will make and you letting her know what you can make! And what you will allow her to wear. Luckily for me, my tween is modest and prefers simple styles. But don't be afraid to set limits as to styles and fabrics. You can give choices from a limited range so you will both be happy.
Now, about that skirt. Well, here is what I did. I traced the old skirt and added two inches all around. This gave me added room for growth. The original is a tad fitted so I knew two inches would be fine. A half an inch or so for seam allowance gave me an extra 1.5 inches for width plus room to hem it to fit. The original had two tiers on top of it, both laying flat, but I could not figure out how to do that by winging it. I was worried it would be too heavy for the fabric. So, I talked my tween in to letting me ruffle them the way you see here. I also finished the hem with my rolled hem foot for the sewing machine which gave it a ruffly look. I finished the waist last so I could measure it for length first. Now, this method won't work for a fitted skirt but for this loose skirt it worked great!
And it fit and she loved it. Wore it all weekend long!! Success!!
Next up, the top. We know this Birdsong Top Pattern fits well so she was in agreement with me making another one. The pattern comes with options and my daughter said she wanted sleeves just below her elbows. So, this is what you see! She tried it on and it fits perfectly and this knit is very soft and smooth. The Birdsong Pattern is very well done and guaranteed (by me) to produce a lovely tee!! You must get it!! Directions are excellent and it is practically a how-to guide for those knew to sewing knits.
This lovely knit fabric came from Banberry Place Fabrics. Corie has an excellent selection of fabrics and she will send you samples, for a small fee, so you can have your tween touch and feel them to make the perfect choice.
When this grey weather passes, I will get a modelled photo and share!
Meantime, stay tuned for more sewing for the tween as I navigate this uncharted territory and attempt to sew a spring wardrobe for my soon-to-be eleven year old!