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HOW TO: sew with words // kid's clothes week

HOW TO sew with words

Hello again! This is Marisa from Thirtynine, bringing you another round of pre-Kids Clothes Week inspiration.

Our Kids Clothes Week blog posts until now have focussed on the visual aspects of storybooks – the people and creatures depicted in the illustrations, the look of the characters’ clothes and the colour palettes. But there’s more to storybooks than pictures – crucially, there are also words.

Of course there are many fabrics available with words and letters already printed on them. But what if you want to choose words from a storybook and put them onto fabric yourself? No problem – there are many different ways to do it, using materials you probably have at home. In this post, I’m going to show you four methods, starting with one that I’m trying out for my own KCW project.

Freezer Paper Stencils

Having recently introduced my ten-year-old to Sherlock Holmes I thought it would be cool to make him a top with a word in ‘dancing men’ code (as used in Conan Doyle’s wonderful story The Dancing Men). It seemed a good opportunity to try out a mysterious American product that, in Australia, can only be found behind the counter of fabric shops: freezer paper. Online tutorials for the stencilling process abound, such as this and this. And having just tried it out – see photos 1-4 below – I can confirm that the resulting painted image comes up well, with beautifully smooth edges. The downside: you can only use your stencil once (although I suspect one Dancing Men top is going to be enough) and you have to be prepared to spend a bit of time cutting out the stencil. Freezer paper is fantastic stuff. I can’t help but wonder, though – does anyone use it in their actual freezer?


1. A word in code  2. the cut-out stencil  3.after being ironed on and painted  4. Finito!

5. Funky Lindsay  6. Crafterhours  7. Skirt as Top


Iron-on transfers

It’s not cheap, but transfer paper – which can be bought at stationery shops –  enables you to use an ink-jet printer to print words (or, indeed, images) for iron-on transfer to your fabric. The advantages are fairly obvious: it’s easy, it’s quick, it can be as detailed and colourful as you like. You do, however, wind up with clear, shiny transfer surrounding your printout , unless you are able to cut it out super-close.


1. You & Mie  2. Femme Fraiche  3. Brighton Kinders

Rubber stamps

Whether you carve your own or buy ready-made alphabet stamps, stamping is a great way to get words onto fabric.  Just get yourself an inkpad suitable for use with fabric, stamp away, and set it with your iron. Alternatively you can dip your stamps in fabric paint, spread thinly on a flat surface. If I had the time, I’d love to make myself a set of Dancing Men rubber stamps… but instead I just had a bit of a muck around with some alphabet stamps (see picture 1 below). Can you work out which storybooks the quotes come from?

If you’ve never tried making your own stamps you might like to have a look at this tutorial – or even try making a stamp out of styrofoam (as in picture 3 below).


1. Alphabet stamping  2. talktothesun  3. A Beautiful Mess


Glue-resist and fabric dye

This batik-like technique involves using glue to write on fabric, then allowing it to dry before dunking the whole thing in a dye bath (see this tutorial for instructions). It lends itself well to cursive script, as you can see from the examples below. Disclaimer: I haven’t yet tried this myself, but it’s definitely one for the to-do list.

glue resist_edited-1

1. Hello Natural  2. Project Run & Play  3. Her Campus

I hope I’ve given you some ideas about how to use words in your Kids Clothes Week sewing, And the above list is by no means exhaustive – how about using a Sharpie to stencil letters directly onto fabric? Or breaking out the fabric markers and letting your kids write their own story? You might prefer to think outside the box and approach the theme as being about books themselves, rather than their content. Whether you’re inspired by words, images, colours or costumes this KCW, I’m looking forward to seeing what you all do!



HOW TO: be a book for Halloween // kid's clothes week

HOW TO be a book for halloween

Hello, hello! I’m Tasha from Glitter+Wit. The stars are aligning for this season of Kids Clothes Week. October sewing dates + a storybook theme–are you thinking what I’m thinking? Costumes!! I’m so excited to share with you some ideas for turning your favorite your kids‘ favorite children’s books into costumes for Halloween (or everyday play).

It seems simple enough, right? Pick a book. Pick a character. Sew the thing. I tend to get too excited (my kids are still young enough that I get to pick the costumes) and procrastinate the Halloween costume decision until the last minute. There are just too many fantastic things to sew! Hopefully this post will inspire you (and myself) to hone in on the perfect storybook costume. In this post you’ll find a variety of ideas; from classic costumes with pieces that can be worn everyday, to wild and crazy ideas that will get you thinking outside the box. Here we go!

Make a costume that can be worn long after October has passed– a classic costume from a classic book! Add a green top and apple as prop to become The Giving Tree’s boy, add a red bow and yellow hat (or headband) to a timeless dress for a Madeline look, or try colorblocking a sleep sack in shades of green for your very hungry baby’s first costume.

1. Spruce Shorts (Zuzzy Patterns) 2. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
3. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans 4. Debbie’s birthday dress (Sewpony Vintage)


1. Colorblocked Lua Sleep Sack (Straight Grain) 2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle 3. Double Knot Hat (Fish Kiss Fabrics)

Children’s book abound with animal characters, but you don’t have to create an entire animal costume. Try adding animal hats to the mix for a fun and functional costume. It’s already getting chilly where I live; new hats are definitely in order.


1. Winter Animal Hat (Living DIY Style) 2. Corduroy by Don Freeman 3. Bas (Zonen 09)

We just gifted Corduroy to our son for his first birthday and now I’m obsessed with the idea of little green overalls. The addition of a bear cowl makes this the perfect not-too-costumey costume.


1. Ballet Sweater (Heidi & Finn) 2. Angelina Ballerina 3. Ellie Skirt (Violette Field Threads) 4. Animal Ears Fleece Hat (Tie Dye Diva)

Yes, those are cat ears. But the pattern has many other ear templates included, and it wouldn’t be hard to adapt for an Angelina Ballerina look. This is a costume I know my daughter would wear all the time if I’d let her.


1. Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney 2. Lazy Day Pajamas (Blank Slate Patterns) 3. Fleece Hat (Vaappi)

We love the Llama Llama books! Sew up a set of red pajamas and add a fleece hat (perhaps lengthen the ears a bit) and your little llama will be so pleased with his mama.

If you’re not-so-much into the multi-purpose costume, then by all means go nuts! Making kids’ costumes is a great opportunity to try out a new technique or material, or make your own pattern. I always get most creative when sewing costumes because there are no rules–unfinished seams, cut hems, and hook+loop closures are all fair game!


1&2. The Little Prince & his Rose (book: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)
3. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss 4. the once-ler, the lorax, and the brown bar-ba-loot

For some characters, you’ll simply need to wing it–there aren’t many patterns for fur body suits, flower hats, and floor length waistcoats! Use your imagination and any materials you can find! The Lorax costume above makes use of a yellow duster, and two years ago I deconstructed thrift store teddy bears for our family’s Three Bears costumes. Look around the house and make it work! I can’t wait to see what creative costumes pop up for this round of Kids Clothes Week.

We’re already closing in on Halloween, so maybe you’re not feeling up to a big creative challenge for a once-worn costume. Luckily there are many patterns suitable for costumes–no pattern altering necessary!


1. Woodland Animal Costume (Running With Scissors) 2. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
3. Alice in Wonderland 4. Storybook Pinafore (Tie Dye Diva)
5. Reversible Crown (Rae Gun Ramblings) 6. The Paper Bag Princes by Robert Munsch

For a straight forward (and very recognizable) pattern, choose the Woodland Animal Costume–it has views for a wolf, bear, or fox. Fantastic Mr Fox, anyone? The Storybook Pinafore is the perfect touch for an Alice look. I could also see how it could be modified to make a Dorothy costume. And the last pattern is a simple crown. This is perfect for any prince or princess, but I’m dying to see someone make a Paper Bag Princess costume. Bonus point if you sew a dress to look like a paper bag! This could also be a stress-free costume for a baby.

I obviously chose a selection of popular books for these costume ideas, but there’s no reason you can’t make a costume based on an obscure family favorite. I think it’s more important to make something special that your child loves than something your neighbors will recognize. What are you waiting for? Get to planning. I can’t wait to see your costumes!

HOW TO: turn characters into clothes // kid's clothes week

HOW TO turn characters into clothes

Hi there, it’s Maartje again from huisje boompje boefjes. Here with you today to talk about making a book into a garment. Ari has shown you the possibilities of incorporating the illustration colours into your sewing. Today is all about the characters . How to turn the signature style of a book character into clothes that are not costume-like, but can be worn in everyday life. Just to give you some inspiration and possible pattern ideas to sew up during the challenge week.

Little red riding hood
Let’s start with one of the classics, little red riding hood. A familiar story to everyone I’m sure.  The piece of clothing that stands out is of course her red cape. Now how to achieve this look? There are some fun patterns out there that have the same appearance of red’s cape and can be worn on a more daily basis. Especially for fall season a cape is perfect for layering.

HOW TO: turn characters into clothes // kid's clothes week

Red riding hood by Martine Letterie 2 Forest path cape (oliver+s)

3 Elm poncho (willow & co patterns) 4 Storybook Cape (grosgrain, a free 2T pattern)

Aadje Piraatje
Aadje Piraatje is a storybook about a little pirate and his adventures. He’s quite well-known among Dutch children because it’s one of the books that gets read on tv in Sesame Street. Aadje is wearing quite skinny pants and a long-sleeved tee. For an outfit based on this character, there are a lot of pattern options out there. Here are some suggestions.

aadje piraatje

1 Aadje Piraatje by Marjet Huiberts  2 Kudzu Cargo pants & Ziggy top (willow & co patterns  / madeit patterns)
3 W-pants & Recess raglan ( blank slate patterns / see kate sew)  4 Small fry skinny jeans (titchy threads)


Richard Scarry
As a kid I loved the Richard Scarry books, and so do my two rascals. I still have my book from way back and it is now taped together to prevent it from falling apart. Looking at the characters in the Richard Scarry books I noticed a lot of them are wearing lederhosen and dungarees (overalls for the US/Canadian readers). I rounded up some possible patterns.

richard scarry1 Just for fun by Richard Scarry  2 Bas (zonen 09)
3 Charles dungarees (compagnie M) 4 Okey Dokey overalls (peek-a-boo patterns)

Peter Rabbit
Let’s take a look at another perfect item for fall (or spring if you are in the southern hemisphere), the cardigan. Peter Rabbit from the Beatrix Potter tales is inseparable from his blue one. It is a garment that is also sewn up regularly at previous KCW editions.

HOW TO: turn characters into clothes // kid's clothes week

1 Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter 2 Cool cardigan (Blank slate patterns)

3 Greenpoint cardigan (hey Jude) 4 Slouchy cardigan (heidi & finn)


Peter Pan
I always have something practical on my KCW challenge list, something the boys really need, this time it is PJ’s. It’s getting colder at night and the rascals have outgrown their pajama pants. So let’s make some storybook themed pajamas. What better inspiration than Peter Pan? Wendy , John and Michael are always in their PJ’s.

peter pan

1 Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie 2 Christmas pajamas (Shwin&Shwin free pattern)
3 Sadie Grace nightgown (seamingly smitten) 4 Classic footed pajamas (peek-a-boo patterns)

Stay tuned for more “How To” posts on the KCW blog next week. Want help with your book title now? Give a shout out on the KCW facebook page for the “But does it sew?” online helpdesk.