WILD THINGS: faces // kid's clothes week


Hi, its Miranda from Inspinration again. In our previous posts we, as contributors, showed you how clothes can be animal inspired without using actual animal graphics. This post will be different, this post will be full of animal graphics. I created some animal face based sub-topics and I will give suggestions on how  to actually incorporate animal faces in your kids’s clothes.

Minimalistic animal faces

covered71.Penguin shirt 2. Bunny shirt 3. Polar bear romper 4.Chickadee Girl’s Tutu Shirt

Lets start with minimalist animal faces. The possibilities for this type of garment are vast. Both for the graphic as for the technique, there are many ways to go. You can draw faces with fabric marker, stencil them with fabric paint, cut them from vinyl or embroider them like the bunny face. You could even make a “negative” of your minimalistic face by painting/dying your fabric and leaving the face unpainted with use of crayons or china marker. I made a minimalistic lion face shirt last month and both my son and I love it. When I was preparing my lion shirt, I searched the web on images with the terms “lion”, “head”, “face” “drawing” and/or “silhouette”. It didn’t give me the exact print I wanted, but it did show me which features of the lions face should be part of my minimalistic version.

I can not draw well because I do not have enough eye for proportions and detail. Making a minimalistic face requires a minimal amount of those skills, and most likely, you will also have enough skills to come up with something nice. Search for sharp lines or color changes in your animals face. Converting an existing picture to black and white (just search the web for free tools if you do not own photo editing software) might help you finding the lines you are searching for. Another way to go for inspiration is childrens’ books, many will contain minimalistic animal faces. Added bonus, if you use a book that your kids know, there is a higher likelihood your kid will actually recognise the animal in your piece of art.

Detailed animal faces

covered61.Red panda face shirt 2.Pieced lion sweater 3.Pompom nose 4. Button nose

Detailed animal faces, seemed a logical next step to me. There are even more options for detailed animal faces than there are for minimalistic faces. In minimalistic drawings all birds or all cat races are similar, but with detailed faces you can really bring any animal to life. The level of detail is up to your preference and skill. As you can see in the pictures I selected, a detailed face can vary from a beautifully multi-colored almost lifelike fabric painted face to coming up with your own interesting 3D nose. With the pig for example it really is the nose detail that creates the high overall cuteness level.

Combining a variety of techniques is also a viable option, like with the fabric pieced lions face with snap eyes and fabric marker drawn manes. This sweater sparked my interest in fabric pieced quilt blocks. I had seen this techniques for quilts before, but seeing this lion made me realize that I could use inspiration from those blocks in clothes as well.

For this sub-theme I searched high and low for a garment with 3D whiskers, I really expected those to exist. I did find embroidered versions but that was not what I was looking for. I really wanted pipe cleaner resembling (washable version) whiskers which your kid could shape himself, coming up with new shapes everyday. Anyone up for filling this gap coming KCW?

Animal outline

covered31. Crocodile shirt 2. Deer blouse 3. Whale shirt 4. Elephant dress

Most animals have characteristic shapes, which work great as fabric applications. There are many tutorials on the web how to do fabric applications, this is one I like. You can choose for a large graphic that almost covers the entire garment like with the elephant dress, or you could cut a very small one to use as a knee patch. You can play around with the type of fabric for the body. You can use (scraps of loved) unrelated fabric like in the case of the deer and elephant dress, or you can match the fabric to the animal. The green crocodile is an example of fabric matching for another example of fabric matching look at my previous post on the turtle inspired fabrics.

You can also play around with the level of detail. You can choose to only take the outer shape or you can add eyes, ears or fins, all is fine and will yield great results. For the collage I restricted myself to applications from fabric but you can use the same techniques as I mentioned for the minimalistic faces. This is an example a minimalistic fox that I adore. Children books can again be a great source of inspiration as will be using the name of your animal combined with the word “silhouette” in image search.

Highlighted animal face detail: teeth

covered41.Crocodile shirt 2. Shark sweater 3. Monster Shirt 4. Chomp, shark attack 5. Shark knee patch 6. Shark hoodie

Besides featuring the whole animal you can also choose one specific animal feature and let it steal the show. In my previous post I wrote about sharks and while doing my research, I found so many inspirational teeth pictures I had to share them. My kids would go crazy for all six of them. I found so many nice examples, that I had to make some hard choices. The textile marker ones didn’t make the cut, but that would be a good technique here as well.

If you prefer the animal inspiration in your kids’ clothes to be relatively subtle, the fourth picture should work for you. The teeth are just triangles on the sleeves and only reveal their true awesomeness if your kid crosses its arms. Several of these pictures have teeth sewn on them. How to add 3D elements to your design will be discussed in a later post, so make sure you do not miss any of our posts. For now just enjoy the eye candy on those.

One animals in different designs: black cat

covered51. Wrap cat 2. Bad luck cat tee 3. Bottom cat shirt 4. Cut cat shirt

To wrap up my post, I wanted to give an indication about the vastness of the possibilities while featuring the same animal. I made a collage of black cat inspired clothes which shows just a small sample of the possibilities, because there are many, many more.

The first three garments can be recreated with already discussed techniques like fabric paint and textile marker or vinyl. I really like the idea of the back of the garment being involved in the graphic, for the third picture this will be very subtle, for the other two not so much. The fourth picture could be recreated using this layered fabric technique. Although I chose black cats, you can easily make all four ideas for other animals. I advise you to now just do the mental exercise to picture these four ideas with a bunny. Did you also imagine a cute 3D tail?

I hope you liked my ideas on animal heads and bodies and that you feel comfortable making something that fits your personal preference. You can be subtle or bold and use any technique you like, any plans yet?


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  • Reply Annika March 31, 2015 at 9:00 am

    That pieced lion-sweater and the pigs! Then the teeth and the cat versions! I just don’t know what I like best. All so very COOL!

    • Reply Louisa March 31, 2015 at 9:07 am

      I was so excited about the sharks that I didn’t notice the pig. I love the button nose!

    • Reply Miranda March 31, 2015 at 9:16 am

      I even had more ideas and pictures, but decided to cut the more extreme ones ;), they might still end up on my own blog though somewhere during KCW.

  • Reply Louisa March 31, 2015 at 9:03 am

    I love all of the teeth ideas! I’ve seen some fun details on sleeves to look like a shark’s mouth before, but they were far too complicated to be replicated. I am thrilled to see something that looks like a possibility that is still lots of fun. I think I will have to try a version of Chomp, Shark Attack and the shark patch for my shark loving nephew. The collage of cat ideas is such fun. They all look so different that it gives me confidence making many flamingo outfits for my niece.

  • Reply Diana March 31, 2015 at 9:46 am

    You set the bar high, Miranda! Amazing! Love the shark teeth…

    • Reply inspinration April 1, 2015 at 3:15 am

      Thanks Diana, I am sure you will inspire us all, already looking forward to your post.

  • Reply Lightning McStitch March 31, 2015 at 4:30 pm

    Wow Miranda, what a blog post! That’s a fantastic collection of seriously cool, and cute, Kid’s clothes. I want to make them all!!!!

    • Reply inspinration April 1, 2015 at 3:21 am

      Thanks Shelley, this really is such a lovely theme!

  • Reply Fiona April 1, 2015 at 9:50 am

    Wow, great ideas! I love the minimalistic faces, and the silhouettes are something I can probably replicate with only local materials. I absolutely LOVE the shark and crocodile teeth clothes, and my son would too! 

    • Reply inspinration April 3, 2015 at 4:35 am

      Thanks Fiona, I love these topics because they can indeed be done with materials most people have around. The minimalistic shape is perfect for upcycling some old too small but loved baby clothesll!

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