Friday, September 6, 2013

Sewing for the tween - tips and sewing a high-low hem shirt by Stacy from Land of KA

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Today we have Stacy from The Land of KA is with us to not only share some tips for sewing for a tween, but a great tutorial!  Stacy makes amazing clothes not only for her daughter but for her son as well. Go check out some of her creations!
 So when exactly do the tween years start? For my girl, I think it started around 3 with the attitude. When you are a little curly-haired blonde cherub as a youngster everyone thinks you are adorable and you can get away with so much. That translates to a bit of an attitude when you start to grow a bit. She can still be a sweetheart, but there is no doubt she has her own opinions about things! It has been about a year or so since she stopped wanting to wear dresses that I have made for her. This proves frustrating, as I LOVE TO MAKE DRESSES! Now, I need to make more tween appropriate clothing for her. Last fall I did a s.w.a.p. (sewing with a plan) for her back to school clothing. She wore most of those clothes all year until they didn't fit her anymore. Now I am in the midst of another year of back to school sewing, and need to determine what to make for her this year. 
 These are my tips for pleasing a tween:
  Request Input They are no longer at the age where you can make whatever YOU want to make and expect them to wear it. My kids were pretty good for a long time about wearing whatever I made, as long as I picked it out and put it on them. They were lazy that way. Fun times! If I expect my girl to wear something now, I need to solicit her input on what she likes. I let her pick fabric and show me what styles she likes.  

Look at popular stores for current trends I think one of the number one things you hear from adults whose mothers sewed for them was, "It looked homemade, out of style, I hated what she made!" We have so many options for buying fabric and embellishments nowadays, that it should not be a problem to make something they would like. I get catalogs from a few stores, so I look at them and also online. Justice is a pretty popular tween store, but Chasing Fireflies has a few things that would work for them, too. I get out the catalogs, give her a pen and have her circle her favorites. It gives me an idea of what direction I should go when I set out to make her clothes. Current trends: High-low tops, patterned leggings/jeggings/skinny jeans, animal print, layered lace tops
  Add some bling Rhinestones are all the rage right now. I don't have a heat set tool, so I buy mylar carrier sheets from Dharma Trading. You can either make your own designs for the rhinestones, or use a printout when you place them on the sheets. You can also add pre-made iron-ons, rivets or use fabric paint. I get most of those types of things at Michaels craft store. Anything you add is going to make it look more trendy, and not homemade, with the *BLING*.
  Make it comfortable and un-fussy There are some super cute things out there that just don't seem user friendly for a little girl. I have seen little girl trenches with belted waists. Tell you what...that belt would be lost in no time with my kid. That is just wayyyyy too much work to get dressed with that. Another thing...she is all about knits or stretch twills/denim. If it doesn't allow her to move, then it gets put into the "I won't wear it" pile. I made her these jeans last spring. She wore them about 3 times before she tried to do the splits in them. They were corduroy without a lick of lycra in them, so guess what happened?? Split is right! Big tear right up the backside NOT on a seam. So...she needs things that will stretch

 Alrighty... Today I am going to show you how to do a high-low hem shirt with a lace overlay.
First off, you need a regular knit top pattern. One thing you always need is a basic top block. From there you can go in many different directions. Here are the front and back patterns in process. I moved them out a bit at the hem to give more room to the shirt. I am using french terry here and it doesn't have a lot of give to it. I wanted it to be easier to get on and off for her.
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I used my French curves (bought a package of them off of Amazon) to draw the curve on the front and the back. The front has a bit of a swoop in it, but you can just draw a plain curve, too.
Then...time to cut! I cut the lace on the front along with the front piece to make sure they ended up the same.
Sewing Steps:
  • Pin and attach the seams at the shoulders. I used my serger, but you can use a zigzag on a regular sewing machine. I serged stay tape on at the shoulder to give it some extra stability. Next I serged the ends of the neck binding and then serged it on. I ironed it down flat, and then top-stitched with a zig-zag stitch on the sewing machine.
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  • Pin and attach the arms in the flat.
  • Sew the cuffs on the arms and topstitch.
  • Sew up the side seam from the arm all the way down.
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  • Measure the binding out on the finished seam and cut to the proper length. Close the edges and then pin to the bottom. I also ironed it down flat before attaching to the shirt. Now, attach the binding on the bottom seam and topstitch. Alternatively, you can just fold the hem up and sew it down with a zigzag if you don't want to put a binding on the bottom.
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All done! Next, I sewed up a simple pair of leggings from matching fabric, so she has a full outfit. Leggings are super quick and easy to make. I made a pattern that has the front and the back in one piece, so you just need to cut two pieces, sew up the crotch, sew up the inseam and attach the elastic. Takes about 30 minutes to make a pair.
Thanks for having me Sally and Major Mama!


  1. Love the hi/low and the fact that neither the shirt or the leggings are too tight. Perfect for still being a little girl but a little grown up too!!

  2. Awesome post and tutorial, Stacy! I love your ideas for "pleasing a tween". Now if I can only figure out the 30 minutes legging pattern. (smile)

  3. Cute top!! And I can totally relate with your daughter not wanting to wear dreses to school anymore! Mine did the same thing. Every morning, it's jeans and a t-shirt.
    I linked to your tutorial over at Craft Gossip:

  4. What a fabulous way to use the trend of lace in an age approriat manner!


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