WILD THINGS from the savannah // kid's clothes week

WILD THINGS from the savannah

Hi! I’m Lisa Mabey from Mabey She Made It, and I’m thrilled to be contributing this season. When I heard that the theme was wild things and we got to pick a habitat as a starting point for our inspiration, I knew I wanted the savannah. I was able to visit South Africa several years ago, and I’ve been enthralled with these gorgeous animals ever since.

There is so much to be inspired by! And while everyone immediately thinks about leopard print, zebra stripes, and even giraffe spots, I’m hoping to think beyond the obvious today and show you a few things about elephants, lions, zebras, and giraffes that inspire me (and hopefully you too!). I’ll point out a few things I love, then show you how I translate them into fabric, shapes, and patterns. Let’s get started!


When I think about elephants, I think about wrinkles. Not the too-lazy-to-iron wrinkles–the depth and texture of fabrics and how something monotone can be gorgeously complex because of that texture. I also love elephant ears. They’re beautiful, multifunctional, and they drape wonderfully.
Elephant Collage


Dark Silver Crinkled Chiffon | Navy and Off-White Herringbone | Crinkled Cotton-Polyester Jersey | Black Crinkled Silk Organza | Cotton Bubble Gauze

Knit Sweater | Gretchen Dress | Muse Jacket

The fabrics above have depth and movement to them. They’re crinkled, bubbled, and have slight variations that make them interesting although they’re mostly solid. I love how that translates to the clothing as well. A heathered sweater, a herringbone jacket with subtle details, and a floaty white dress with sleeves that imitate elephant ears.

Elephant Patterns-01

Girl’s Flouncy Dress | Glass Onion Top | Jude Jacket

Naturally, the patterns I chose also have some of these same elements. I love the sleeve detail of the Flouncy dress, the curved back panels of the Glass Onion Top, and the subtle details and texture of the Jude Jacket.


These majestic animals are fierce, massive, and powerful. And what would a male lion be without his mane? While lions also don’t necessarily have a lot of color variation, they make up for it in thick fur and wonderfully wild cowls.

Lion Collage


Dark Tan/Natural Herringbone | Crushed Panne | Turkish Flannel Spotted | Chocolate and Off-White Striped Cotton | Oatmeal Watercolor Knit  

Brown Tutu | Ferocious Felt Lion Coat | Coat with Detachable Hood by Zara


So let’s talk about the fabric and color selections above. I kept it within the neutral browns, but still wanted some movement and depth. Once again a herringbone, some crushed panne, simple stripes, and even a floral combine to give these effects. Moving down to the clothing, I love the layers and wildness of the tutu, absolute cuteness of the Ferocious Felt Lion coat, and the (perhaps obvious) fur-lined hood of the second coat. All three of these pieces demand attention just like a lion.Lion Patterns

The Eleanor Dress | Little Bow Pleat Dress | Bimaa Sweater

For these patterns, neck details were important to me. The split cowl detail of the Eleanor dress, the mandarin collar and bow of the Little Bow Pleat Dress, and the drape of the Bimaa Sweater all draw your eye to the neck, just like a lion’s mane. I also find it interesting that the patterns I was drawn to are all of girls (although the Bimaa is for boys too). And while these darling girls don’t look ferocious, they do catch your attention.


The zebra’s stripes are undeniably cool. The patterns are unique to each animal, but we’re drawn to the bold, eye-catching striations that are common to all zebra.

(Fun fact: zebra moms take their babies away from the herd for a few days while the baby learns it’s mom’s stripes. Then, when the baby knows his mom visually, they return to the herd.)Giraffe Collage


Black & White Houndstooth | Black Cotton Chambray | Silver Animal Brocade | Black and White Striped Cotton Voile | White/Black Fleur de Lis Cotton Poplin 

Check Top | Argyle Sweater |  Zebra Top


So in addition to a zebra print, I found bold black and white prints visually inspiring as well. Everything from houndstooth to stripes, to small flour de lis caught my attention. And I threw a little black chambray in there for good measure because you can’t go wrong with chambray, and half of the fun of the zebra is creating a distinct pattern.Zebra Patterns

Twist & Shout Pants | Isabella Dress | Asymmetrical Color-Blocking

That’s where these patterns come in. I love the asymmetry and the chance for color blocking in each of these patterns. The twisted side seam of the Twist & Shout pants is unexpected, while the diagonal ruffles of the Isabella Dress and the unique lines in the Asymmetrical Color-Blocking shirt give you plenty of chances to create your own distinct patterns and visually stunning combinations.


I don’t really know what it is about the giraffe that I love so much. They’re so awkwardly long and they’re not graceful, but I still love them. They have a beautiful pattern, but I think more than that it’s silhouette that sets them apart.

Zebra Collage


Pumice Ikat Print | Italian Silver/Brown/Black Striped SuitingGiraffe Print Fashion Fur | Dirty Moss Floral Cotton Poplin | Mustard Faux Suede

Fringed Patterned Poncho | Zara Look 8 | Smart Tomboy

I had so much fun finding these giraffe-inspired fabrics and clothing. Ikat was a fun interpretation of giraffe spots with their similarly uneven edges and I loved bringing yellows and mustards into the color palette. Florals, stripes, spots, and solids rounded out the fabric selections, and I love how different each of the fabrics feels while not straying too far from the inspiration. And those clothes! I love the fringed edges of the ikat poncho that imitate the fringy mane. Combine that with plea dots and long leggy silhouettes and I’m just dying to put my girls in giraffe-inspired outfits.

Giraffe PatternsBeachy Boatneck | Skinny Jeans | Flashback Skinny Tee

That being said, these three (unisex) patterns lend a lot to a lean silhouette. Pair some skinny jeans and a skinny tee with any of those fabrics, add in some fabulous accessories (can you tell I have all girls?) and you’ll feel like you’re ready to walk with the giraffe.

And that’s it for today. I hope you’ve felt a little of my love for savannah animals and that you’ll find your own take on these wild things for the rest of the season!

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  • Reply Louisa March 24, 2015 at 8:54 am

    What fun! Thanks for sharing the information about the color blocking tutorial. I think that will work its way into my plans!

    • Reply Lisa at Mabey She Made It March 24, 2015 at 10:36 am

      Thank you Louisa! I was excited about that color blocking tutorial as well. So many creative options!

  • Reply Inspinration March 24, 2015 at 10:08 am

    Well done, very inspiring! I can’t choose which one I like best, probably the lion but it is a picture finish for sure. Drape and wringles for the elphant so obvious now, but I would have never come up with it 🙂

    • Reply Lisa at Mabey She Made It March 24, 2015 at 10:39 am

      Thanks Miranda! There are so many cool lion-like things. There was a darling knitted cowl I also wanted to include, but since this is Spring, I opted not to put it in. I LOVE elephants–but I didn’t want to go with the obvious trunk. 🙂

  • Reply Renee March 24, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Such fantastic inspiration here Lisa – can’t wait for this season!!

    • Reply Lisa at Mabey She Made It March 24, 2015 at 7:38 pm

      Thank you so much, Renee! It’s going to be such a fabulous season–there’s so much to be inspired by!

  • Reply Fiona March 31, 2015 at 6:37 am

    We love savannah animals, now living in East Africa. I hadn’t thought of using the animals qualities for clothing, though. Fantastic!

    • Reply Lisa April 8, 2015 at 5:24 pm

      Thank you so much! I love them too, and now I want to sew everything savannah. 🙂

  • Reply Crunchy Con Mom April 8, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    I love how you interpreted each animal! My favorite is elephant 🙂

    • Reply Lisa April 8, 2015 at 5:23 pm

      Thank you so much! I love the elephant too. So classic and rich. 🙂

  • Reply Mahbub July 4, 2015 at 10:23 am

    I love animals

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