Cotton fabric swatches of Pantone’s 2021 Colors of the Year.
2020 was a year we’ll never forget. Even leaders of major trend forecasting agencies admitted this year threw them a curveball — we’re all adapting in the face of global change. As we think about the year ahead, one thing seems clear: everyone is wondering what’s next. Here are our predictions for what 2021 has in store for the craft industry.
2021 Color Trends
Pantone has selected two core colors for 2021: Ultimate Gray and Illuminating. The colors are meant to represent fortitude and happiness, citing the desire for resilience and stability as economies around the world teeter on the edge of recession.
Pantone calls the color pair, “A marriage of color conveying a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting.”
Sky Blue Hampden Studio Sock Yarn from Neighborhood Fiber Co.
Etsy named Sky Blue its color of the year for 2021, “hope is on the horizon and there is a renewed sense of gratitude and connection to our communities.” Other craft industry leaders seem to agree. Quilt fabric manufacturer Robert Kaufman featured Horizon, a bright sky blue, as their color of the year. Expect to see the color trending in fashion and knits — Neighborhood Fiber Co’s Hampden Studio Sock Yarn is a great example of the color we’ll be seeing more of in 2021.
Quilt designs from Urban Quilting by Wendy Chow, coming January 2021.
“Going into the new year, I think we’ll continue to see an uptick in consumers seeking to learn new crafts like quilting as they remain at home and as many conventions, shows, and workshops move online,” says Wendy Chow, author of the forthcoming Urban Quilting.
Her new book highlights modern quilt designs to decorate your home, including some that can be displayed on the wall — a noise dampening decor choice that many may appreciate now that we spend more time at home than ever.
“I don’t think we’ll see quite the same spike in crafting in 2021 that we did this 2020, when sewists and other crafters stepped up to make face masks for essential workers and loved ones,” says Chow. “However, it’s my hope that the increased interest in quilting and fabrics will continue and that our community will keep growing now that so many new people have experienced the joy and value that these crafts can bring.”
Etsy reported a 735% increase in searches for beginner cross stitch kits in 2020, and Pinterest’s trend report claims, “Embroidery is the new tie-dye.” We predicted a resurgence of embroidery crafts in 2020, but with more new embroidery books forthcoming from popular crafters Celeste Johnson and Lexi Mire Brantman, it seems needlecrafting will continue to grow in popularity in 2021.
Pinterest predicts that glass etching, crochet, bottle painting, and leatherworking will be on the rise this year, based on increased searches on the platform in 2020. Driven partially by restrictions on travel, Pinterest also predicts an increased interest in exploring cultural traditions from around the world — from the safety of your own home. They expect a rise in globally-inspired crafts and cultural art forms like Irish quilt patterns, Persian calligraphy art, and Japanese carpentry. Anne Kelly’s new book Textile Travels could be an early signal of this new trend.
Imperfect pearl jewelry is set to become one of 2021’s biggest jewelry trends. Michaels cited resin jewelry as their biggest DIY jewelry trend in 2020, and the craft may continue to be popular this year as an impactful project that can be done from home without much specialized equipment.
Sewing and knitting patterns for loose-fitting garments, and sewing with softer fabrics will be popular in 2021, as crafters continue to work from home, and public activities continue to be restricted. Pinterest has coined a new term for the style of garments that have gained popularity during the pandemic: athflow. Not quite workout wear, but a step above pajamas, athflow emphasizes cozy comfort, while maintaining a stylish edge. Vogue reporter Steff Yotka noted in the trend in her review of Spring 2021 fashion week previews: “For the first time in a long time, these looked like clothes that are meant to be worn.”
As homeschooling and remote learning continues for many families in 2021, kid friendly crafts will continue to be appealing for parents desperate for some quiet time. Less messy craft kits for kids, especially kits that require minimal supervision, will aid parents who are continuing to be pulled in many directions. We may also see an increase in digital sew-a-long or craft-a-long activities online, as guilds, clubs, and membership groups continue to meet remotely.
Joann offers free Mask Chain DIY projects on their website.
Since most in-person art and craft events were restricted in 2020, expect to see a rise in craft trends fueled by the Instagram algorithm. As inspiration and discovery continues to move online, expect 90’s nostalgia to continue to reign supreme in 2021, fueled by nostalgia from social media’s most active users. Etsy also predicts more 90’s themed products for kids and adults, especially daisies and tie dye.
While we wait for the Coronavirus vaccine to become more widely available, face masks will continue to be a part of everyday life, and become more of a fashion accessory. Etsy reported a 1000% increase in wedding face mask searches by the end of 2020, signaling a desire for increased personalization options from customers. Look for personalization opportunities in handmade masks, like birthdays and weddings, as well as highly decorated mask chains.
Remote work and distributed teams are fast becoming the norm, and many companies may opt to remain that way well into 2021. Collaboration tools like Slack, Miro, Monday, and Trello allow teams to stay connected, and make it easier for companies to expand their pool of qualified potential hires if the role could be off-site. This year, companies may make investments in getting employees set up to work remotely for the long haul, which could see an increased interest in opportunities for digital creative workshops that can be marketed to corporate team building for distributed companies.
Craft retailers will continue to invest in contactless shopping options for their customers, including cashless payments, local delivery, and curbside pickup.
According to Shopify’s consumer trends research, 53% of North American buyers say the pandemic has changed the way they’ll shop going forward, with notable increases in online shopping and curbside pickup.
JOANN has made major investments in their location-based curbside pickup systems, expecting that consumers will continue to prefer to limit their time in-store, and making the pickup process more convenient.
Overall, we’re still in uncharted territory. Late 2021 may see a vibrant return to in-person gatherings, but it’s possible that consumers will continue to feel most comfortable shopping and crafting from home. Businesses would be well advised to adapt to the uncertain market by reviewing their online offerings and ensuring a convenient, on-brand experience for customers who may continue to connect at a distance.
Erin is the textile designer and artist behind the home décor company, Cotton & Flax. She licenses her surface designs for fabric, home décor, stationery, and other clients. She’s also a teacher, writer, and enthusiastic advocate for small creative business owners. She lives in San Diego, California.