Pierrot and Moon Pants for Stylo

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Let’s take a look at another outfit I designed for Stylo Magazine using the Cotton+Steel Bespoke Double Gauzes! (I blogged about the first outfit in this post).

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This fetching ensemble is comprised of a Pierrot Tunic, Moon Pants (a pattern-in-progress…for more information, see this post) and a headband made of double-gauze blossoms. This is a slightly different version from the first pair of Moon Pants in that the cuff is separate and there is a beautiful crescent moon-shaped pocket.

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If I had to pick an outfit as my absolute favorite of the four I created for the Stylo spread, it would be this one. Which is funny because it started out being my least favorite, mainly because I couldn’t really get either of the garments to photograph very well when I took the initial flat “still-life” photos. Pierrot is oversized so when you lay it out on a table — let me be honest — it’s not at its best. But as soon you put it on your kids it’s Instant Cute. So when Clementine put them on they really sprung to life and I ended up LOVING it. The double gauze just creates a beautiful drape when the clothing is worn that you can’t capture when it’s on the hanger. And the tiny stars on these prints are really, really gorgeous.

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Here’s a closeup of the double gauze ruffle on the Pierrot Tunic — when you cut the double gauze on the bias and stitch with a zig zag along the edges, it creates an amazing texture. After making the ruffle on the tunic, I decided to take more strips and turn them into the flowers for the headband. I’ll try to figure out a way to post more about the headband because it’s pretty cool: I made it with a strip of velcro on top and then put velcro strips on the bottom of each of the flowers so you can move them around and mix and match the colors!

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Clementine rocked this outfit. Clearly.

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She’s wearing this outfit with a sherpa vest from Mini Boden that coincidentally had stars on the lining too. Perfect!

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To see the entire spread, complete with the three other outfits I designed, follow this link: Stylo Issue 3 (my spread starts on page 99)!! You can see the entire collection of Bespoke Double Gauzes over at the Cotton and Steel website (they ship early next year). And of course, the Pierrot Tunic Sewing Pattern is available as a PDF download in my pattern shop.

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Flannel Baby Pants

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Hugo has been wearing his many pairs of cotton Big Butt Baby pants and they always get tons of compliments (how could they not with such a cute model?). I wanted to make him a couple warmer pairs out of the new Fanfare 2014 flannels for winter, so I picked these two elephant prints with a grey solid rear panel.

Elephant Big Butt Baby PantsElephant Big Butt Baby Pants

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The sewing pattern is my Big Butt Baby Pants Sewing Pattern, which is designed with enough room for cloth-diapered booties. It’s so fun to give the pattern another go with another kiddo; when I designed it back in 2010, Clementine was my little pattern tester!

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I made one small mod to the pattern here which is so easy to do and yields such a cute result: instead of sewing the entire hem, leave a small gap along the top of the folded hem allowance for an elastic casing. Then thread 6-8″ of half inch wide elastic through the casing, overlap the ends of the elastic and stitch them together (try on baby first) to get a snug fit around the ankle, and stitch the casing shut. I’m a big fan of the elasticized cuff lately (moon pants anyone?).

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Hugo is NOT actually walking yet, despite how these pics may appear — Karen was holding his hands just above the shot, though he does LOVE to stand up. I’m hoping he will refrain from walking until he is a bit older like his siblings (they both walked at 15 months). What do you think the chances of that are? A mama can hope, right?

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Lotus Drop from sketch to fabric

I love creating designs for fabric; it’s totally a dream come true to have my designs manufactured into fabric that I can actually sew with. The process of putting together a complete collection of fabrics from a handful of sketches is something I’m really fascinated by. I have always loved to see artists present their process from sketch to final fabric design (Tula Pink is one fabric designer who posts about her process quite often; check out this post and this post, SO AMAZING!). Although my initial sketches aren’t nearly as intricate or artistic as Tula’s (honestly, most my original artwork falls solidly into Doodle Camp), I thought it would be fun to show you some of my first sketches from my line, Lotus Pond, so you can see how a concept evolves as it goes from sketch to final design. Maybe you find this as fascinating as I do!!!

So here’s where it usually starts for me: a sketch. Do you recognize the Lotus Drop print that this one is eventually going to become?

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I usually send a small set of sketches to Michelle Engel Bencsko (co-owner and art director at Cloud9 Fabrics; I am a licensed Cloud 9 Collective designer). Usually these sketches relate to each other in some way, sometimes they do not. Michelle sifts through them and gives me feedback on the direction the collection could go. “Let’s go with this pond theme!” she might say. Sometimes it’s two directions but we haven’t decided which one is better yet. Sometimes a sketch is based on a conversation I’ve had with Michelle about a print idea that is still needed (“do you have a turtle?”). Once we have a theme for the line picked out, I take the sketch and put it into Illustrator. At this point I usually try to pick some colors too so I can visualize what the print will become. Here is what that sketch turned into:

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Here’s another color variation I delivered (can you see the resemblance to the final print yet??). You can see that at this point, the concept was a band of lotus blossoms that might work for a border print (something printed along the selvage of a fabric), but not an all-over design.

Lotus Repeat emerald

Once a handful of sketches have been digitized, Michelle and I work on tweaking the colors and pattern. The tweaking stage is a back and forth process, which I really love! Some fabric designers just deliver an entire line, complete with repeats, to the art director, but I personally appreciate having the feedback and being able to bounce ideas back and forth. Michelle is a fabric designer herself, so she has tons of fantastic ideas about where a print could go, but she is always great about saying “how about this?” and hearing when I do or don’t like an idea. If she has a strong sense that it will not be successful, I put the brakes on a concept; I trust her expertise and keen design sense. The idea of stacking the blossoms on top of each other instead of in a grid actually came from Michelle, and as soon as I saw it, we both knew it was the right direction!

image via Cloud9 Fabrics

Then it was just a matter of deciding which color(s) to go with for this print. We ended up choosing blue and orange for this design, and called it “Lotus Drop.”

image via Cloud9 Fabrics

This is just a small glimpse into the process — obviously it’s much more complicated in reality than what I’ve described. Coordinating the colors and prints in the entire collection once the prints are digitized is a HUGE job that takes a great deal of time and coordination between Michelle and me. It’s impossible to tease apart the work on one print from the work on the entire collection, because as a collection evolves in the design process, the individual prints are evolving as well. And then of course the colors need to be translated from computer screen to the fabric, which is another story altogether.

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Do you enjoy getting a peek into the process? I think it’s fun to see where a single design starts and ends! If you liked this post, I might show you a few more!

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Pink hair, don’t care

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I got my hair done last weekend and got some pink (woot!) extensions. It had been such a looong time since I even had a haircut. I figured if I was going to make an appointment I might as well make it worth my time. Adding color is something I would have never done when I was teaching high school; most of the time I was trying hard as a young twenty-something to be taken seriously. It didn’t help that I was mistaken for a student by a parent my first year (I looked about 16 when I started teaching). I guess it took me a while to get to the point where the thought of adding color to my hair even occurred to me. But now, why NOT? It doesn’t really matter what anyone thinks of me; might as well do something fun!!

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Mr Rae raised a single eyebrow and made an 80’s rockstar reference when I announced I would be coming home with pink in my hair. It ended up being much more subtle than either one of us guessed (I had to bump up the color saturation on the top photo to make the pink easier to see; the photo above is more realistic), and honestly this barely counts as “coloring my hair” since the extensions aren’t permanent and they’ll fall out after a couple months. Anyway, it’s a fun and easy way to try out a bit of color without a permanent change. It’s probably just going to get crazier from here on out.

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Knit Dresses for Clementine

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Two new quick knit dresses for the little stinker (actually three but one didn’t get finished): One a slightly larger version of this Flashback Dress (there’s a rough tutorial at that link on converting the Flashback Tee into a dress):

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She just got a haircut last week, which I think turned out rather well. After discussing her plans to “keep it long” and “just get a tiny trim” in the car before we arrived at the salon, I was rather floored to hear her announce to the hairdresser that she wanted it all chopped off. Whaaaat. OK! Sure!!! I tried not to sound too enthusiastic lest she change her mind since I actually love it short — it’s SO much easier to take care of and somehow always manages to look chic no matter what she does or doesn’t do to it, as opposed to long hair, which always ends up looking unkempt and ragamuffinesque, like she might actually be a street urchin or something.\

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When I see little girls running around with beautifully coiffed heads, or perfectly placed pigtails or braids, I always wonder how that came about. In our house a hairstyle that intricate would need to involve either ear-piercing shrieks or a large tranquilizer dart.

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And here is the other dress, which is basically a Flashback Tee, cut a few inches below the armpit and with a gathered rectangle sewed to the bottom (EASY!). Similar to this Flower Garden dress, does anyone remember that post? She was soooo cute back then!!!

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OK, fabric. The white knit is a Birch Organic knit which I purchased at Sew to Speak in Columbus (I have their # on speed-dial) but can also be found at Fabricworm, a sponsor of this blog (ack they have it on sale right now!!). The knit is a medium weight, thicker, with a nice amount of stretch to it. I will say that I love the Birch knits, but the more ink they have on them, the stiffer they feel (both before and after washing), so the prints with the lighter backgrounds tend to feel nicer to me. Love this party print!! SOOO cute!

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The pink print is from Girl Charlee (another blog sponsor) which is a large online shop specializing in knits. This one is called a “cotton jersey blend,” is fairly lightweight, and has a great deal of stretch — so much so that you can see the armpits on this dress are sagging from the weight of the skirt. It is SUPER soft, though since I paid very little for this knit I do worry about pilling on it, as it seems to have a fair amount of lycra. Lycra content can usually be seen as little tiny white threads on the surface of a knit, which can sometimes snag and pill as a knit is worn). So we will see; it hasn’t been worn much yet. Clementine LOOOOOVEEESS this dress and has professed her undying love for the print on a number of occasions already. The fact that she has worn the dress three times since I finished it on Friday even though it has pizza sauce on it is solid evidence of this.

Flashback Dress for ClementineFlashback Dress for Clementine

Finally: the sherpa vest is from Mini Boden. I love that thing. Warm enough for cool days, and super cute. I bet you could make one, but this mama has her hands full of handmade clothing projects as it is.

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