{Sewing for Boys} Where We Are, and Where We're Headed

OH NO! Did that prospect of market analysis put you to sleep??  Well snap outta it friends, this is fascinating stuff!! 

Let's start with the obvious...

All caught up?? Great! So let's talk about it! Why did I do this survey anyway??

For starters - I wanted to create a resource that you all can pin for later, and have handy while crafting your boy sew projects. Short, sweet, and fangirl-free. I probably could have stopped my justifications there - amIright??

But it goes further than that. (If the data allowed...) I wanted to dispel some common boy-sew rumors. And I think we've done that! For instance...

"Nobody sews for boys!"

I know I felt this way when I first came on the social sewing scene. There was an endless expanse of ruffley, lacey, twirly girl sews as far as my feed would scroll... and if a boy pattern did pop up now and again, it was a super simple, quilter's cotton, probably-pocket-less, elastic waist pair of shorts. I thought... "Maybe nobody makes real patterns for boys? or sells boy fabrics to make them in?" (but wait, I'm getting ahead of myself). ONE LOOK at the data I collected will tell you boy-sewing folks are out there. It was encouraging to find that 125 women (who suffered through the LONG survey, might I add - must be the patience that comes with raising boys!?) didn't just sew or happen to own these patterns... but LOVED and recommended FOUR HUNDRED AND ONE BOY'S PATTERNS. (Plus or minus a few duplicates I missed while cleaning up data.) BUT STILL. That's a lot of sewing for boys! MYTH BUSTED.

"Nobody designs patterns for boys!"

A QUICK (and incomplete) count of survey responses shows 67 DIFFERENT indie designers with boy's patterns. And that doesn't even count paper patterns. MYTH BUSTED.

"Nobody sells fabric for boys!"

Ok, so they survey didn't touch this at all. But it's a myth none the less and it deserves to be busted. I would love you to sound off in the comments with your favorite boy-fabric resources! We promise not to deplete their stock of pretties before you can place your orders, KISS KISS! (Personally, I love Mabel Madison for boy prints - there's a great variety of apparel fabrics like poplin, knit, corduroy, and denim/twill bottomweights.) If you happen to live where local selection is pretty crummy, I wrote up some tips on sewing modern boys clothes even with "unconventional fabrics."

But for as many question as this survey answered... it created a dozen more. Like...

"Where is boy's sewing headed?"

I truly believe boy's sewing is the next "wave" in the indie pattern design world. Those who have been looking for it have felt the ripples already. Those who haven't seen this yet are about to. 

That's because, of the women surveyed, 92.3% identified themselves as "intermediate" or "advanced" seamstresses. These women are hungry for a challenge, and skilled enough to meet them. They're going to advance boy sewing with or without designers stocking the indie pattern market to back them up.

Who are these women? Kelly of Handmade Boy is blazing quite the impressive boy-sew-trail. Wild and Wonderful turns out inspiring boy-sews at a speed that puts the rest of us to shame (Thanks a lot, Katy!) You already know I'm a big fan of Paisley RootsAnnika, Amy, Maegen, Roxanne - so much crazy talent in this sewing sub-culture! Their works aren't just noteworthy because they blog them (though it does make it easier to find!) - they're also tearing down this idea that sewing boy's clothes is BORING. Which leads me to question #2...

"What is the biggest VOID in the boy-sewing market?"

Well, never mind. You all answered that for me:

Biggest VOID in the Boy's Indie Pattern Market

So I amend my previous question to ask...

"WHY do these voids exist?"

Really - why? Why did my readers say that Jackets and Formal wear patterns are lacking.. when there were 28 and 17 DIFFERENT patterns represented in each respective category? I mean - that's a lot of options, I'd think. I had someone mention a classic boy's polo shirt, too, while I happen to know both KB Stitch Designs and Blank Slate Patterns have great options. 

I immediately formed two theories...

  1. The worlds of Social Sewing & Sharing (AKA, facebook, instagram, pinterest) move too fast for consumers to find these patterns. If you're not paying attention during week a pattern releases, you're likely to miss it completely. I don't know how to go about remedying it, but it's a super frustrating prospect for the designer + team who invested time and material resources into spreading the word... AND the interested seamstress whose success in locating a pattern is largely based on what other boy-sewing mamas are online when they put up and "ISO" (in search of) post.
  2. Where patterns do exist... the available sizes are too limited. Clearly, there's a specialty and teen sizes void perceived by the consumer, so this conclusion is only logical. EXCEPT.. I looked back at the 13 apparel patterns that "won" each survey category... and the results are as follows. I guess that shouldn't surprise me, as they'd be more likely to WIN a category if folks from every size range could vouche for their product. But my theory is officially... BUST.

With matters of practicality covered - I turned to style. The last void I couldn't explain was Uniqueness/Creativity in pattern design. 

This legitimately surprised me. Just this week I've seen an epic sweatshirt with interesting design features in the works from Terra's Treasures...

Lets have a naming contest! Winner gets the pattern for free!

Posted by Terra's Treasures on Wednesday, February 10, 2016

And I'm still dreaming up my own version of "Most Unique" Boy's pattern on the Indie Market...

WOW is all I can say. Just look at the Knight Hoodie sewn by Lexi Made! I love.every.detail. Lexi is sharing about it on her blog and has a coupon code for you. (link in comments)

Posted by Charming Doodle on Monday, February 24, 2014

Could it really be said that there aren't any creative boy's patterns? I'm not so sure. But there's certainly reason to believe boy sew designers will step up their "unique-ness" game. After all, there wouldn't have been such a HUGE percentage of "Other" patterns (those that had 1 or 2 votes) on each surveyed pattern category, if the market wasn't already flooded with "wardrobe basics" patterns.

If there is going to be growth in this market (and I think and hope there will be!) it's because we'll start to see boys patterns packed with options.

  • Options in sizing, like the highest ranking patterns in the survey.
  • Options in style, with built-in embellishment features that let the creative mind of the woman behind the machine design one-of-a-kind pieces for her kid.
  • Options (or rather, "guidance"?) in customized fit, for the older boys who rapidly grow up and grow out at different rates.
  • Options for skill growth, that continue to challenge the large number of advanced seamstresses who sew for their sons. 
  • Options for durability, like built-in excess hem length that can be let out after a growth spurt, or maybe concealed (or embellishment) patches designed to reinforce areas of clothes that weaken with boys' very active play. I don't have the answers - but I expect sewing our own kid's clothes gives us the advantage to stress-proof their homemade threads.

As a sewing blogger - I'm contractually obligated* to inundate you with photos of at least one sewing project per post. *lies, complete and total fallacy. 

Today it's my son's Iron Man Cosplay look for Project Run & Play. I used the Little Kiwi's Closet Rockstar Raglan, with woven accent panels cut on the bias. Shout out to my girl Maegen for the Iron Man cut file! You can grab it and other designs for free on her blog.  

Yes, we know iron man doesn't have a cape. I tried to explain it to the 2 year old, but he also thinks superheroes are "Bad Guys" and Darth Vader his "new friend"... so the bar is pretty low.

So there's some analysis for ya. At least, enough to give you something to chat about for the next coupe of weeks while Miranda and I pour through the data in search of consumer trends. As always - I'd love to hear from you in the comments! What do you think about the boy sew market? What more do you want to hear from these surveys? Let me know!