Top 5 Sewing Projects for Tweens & Teens

It is always useful to have some creative projects ready to go at any time of the year and this post is JAM-PACKED with ideas. These are my top 5 go-to projects for children aged 12-16 years of age. They take a morning or an afternoon to complete and will keep the student engaged in the creativity for all that time and longer. All these projects use easy to find and cheap resources – creativity doesn’t need to be expensive and often finding all the stuff to use can be just as fun as making the item.

If you need a reminder on how to set up your sewing machine? Click here for my latest video on getting you started.

  1. Rope Bowls

These are fun and cheap to make!!  Once you have made one, you will be hooked.

What you need

  • 10-15m of cotton rope (uncoated washing line is perfect – or 6mm piping cord), you will need to get your machine needle through it – so avoid solid plastic cores.
  • Jeans or Leather Sewing machine needle (a size 90 would be great) – These are easy to buy from a fabulous British shop John James.
  • Thread (you will need a couple of spools of thread and two wound bobbins)
  • Sewing machine
  • Fabric scraps cut into 1” x 5” rectangles (optional)
  • Glue stick (optional)

How to do it

Watch me demonstrate how to make a rope bowl here.

2. Fantastic Pencil Case

Gather together scraps of fabric, two pieces of wadding (or an old tea towel) and a zip.

What you need

  • Scraps of fabric
  • Two pieces of base material (wadding, tea towel etc) cut to 10” x 8”
  • 12” zip
  • Sewing Machine

How to do it

This is such a popular project that I have written a tutorial for it which is attached below.

3. Reusuable Make Up Wipes

This easy project has gripped my sewing classes for weeks. They have made them for themselves, for family members and wrapped them up as gifts.

What you need

  • Absorbent natural material. I have used bamboo Terry Towelling fabric, but microfibre cloths from the pound shop would work just as well. See what you can find. Good ideas don’t need to be expensive!
  • Wadding or an old tea towel to give the wipe structure.
  • Fabric scraps
  • Paper (A4 sheet or anything to make a pattern with)
  • Circular item (to draw around – a tin of baked beans is good)
  • Sewing machine

How to do it

For each circular wipe you will need a circle of absorbent material, a circle of wadding/tea-towel and two circles of fabric. Now watch this video here to see how easy it is to make these great items.

4. Drawstring Bags

These are really useful, versatile bags to make. You can fill them with toiletries, sweets or presents. You could even get ahead of the game for family birthdays or Mothers Day. They can also be scaled to any size.

What you need

  • Exterior fabric 2 pieces 6” X 8.5” (for bag outer) and 2 pieces 2” x 5” (for ribbon casing)
  • Lining Fabric  2 pieces 6” x 8.5”
  • Ribbon – 2 pieces ribbon  15” long ( ¾” wide ribbon is about right)
  • 2 large wooden beads (optional)

How to do it

Below is my cheat sheet on making these bags. I hope you enjoy making them!

5. Tie-Dyeing

This is not a messy activity any more. Dylon have washing machine dyes that you pour into the drum over your items, shut the door and run the machine on a normal 40’ wash. Afterwards, I run one high temperature wash with an empty machine and wipe around the seal and that is it.  One batch of dye can dye a number of items, so this is a great group activity

What you need

  • 100% cotton items to dye. T-shirts, tea towels, camisole tops, or plain fabric you can make into a scarf or bandana later on.
  • Elastic Bands (lots and lots and more)
  • Dye (from a hardware store)

How to do it

Soak the items in warm water and squeeze the water out as much as possible. Next put as many elastic bands on your item, and wind them as tightly as possible. The more bands you can get onto your item then better. Even when you think you are done – add more!!

Once all the bands are on, pop it in the washing machine with the dye, following the manufacturer’s instructions). When the washing machine is finished, take the item out and remove the bands and give it a good shake … Hey presto – a fabulous tie dye item. You can repeat the process  using a second dye of a different colour the same item and this will produce some great blended patterns and shades.

For more ideas about tie-dye and the shapes you can make, have a look at my Pinterest Board here.

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. To keep up to date with all the other projects and tutorials I release, please like and follow my Facebook and Instagram pages.

Why Don’t You …

I have no idea why it seems to be such a secret that to work with kids is just the best job (though teaching my two Thursday groups is a close run wonderful thing)!!  This Summer, I’ve had the pleasure to teach just over 60 children, either at home, on Young Quilters session, at the Festival of Quilts or a Claires Court Holiday Club. I am amazed it is so many!

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We have made mini quilts, appliqued pictures, zipped pencil cases, frogs and owls, as well as tote bags and tie dye’d T-shirts. There are lots of pictures on my ‘Young Quilters’ page at the website.  Yesterday I looked at the cost of each activity per child. Ignoring my time, the cost was less than £4.60 per child per activity for each of the activities, except for tie dying where we created fabric bags as well as dyed T-shirts all in one session, but even that was only £7.  So the cost is not much really at all, yet everybody seemed to have a brilliant time.

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It’s not just the cost though, it’s opening their little minds to what they can really do. What they achieve can be all their own work and can be beautiful, brilliant and useful. It doesn’t need to be another thing that has to be sneaked into the bin, but it can be something you, they, friends or family can use or keep forever.

By mid-Summer I had created the classes for my after school groups. I am still reeling from their success at the Festival of Quilts and wanted to build on that. This term we are making bed runners (like table runners, but for the end of a bed with pockets for teddies and books), and we will be doing a variety of applique pictures. Later on in the term we will be doing some microwave dying and fabric stamping across to create our own fabric designs to use. I am also planning activities for 1/2 term at Claires Court Holiday club …so keep an eye out for that.

image1 (9)I am hoping that by the end of the year I will have a “Why Don’t You” page on my website. For those of us of a certain age there used to be TV programme in during the school holidays called “Why Don’t You” that encouraged children to get off the sofa (it would be ‘away from the computer’ now) and do something more interesting instead… I thought I could share my low cost makes and ideas to try and inspire even more creativity ! So watch this space !!