Gender Neutral Everything


As I mentioned earlier this week, I’m pregnant. Funny thing about pregnancy is that it lasts for so long. So theoretically, you could be totally prepared for your baby before its arrival.


While I’ve always wanted to have children, in my mind they’d start at age 6 or so. I never thought seriously about having a floppy infant of my own. How do you get clothes on something so small? (I have since observed firsthand that it is indeed possible and safe to dress a tiny baby.)

But what is even odder than my confusion is the fact that I have plenty of experience with baby clothes. I have a  younger sibling for whom I did laundry when we were young, and I remember my own treasured childhood garments, many of which were hand me downs from my direct older sibling. It just so happens that both of these siblings were brothers, so a lot of my concept of “baby clothes” was boys’ baby clothes.

Fast forward to today, and apparently girls’ baby clothes are all the rage because they are cuter. Who knew? I’ve popped into Target here and there and definitely found some cute girls’ things, but I wouldn’t say that it was cuter, I’d say there was more of it than boys’ stuff. But I don’t yet know what gender my baby is, so I’m really looking for gender neutral stuff. I suggested to my mother that I’d buy a million white onesies and call it a day. She said white+baby=nope. Back to the drawing board.


What exactly is gender neutral? And why does it matter so much? I found myself thinking. Why do we need to gender infant clothing? I griped. Would I give my child a complex by dressing them not according to their gender? I worried. This last point was my biggest issue. As I mentioned, I was born between boys and wore boy clothing. My mother’s gender neutral color of choice was brown. (Seriously. Who puts brown on a child????) But I also had a sister, much older than me, who wore pretty clothes and jewelry and in general got to be a girl. I, on the other hand, got mistaken for a boy/man well into my 20s. I know some people are gender fluid, but I am not, and it really did a number on my self image and self esteem. My lizard brain still feels ugly and masculine to this day, even as my rational mind thinks I’m an okay looking, woman appearing person. I do not want my child to suffer like I suffered.

But after some thought, I decided I’d play with all the colors as much as possible (except brown, because WHO DRESSES CHILDREN IN BROWN, SERIOUSLY), since I don’t know what color(s) my child will like best and perhaps the route to being comfortable in their own skin is the ability to separate their identity from arbitrary markers like garment color. Okay, so palette settled, what do I make?


Because I’m a child of the 90s, I have a special place in my heart for bucket hats. I decided I’d start my baby’s wardrobe with this favorite accessory, since (at the time) everything else was more than I could wrap my head around. (pun!!) I found the free Oliver + s Reversible Bucket Hat, and moved on to actual clothing.


There are a million baby legging patterns, but I like to be different. So the Burdastyle Children’s Harem Pants 02/2019 #129 fit the bill nicely. Also, I figured it will be easier to negotiate loose fitting pants over diapers than body hugging leggings. The price was right at $4, too. But harem pants, while quirky, aren’t cute. On to cuteness!

oh-me-oh-my-sewing-tie-strap-playsuit oh-me-oh-my-sewing-wrap-up-romper

I found a decent amount of cuteness in the surprisingly-to-me vast world of indie pattern brands that design children’s clothing. But I had a vision of gender neutrality! That negated a lot of ruffles and ribbons, and thank goodness for that. Some of those designs looked…excessive. I sadly realized that “boys'” clothes could work on girls and boys, but “girls'” clothes would only work on girls, so I’d need at least a few girly options in my library. I found some options I liked, but kids’ patterns aren’t cheap! At $9 and $10 each, that was outside my price range. Finally, I found Oh Me Oh My Sewing. Not only are the patterns only $6.50 a pop, but there’s a lovely discount that increases as you buy more patterns. I ended up getting five: the OnesieWrap Up Romper, and Woven Overalls Shorts (unisex), and the Bluebird Dress and Tie Strap Playsuit (girls only).


Lastly, in the interest of being economical, I snagged some free Burdastyle patterns – the Baby Onesie 12/2016 #132 and the Baby Hat. Could anything be cuter than a footed onesie??? I think not! And the hat pattern has the cutest little ears, omg. And they’re both gender neutral styles.

All of this took me awhile to find, and seems like plenty for outfitting a baby. It’s going to take me awhile to slog through taping and cutting all these patterns, but I’m hoping to get these all prepped and ready for fabric in the next few weeks, and eventually share the finished items here on the blog! I also think I want to write a review of Oh Me Oh My Sewing and Burdastyle patterns, since I’ll have a decent sample size for both.


I also will keep thinking about gender neutrality and my own experience as a woman…not sure when they’ll snowball into a post, but I hope to write more on this topic in the future – especially as it correlates to sewing, but in general, too. I will post a roundup of BoPoMarch next week, but the biggest effect it had  on me was the realization that there’s a lot of body image and body positivity I want to talk about, in the context of sewing and in general. Also, there was a ton I didn’t have the health/energy to post, so there’s a backlog of things to share that will hopefully make its way to the light.

I don’t know how much mommy stuff I’ll talk about here, but I do feel like I want to talk more about issues here on Making the Flame – mostly body positivity, but also gender and race in the craft world and in general. I feel like now there’s someone watching me (my baby), I need to be a person of integrity at all times. But I’ve spent my life biting my tongue, not saying the really deep stuff or personal things, because I didn’t want to ruffle feathers. I don’t want my little one to think I won’t take things to the wall, and I don’t want them to be afraid to do the same, or unfamiliar with what that looks like.

I will also keep talking about sewing! I have been wanting to really nerd out here about all aspects of sewing – needles, machines, patterns, you name it – but worried it might be boring in a blogosphere where new posts are usually new garments. I’m still worried it won’t be super exciting, but am going to try it, anyway! Also, fun factoid about me is that I am a compulsive wardrobe purger who keeps garments for 5+ years on average.  As such, I don’t need a ton of clothing and no longer feel compelled to churn out more than 10-15 new items a year.

So lots of (hopefully good) changes ahead, and lots of sewing!

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  1. My friend Jess at The Sometimes Sewist makes a lot of clothes for her babies…one boy and one girl so lots of pattern experience/suggestions over there.

    I think there’s more consternation over ‘gender neutrality’ with kids – and especially babies!!! – than there needs to be. There were 4 of us growing up…my sister has ALWAYS been super prissy…me, not so much. I did realize, once I became an adult and my own child was ~middle school age that people want to put girls into one of two boxes – you’re a girly girl OR you’re a tomboy. I was called a tomboy for a LONG time. I was never a tomboy I just wasn’t dainty and super girly.

    My daughter was a lot like me as a kid and now she just…does her own thing! She wears all sorts of clothing – men’s, women’s, doesn’t matter. She DOES NOT PLAY about hair and makeup…but she refuses to do the shaving/hair removal stuff. Just is :)

    Also, my kids are ~15 months apart and so my son got everything that was my daughters!! He totally wore pink onesies or onesies with “feminine” prints. He was a baby!

    At any rate, it is such a fun adventure. This little person is of you but their wholly separate from you…it’s fascinating!!

  2. Traditionally, yellow and green were the gender neutral colors. I like bright colors for babies. Somehow though, bright gender neutral often ends up looking like boy clothes. People still expect girls to look soft and delicate. Suggestion: make gender neutral clothes that you can add bows or ruffles or lace to later if it’s a girl.

  3. I really look forward to your sewing journey and thoughts on body positivity. I was a “tomboy” until my mid forties when I met a friend who encouraged me to see my inner beauty. I had always covered up in jeans and baggy sweatshirts but now I enjoy wearing dresses and feel more womanly and comfortable in my skin than I ever had. I am bigger now than I have ever been but celebrate my curves and I think that has come about from sewing my own clothes and reading other people’s thoughts on their body positivity. It is so interesting that our childhood has such an influence on our lives, but you are so full of love and openness and awareness, that I am sure you will be a great parent and nurture your child whatever they are.

    1. Thanks so much for your story, Angela! I also had an extended tomboy phase – I thought it was the only way I could look. But when I began to embrace my femininity, I felt so much freer – and sewing definitely enhanced that. I know it’s not for every woman, but I think for me (and maybe for you?) being feminine is giving myself permission and removing the shoulds and rules, and that’s why it feels so good. :) That said, I always have a ‘home’ hoodie that wear around the house all the time. Old habits die hard!

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