Thursday, April 2, 2015

So, You're Having a Gender Neutral Baby: Inspiration for theSHBSew-Along

Ha ha! Ok, so you've decided not to find out the gender of your baby-to-be or are sewing for a baby whose gender you don't know or you just want some alternatives to the steady diet of blue or pink that you may be in store for. Where to begin?

Phin and I decided not to find out Taco's gender. So, while I didn't do so much sewing for him, I did a lot of thinking about and shopping for gender neutral baby clothing. The nice thing about baby clothing is that, aside from dresses, baby boys and baby girls wear the same basic garments. In RTW gender is differentiated by colors (blue vs pink), motifs (trucks vs tiaras), messaging (little man vs little princess), and embellishment (lots of bows and ruffles for girls, none for boys.)

My real complaint with gender neutral RTW is that it's pretty plain and there's an overabundance of yellow, green and ducklings. There are loads of ducklings. By sewing, you can easily create fun and special garments appropriate for all babies.

McCall (M4236, M6223),  Butterick (B5583, B5584 and B5585) and Simplicity (S1330 and S2291) all have basic baby layette patterns that include various assortments of basics - onesies, kimono tops, rompers, pants, sleepwear, hats and bunting. Most are very easy to sew.

Butterick 5585
If you prefer, a quick search of the internet will lead to lots of free and indie baby patterns, like this baby gown from Stitched Together.

I'm going to be making a sleep gown like this free newborn one, but in a larger size now that Taco has outgrown the newborn ones.

Cindy, Mikhaela and I have linked to a lot of great free and indie patterns in our SHB Sew-Along Pinterest Board.  Most are really quite easy.

Why stick with green and yellow as the only "neutrals"?  Red, orange, purple, grey, brown, black and white are all at your disposal as far as colors go. Plus there are loads of fabrics with fun prints that would be perfect for either gender. 

Gender Neutral baby

It's always seemed counter-intuitive to me to dress babies in pastels when what attracts them most is high contrast, like black and white, and bright colors. Yet, it's hard to find black and white baby clothing.

If you specifically want baby patterned fabrics, I had lots of luck at - both the multicolored monkeys and the orange elephants are gender neutral.

My haul
However, even basic patterns like stripes or geometric prints that you already have in your stash can make an outfit fun. One of my favorite oneises on Taco is red and grey striped.

This is where, if you have some extra energy, you can really make a garment special. Adding a little embroidery or trim is fun and easy.

Taco's Trample Herd bibs and onesies

Urban Threads has any number of great gender neutral machine and hand embroidery patterns. Just browsing their kids & babies section is excellent inspiration.

Urban Threads Dinos

Sublime Stitching is another source for fun hand embroidery patterns. Ottobre also has some great free ideas on their website. When it comes to motifs, you really are limited only where you, yourself  decide to draw a gender line. I think that gender neutral is more a frame of mind than an aesthetic.

Anyway, whether you are sewing gender neutral clothing or not, I hope you will share your plans if you are sewing along on our SHB Sew-Along Flickr group.  Most of all, I hope this gets you excited and not stressed about all the easy and fun projects available, even if you don't have more than 10 minutes a few times a week. Speaking of which, Phin and Taco have gone for a walk on this beautiful day, so I am heading to the Craft Lounge right now. Happy sewing! 


Clio said...

We've also chosen to not know the gender of our baby as the surprise is priceless however EVERYONE is asking us the same question 'what colour do we buy you?' I go through all the colours you mentioned above as options & still the faces are blank. :-) I think most folk are so programmed to think pink or blue that they lose ability to think outside the box.
PS...Im quite the duckling fan TBH..whew!! :-)

Clio said...

I like ducklings, it's just that now I'm surrounded by them! Lol

Yeah, we had people say they would wait until they knew what color, as if only two colors exist...

Clio said...

Elizabeth Zimmerman, she of knitting fame, advocated for dressing babies in a medium gray or in navy blue. Most babies look good in those colors, and they are not gender-specific. My own bald baby daughter looked better in blue than in pink, so I dressed her in blue. I laughed out loud at those who scolded me because they could not immediately identify her gender, and offered to let them change her next dirty diaper for me.

in a lovely cinnamon brown with bright turquoise accents she was radiant. When she got old enough to choose her own clothing, she mostly opted for black, which looks fabulous on a brown-eyed ash blonde.

At age seven, she announced to the owner of a high-end dress shop (for whom I sewed alterations) that she was going to choose black as her neutral wardrobe color. I was so proud of her.

Clio said...

Totally with you on the ubiquitous ducklings! Although giraffes are also quite popular, because they're yellow as well? Maybe we should start a clothing line where the yellow gender-neutral stuff is all cheese-themed! Cheese is yellow, and I like cheese better than ducklings...

Clio said...

Ha! That would be hysterical and I feel like we'd get lots of buy-in from the hipster segment of the market. Lol

Clio said...

The babies really don't care, do they? It's the bystanders. Babies don't even know what gender is, let alone that they are supposed to like pink or blue based on that.

Your daughter sounds awesome!

And taco looks great in navy IMHO, so EZ may have been on to something.

Clio said...

my favorite is the trample herd bibs. not only gender-neutral but so special and fun!

Clio said...

This is brilliant. I feel like I have babies cropping up all around me! That is not a bad thing, but I'm tired of sewing the same little shirt pattern over and over. I tend to veer away from gendered clothing at any age!