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Project Teen: Handmade Gifts Your Teen Will Love by Melissa Mortenson

In Project Teen, Melissa Mortenson, author, designer, and mother of three teenagers, shares not only her 21 teen-approved designs but also invaluable tips and tricks for sewing for this unique (a.k.a. picky) age group.

Whether you make a stylish tote bag, a cute study pillow, or a personalized quilt, your teen will love these handmade gifts as much as you love them.

Project Teen Book by Melissa Mortenson - 21 Projects to Sew that Teens and Tweens will actually LOVE!

This week the preview copy of my book showed up in the mail!  I knew it was coming and walked around feeling insanely nervous and excited all day. It all seems a bit surreal that I wrote a book even typing that feels a little strange to me.  I had to repeat “Melissa Mortenson is a published author” to myself several times before I started to believe it!

After I got my book, I admit I was terrified to open it. Would I love the projects as much as I did a year ago? I had those and a million other questions swirling through my head and the sudden (and somewhat terrifying) realization that now other people could see the book too! Did I miss a typo?

Project Teen Book by Melissa Mortenson

I spent a few days letting it all sink in, then decided to sit down and tell you a little bit about the book and why I wrote it.

Why I Wrote This Book

So first up, why did I write a book? Mainly because I got an idea for a subject that I was excited about. I’ve mentioned before that I have three kids. When my kids were little, I LOVED to sew for them.  

As my kids have gotten older, I’ve realized that they don’t want those kinds of things anymore. Easter dresses, quilts, cute little skirts, fun headbands, colorful pj’s.

Feeling a bit heartbroken (and old) at this realization, I decided that there was no reason that I (and others) had to stop sewing for kids just because they were teenagers. I drew up a list of projects that I thought my now older kids would like.

I then quizzed my kid’s friends when they came over, asked my daughter’s field hockey team to fill out a “survey” for me, and pretty much tried to pick the brains of anyone that I could as to what types of projects teenagers would want to be sewn for them. This book contains most of those ideas.

About the Book

This book is a collection of 21 handmade gifts to give to teens because you have to admit that teenagers need to feel that we love them as much as a newborn baby (maybe even more).

Sewing for teens (whether it’s your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, or friends) is something that you can do.  I also tried to make the projects universally appealing so that you might like to sew some for yourself or as gifts for others who aren’t teens or tweens.

Projects Included in the Book

Today I’ll share just a bit about some of the projects in the book with you.

"You can do it" Quilt - uses printable inspirational quotes for the block centers. From the Project Teen Book.

You Can Do It Quilt Pattern

One of my favorite projects in the book is this “You Can Do it” Quilt Pattern. My sister-in-law gave me the idea to use inspirational quotes for the center of the blocks.  

I love how this turned out and think it’s a fun and unique way to use some of the inspirational quotes you find online.

Upcycled T-Shirt Pillows

In the book, I dedicated an entire chapter to sewing for teen boys; there are iPad cases, gadget cases, stadium blankets, etc. One of the projects that I came up with is these fun t-shirt pillows.

We collect t-shirts as we travel, and it kills me sometimes to get rid of the t-shirts. These pillows are fun to make and sew up more quickly than a t-shirt quilt.

Cross Body Travel Bag Pattern

I’d been toying around with the idea of a cross-body bag pattern for a while and finally settled on how I’d like to make one.  This bag has a front zipper pocket and a recessed zipper inside (the top zips up to make it a bit more secure). You can also adjust the length of the strap easily.

Flag Zip Pouch Pattern

If you’ve followed my blog for a little bit, you know that I love making zip pouches. They are so quick to make and are perfect for gifts. There are patterns for zip pouches made to resemble the Union Jack, the Dutch Flag, and the Swiss Flag. These zip pouches are inspired by some places I love to travel to (or would love to).

Quatrefoil Quilt Pattern from Project Teen

Ombre Quatrefoil Pillow 

I had been toying around with making this quilt for a few years now.  I love quatrefoil shapes and wanted to jump into sewing with solid fabrics more.

I love the graphic pop the white gives on the pinks. (You could also make this quilt in prints, make sure you use a low volume print on the shapes).

Study Pillow Pattern

Study Pillow Sewing Pattern- love the pockets!

Next is the Study Pillow. My kids love to do their homework all over the house and outside. One day my daughter had a pillow, a book, an iPod, and a bunch of notebooks with her and kept dropping everything as she was walking around the house.

After that, the idea for a pillow with pockets and the Study Pillow was born. The pillow pattern features Minky on the back to make it super soft and a handle for easy carrying.  I will walk you through how to make the custom applique in the book too.

Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend Quilt Pattern

Diamond Quilt pattern- made entirely from Fat Quarters!

Also in the book are a few Quilt patterns (plus a few fleece blankets too). This quilt is called “Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend” and is constructed purely from Fat Quarters! (except for the back and binding).  

I don’t know about you, but I love to buy Fat Quarter packs of fabric, and I always want to use them ALL in a project. This quilt is perfect for that. It’s also a great pattern if you’re going to use some novelty fabrics (which teens love!). You can also easily switch out the fabric selections to make one for a guy.

Upcycled iPad Case Pattern

iPad Clutch - upcycled from a Men's suit coat

For better or worse, gadgets have taken over our and our kids’ lives.  In the book, there are three sewing patterns specifically for devices. This one is made from an Upcycled Men’s Suit coat!  The idea came from trying to make an iPad case that was CUTE and functional. One that could easily pass as a clutch if you didn’t know what was inside. I also love the pop of zebra fabric in the lining.

The last project I want to chat about today is this Homework Folder. This folder is made from laminate fabric, has elastics inside to hold homework, and is BRIGHT, so it doesn’t get lost in their backpacks.

Do your kids do their homework and then LOSE it before they get to school?? Or forget to turn it in?? Mine do all the time, and it drives me CRAZY! Why go to all the trouble of doing your homework and then not turn it in?

Where to Buy The Book

Even though the book is full of gift ideas for teens, I tried to make the projects universal. Even though I’m a “grown-up,” I’d love any projects for myself! Hopefully, you can find something inside that you will love.

You can find the book at most large book retailers, including Amazon.

Additional Project Photos

Monogrammed Towel Tutorial
Roll Up Travel Blanket Sewing Pattern
Laminated Map Zippered Heart Pouch

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  1. These look fantastic. I am no longer a teen unfortunately (more like twice and a bit that age, LOL), but I would love to make all of these. Heading over to order the book <3

    1. Oh I forgot to mention that!! I kept some of the projects in the book for “myself”— it’s good for us “grown up” teens too 🙂

  2. I’m sure this book will be a big hit. I love all the ideas you showed today and hope you show some more in the future. I’m thinking of ordering one or two for Xmas presents.

    1. Yes, I’ll be sharing more ideas next month! There is a lot more I’d like to chat about but didn’t want to overwhelm anyone too much with a giant blog post!

  3. CONGRATS!!! I’m so happy for you Melissa. It looks amazing. I love the design, layout, projects, everything. So fun to see it after talking to you about it at SNAP. Woooohoooo!!

    1. Thank you Melissa!!! and it was so nice getting to chat with you at Market this year, I hope I run into you again soon!!

  4. Will be buying for sure. I too used to sew for my two kids when they were little and I’m sad I can no longer make stuff with all the cute kid fabric. But now that they are teenagers I’ve been having a hard time finding “cool” stuff to sew. Your book is an answer to that dilemma. Thank You! And CONGRATS on being a published author!

    1. Thank you so much!! I hope that your kids will enjoy the projects you make for them… you’ll have to let me know how it goes!

  5. This is soooo exciting for you, Melissa! Congrats! I love the projects and styling and how stinkin’ cute are those glasses in the You Can Do It quilt- brilliant to have quotes intertwined with the posh prints. Can’t wait to read!! XO

  6. This is awesome! This book is definitely on my wish list. I have to admit, I will be making some of those projects for myself. :o) Thanks for doing all that research and producing such a great book.

  7. This is so exciting and HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to you!!! Such an accomplishment and don’t be intimidated at all… this is fantastic!!! YOU. WROTE. A. BOOK. Say it over and over, and then scream out YES I DID! :o)

  8. This is amazing Melissa!! I had no idea you had a book coming out – this is so fabulous! It looks amazing and I can’t wait to check it out – it is so hard to find fun things to make for my older kids! LOVE it! Congrats friend!!

  9. Melissa, congrats on your book, so exciting! From the peek you showed in the post, it looks like a beautiful book, with age appropriate projects. I have three girls of tween and teen age. I would love to try some of the projects in your book, but I am far from an accomplished seamstress. Do you think the projects are doable by those of us who can just about manage to sew a straight line?

  10. These look like great projects, looking forward to see what you came up with the Dutch flag. So glad you thought of the boys as well!

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  13. Hello Melissa, I’ve finished this morning (in France !) to sewing the zipper pouch flag UK for my daughter. She will visit London next week and I’m sure she will surprise by this gift. To customize this pouch, I added pearl buttons on linen thread at the zipper. So cute !
    Thanks a lot for this book with a lot of tips and detailed instructions.

    1. Merci! It’s so nice to hear from readers overseas. I hope your daughter enjoyed the pouch. Thanks for the tip about the pearl buttons.

  14. New to your blog and I couldn’t resist this book! Two teens (girls) plus me (far from teen but not in my heart!) and these projects look so fun! Thank you!

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