Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Kids, creative activities, and the "forgotten groups"

My daughter made this purse, using soda can tabs (we got ours from Ebay, dirt cheap!) - She guesses she used about 400 tabs to make this one.

Yes, my daughter made this purse. On her own.  No help from me to find the instructions, understand them, or source the supplies.  100% her own effort.  It is incredibly light and strong, and required only soda (pop, depending on where you're from) can tabs, yarn, and a crochet needle.  The instructions can be found here.

As the parent of a 12 year old girl, who is quickly approaching her tween-hood (eek!), in size, appearance, and interests, I am looking for more opportunities for her to explore her creative side.  For those of you with young girls, grandchildren, or young girls in your neighborhood/life, maybe you can sympathize with me when I  say that I am finding she is part of a "forgotten group" in many industries.  Recently, we were very happy to find facial and skin products from a wonderful company, Ottille & Lulu, who I found on a random excursion to FAO Schwarz this winter.  Okay, but that's just one area so far...

But what's up with creative fashion? Yes, we've been to the mall... and yes, there's plenty of stuff there.  But what about the truly creative kid who marches to the beat of a different drummer?  I've looked at the patterns offered by the major pattern companies, and, just like my own mother did, asked my daughter to go through the sites and choose things she would like to make together.  She came up empty.  Completely empty and uninspired. We have put a few things on my Pinterest tween fashion page, as we come up with more ideas.

When I was employed by a major pattern company years ago, I learned a very important piece of information that I never forgot.  Pattern companies don't sell patterns; they sell dreams.  75% of patterns purchased never even get opened by the person who purchased them.  Look in your own storage, and tell me I'm not wrong on this... right?  But you need the inspiration!  Let's see some really artistic stuff in those pattern advertisements.  It's fine if we can't tell what age the model might be, but I would love to see them presented in a way that translates.

The major pattern companies jump from Kids to Misses, and a tween can't easily envision which Misses styles would be appropriate, because the photos don't show anyone with her pre-teen body type, nor do they typically show very youthful faces or fabric choices.  Are there other companies out there, with a specific interest in the far younger set? If not, I would love to see that change.

When it comes to fashion, creativity and sewing, there seems to be a gap in ages from true "kids" 10 and younger, and "teens", who I consider to be 16 and up.  Perhaps specifically in New York City, where our kids don't do too much solo travel and public interacting until they are true teenagers, I find that many of the activities we find for her are things we make up ourselves.

She has come along with me to countless fabric and notion stores over the years, watched me make things, been my guinea pig, and the proud recipient of some of my most successful projects. She has learned to sew for herself, and, while not a sewing fanatic, feels an enormous sense of pride when she finishes a project successfully.

I am also the parent of an 8 year old boy, who loves to design clothing... Let's call it "theoretical design", since it usually involves some sort of wild innovation.  These things don't exist unless WE make them. He imagines the thing he wants to wear in his head, draws it, and requests (begs, actually)  that I make it.  His designs are so specific and unique, I almost never have the time to do it, and that must be rectified.  Well, maybe. What he really needs, is a place to learn to sew for himself.  My machine is a bit too fancy to set him free with for experimenting, but I do think he would fall in love.  What the world needs is to support boys who are creative in this way, and I know of at least one place that is supporting that "forgotten group", very well! (Note to all:  that "one place" is now closed...)

School will be out soon.  Do your kids want to take sewing classes in NYC?

See my old post which lists The Sewing Studio, then visit their website to see more.

If you've seen any particularly great and unusual things for kids lately, let me know!

16 comments:

  1. 75%, wow. It is so true though. I thought it was just me, but I guess not. Part of that 75% I think is from buying patterns because you don't know how to sew or fit yet and think it will look just like the picture. You're not knowledgeable enough yet to know that the style isn't right, that you bought the wrong size, or that by the time you are capable of sewing the pattern, you're no longer interested in it anymore. Right?

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    1. Exactly! The "dream" of making the item!

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  2. When I was a "tween" many many many years ago, the pattern companies had a tween section. I think it was called Juniors. I might even still have some of those patterns. I know...I can't throw anything away. Heh! But you are right, these kids need creative outlets. They need to be enticed away from the tv and game stations and smart phones. They need to be encouraged to let their imaginations run wild and be accepted. They are the future innovators of the world. If we don't encourage it, what will our future look like? And on another note, we need to put Home Economics back in the school systems.

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    1. I do think it was called "Juniors"! I loved the Brooke Shields line of patterns, in particular. I actually made them, too - starting when I was 12!

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  3. This is a great post! I also have a 12 year old daughter. She has her own style and yes - there is nothing in patterns to entice her. The sad thing is I don't have the time to sew for her or myself, let alone teach her to sew. At 8 years old, she was very much like your boy. She had books of ideas she had drawn. I hope you can manage to start sewing his ideas. I feel like I missed an opportunity.

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    1. Thanks for that. Now I feel like I HAVE to help him do (or at least try) some of those things!

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  4. Paula's Choice is a skincare line that is appropriate for all ages ...

    And wow, but I hadn't thought about the age-related gap in pattern design, but it's so true!

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    1. Great to know there are other skincare options but I particularly love the specificity of the O & L brand. They do a facial (and a beauty regimen consultation) at FAO Schwarz that made my daughter feel like a queen!

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  5. I am having a hard time finding clothing that fits my 5'5" 14-year-old daughter, that is stylish and fun, but not too adult or sexy. I could sew things for her, but there aren't many patterns that attract her. You are right that it is a forgotten demographic.

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    1. My daughter is 5'5" also - and she's 12!!!! She is the right height for adult clothing, but about a size 0 or a 2, depending on the garment. I know your pain.

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  6. Does the Sweet Pea website have anything that would inspire?

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    1. I don't know of that website. What's the web address?

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  7. Figgy! I love their kids patterns (and i don't have kids) and have noticed they are producing some of them for tweens now!

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  8. Very interesting - I'm not looking forward to the tween years! My daughter is only 7, but her preference is to draw the clothes she wants me to make, and leave me to figure out which patterns I can adapt to approximate her 'vision'. Even though there are patterns for her age group, she finds it impossible to imagine them in a different fabric to what's pictured.I also find that the major pattern companies draft their kids patterns way too wide for my string bean kids - burda, Jalie and kwiksew being exceptions.

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    1. Yes, for me, I find that a pattern size 8 is already pretty much her size - she's just shorter... I just have to image appropriate fabrications and fit for her, I think...

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  9. I wrote up my thoughts about patterns not used, whatever that means. http://badmomgoodmom.blogspot.com/2016/04/supplies-not-stash.html

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