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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.

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.

vanessa from lbg on the kcw blog

Tutorial: Tips for Photographing Kids


 Canon 5D Mark II | 85mm 1.8 lens | f/3.5 | ISO 640 | 1/500 sec

(photo above taken in late afternoon with the sun low in the sky and behind my left shoulder. Syd is standing in the shade and there is a white fence to the right of her reflecting light back and softening shadows)

Hello! It’s Vanessa from lbg studio and I’m going to share some photography tips today! Along with sewing, photography is a pretty big part of KCW. Taking photos and sharing them is how we get to show off our cute kids in their awesome new clothes. We get inspired by what we see and inspire others with what we’ve made. Having great photos to post on our blogs or in the KCW community means that we’re showing off our creations in the best possible way. Since I can’t cover everything and I don’t want to get super technical, I’m going to stick to a few things that I think will make the most difference in your photos.

Creating cooperative models: 

Before I get into the technical stuff, I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned when it comes to photographing kids – namely my daughter – for the last few years. She is on the autism spectrum which means that I have a few extra challenges to deal with when trying to get photos of her.

  • let them know what to expect before hand – making sure your child knows that you won’t be taking photos for hours on end and that they have something fun to look forward to afterwards means you’ll probably get a lot more cooperation out of them!
  • “bribes” work. Or as I like to think of it: incentive. I use mini chocolate chips to pay my daughter for her time in front of the camera. It keeps her motivated and means she associates my taking photos of her with getting a treat. Everyone wins!
  • give fidgety kids a prop. I find that giving my daughter something to hold helps keep her focused – if we’re outside we might pick some flowers she can hold. Other times I’ve let her wear and play with sunglasses. Balloons or a favorite toy could work too.
  • over shoot. I take A LOT of photos during each “session” to make sure I get at least a few that are keepers. My kiddo can not stand still at all so I work fast and take more photos than I think I’ll need.
  • wide open spaces are probably not the best for toddlers or  kids that like to run off. Walls, fences, benches, or anything that your kiddo can lean against or sit on will help keep them “contained”.


For the most part, I like to keep things simple. Chasing after a child with a camera, especially one that isn’t the most cooperative, can be tiring. It can also be frustrating – for both the photographer and the child when things don’t go as planned. Keeping things simple for yourself and fun for the child can make all the difference. I like to have a few go to locations for photo shoots – places that I’m familiar with so I know what to expect when it comes to light conditions, etc. If that go to place is in your home or close by, even better.

Right now, my go to places are my daughter’s room and my yard. When I’m in a time crunch (as I’m sure most of us will be during KCWC) not having to drive somewhere helps. When I have a little more time on my hands, I venture out to different locations like parks, downtown areas, parking lots, walking trails, etc. I always try to keep an eye out for new locations while I’m out and about in my area.



 Canon 50D | Sigma 30mm 1.4 | f/3.5 | ISO 500 | 1/125

(Taken in Syd’s room. She is facing a window with a propped up reflector behind her to soften shadows)

Some things to keep in mind:


Finding the right light is the first thing to tackle when taking photos. I use only natural light – no flash and no overhead lights – so that’s what I’ll be talking about. Indoors, you’ll want to use a room that gets lots of indirect light and has light or neutral colored walls. I use my daughter’s room since it is painted white. White walls help to reflect light and that makes it the most photo friendly room in my home. You can also use a reflector or a large white foam core board to help bounce light back on your model. The reason to turn off overhead lights when also using window light is to avoid mixing different temperatures of light. This can wreak havoc with your white balance and you may end up with strangely colored pics.

If you’re taking photos outside, the best time to head out is early morning or late afternoon when the sun is fairly low in the sky. Midday sun is too harsh and you’ll have a hard time getting evenly exposed photos. Overcast days are great for photography since the clouds diffuse the sun which creates soft, even light. It takes practice to start recognizing what good light looks but you’ll get there!

If you’re out during midday, look for areas of open shade. Have your model stand in the shade but facing the sun and close to the line between bright light and shade. Example below:




The fence creates an area of open shade. There is still plenty of light around but if you place your subject in that area of shade close to the line that divides the shady area with the unshaded area, you will avoid having harsh shadows and overly bright spots in your image. Remember to have your subject face where the light is coming from so that they will be well lit and have light reflected in their eyes. Those bright spots of light in the eyes are called catchlights and will make the subject look more alive then having dull looking eyes. Of course, this matters more in close up photos vs full body images.

If there is no shade available, try placing your model with their back facing the sun and use a reflector to help bounce light back into their face. Wearing a white shirt means you can act as a reflector and you won’t have to worry about keeping up with anything other than your camera.

Manual Mode: 

If you haven’t taken the plunge and switched over to manual mode, do it! Seriously, t will make a huge difference in your photos. It means you get to control the outcome of your photos vs allowing the camera to decide what happens. It takes a bit of practice but it will be well worth it. A stepping stone between auto mode and manual mode is AV mode (aperture priority). It allows you to set the aperture and the camera decides the rest. I’ll explain below why you may want to be able to choose your own aperture setting. Dig out the manual that came with your camera and learn what all those buttons do! There are a ton of resources online to help you learn and of course practice, practice, practice.

Other manual settings I make use of: I choose my focus point manually rather than letting the camera choose. The camera will often choose a high contrast area to focus on and that may not be your child’s face or the cool buttons on a dress you’re trying to show off. Also, I use spot metering to determine my settings. That means that I use only a very small portion of an image to determine settings vs the entire image. For example, if I’m taking a photo outdoors with the sun behind my model’s back, I meter off her cheek so that her face is well exposed. Using evaluative or matrix metering (what the auto setting uses) would result in the subject’s face being very underexposed because the camera will attempt to compensate for the brightness of the sun behind the subject. You’ll end up with a dark and dull photo.


Trying to get interesting compositions in your images when little kids are involved can be tricky since they usually don’t want to stay still. While I try to get it right in camera, I often just end up cropping in Photoshop after the fact. I tend to follow the rule of thirds when setting up composition. The rule of thirds involves mentally dividing up your image using 2 horizontal lines and 2 vertical lines, as shown below. You then position the important elements in your scene along those lines, or at the points where they meet.




When composing in camera or cropping after the fact, avoid “chopping off limbs”.To avoid this while taking photos, compose your photo in your viewfinder and then take a step or two back before hitting the shutter. This will give you a bit of extra space in your composition and will help minimize the odds of losing a foot or a hand. If you are cropping a photo in PS, images work better when you don’t crop at the joints (wrists, elbows, knees,etc), hands or feet, or at the waist.

I like to also get a good mix of close up shots and full body shots. Those detail shots are important and can help highlight the hard work you put into making a garment. Not only do we want to see the whole outfit but it is also nice to see pleats, pockets, buttons, and more up close.

Canon 50D | 50mm 1.8 | f/2.5 | ISO 320 | 1/1000 sec





I started out with a Canon Rebel XS and a 50mm 1.8. Pretty much as cheap as you can go! The 50mm 1.8 lens is such a great bargain when it comes to lenses. It is considered to be a prime lens which means that it does not zoom. It has a fixed aperture which makes learning to shoot in manual mode much easier. The 1.8 means that you can open the aperture fairly wide which will give you that blurred background effect that might be harder to get with your typical zoom kit lens. It also means you’ll be able to take good photos in less than stellar light since a wide aperture allows more light into your camera. I’d suggest buying a camera body only and purchasing a separate lens instead of buying a kit with the lower end zoom lens included. *there are both Canon and Nikon versions of the 50 1.8 available

The reason I upgraded my Rebel is that I eventually wanted features that it did not have. I upgraded to a new to me Canon 50D and then later to a new to me Canon 5D Mark II. Lenses I use: Sigma 30mm 1.4, Canon 50mm 1.8, Canon 85mm 1.8. If you are in the market for a DSLR or looking to upgrade, I’d suggest looking for a camera body that spot meters, has Kelvin and custom white balance settings, and can handle shooting at higher ISO’s. Buying used from a reputable source – from someone you know or from a store with warranties like BH Photo can save you some money and allow you to get a higher end camera body on a smaller budget. Lenses retain their value well and can really make a huge difference in your image quality. It often makes sense to upgrade your lenses before your camera body for that reason.

I use Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5 for editing. You can subscribe to those programs via Adobe Cloud for a monthly fee which can make it a lot more affordable than buying the software outright. If you’re looking for a budget option – Photoshop Elements along with Lightroom 5 is a great combination.

A look behind the scenes:

Below is an area of my yard that I’ve been using for photo shoots. Nothing exciting here. At all. We’ve got some grass, a lovely air conditioning unit, some trees, a chain link fence, the side of my house, and finally a white fence. What makes this spot work for me is the white fence. I shoot here in the late afternoon when the sun is starting to set. As I stand facing this area, the sun is behind me over my left shoulder. The house creates a shady area and the white fence helps to reflect light back into the area. This keeps things from getting too shady or dark. Now, the problem areas are everything but the white fence. When I post photos on my blog, I want the clothes I made and my cute kiddo to be the main focus not all the clutter in my yard or the clutter in my neighbor’s yard. I think that is a boat back there. The way I tackle this issue  is with a shallow depth of field.




A shallow depth of field means that only small area of the image will be in focus – the rest will be blurred. This blur is called bokeh. Using a wide aperture, such as f/2.8 means that more of the background will be blurred which is what we want. Blur out  that clutter! The wider the aperture, the more blurred the background (and maybe some of the foreground) will be. Also, increasing the distance between your model and the background will increase the blur. Decreasing the distance between you and your subject will also result in a more blurred background. Finally, the type of lens you use will also affect the bokeh in your image. Lenses with longer focal lengths will cause more compression and background blur. For example, using an 85mm lens will give you more bokeh and image compression than a 30 mm lens will.

The image below was shot with a smaller aperture and with my model fairly close to the fence. This means that the fence is rather visible as well as other clutter in the backyard. There isn’t much separation between the model and the background and not really the look I’m going for.

Settings: Canon 5D Mark II | 85mm lens | f/13 | ISO 1000 | 1/125



When I adjust my settings to a wider aperture (f/3.5 instead of f/13) and increase the distance between my model and the background, I get this:




Now that the background is blurred, my subject stands out more and is the focus of the image! Being able to blur out backgrounds really comes in handy when your photo shoot location is less than ideal.

I hope you’ll find some of these tips helpful! Feel free to ask questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer. Thanks for stopping by 🙂