The best sewing projects for pre-teens often use recycled materials. In addition to being eco-friendly and affordable, projects that use recycled materials can generally be completed in less than an hour and require only minimal sewing skills. They can encourage your pre-teen to become familiar with using a sewing machine while building the confidence she'll need to tackle more challenging projects.
T-Shirt Tote Bag
Recycling an old T-shirt by turning it into a tote bag is an excellent first project for the novice sewer. Your pre-teen can use the bag as a substitute for a traditional purse or for organizing small items in her room. T-shirt tote bags also make great gifts for friends. To make a T-shirt tote bag, turn the shirt inside out and stitch along the hem to close the bag. Turn the shirt back to the original position. Cut off the sleeves of the shirt. Cut out the neckline in the shape of a square to make handles for the bag.
Bandana Throw Pillow
Bandanas are the perfect size to turn into a stylish throw pillow for your pre-teen's room. To make a bandana pillow, iron two bandanas so they will lay flat. Place the two bandanas with the front sides of the fabric facing each other. Pin the edges together. Sew a straight line around three of the four sides. On the fourth side, leave a small opening in the middle. Use this opening to turn the fabric back to the original position. Add fiberfill stuffing until the pillow is the desired firmness, then hand stitch the opening closed.
Pillow Case Skirt
Many pre-teen girls want to learn how to sew in order to make their own clothes. Before your daughter attempts to make her own prom dress, however, it's a good idea to try a simpler and less expensive project. A pre-teen girl can make a cute pillowcase skirt by cutting off the closed hem of a pillow case. Turn the pillow case inside out. Make a casing by turning the edge of the fabric over and sewing it down about 2 inches from the edge. Thread elastic through the casing and turn the pillow case back to the original position. Decorate the skirt using fabric markers or iron-on transfers.
Layered Look Shirt
Pre-teens can make their own faux layered look shirts by sewing together two of their favorite T-shirts. Cut the bottom 6 to 8 inches off the first shirt. Pin the shirts together so the side seams match as closely as possible. Stitch around the original seam of the second shirt to join the two shirts together. To make a tunic-length shirt to wear with leggings, simply increase the length of the portion you cut from the first shirt.