HOW TO: turn a book into fabric // kid's clothes week

HOW TO turn a book into fabric

Hey everyone! It’s Ari from Max California, are you excited about this season’s KCW? I know that I am, and the theme is the absolute cutest! Today we’re going to check out how to get inspiration from books and use the colours in outfits through the fabric. I think turning an actual book into fabric would also be neat, but we’re just going with colours today okay?

I sat with the kids and picked out some books, which pretty much involved them rediscovering a lot of things in our bookshelves that they forgot that we have, until we were surrounded in book heaven. I flicked through some of the books, picking out some classics with really identifiable colour schemes: for example Dr Seuss books with the red and white striped spines or the little golden books with their gold and black spines (i’m not sure when I became so interested in book spines?), then I went through some of my favourite books that the kids have and flicked through the pages until I found ones that really inspired me with their colours. Ready to see what we chose?

Our first book was a gift for Vincent. It’s called Uno’s Garden and it’s about this strange little man named Uno who lives in a beautiful forest home. As the story goes on, though, more things are built closer and closer to the forest until there’s a big city and a lot of the amazing creatures and plants around his home have started to disappear. It’s so beautifully written and illustrated by Australian’s children’s author Graeme Base (he’s incredible). While the entire book is crazy inspiring with the colours and the creatures, I chose a page about grazing Gondolopes and the elusive Snortlepig.

The colours are really beautiful blues, teals and a I guess a beige colour as well as some whites. I picked out a few colours and came up with the palette above. Finding fabrics online was a little difficult, since usually I’d probably browse the aisles of the fabric store, but I did find a few fabrics that would be suitable. It’s a pretty magical little book, so if I was making this up I’d most likely use a pattern that feels floaty and pretty: for example the Persimmon Dress by Willow & Co. Patterns or the Edelweiss Dress by Hey June. Sewing for a boy? How about the Seraphic Pants by Figgy’s (I’ve sewn them up before here so you can read my review! hint: this pattern is A+) with the Dolman Tee by Kitschy Coo?


Uno's Garden fabric palette
1. interweave chambray in lagoon by robert kaufman, 2. framework double gauze in teal 3. teal polypop,

4. herringbone pond by free spirit fabrics, 5. xoxo in ghost white by cotton + steel


Our second book today is Horton Hatches the Egg! But basically? Any book by Dr Seuss. I love that man, like it’s true love I swear. I’ve been obsessed with Dr Seuss for a very long time. I’m not sure I need to give Dr Seuss an introduction, but pretty much he wrote about a million children’s books. Not just any children’s books. Weird and wonderful books that use specific words and also made up fun words to help children learn to read. Instead of choosing a specific book, we’re going with the iconic colour scheme of Dr Seuss books, the zany red and white striped spine with blue and yellow.

Dr Seuss

Dr. Seuss books are so vivid and bold, both with the pictures and the stories. It really wasn’t very difficult to choose fabrics for this one, any basic bold primary coloured fabric is just perfect and you could mix them with colourful and busy patterned fabrics for a really fun look. All the fabrics below are from the Kitshy Coo shop, pretty much your one stop shop for the absolute best unique and colouful fabrics!

Dr Seuss inspired fabrics from Kitschy Coo
1. Air balloon organic cotton jersey, 2. Bright orange organic plain jersey, 3. Pony Bloom organic cotton jersey,

4. Strawberry stretch terry, 5. Turquoise & white stripes cotton jersey


Of course there is also several lines of licensed Dr Seuss fabric that you can buy, by my favourite fabric designer Robert Kaufman if you wanted a more literal interpretation. As for patterns? Colour-blocking is definitely in order! Colour-blocking friendly patterns include the Twisted Tank by Titchy Threads (super excited to sew this one up!), the Anytime At All tee by Shwin Designs as well as this free shorts pattern by Eloleo.

Our third book is Tea Rex! It’s a super funny book I bought for Vincent all about a fancy little girl throwing a tea party for a very special guest, a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The book is adorable, outlining all the rules of teaparties, although the pictures are depicting very much the opposite happening. It’s a pretty book, and I chose it today for the pastel colours (as well as the cute story and illustrations!)

Tea Rex colour palette

Most of the palette inspiration came from the wallpaper of the room the teaparty is held in, as well as some complimentary pastel colours too! The inspirations are pretty and fancy, but perfectly wearable in case a dinosaur comes to tea! We’re talking durable fabrics but why not some pretty things too, like lace?

Tea Rex fabric inspiration
1. Powder cotton tencel chambray, 2. Floral Printed denim stretch, 3. Mint vanity fair stripe,

4. light mocha floral stretch lace, 5. gray toffee vines jersey blend knit

There’s two pattern companies that came to mind like instantly with sewing up clothing inspired by this book, Violet Field Threads and Oliver + S. Both have really good reputations for classic children’s wear that are both beautiful but practical. For little boys how about the Sailboat top & pants (there’s also a skirt) or the Sketchbook set, and for girls the Emmaline and Pinwheel Dresses?

Where the Wild Things Are colour palette

And last but definitely not least is my favourite book in the entire world, Where the Wild Things Are! In the ENTIRE WORLD. I’m serious. It is the best. The book is about a little boy called Max (holler!) who gets a bit cranky at life at home and sails away on a crazy crazy adventure where he meets some really strange monsters. They love each other so much “We’ll eat you up – we love you so”, they have the best party “Let the Wild Rumpus start!” and there is LOADS of inspiration for costumes and outfits even if you’re not looking for colours.

The colour scheme from this is very colourful but very muted. I know that’s probably the worst description of colours but roll with it! The illustrations seem so textured, lots of cross-hatching and other shading techniques, which is the PERFECT basis to choose fabrics because… well fabrics are textured! I’ve chosen a bunch of fabrics, most of them are from the Imagine Gnats shop but the middle one is from Girl Charlee, both excellent fabric stores that I have had the pleasure of dealing with! The apricot organic knit fabric pictured below is in my fabric cupboard as we speak/type/read and I have to tell you it is the SOFTEST thing I have ever held.


Where the Wild Things Are fabric palette
1. black interweave chambray, 2. strawberry interweave chambray, 3. moose mania cotton jersey blend,

4. winged plumage in apricot, 5. gramercy: commute by limoknit


That’s all I have for you today! Hopefully it’s given you another angle to look at sewing Storybook inspired clothes for your kiddies! It doesn’t have to be literal, it can be as obscure or as fun as you want. I can’t wait to see what everyone makes this season! Kids Clothes Week this month falls on our special Sew Geeky Weeky for the month of October so you can be sure that there’ll be lots of awesome (and nerdy) kiddy clothes going on over at Max California as I knock out two birds with one stone!

If you’re into creating palettes too, or just want a great resource for finding colours that go together, check out Colour Lovers. I use it quite often actually,  it’s very useful and if you ‘discover’ a colour that doesn’t have a name yet you can name it yourself. There are a few named after Eddie & Vin, heehee.

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  • Reply Maria September 30, 2014 at 7:26 am

    This is amazing! I have some ideas floating into my head. Some , I want them to be literal…some are more abstract but certainly in my list are Dr Seuss books. You have gave us a great source of inspiration!

  • Reply rachael {imagine gnats} September 30, 2014 at 7:27 am

    awesome suggestions!! I love the idea of using the colors and textural inspirations from the books… now my head is swimming with ideas 🙂

  • Reply Kitschy Coo September 30, 2014 at 7:47 am

    What a cool post (and a glimpse inside the mind of a creative genius)  🙂

  • Reply Marisa September 30, 2014 at 8:05 am

    Very inspiring Ari – heaps of ideas and information. Love the fabric choices, too!

  • Reply Kassandra Sullivan September 30, 2014 at 9:14 am

    What a great idea! Thank you! 

  • Reply annika October 1, 2014 at 6:47 am

    Ah ari, you’re the best. I really don’t have time to participate in kcw this time, but thecurge to still do so just got sooo big. I love sewing that is inspired from books

  • Reply addie October 2, 2014 at 7:25 am

    Lovely post!! I was looking though my son’s favorite books yesterday and thinking about color inspiration,too. This challenge theme is  great.

  • Reply Tasha October 2, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    NAILED IT. Seriously, such a great take on a less literal interpretation of our favorite storybooks.

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