06 Dec How Did We Do? Revisiting our 2017 Trend Predictions
We thought it might be fun and illuminating to look back at some of our predictions for trends in the craft industry for 2017. Last year, we posted a two-part article looking at needles, thread and fabric in one part, and fiber, paper, and yarn in the other. Today’s update will look at all of them in a single post, and connect them to what we see developing for 2018.
Last year we predicted a renaissance in decorative stitching–embroidery, needlepoint, counted cross-stitch and other needle arts, as evidenced by the opening of SFSNAD, the San Francisco School of Needlework and Design. They’re still going strong, offering classes, workshops and stitch-ins on different days and times to meet their students’ needs. While we noted the crossover of stitched embellishment on garments and projects created through other crafts (sewing, knitting, crochet), we missed the development of Visible Mending at the intersection of decorative stitching and practical crafting. Mending that also functions as adornment, particularly using traditional craft materials in unexpected contexts (think running stitches of embroidery floss criss-crossing not just the patch on a pair of jeans, but the entire leg surrounding that patch) emerged as a trend in the latter half of 2017, both as a retreat topic itself or a class opportunity at a store, retreat, or craft expo. It does, however, fit our 2017 trend identification of intersectional crafting, where two or more crafts are combined in a single project. It also embodies the sustainability and mindfulness trends that we forecast for 2018 as part of the larger Maker Movement, in that it uses leftover materials to extend the life of other objects, which may be handmade or machine-made.
Sewing and Other Practical Stitching
As we said above, the emergence of mending as a craft category was not something we predicted for 2017. The continued growth of garment sewing, especially as an additional craft that high-profile crafters in other segments are now embracing, is a prediction that we saw come true. Becoming multi-craftual picked up momentum in 2017 and we see it continuing in 2018. Stores like Fancy Tiger Crafts, Purl Soho and Churchmouse Yarns and Teas offer supplies for multiple crafts; publications like Making, Taproot and Laine offer project instructions for sewing, knitting, embroidery, and/or weaving, sometimes all in the same issue; and voices like the MDK website (a rebranding of the Mason-Dixon blog) extol the pleasures of garment sewing and embellishment in classes or kits by Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin and featured Sonya Philip of 100 Acts of Sewing. Piecing techniques like patchwork and stripwork from quilting have migrated over to garment-making, adapting constructional methods originally intending for two-dimensional rectangles to three-dimensional garments that follow the body. There’s definitely a spirit of “if I can (name your current craft), how hard can (your aspirational craft) be?” and crafters are open to expanding their crafting repertoires. Making is a way of life, not just a leisure-time activity, and one craft seems to lead to another….and another!
Communal crafting spaces, where textile and fiber artists can rent studio space, share equipment and conduct or take classes, was a trend we expected to grow in 2017. It was a not a straightforward path, however – for example, one of the spaces we cited last year, A Gathering of Stitches, has ceased to function as a shared studio and shifted to a moveable feast of retreats like Slow Fashion and Slow Stitching. It seems to be more sustainable to operate this kind of space as a non-profit rather than as a business venture. Joining forces with the Makerspace movement, which has been more 3-D printing-, power tool- and hard materials-oriented, is another way that textile and fiber crafters can maintain shared tool collections and instructional space with like-minded collaborators. The Rutland MINT is one example of such a broadly-conceived communal space for all kinds of makers, which sees its mission as a space for hobbyists, entrepreneurs, and dedicated artisans to benefit from fruitful interactions with one another and the community at large.
Yarn and Fiber Crafts
Our 2017 trendspotting was pretty accurate. The giant-knitting movement, with enormous stockinette blankets, may have finally peaked. The snag-ability of large-scale, loosely-spun yarns and the objects made from them may have shifted knitters’ focus to smaller-gauge items. Hand-dyed yarns, especially in projects that mix them, continued to have a strong presence in the Ravelry Hot Right Now list and in the long lines at dyers’ festival booths or shop-updates that sold out in minutes. One of the MDK Field Guides, Wild Yarns, published in April 2017 specifically addressed how to work with hand-dyed yarns. Most of these hand-dyed yarns are fingering-gauge, either singles or plied, and we see a growing popularity of patterns that hold a couple together at the same time, switching them one at a time for a simultaneous marled and faded effect, like Andrea Mowry’s Vanilla Fog hat, which is knit in brioche stitch, another hot technique of 2017 that shows no sign of stopping in 2018.
Mini-skeins for gradients and colorwork, whether created by dyers or curated and assembled from full-size skeins, continue to be desirable, if our Instagram feeds are reliable indicators. Pattern designs that take advantage of these small amounts of pre-coordinated colors are likewise popular.
In other fiber crafts, we’re seeing an interest in both traditional primitive rug hooking with fabric strips as well as punch-needle work, which uses yarn. Projects can be functional like chair pads, rugs and hot pads, but at a finer gauge, they may merely be representational decorative work in the manner of embroidery and counted cross-stitch. They tie into the sustainability trend as crafts that use up leftover materials or re-purpose textiles like old clothing which might otherwise end up in landfills, just like the patchwork in garment-making trend we noted above. It’s also a fiber expression of the adult coloring trend, where the medium is yarn and fabric rather than markers or pencils.
Last year, we noted the prevalence of dimensionality in paper crafts, whether it was origami or other folded/cut paper ornaments, or more intricate structures like pop-ups. For 2018, we’re seeing embellished paper, whether it’s printed, stamped, stenciled, or painted or comes to the crafter already metallicized, glittered, or marbled. It’s used in both flat and dimensional paper crafting. We’re also seeing a layered approach to paper crafting, where the crafter embellishes the paper project with more than one type of media–block printing over watercolor wash, for example, or collaging mixed with stamping or painting. Another trend that we didn’t predict in 2017 but saw frequently is the creative re-use of obsolete paper for crafts and other decorations. Think of decoupaging with paper maps, or creating a lampshade out of encyclopedia pages. It’s an inspiring Pinterest search to look for ideas that incorporate typography and vintage graphic design as decorative elements.
We also noted the strength of the adult coloring book market which grew last year to include craft-specific titles. The coloring books themselves may have peaked, since they are now staples at job lot stores and drugstore dollar bins, but the Black Friday 2017 deal we saw posters most excited about on both our Instagram and Twitter feeds was a super deluxe set of Sharpie markers, with fine, regular and chisel tips and a wide variety of colors. Crafters want to play with color, but it may be that as they head into 2018, they are confident enough to color on their own, outside of anyone else’s defined lines.
Laura Abrahamsen for Stitchcraft Marketing
If you’re looking for more ideas to help you expand your craft-based business, contact Leanne@stitchcraftmarketing.com. We make magic for your brand.