Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Kid's Sewing Strategies: Revised

Over the last couple of weeks I've been giving a lot of thought to kid's clothes sewing plans. I mean, even more than usual. So, we found out that the baby I'm currently brewing is a boy. It was a bit of a surprise at first, in a kind of 'But we make girls, don't we?' kind of way. Pat got over the shock within an hour, it took me about two days. Now I'm totally down with it and excited to make a mini-dude wardrobe, it's going to be ace!

(image source: Brindille and Twig)

This news also seems to be helping me accept Dolores's increasing desire to wear only dresses (preferably pink sparkly ones). I can't get behind the pink-sparkly part, but instead of trying to distract her in the morning whilst I attempt to sneak her into a pair of jeans and a cute sweatshirt or T-shirt, I've been indulging her requests to wear dresses (or flow-y tunic tops which she also describes as 'dresses') as far as the weather, the day's activities and the laundry cycle will permit. Simply put: now that I'm having a boy, I not lamenting the lack of fun sweatshirts, joggers and anchor print stuff making an appearance on Dolores!

(image source: Sloppop Yeah)

I was surprised that she has developed such a strong sense of how she wants to dress at only two and a half. I most certainly don't want to squash her developing sense of self, but I thought I might have a bit more sartorial freedom for a little while longer! Equally, I've been slightly alarmed by how naturally she has started gravitating towards the colour pink, princesses, fairies, ballet dancing and other intensely stereotypical 'girly' imagery and activities. I met a lady at a sewing class I was teaching a couple of weeks ago whose four year old would literally only wear dresses. (Currently at least) I can convince Dolores to wear leggings and T-shirts underneath her beloved dresses, but I think I'm going to have to make her a slightly larger selection than she currently owns.
(image source: Toby Tiger)

But back to the boy's stuff. Boy's clothing had always been a pretty abstract concept to me, not something I've given much thought. I've dabbled by making my friends' little boys the odd pair of trousers or shorts, but I'd never thought beyond the occasional stand-alone item. Boys clothes in the shops usually seem sooooo boring. So much navy blue with perhaps a dinosaur, car or (in the summer) sea creature printed somewhere. Little bird clothing seems to be one of the few exceptions, on the UK high street at least. And as I found when researching independent children's sewing pattern companies, despite there being some fantastic ranges for making boy's clothes out there, in terms of quantity, there are far fewer sewing patterns out there for boys than for girls. This is, of course no surprise. The range of types, styles, colours, fabrics and detailing of clothing that is 'acceptable' for boys is far smaller than for girls. However, within the boundaries required to prevent getting asked 'How old is she?' too many times each day, I plan to have masses of fun creating awesome, colourful, comfortable and joyful clothing for my little boy. The images illustrating this post are my current inspiration points for mini-dude clothes sewing.

(image source: C bien fee!)

My feelings towards new clothing for children remain the same, perhaps are even stronger, three years on. Thankfully, about 40% of the clothes Dolores wore when she was tiny was either unisex or once were bought from the boy's section. Plus, an enormous amount of recent hand-me-downs means 'Squiggler' (working-title) should need very little for the first year. Which is useful, because clothes start to fit the child for more than five minutes the older they get, so any sewing efforts for a year+ will be enjoyed for longer! Fabric-wise, I'll hunt through the non-girly sections of my stash that Dolores would now refuse to wear. Plus, I was sent an amazingly generous package from Josie at Fabric Godmother (pictured at the top of this post) when she heard that I was having a boy. The length of fabulous orange-y leopard print twill is for making something for Dolores so that she won't get jealous!

kid's clothes week

Just as all these discoveries and ideas have been taking place, Kid's Clothes Week has popped up announcing their latest challenge at just the right time. This time the theme is 'The Future', and although it isn't compulsory that you incorporate it in any way (the only stipulation is that you sew kid's clothes for at least one hour each day for a week), I will be using the challenge to sew stuff for my future-son! If you sew for kids, are you taking part this season? Any ideas yet?!

(image source: Molly Goodall)

(image source: Zulily)

(image source: Petit and Small)

(image source: Instagram user @tomboy_in_a_dress)


Jane said...

Aw a boy, congratulations! My boys both went through a phase of being absolutely clear about what they wanted to wear too. Luckily they both embraced my love of stripes! Can't wait to see what you make for him. x

Miriana said...

Mothercare's boys stuff isn't too bad - lots of bright colours (not too much of the ubiquitous beige and blue which seems to be the boy equivalent of sparkly pink). There us a Dutch sewing company called Zonen09 who specialise in patterns for boys - I swoon after their flared Jacob trousers. Their range of patterns is much bigger if you don't mind reading the instructions in Dutch. And of course Ottobre are pretty fab for boys too.

Miriana said...

Mothercare's boys stuff isn't too bad - lots of bright colours (not too much of the ubiquitous beige and blue which seems to be the boy equivalent of sparkly pink). There us a Dutch sewing company called Zonen09 who specialise in patterns for boys - I swoon after their flared Jacob trousers. Their range of patterns is much bigger if you don't mind reading the instructions in Dutch. And of course Ottobre are pretty fab for boys too.

Marianne Isaacs said...

Oh congratulations . I am a mother of 3 boys and one grandson. They are great , very affectionate and straight down the line . The sewing is ok too , lots of bright colours and pockets 😊

Kathelle - Strandom said...

I don't know if you've heard of Peekaboo Patterns but she has loads of great kids patterns. I totally agree about boy's clothes (I have a boy and a girl) especially once they hit 3-4 it just seems to be film or TV characters on everything which annoys me... anyway, congratulations! I think I'm due baby no.3 around the same time as you! Hope you're keeping well :) x x x

Masha said...

Congratulations! I had two girls before my first son was born and I remember feeling a little bewildered too. I now have two boys, though, and I enjoy sewing for them just as much (sometimes more) than for my girls - precisely because of what you said, that storebought boy options are very one-note. I'll be participating in Kids' Clothes Week too, but ignoring the theme, as all of my kids need new swimsuits!

Christals Creations said...

Dolores sounds like Annabelle. She has two older brothers and not a scrap of pink between them but around two and a half suddenly pink, princesses, glitter, sparkle, ballet and flowers were all in. Have fun making for boys it's more challenging than for girls with the lack of patterns but there are a few about that I have gone back to. LilyBird summer shirt is a massive hit with my boys, though one has now grown out of the pattern and I need to find an alternative for him.

Rebecca Woodward said...

Ha ha, that may well have been my daughter who would only wear dresses! She's nearly 6 now and is still very dress/skirt oriented, although she did pick some jeans the other day. Admittedly they're pink but I will take that! And her little sister at 3.5 is now just the same, I'm hoping it's an age thing! Definitely a pick your battles thing. It looks like your little boy will have an awesome wardrobe: maybe Dolores will veer back towards the sweatshirts etc when she sees the cool stuff he's getting?

Inder-ific said...

My first was a boy, and I really got back into sewing after a long hiatus sewing for him. He's seven now and I still sew a lot of his clothes, despite his very definite ideas about what is acceptable clothing (basically, all knits).

My little girl also got into pink and dresses, etc., much earlier than I ever really imagined possible. I dressed her mostly in gender neutral or at least toned-down clothes as a baby, so I don't know where they get it! Well, I actually suspect it's like a virus that spreads through preschools. Anyway, I decided to choose my battles and that girl was all pink, all the time, for a solid year. I compromised by finding pink fabrics (stripes, solids, tastesful florals) that I could stand to look at to sew here things in - I draw the line at cupcake or princess fabric, hell to the no! Now she's almost four, and I am happy to share that she is willing to consider other colors for clothing, and her outfits now generally have SOME pink in them, but are not ALL pink. The phase seems to be burning down a bit in its intensity.

Anyway, back to boy clothes, I loved/love sewing basics for my little boy in bright fun colors, with fun details. The thrift store is a great source of quality knits (in the form of adult sized t-shirts) that I can cut down for the kids. My son is picky about comfort but way less picky about color and design, so I can work with him. With both my kids, as they got older, they tended to be a lot more opinionated and reject some makes. This caused me a year or so of disappointment and sewing less for them, but I find, the more I work WITH my kids when I'm sewing, the happier they are with the final product and the more they tend to wear it. Collaborative efforts are where it is at. Now my kids love to come to the fabric store with me and will pick out fabrics themselves (I have been known to explain that the cupcake fabric "won't work for a dress" which is a total lie, I am a bad parent!!).

Anyway, I wrote a book! Can't wait to see what you make for your little guy! Congratulations!

Janome Gnome said...

I was going to suggest Zonen09 too, if you haven't come across them yet. You'll want it all for the Squiggler, Dolores, yourself and your fella.

I have two boys and there are nothing but boys around. I just got so excited when two friends had baby girls so I could gather a little utterly daft frock for each of them. But I just tell myself that if I want to sew a dress, I can make one for myself.

No doubt about it, boys' sewing and RTW out there is dull.. but that doesn't mean ours has to be. Other people's dullness never stopped us before! In fact, it just makes us draw on our creativity even more, right?

It's nice to see you getting inspired and inspiring the rest of us. Have you checked out Rae and Dana's Celebrate the Boy series? They've done a couple but not in a while. Rae's parsley pants with piping are pretty rad too. I reckon piping is to boys what glitter is to girls, but a million times better. Must get on it myself...

Have fun!

And a massive CONGRATULATIONS!!!

Ben Wood said...

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emily said...

It was a surprise for us when our little guy made an appearance. He's currently dressed in the unisex/boys department hand-me-down clothes of his big sister. I've made him a couple of things but I'm looking forward to making him loads more cool stuff. I will be following your makes with interest- your little dude is going to have such a rad wardrobe! Xxx

Another Sewing Scientist said...

I have a boy and a girl, and can attest that they can both go through a princess phase (if allowed). My son loved all those cheap disney dresses at his day care, and wanted all the pink / purple / sparkly clothes he could find. Then school squashed that out of him, and he only wears boring old sweat like all the other boys. I used to make a lot of dashiki style tops for my son, since they were quick to whip up, didn't have set in sleeves to worry about, and he could pick the fabric. Not as cute as little girl dresses, but still fun to make together.

ps. My daughter was actually the first girl born on Mr. A.S.S.'s side of the family for >100 years, so the doctor joked that he wasn't the father! ;)

Anonymous said...

Believe me in about two years you will miss all those cars and dinosaurs because for bigger boys it's mean looking TV characters and superheros only!
I might be wrong but there seems to be some kind of cultural difference between the English speaking sewing world and the German speaking sewing world where it is much more about the kids. Not sure why. Maybe because there are no uniforms? Anyway, you could check out these links, you will find great patterns and I am sure you would get away without sewing instructions: (she would also have a book with a few patterns)

There is also a much bigger market for children's fabrics, especially jersey and I found only one shop here in England who would sell some of it:

Tammy said...

Congratulations on your blue bundle! I have two boys - they certainly keep me on my toes!

Zonen09 are from Belgium. She designs lovely patterns for boys - slight 70s/80s retro feel about them.
And I have a great book called "sewing for boys" although with your sewing skills, I think you could self draft most of the patterns from the book. They are pretty beginner friendly.

Kathryn said...

That's so funny about Dolores! Harris has also started to show an interest in what he wears but doesn't bother that much yet so I'm going to keep on with all the bright colours for as long as I can. Yay, congratulations on your boy!! So exciting to start sewing for. I keep meaning to try some of the Titchy Threads patterns, they've got nice trousers, jeans, vest and hoody. And that Purl Soho baby pants pattern I made up recently is so cute too, have you seen it? I'm looking forward to KCW next week too!

Janet Blackbourn said...

Congratulations! Boys are lots of fun too... I'm going to be following what you decide to make, because I really struggle to find as many fun patterns for boys as there are for girls. Oliver + S and Ottobre both include plenty of boy and unisex patterns, but I'd like to find some other reliable sources too - (off to look up Zone09 after reading the comments above).

Mother of Reinvention said...

Wow, a boy. Congratulations, that will be fabulous! I have to admit that I would have been all at sea if Sprogzilla had turned out to be a boy. She had a very girly phase too, we even had pink princess wallpaper in our old house. I think that they do grow out of it though. She certainly has. Can't really comment on suitable children's patterns for boys as I only ever sewed for Sprogzilla but Ottobre looks really good. Xx

Jo said...

My two girls went through a pink phase that was only played out with one pink sparkly outrageous dress that a friend gave me in a second hand clothes bag but it did the trick and I didn't lament any further and then they both found their own rhythm. They are now 6 and 8. Bigger one wore jeans and tops as you described for ages but now she wears leggings and tunics. Little one is skinny and has never liked jeans. She wears leggings and a skirt. he fav is leggings and a denim mini skirt. Neither will go near an animal print (but I am really quietly pleased about that!) I have no idea about boys clothes but wait with baited breath. Jo x

Rachel said...

I also would only wear dresses (and pink) as a small child - and that was definitely nothing picked up from family, who were jeans and cords and earth tones all the way at that time. I eventually moved away from pink entirely when I was around 10, and the dresses thing faded for many years (although it appears to have come back over the last couple of years, which is entertaining).

Tanit-Isis said...

Congratulations! My girls were both very into the dresses when little (as was I) and very anti-dress after about the age of 7. things seem to be equalizing a bit now they're teens. And boys clothes (or boy-ish clothes) are really fun to sew. ;)

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