Continuing my theme of preparing a post here in order to work out what I will make for my chicks, the flavour for today’s list of suggestions and links is the tween girl. My eldest chick is turning 11 this week, and is right in that middle stage– not quite a teenager, but not a young child. She still loves playing imaginary games, but also enjoys Dr Who. She is happy playing with younger children, but is keen to wear makeup and listen to her own style of music. She is finding her feet as a leader at school, in the last year of primary school, and starting to think about high school, boys, and relationships in a very different way. This can make it hard to find gifts that aren’t too young for her, but that aren’t too old for her. I don’t want to push her to grow up, but I want to give her the freedom to do it at her own pace.
With all of that in mind I am starting this list with a tutorial that is great for many ages, but particularly good for the ‘tween-agers in your life! A list of other suggestions and links follows at the end.
Repurposed Denim Zipped pouch – tutorial.
Zipped pouches can be used for so many things including for holding iPods, chargers and earphones, for pencil cases, for carrying the little toys that are still attractive to this age group (tiny cutesy miniature things that hurt parents a lot when they are stood on in the middle of the night), for feminine hygiene products (yes – they are starting to grow up), for makeup or for hair-ties, hairclips, etc. You can make them using cotton, laminated cotton, or repurposed jeans (my newest addiction!).
This tutorial produces a zipped pouch that is 8” x 5” using repurposed denim.
Repurposed Denim Pouch
One pair of used denim jeans (well – actually one small part of a pair of denim jeans – the bottom of one leg, or the seat and a bit of the thigh is enough!)
Cotton for lining – a piece 17” x 5 ½” – cut into two pieces 8 1/2″ x 5 1/2″
Zipper that is longer than 8 ½”
Optional – small piece fusible fleece (for more body use Vilene H640, for less use Vilene H630).
Repurposing old denim jeans
To make this pouch you will need two squares of denim 8 ½” x 5 ½”. There are several easy places to salvage this much denim from – it will depend on where your jeans are most worn. The bottom of the legs, below the knee and above the hem tends to yield the best quality denim, but I am also partial to including a back pocket as a pocket on the outside of the pouch that can be used as a pocket on the pouch. If the fabric around the pocket is a little worn, then some fusible interfacing can assist to provide some added stability to the fabric.
If you want to add some padding to the pouch, then follow the directions for the fusible fleece and adhere it to the wrong side of the denim before you start sewing.. I recommend cutting your piece ½” smaller than the denim (i.e. 8” x 5”) so that your seams aren’t too bulky.
- To insert the zip it is useful, but not necessary, to use a zip foot. Take your first square of denim and place it face down on top of the zip so that the top edge of the fabric lines up with the top edge of the zip. The right side of the zip and the right side of the fabric will be facing each other. Ensure that the zip ends overhang the fabric on each side. Then take one piece of your lining fabric and place it on the other side of the zip, with the right side facing the right side of the denim. This is often described as a zip sandwich. Pin the three pieces together and then stitch along the top edge ¼” from the edge.
2. Flip the fabric back so that the right side of the denim is now facing up and the right side of the lining is facing down. Repeat the same step with the second piece of denim fabric and the lining fabric on the other side of the zip, making sure that the sides of the pieces line up with the fabric already attached to the zip. (NB – if you are using a pocket from the jeans, make sure that the top of the pocket is nearest to the zip seam! It may also be a bit bulky so be prepared to ease the fabric under the foot.)
3. Denim is quite heavy, so you can either finger press, or use an iron to press the top and bottom pieces so that they sit flat along the zip. The next step is optional but I recommend top stitching along the edges of the zip to stop the lining getting caught in the zip down the track. To do this measure one inch from the edge of the fabric, and then top-stitch a line along the edge of the seam and stop one inch from the other end. (Starting and stopping before the edge of the fabric enables you to sew the pouch sides together with relative ease.) Repeat this on the other side of the zip, matching the start and finish points.
4. Before you sew the sides of the pouch, open the zipper at least half way so that the zip pull is in the middle of the zip. Then put the right sides of the lining together and match up the edges, and the right sides of the denim together and match up their edges. Pin the zip so that the teeth of the zip are facing towards the outer fabric when you are pinning it in place.
5. You will leave a gap in the side of the lining to turn the bag in the right way, so start your seam about an inch below the zip on the lining, and sew around the edge of the pouch, until you reach the bottom of the same side of the lining. When you are sewing across the seam and zip where the lining and the outer fabrics join, you will need to open the edges of the fabric to compensate for the top stitching that you did earlier along the zip.
Leaving a gap of about 3 inches will allow you to turn the pouch inside out. Open up the seam on the side so that you are sewing the fabric without it being caught by the top stitching near the zip.
6. Once you have sewn the edges of the pouch, clip the corners, and then clip the excess fabric around the zip, so that the long ends are cut off and the bulk of the fabric next to the seam is removed. Be careful not to cut the stitching and consider applying an extra row of stitching as reinforcement here.
Clipping the seam where the zip ends helps reduce bulk.
7. Turn your pouch inside out, so that the denim is facing out and the lining is tucked in the pouch. Make sure that your corners are pushed out properly, and ensure that your zip corners are pushed up properly. Then either handstitch the side seam in the pouch closed or use your machine to stitch a line to close it.
8. Sit back and admire your handiwork. Take a photo and, if you post it to instagram, tag it #alittlebirdmademe so that I can admire it too!!
9. Of course you could also appliqué the ‘plain side’, or use different fabric. The options are endless! (Wish I had thought of the appliqué before I finished. Might have to make another one now!!)
Other suggestions for DIY ‘tween gifts.
Bags of all shapes and sizes!
Personalised duffel bag
You might recall that last year I made the eldest chick a weekender bag from Dr Who fabric. It continues to get much use and be a big hit. This free tutorial from Jembellish for a personalised duffle bag is another alternative to this.
Cross body bag
This style of bag is just right for a tween – sophisticated and yet not overdone – perfect for taking when they are going to a friend’s house, to the shops, or out to a cafe! And I just happen to have a tutorial to make one here on my site – Tutorial for cross body bag
My eldest chick seems to be quite good at saving her money to use for special purchases, but is carrying around a very small coin purse that likes to pop open and empty it’s contents into whatever bag it is carried in. Maybe I need to make one of the wallets designed by Color Me Domestic!
Dr Who pouch
The eldest chick is a big Dr Who fan. If I was to present her with one of the pieced pouches generously shared by Flying Blind on a Rocket Cycle showing a Tardis, I could well be voted best mother of the year. (I won’t have time to do it this year but will need to keep reminding myself about it for another big occasion!)
The tweens I know are starting to develop their own fashion style – recognising what they like to wear and what makes them feel good. Making something to encourage or complement that style will always go down well. The following tutorials provide a lot of inspiration!
Scrap hacker – DiY Sneakers This has a list of ideas for decorating your own sneakers. Another option is to give the tween a pair of blank sneakers and a packet of fabric markers (I like the retro bright set by Sharpie) and let them decorate their own!
Being able to move away from the decor of childhood to a more grown up decor is all part of being a tween. Gifts that can assist with this include posters, new doona covers and curtains, and things that personalise their room. This link has a tutorial for basic bunting – using fabric that is personal to the tween, or adding their name can make it personalised for them.
I have already collected a fair assortment of free tutorials for cushions and pillowcases, and added two of my own. Adding these to a tween’s room is another inexpensive and easy way to jazz up and personalise their decor! Tutorials for cushions and pillowcases, Pillowcase from fat quarters with an iPod pocket and A PDF tutorial on making a buttoned-back envelope cushion cover are all here on the site ready to inspire you!
Tween chicks are starting to express their individuality through their choice of accessories too, so these links provide great inspiration of ways to make jewellery for them.
Scraphacker – Button Bling This link has a great collected of linked tutorials on making jewellery from buttons.
Coconut Lemon Lime – How to with Deena has tutorials on making jewellery using shells.
Love this pic – DIY Cork Pendants This is an image that shows you how to make pendants by cutting up wine corks. No tutorial but the picture is quite clear.
That growing independence and budding sophistication means that tweens are starting to be interested in beauty products and makeup. A wrap for their hair is a great gift, and the next link takes you to a lovely collection of tutorials for making your own spa treats.
A further list of ideas for tweens is found on the site The Childs Paper. If you are interested in making gifts by recycling old sweaters the links on London Local Services are wonderful! Lots of ideas that could be adapted to tweens very easily.
I think I have narrowed down my options (particularly given my time frame of a week) for the eldest chick, so will show you the outcomes next week after she has received her gifts!