Potential Birthday Tops for a 10-Year-Old


July is teeming with birthdays in our cozy circle of family and friends, and it feels like we’re celebrating every other day. But the two that matter the most in our household are coming up this weekend and next. This Saturday is M’s special day and we’ve got a teepee booked. He loves those teepees, and I hope we can slumber without any moose scares.

And then the following Saturday, K turns 10!!! A while ago, I found this amazing silk fabric with pink horses and nothing was going to stop me from getting it for K even though a) it’s silk, which is an impractical textile option for a kid and b) it wasn’t, as I’d initially thought, pink unicorns. K is going through a humongo unicorn phase right now.


I know that she’ll adore it though.

I’ve been so scattered lately. It wasn’t until yesterday that it dawned on me that I have less than two weeks until her birthday and I’ve done so little planning. I’ve totally dropped the ball on this one. If nothing else, I’m determined to sew her a sweet top because she noticed that I’ve been sewing for myself again and said, “No fair! I want you to sew for me!!”

Because the fabric was a bit spendy, I only got a yard and a quarter, which limits what I can make. I’ve narrowed my choices down to the following:


From this book.


From this book.


From this book.

I’m leaning towards that last one. The silk would flow so prettily and I might be able to reduce the width a bit to squeeze the pattern pieces out of the small amount I have. What do you think? Which one would you go with? Or do you know of other tween-worthy patterns that could be made from 1.25 yards? I suppose I could combine it with some lawn fabric I have (which is what I might have to do with the very top option with the lace inset), but I don’t know…this one deserves to shine on its own.

I better get crackin’. There’s a sewing project I want to try for M as well, but that one is fairly ambitious so I highly doubt I’ll be able to complete it in time. You know me, always biting off more than I can chew — what would be the sewing equivalent of that? Threading more than the eye of the needle can hold? Cutting more fabric than the pattern requires? My brain is not cooperating…More later!

21 thoughts on “Potential Birthday Tops for a 10-Year-Old

  1. All these choices are so nice. And made out of such beautiful fabrics–like those beautiful horses. It is completely up to you–but I like no 2, for each of getting dressed. Pull it over. Done. No looking for clean shorts or jeans. Anyway, is the fabric see through

    I like no 2. No looking around for clean jeans or shorts. Is the fabric see through? A little dress might have to be lined,though. Also, you could make the bodice and armhole binding out of a pink linen or maybe a blue or green chambray.? And make the dress a little longer by adding a band of fabric in the contrast color,also. I just love giving my opinions! Make M a little zippered bag with the promise of something more, maybe? It will be great whatever you decide–I know it.

    1. Haha! I’ve done the same in the past! Good point about the ease of putting it on — I can see K not wearing it if it requires too much work. Thanks for the helpful tip, Greta!

  2. I would pick 3. It is so simple the fabric would shine on its own. And it is roomy it can be layered. Can’t wait to see what you sew, it will be beautiful.

  3. I like the third one too. It is a little more grown up looking which I suspect is becoming more important. My great grandmother from England used to use the expression, “She was never one to cut the garment to the cloth.” Which doesn’t exactly fit what you are saying but we need more sewing phrases to describe people!

    1. Oh, that’s a lovely saying, Laura. Sounds very British to me :-). I’m now thinking about how to make the top easy to wear…maybe a wider neckline and no closure. Hmmmmm.

  4. Lovely! I like the last one as well. Or you could do the first one but with just a flat piece for the front, instead of the lace/gathers — I like the skinny straps from this one, plus the simplicity of the last one.

    1. Oooh, now you’ve got my brain churning – I bet I could Frankenstein the two somehow. Must ponder. Thank you!

  5. I like all three versions, and I absolutely looooove the fabric you chose! The silk will be just enough “grown up” and the print just childish enough for a ten-year-old. I’m looking forward to the blouse!

    1. Thanks Eva! The fabric’s even more darling in person. Fingers crossed that I can get all the sewing done 🙂

  6. I know you asked for top suggestions but you could do a scarf… it’s more versatile (hair accessory, jewelry) and she won’t outgrow it as fast! Good luck!

    1. Oooh, a scarf!! I was also thinking it might be a good idea to try to make a guitar strap for her because she’s so into her guitar right now. The wheels are whirring — thank you, Janice!

  7. Double digits! How can that be already?! Oh Sanae, enjoy this wonderful new age and all the delightful things it brings with it:)
    My personal vote is for the top image, the very reason I borrowed your book in the first place:) I’ve made it once for Lilah in blue and white striped linen and it’s one of my favorite handmade. If K is asking you to sew for her again, go with it as long as you can! Hoping for you that this stage will last longer than it did for my tween:)
    curious and eager to hear what project you have planned for M!

    1. Well, you’ve got more street cred than I do in both sewing and raising kids (your oldest is almost going to college, right??) so now I’m leaning toward the first one…decisions, decisions! K wore a non-knit dress I made for her for the first time today in I don’t even know how long. Maybe the tide is turning and she’s into handmade again! My M project is going ever so slowly and not so well….:-|

  8. Beautiful fabric! I vote 3, I’m sure you’ll get it out of that yardage, you might even be able to make it a little longer so as she grows it becomes more cropped!

    1. Good idea, Sarah! I always add length when I can. She’s nearly outgrowing the largest size (130cm) and I’m desperately looking for tween-friendly patterns in general :-).

  9. Oh that fabric, it’s gorgeous!
    No help with the pattern suggestion, but you know what would be really cute? If one, single horse, somewhere on the garment had a hand stitched unicorn horn and a pair of wings – maybe gold thread?
    You gotta learn how to fake it in life, if you want a life with unicorns in it! Am I right?! 🙂
    happy camping and birthdays to all

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