My little girl is going to be nine this year. NINE. It’s an awesome and icky age for any kid, and I can’t believe how quickly it happened. When did my little girl get to be NINE?!?
Like my sisters and me with my mom when we were little, my kids see me sewing. Like, every single day, sewing. It’s how I internalized sewing as a natural extension of my own hands, as a way to take my creative ideas and make them real. I want that for my children, and most days I feel like we’re doing a pretty good job of getting there (all those hours spent tracing shapes with embroidery floss must be building a foundation, right?) Nine years old, though, has its own ideas. Nine years old wants to do for itself, wants to express a viewpoint that’s independent of mom and dad. Nine years old wants to design and plan and select and construct and MAKE.
Enter The Girl’s Guide to DIY Fashion by Rachel Low of Pins & Needles NYC, written just for girls ages 7-14 so they can design and create their own projects with minimal help from adults. One of my pet concepts is a book where girls are truly encouraged to sew for themselves, not with a condescending tone but with encouragement and empowerment and total fun. This book hits just that tone, with lovely photography and a sense of humor.
I invited our daughter, one evening after the other kids had gone to sleep and she was already in her jammies, to sit down and review the book with me. While I left the room to tuck the littles in, she flipped through the pages, and I told her to see if there was anything that she liked. When I came back, she had her fingers tucked in between the pages, marking five or six different projects that she “really, really liked–like, a lot, Mom.”
I swear, I’m not just making that up because it sounds good. That’s not just blog tour stuff, honest. She was so drawn to the photography and the tone of the book, and seemed to instinctively know that this wasn’t a “little kids” book, but was something on her level. Even more important than that, she found the projects super appealing–and huzzah, so do I! There’s fabric paint here, but no puffy paint in sight. These are real projects with real application and appeal to girls, without trying too hard (we all know how deeply I dislike trying too hard) and without schmaltz.
I particularly like that author Rachel Low has worked hard to walk girls through the entire concept-and-design process, so the book avoids becoming a collection of projects to complete cafeteria-style. It becomes a guide for training girls to think with their creative souls and consider themselves individuals who are capable of and can be trusted to come up with ideas, and then acquire the skills to make them real.
I like that there is some reference to technology (using Pinterest as a type of mood board, for example), but because 7-14 is a pretty wide age spread, there isn’t a heavy reliance on it. There is no iPhone or iPad case project, for example, nothing that would make a mom have to be the giant buzzkill who says the project isn’t appropriate.
The book focuses on fashion, just like the title says, in categories that girls are likely to encounter and get excited about: Fun with Friends; Back to School; Slumber Party; and Rockin’ Summer are all areas of our girls lives, and there is so much of value in offering them the chance to see that their powers of creativity can be brought to bear on all those aspects of their personalities and their days.
Off she went to bed, but not before selecting fabrics for one project: the Party Purse. (I really thought she’d go for the Pretty Pencil Case that first caught her eye, but she surprised me. Nine is always full of surprises.) She went into the other room, dug in the scrap basket, and selected two fabrics: a lovely cotton print and a flannel–the same flannel that her blankie is made of, and from which I made her pajamas this Christmas. Part of me wanted to edit them, honestly (from her project a little, and from these photos a LOT). Party purse? Of blankie flannel? That matches your jammies? And maybe doesn’t match the cotton perfectly?
But then I stopped myself. This book is about HER sewing, and about HER creativity. Holding back my own hand and putting the needle into hers might turn out some less than perfect projects, but man, I made some pretty hideous green-and-cream plaid tapered-leg elastic-waist high-rise pants from quilting cotton for my first sewing project, and look where I am today. Jubilee for a book that encourages girls to trust themselves, to learn by doing, and to celebrate their creative side!
Many thanks to Rachel Low for writing such a wonderful book, and inviting me to share it with my daughter. If you love the idea behind her book, too, you’re in for a treat! Rachel has offered a copy of the book for one of YOU to have for your very own! Enter below to win a copy sent straight to you to share with the girl in your life–and share with us in the comments what it is that you think sewing can teach girls that has value beyond the sewing machine. Hint: I think it’s a LOT.
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