Tweens Can Sew! The Girl’s Guide to DIY Fashion

Girls Guide to DIY Fashion

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.

i heart diy

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.

girls guide to diy fashion h

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

girls guide to diy fashion i

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!

Rachel Low Girls Guide to DIY Fashion

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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  • Melissa Irvin
    April 17, 2015 at 8:53 am

    This would be great for my niece! She is a creative thinker and doer! Right now she paints and makes jewelry. I can absolutely see her enjoying sewing and making for herself!

  • jill gm
    April 17, 2015 at 8:57 am

    thanks for sharing and for the opportunity to win. I’m eager to check this book out– and I have a very special girl in mind that I think would love to explore this book!

  • Brenda Melahn
    April 17, 2015 at 9:10 am

    I think sewing teaches young girls they can be creative and make anything that makes them feel good!! Would love to have this book for my granddaughter who is just beginning to sew.

  • Mariette Shepard
    April 17, 2015 at 9:14 am

    My granddaughter would SOOOOO love the projects in this book!!!!

  • Chiska
    April 17, 2015 at 9:29 am

    I think it teaches girls that they are capable. I also see in my little girl that it teaches her that she has a voice–she can do things her way.

  • Heidi K
    April 17, 2015 at 9:45 am

    Sewing teaches girls creativity. They can make something their own.

  • Laura J.
    April 17, 2015 at 9:53 am

    What an awesome book! I don’t have a tween of my own yet (mercifully), but she’s getting there. I would have just eaten this up as a kid! Sewing is a great way to reinforce daily skills — order, precision, and attention to detail, but it’s also a great way to build independent thought and creativity. My daughter is only 4, and already when she see a print she likes, she’ll say “that would be a great dress!” I just love it and can’t wait to see her build her skills!

  • Ana Sullivan from The Lost Apron
    April 17, 2015 at 11:18 am

    I think we have one or two generations now that do not know the first thing about sewing. Starting with simple projects is the perfect way to introduce young girls how to sew. Once they realize how easy it is, then creativity can flow. Some girls need guided options to create. Others create naturally. I think this book is perfect for the guided inspiration.

  • Laura
    April 17, 2015 at 11:20 am

    I love the idea for this book! Seeing taught me many things growing up: patience, creativity, and individuality. Qualities everyone needs in their formidable years.

  • Molly
    April 17, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    I think it teaches them creativity, problem-solving, patience, and that fashion is not (or should not be) truely “fast”. That fashion, clothes, accessories, etc. take resources and time and skill to make and should be appreciated. It also gives them a sense of accomplishment, which is a great confidence builder.

  • Sarah J.
    April 17, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    I think sewing encourages thinking ahead and planning, and when these are done through creativity and individual expression it is all the more meaningful. My 5 yer old has already given me very specific directions on 2 projects (a dress she suggested/ demanded have a scalloped hem- not sure where she got this idea, but it turned out really nice; and just yesterday a regular tank top with a “flowy” waist- aka peplum). Thanks for the chance to win a copy I know we are going to need it soon!

  • Alli
    April 17, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    I think it encourages kids to believe they can have fun trying new things and expanding their horizons. 🙂

  • Sarah
    April 17, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    I think sewing teaches creativity and a set of valuable skills, but more than that, it teaches independant thinking, perserverance, problem solving, excellency, and engineering and math skills.

  • Heather
    April 17, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    This looks amazing! My daughter’s a little young (Turing 4 next week) but all she’s asked me to today is to teach her to sew a pillow. I’d definitely keep this for her to look at and play with when she gets older.

  • Kendra
    April 17, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    Sewing allows girls to make stuff of their own design. It allows girls to connect to the past and to develop an appreciation of handmade items in all their glory (or if not glory, then for the experience and ideas to make the next try better).

  • Tiphaine
    April 17, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    I know the exact young person to offer this. She has been begging me to teach her and do “stuffs” with her, The lack of ideas from me would be so much compensate by this book!!!!

  • Kathie
    April 17, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    i think sewing will help my daughter to accept and find the beauty in all different body shapes and the challenges of fitting them. This i hope will provide a realistc body image and critical thinking skills as she sees more and more images woman

  • Ruth S
    April 17, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    Looks like a great book!

  • Laura
    April 18, 2015 at 1:28 am

    I would love to try out some of these ideas fabulous ideas!

  • Ariana
    April 18, 2015 at 5:02 am

    My niece would love this! I’ve gotten her craft supplies for all kinds of things every Chanukah. She’s a very good artist, and very particular about her clothes. This book sounds like it’s ideal for her.

  • joy
    April 18, 2015 at 11:42 am

    For my granddaughter, sewing not only gave her a creative outlet but also gave her confidence.

  • Kristy
    April 18, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    I think sewing teaches girls that they can be and do anything they set their minds too, even when it’s hard! Never give up and you will reap your rewards….and with sewing, it will keep on giving an opportunity to create and learn!

  • Cherie
    April 19, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Wow! This book would be awesome for my daughter. I could see her just marking up this book with all of the projects that she’d make! I think that sewing teaches lots of things. A few are: patience, using your imagination, creativity, a can do attitude, and let’s not forget confidence. My daughter loves saying that made a bag with no pattern. Thank you!

  • Kathy Davis
    April 19, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    Sewing teaches girls a sense of accomplishment and pride.

  • janna
    April 19, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    Beyond being a valuable life skill sewing teaches girls (and boys) to be creative, have patience, perseverence, problem solving skills, and self confidence.

  • sharon
    April 20, 2015 at 9:59 am

    I am trying to teach my niece, Frankie to sew
    she need some help with patience
    this kind of sewing is more relavent to her lifestyle

  • Brandy Jones
    April 20, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    My daughter’s bday is next month-and she will be 10. (WHAT???!!!! SIGH.) She has recently become VERY interested in her own fashion, and sewing more, and putting materials and ideas together. I’m terribly excited for this book-perfect timing and such a good way to head into summer too!!! (on top of that-I envision her making her little sisters, and possibly brothers, many things from what she learns in this book.) So excited!! Thanks for a great post.

  • Amy M
    April 21, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    It is so great for kids to learn basic sewing skills so they can feel comfortable bringing their ideas to life!