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Prelude to Fashion Design Schools for Tweens: Fashion Design Kits, 4H, and More

Updated on January 30, 2013

Encourage Them In Their Interests

Do you have a tween or teen who is constantly sketching ideas for outfits? Perhaps the family pet is the model for the latest re-made t-shirt, though you were sure you put it in that giveaway bag for Goodwill just a few days ago. Does your young fashionista find a way to make mere disposable table napkins into exotic Barbie doll dresses? Do your scraps of fabric disappear? Do you realize that fashion design school has already begun?

I am a firm believer in helping my youngsters to explore areas of interest, as is my Mom. If we loved foreign language, we were encouraged through tutoring or other opportunities. Music? Even if it wasn't possible at the point of original interest, my parents tried to give us the opportunity at some point to explore that passion...I took flute lessons for the first time in high school, and greatly enjoyed the opportunity, though most of my friends started their musical pursuits somewhat earlier. I like to give my own children the chance to explore their interests, even if it may be fleeting. Testing the waters allows you to realize that yes, this is my thing, or no, I don't like it after all.

Photo courtesy of Pink Sherbet Photography, via Flickr Creative Commons
Photo courtesy of Pink Sherbet Photography, via Flickr Creative Commons

Lifetime learning begins at birth, and parents, you have the opportunity to encourage and inspire. If your child is a fashion designer in his or her dreams, help that child to have the opportunity to make that dream come true. It doesn't require a fortune. Just a great attitude, a little insight, and some creativity. If it's worth pursuing beyond high school, that kid will make it known, and you will be able to examine the post high school educational possibilities. In the time between now and then, here are a few ways to encourage that interest.

Fashion Design Kits

Fashion design kits are one option for encouraging your sketcher. The notebooks and art pads filled with ideas and patterns can be the inspiration for your aspiring designer.  In fact, a fashion design kit can be as simple as a sketchbook and some good colored pencils.  My tween daughter has long been sketching her own ideas, as has her older sister.  Great drawing tools, and a variety of colors, lead to great use of imagination.

Project Runway Fashion Design and Illustration Studio Set
Project Runway Fashion Design and Illustration Studio Set

There are many elements of the Project Runway series of products, including that displayed here. Watch for related products on this kit's page, and put together your own selection for your fashion minded tween.


 There are also arts and crafts sets which include a variety of pattern and texture tools, which allow the user to accent their imaginings with polka dots, stripes, or other patterns.  Aside from the fact that thes make for fun creations on paper, they also are great from a mathematical perspective, in terms of the combinations that can be developed from a given set of pattern elements.  While the activity is strictly drawing and coloring, it's a fun way for a tween to express her ideas, and to imagine further.

Beyond Sketching

There are many fun fashion design sets which go beyond the simple idea of sketching, and provide patterned and colored paper for your child to use to fashion their ideas out of interesting materials.

Harumika Fashion Kits provide miniature dress forms, and materials, to work with, very interesting.

Brother LS2000 Sewing Machine

The Brother LS2000 Sewing Machine, featured below, is a great little starter machine for your tween or teen fashionista.  The cute flower design is a bonus, making it fun, consistent with the energetic and upbeat nature of a tween. 

I purchased this machine last Christmas, one for my tween daughter, and one for her teenage older sister.  Both girls use these machines to work on their 4H projects, and love to use them.  They are similar to models used in their 4H classic, and very lightweight and portable.  For now, the girls store their machines in the original boxes, but I will be on the lookout for a protective case for each of them. 

If you want to inspire creativity in your fashion designing daughter, or accommodate her interest by providing her with real, quality tools, this Brother sewing machine is a great begginer tool!

Sewing Classes

Your tween is at an age where sewing skills can be learned and carried out. Though home ec is not as highly emphasized in these days, my own introduction to sewing occurred through a 7th grade class. My tween daughter is currently learning through 4-H, which provides very individualized instruction, opportunity to choose fabrics and patterns of interest to her, and the opportunity to learn on her own machine. 4-H is a fantastic option, if sewing is offered, and very affordable, with a minimal yearly fee to participate. Other venues for tween sewing classes may be craft stores such as Michaels or Joann Etc., or through local fabric and sewing shops.

A worthwhile skill, and a reasonable introduction to creating fashions, your tween may find this is a serious pursuit. My husband speaks of family members who learned in the tween years, and developed their abilities to a professional level as teens.

 My tween is capable of working with my sewing machine, a basic singer model, and an inexpensive starter machine is a great investment, given any sewing class will involve learning about the machine, and how to use it.  However, if you aren't quite ready to get a full fledged machine, there are some children's sewing machines available.  My only caution is that there are many limitations, and few options other than simple chain stitching.  The child's sewing machine I purchased for my teenager, many years ago, did not work well, and did not hold up for long.  It's definitely better at this stage to consider a full sized machine, as even the most basic models have several stitching options.

Sewing Kits and Sewing Boxes

If your tween gets involved in sewing, some basics will be needed for their early fashion design learning, including scissors, tape measure, and straight pins.

 While the fictional life of Tru Jackson VP may not be what you have in mind for your tween, it is possible to encourage your tween in her interest in fashion and fashion design.  Provide materials which fit with your tween's focus, and if possible, provide the opportunity for some instruction, whether through classes at school, community courses, or other individualized instruction.  There's no telling where that opportunity may lead!


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