On-Trend Titles: DIY Style and Fashion Books for Tweens
by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
My middle school years were a time of style discovery (and multiple fashion faux-pas). I was keen to “express myself” and used iron-on patches, permanent markers, neon, and plenty of fabric glue to re-fashion, create, and embellish. Okay, I admit it: I still am.
The middle school years, when many become style- and self-conscious, can be a wonderful time for kids to develop their creative spirits. My daughter, now in 7th grade, is a constant doodler; she spent an afternoon coloring a pair of plain white sneakers, and is now launching a shoe-doodling business. She fell in love with the “regular people” feel of “The Great British Sewing Bee” on TV, and she and her friends sometimes engage in thinly disguised variations of the dress-up play from their younger days.
For all who embrace handmade, or who just want to express themselves and build creative skills along the way, there are all kinds of DIY style and fashion resources. (Though I do wish there were more equitable gender representation in books on the topic.) Here are a few great ones for today’s makers.
A Kid’s Guide to Sewing
Eleven-year-old Sophie wrote this book along with her parents, quilters Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr. Using lots of instructive, colorful photographs, Sophie guides young readers through the basics of sewing, including fabric choice, sewing tools, and more, with projects from skirts and scarves to bags and blankets.
A teaching artist, designer, and blogger, Ware’s vibrant sewing and style workbook for tweens teaches technique along with “how to wear your creations with flair.” Packed with gorgeous illustrations; ideas for sustainable making (like using newspaper to make patterns); tips for accessorizing, determining one’s best colors, and more, Sew Fab is an appealing and inspirational guide.
I Spy DIY Style: Find Fashion You Love and Do It Yourself
Though it’s project-based, Radosevich’s book is packed with tons of easily transferable tips, ideas, and techniques. Her popular blog of the same name features clothing and more, with videos and step-by-step instructions for a full-bodied DIY life.Available from:
The Fashion Book
This one might work well as a companion to a more how-to oriented book. The Fashion Book is designed to inspire with history and stories from the fashion world, cultural influences, and the sometimes-surprising ways that trends develop. It includes a collection of style tips, a glossary, industry “secrets,” and information on possible careers in fashion.
New Dress a Day: The Ultimate DIY Guide to Creating Fashion Dos from Thrift-Store Don’tsAvailable from:
One of those books that can make a dabbler feel like a pro with clever, budget-conscious, and stylish tips for all ages. Lynch primarily uses handsewing techniques to show the many ways that makers can create and re-create accessories, retro- and forward-thinking styles from “outdated castoffs”.Also available from:
My Wonderful World of Fashion: A Book for Drawing, Creating and Dreaming
The first in a series, this is a “coloring book” treat that includes clothing, shoes, bags, and more. Chakrabarti includes designs to “finish” and simple directions for making a variety of items like a dyed t-shirt or a sari. “Did you know?” tidbits are featured throughout, and focus on fashion’s history and expression in cultures and communities around the world.
Doodling for Fashionistas
This small, portable volume is full of creative doodling prompts and exercises for everything from shoes to self-portraits to umbrellas. Correll’s whimsical style is accessible, and encourages readers to dive right in with whatever tools they have available.
Fashion Design Workshop
A step-by-step illustration guide that teaches the basics of fashion and figure drawing, Corfee’s book covers a range of looks “from sophisticated and elegant to cool and casual.” Also includes information on the basics of fashion design and a glossary of terms, and can be paired with Corfee’s Fashion Design Workshop Drawing Book & Kit, which includes pencils, erasers, markers, and more.
Featured in I Spy DIY is a quote from one of my favorite NYC spots for handmade and refashion inspiration, M&J Trimming: “Sometimes, after growing up, we often forget what it felt like to be creative in our younger years. It brings back great memories and often helps relieve stress.”
Whether it’s by using fabric paint to add polka dots to tights, or a pair of scissors to turn a t-shirt into a tote bag, or a sewing machine to create haute couture, we have a world of opportunity to go forth and make. As for me, I’m going to send my kid these “41 Awesomely Easy No-Sew DIY Clothing Hacks” right now. And check them out myself.