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Need advice - sewing for 11 yr old neice
Need feedback & pattern suggestion on my ideas
piakdy
piakdy
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UNITED KINGDOM
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Date: 7/3/13 4:57 PM

Hello (especially Moms of Tweens!)

This is my very first attempt to sew for my 11 yr old neice who lives in the US (I live in England). I'm a bit at a loss since I don't have children of my own.

I have some ideas, but am not sure if they will work well. Also, I need pattern idea for one. Can you help?

Idea 1:
Shortened McCall 6501 view E dress with sleeves from view A in this black floral net with magenta lycra knit underlining/lining.



Idea 2:
Burda 9547 view A jacket in faux suede with gold dots and golden orange lining.



Idea 3:
Burda 9547 view E skirt in faux suede cut lace and golden orange lining / underlining.



I canít decide whether to attach the bottom tier to the hem of the top tier or have each tierís hem free floating like this:

What would you go for?

I also want to make a tunic top in the same faux suede cut lace to go with the skirt. I want one that can be worn tucked in or not. But I havenít found a pattern yet. Any suggestions?

Finally, do these plans scream Unhip Aunty? I need Tweeny opnions!

Thanks in advance! - Pia
-- Edited on 7/3/13 5:00 PM --

rivergum
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Date: 7/3/13 5:23 PM

If she is 11 you need to let her choose, as she will be very particular as to what she wants to wear. This is just the age when girls want to look like everyone else, and having clothes made by a mother or aunt aren't all that popular any more. Teenagers are notoriously difficult to sew for unless they approach you with something they want and can't buy.

What is your objective in sewing for your niece? If you want to give her a present, a cash gift for her to spend herself will be a much safer option.

If you want to sew for a child because of your creative inclinations, sewing for a younger child would have a much greater chance of success. The younger the better IMO. Kids from 4 or 5 onwards can be quite picky about what they like and you need to have a good idea of this before you invest the time and effort in sewing something for them.

I have a 10 months old GS and am making the most of sewing for him while he is still too young to object to grandma's creations. For example, I have some Australian indigenous prints left over from making pyjamas for myself, which would be very suitable for a toddler's pyjamas too. But I know that I have a very small window of opportunity to make this work. Too young and he won't appreciate the fun of wearing the same pyjamas as his grandma, and too old and it will be the last thing he will want to do. I reckon somewhere between 18 months and 2 years will be about right.

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Taking in is happier than letting out.

Sydney, Australia

kkkkaty
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Date: 7/3/13 6:45 PM

I agree with Rivergum that sewing for the younger kids is probably a better option, but having said that this review that Martha just did for McCalls 6560 is quite cute, and the girls look very happy wearing them. You'd need good measurements....

a size 6 would probably be too big for an 11 yo, but maybe it's a place to start. Teen Vogue might help with what is current. 11 yos are starting to feel pretty grown up, I think....
-- Edited on 7/3/13 6:48 PM --

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kkkkaty
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Date: 7/3/13 6:59 PM

one other thing... I've had luck asking kids directly in fabric stores what they think about notions and patterns (with their parents right at hand and without looking like a stalker). One youngster helped me chose a button for a dress I was making for a cousin's daughter.

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lyndle
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Date: 7/3/13 7:01 PM

Maybe you could chat with her on skype and have a pattern and fabric choosing session together? You have not only the 11 year old challenge but something of a cross-cultural challenge as well (actually anyone who doesn't live in the same city has this, really). Maybe you could make a pinterest board of some ideas and inspirations, rtw inspiration, fabrics, patterns, and she could do the same with the kinds of clothes she'd like to wear, then show and discuss, or you could do it together while skyping so it's not homework. Doing it together could be half the fun.

Some 11 year olds are very clothes conscious and others aren't interested, so the above might not work, but it could be worth a try. I'd suggest that a big hit would be anything that is right on the borderline of what her mum will allow her to wear... or that she thinks she might only be allowed because it's a gift. (You don't have to actually cross the line - just a wee bit shorter, or sparklier, or louder would probably do it).
Accessories might also be a cool option -auntie-designed bag, purse, hat etc could be awesome too.
Happy sewing!

lyndle
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Date: 7/3/13 7:03 PM

Just looked at your ideas again - think they will be cool but she will be more excited if you let her feel she is part of the design process for these. Also kids have very defined ideas about how things feel against the skin so that's worth a conversation too.

Mel.J
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Date: 7/3/13 9:21 PM

My DD is 9 (but her choice of clothing has recently changed dramatically into a more tween style), & I have a 13 yr old god-daughter. I absolutely second the advice to get her opinion if you can. If you want it to be a surprise then I would enlist her parent to take photos & measurements of her favourite garments. Try to make something similar.

The two kids in my life will not wear anything overly sparkly, they avoid dressing to draw attention. The 13 yr old will not wear dresses or skirts at all, except summer school uniform where she has no choice. She wears skinny jeans and skinny cut-off shorts. The 9 yr old still wears skirts, but I can see this is changing. Both go for simple shapes. I can't see either being keen on the tunic top, the ruffle would be too much. But that varies between kids and locations. The style here will be different to the US.

Of the patterns you are considering, I think the jacket has a good chance, and the skirt may be a hit if she likes skirts. Like other people have suggested, this age group are very much about their own choices. Often it has to be just right or they won't wear it.

I know that's probably sounding a bit discouraging, but if the mum thinks garments may not be appreciated, consider making other things. I'm planning gifts of bags to suit their hobbies.

Hopefully you will find a project that is a real winner for your niece.
-- Edited on 7/4/13 7:57 AM --

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Mel (Melbourne, Australia)

piakdy
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Date: 7/4/13 6:21 AM

Thanks for your advice Ladies!

I did have the terrible feeling that I've just stepped into quicksand as soon as the offer came out of my mouth! Unfortunately it was uttered in front of the parents, who were either being polite or more enthusiastic than my niece.

My motivation was part guilt and part wanting to do something nice for her. It feels like she already has everything a child needs materialistically. Except confidence in herself.

She's the only girl in the family. (My brother's gay - sorry if that offends some of you. But he's family, and they been together longer than any of my relationships has lasted. So I can't really judge them. Especially as they're such nice people in every other ways!) She's not very academic, so doesn't get as much praise as her younger brother.

Anyway, it seems like most of her outfits are picked out by her Dads. The few times I went shopping with them, her picks tend to get the thumbs down. Her Dads' styles seem more J Crew. And while she does like J Crew T-shirt with cute pictures, what she pick herself tend to be stuff that's slightly more glittery or revealing. So I think she doesn't have much confidence picking clothing, and seem to have lost some interest too.

We did go to JoAnn together to pick patterns and fabric. She was so indecisive! The only pattern that she was really keen on was New Look 6120, a Project Runway branded adult pattern. (My brother loves Project Runway.)

But I was worried that the silhouette would look too old on her. Also, I don't really know how to alter adult pattern to fit tweens.

The black floral net fabric was her pick. But she had in mind a see-thru jacket. Again, I was worried it might look too sexy / grown up that it would get thumbs down from her Dads.

The jacket pattern she picked. And while the I suggested the fabric, she did OK'ed it. So maybe that would be the safest bet.

Maybe I'll just make these three as an experiment and to fulfill my promise (to her parents). And maybe even if she doesn't like these she'll at least remember that Aunty can sew. So when she's older (& I'm better at fitting!) she might approach me with projects of her own choosing!

-- Edited on 7/4/13 6:22 AM --
-- Edited on 7/4/13 6:50 AM --

sugarduck
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Date: 7/4/13 7:22 AM

I have an 11 year old niece, too, and I've made her a couple of dresses (at her mom's request). It's so hard to find patterns that fit both the body type and style of that age group. Like your niece, mine is mostly drawn to adult patterns; I think that a lot of times, girls of that age like the look of grown-up styles, but don't realize that clothes do not look the same on a woman's (or an older teen's) body as they do on a pre-adolescent body.

If she likes that New Look dress, you might look for similarly shaped patterns drafted specifically for tween sizes. Mod Kid has a couple of patterns with similar aspects (I've never made these patterns myself, but they seem to get good reviews): The Hailey Tunic/Dress and The Kyoko Tween Tunic/Dress, for example.

Jalie Patterns might be worth a look, too, as their patterns are drafted for a huge range of sizes. Some of the knit tops look a lot like what I've seen in shops for that age group.

Hope this helps!

gramma b
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Date: 7/4/13 7:25 AM

Sounds like she needs a female mentor nearby too?
US girls of that age get a lot of peer pressure to fit in,
pushing them towards their outer appearance being more important than their inner self--which requires a strong adult guide alongside.
Sadly, girls at 10+ are now like teens of 17 used to be.

I observed 2 dads shopping with their daughter, about 9.
The dads were picking out girly-girl things, but she clearly was
the athlete type and not interested. If she doesn't care about clothes now, that's probably a good thing. Let her find her own way and Skype her often for support.

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