Monday, November 30, 2015

Fiber Monday // 24 hours of free shipping at Spoonflower

Psst! It's coming.... free shipping worldwide on all standard orders beginning this Monday at 9 AM EST lasting for just 24 hours. Get ready for ‪‎Fiber Monday‬ at Spoonflower!

We have been growing our online fabric shop for over 4 years now at Spoonflower. And every month we add new designs to our collection. To stay up to date and ahead of the trend we are putting in a lot of effort to create new fresh and original surface pattern designs with a Little Smilemakers handwriting. Our whimsical collection is mostly inspired by travels but also every day moments. These impressions are translated into joyful designs and are bought by creative people all over the world.

Like every year this Monday Spoonflower offers a great world wide free shipping deal. Time to fill up that card and collect all new Little Smilemakers designs. With a total collection of 1400 designs this shop is a sewing fabric heaven. Take a look at our most trending designs, our vintage collection and of course our brand new designs for the winter season. We have colorful kids prints and some gender neutral pales and pastels. So check out our shop.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Black and white and soft pale // Hot Selling fabric 2015

Little Smilemakers designs usually are colorful prints on a white surface. The past few weeks we have been redecorating the Little Smilemakers Studio office and put up some pale nude powder tone prints. Whites make colors pop and there is no other color that creates a more peaceful environment to work in. I was inspired by numerous visits to art galleries and museums that always present art on clean fresh white walls. But the winter also brings a clean crisp vibe into the office. The powder white snow, the softened sounds absorbed by the thick layer of snow. During the winter I always feel the need to make my surroundings more calm.

After redecoration the studio I felt like holding on to the new calm color scheme of the work place. I decided to make an entire series of designs that would be gender neutral. The prints and patterns that are being sold as gender neutrals are usually based on soft pastel tones of green and yellow. Since I am not a big fan of both colors I decided to make an entire series of with fresh whites contrasting blacks and shades of gray and beige. Little Smilemakers designs usually contain numerous bright colors. It has been a challenge but also very mindful to work with only white, black and shades of earthy tones. Imagine the number of colors that usually are used in the prints. I did not have to worry about a color scheme for a change. It was all reduced to the basics and focus was on the composition and detailing more that on working with a certain color scheme. A relief!

This month I was also arranging a baby shower for one of my best friends and it strikes me that gender neutral prints, wallpapers, home decor items and fabrics are so hard to find since there are enough creative artists working on the theme. I hope with this series of designs there is enough to choose from for decoration your soft neutral nursery.

Reducing colors might be useful in the gender neutral theme but I still love to work with bright strong colors. But if you are looking for more beige and gray tones, we have an entire collection ready to be produced on fabrics. Geometric abstracts, woodland animals, Indian summer themes and many more. So check out the shop. All designs will be added to our collection first week of March so stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sinterklaas // Dutch Holiday season start // Kleurplaat & Kijkdoos

So yes, for non-Dutchies this might be a little bit of a strange post. Each year we celebrate Sinterklaas the first week of December. It is quite similar to the well know Santa tradition but our old white bearded man comes from a typical Dutch heritage. He arrives on a boat with a dozen of helpers and turn the dark November month into a sweet candy filled mayhem.

Each year we try to create a cool freebie around this traditional Dutch holiday. This year we have a fun project to work on. A Sinterklaas and Zwarte Pier themed set of drawings your kids can color, cut and paste into their Sinterklaas paper Peepshow. Click on the image and save the file to your desktop. Don't forget to send us your results!

This crafting set was originally made around 10 years ago for H&M Holland when I was still working for a design company that was hired to do H&M's graphic design in The Netherlands.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Meet Alfred // Votes needed for our super-hero volunteer collegue

All right, a little personal favor I would like to ask from you readers. Next to running a creative studio I also do volunteer work at a local theater here in The Hague, Holland. One of my fellow colleagues has been nominated for the Dutch Hero prize.

Meet Alfred, our very own hero at De Nieuwe Regentes. Next to his full time job he spends every waking moment contributing to the future of our local theater. Theater can be a chaotic place, where lot's of artist come and perform, huge amounts of people come to see plays, concerts and other performances and without volunteer workers there wouldn't be a theater. Alfred knows how to magically turn stress and chaos into a fun cheerful night. He has magic people! So I don't want to talk too long about this mister. To us, his fellow colleagues he is golden already, we only need the Hero prize to convince him that he is. So if you have some time reading this, voting only takes a few seconds extra. He deserves this this loving hug!


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // November 2015

It is so exciting to see a finished project after working hard on a new collection or a series of illustrations for our clients. But with finished fabric designs it is even a bigger surprise to see what customers create. To see how final products evolve when people put their own creative energy in there is amazing.

If you browse around on etsy for some kids fashion you are very likely to stumble upon some Little Smilemakers. Most creatives with small home based businesses sell their projects via Etsy. We love how Little Smilemakers creations are the foundation for other creatives all around the world to work with. So here is our monthly blog post that features some creative results from Australia and United States. This is our new November selection. Take a look and see if there is something for your little one too.

Fresh summer themed pram liners
Poopadoo is a small shop based in Western Australia run by Cathy. She offers handmade pram liners and accessories like knot headbands for girls. Our coffee to go print and our new summer ice cream watercolors are used for her very fresh baby range. So Take a look into her Etsy shop if you are curious.

Geometric triangle leggings
Ollie & Coco is a small starting company from Australia and makes adorable baby bandana's and bibs. They bring you beautiful products made for your little ones, like our geometric triangle range for fashion, nurseries and for the home. Ollie & Coco will also add a new range of products to their cute and fresh collection soon, even more reason to have a little look on their website and follow this fun brand on Instagram.

Dachshund puppy love
We love Charlotte's webtiques fun collection of headbands, bows and hair accessories for babies, kids and adults! She made such a cute little bow with our dachshund puppy fabric. Take a look in the shop if you are interested in some cute baby gifts.

Reindeer girl for the holiday season
Lisa Gillies a young mum and the owner of Le Petit Bouton. Like many new mums, she was madly searching for items for her little girl that were unique, on trend, with beautiful fabric and was getting frustrated at not being able to find exactly what she wanted. That is why she decided to start her fun shop, stocking gorgeous little girls hairclips, hairties and headbands using beautiful designer fabrics and organic knits. Our little reindeer girls have also been added to her webshop for this holiday season. Her products are perfect for special occasions, party favours, birthdays, baby showers, new arrivals, school, stocking fillers...the list goes on! Baby skyler is modelling her fun products. Such a cute little girl! Take a look at her shop if you want to get your hands on one.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Fabric Feature Friday // All Things Owls

Little Smilemakers Studio sells around 2000 designs on fabric all over the world. From Spoonflower to Robert Kaufman and small online fabric shops in Europe our fabric travels fast. Every first Friday of each month we feature one of our fabric customers. From small start up businesses in home decor to stay at home mommies who create cute little fashion for there kids. Some just pop out.

This Friday we would like to share this great little shop: All things owls. With their signature handmade owl decorators, Australian designed children's sleep wear and carefully selected range of children's decor this place is a delight to shop for some gift items.

A little over a year ago we stumbled upon this shop on Instagram. We have lot's of followers that tag us in their creations but also tag us in hand made projects created by others when they recognize our designs. We especially love the adorable collection of owls and blankets. All Things Owls has been working with Little Smilemakers fabric for over a year now and time after time we are proud to see they create such gorgeous items with our fabric. Hopefully there is a lot more to come!

Want to get your hands on one of these? Check All Things Owls online shop.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Little Smilemakers fabric // New Spoonflower fabric // Scandinavian style animals and gender neutral kids themes

We have some new awesome fabric in our Spoonflower shop. And we upload around 60 designs each month. We already have over a 1200 designs up in the shop. So many designs to choose from! So from now on we will have a new monthly feature here on the blog. We will feature new designs and trending themes so you have a better view about what's happening and what's new.

This month we would like to show you some new Scandinavian style themed designs in gender neutral colors. Black and whites, shades of gray and beige. We have worked on new grizzly bears. The one featured here is available in 4 different color schemes. Bright blue, pink, pastels and this gender neutral color version. From here we have created a matching arrows and crosses print in black and white.

Winter is coming closer and for the new colder season we have some new color versions of our geometric clouds fabric up in the shop and added new geometric mountain designs with little tiny snow flakes. When winter comes and visit us in europe, australia warms up again and prepares for summer. For all you Aussies we have some fun summer themes too. What about this fun gender neutral hippie bus? We are looking forward to seeing this print turned into fun kids clothes! But our very favorite new print must be the armadillo. Such a quirky animal! Which one of these new prints is your favorite?

If you are interested in purchasing one of these fabrics, here are the links to this month features fabric designs:
Grizzly bears design // Arrows and crosses design // Geometric clouds design // Armadillo country design // Fuji winter design // Hippie bus design

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween // enjoy fright night

It's Halloween again! Are your ready for this year's fright night? Traditionally October 31 is the day to remember the dead. But nowadays it is a time to dress up and have fun. And we love to see what all our fabric customers are creating this year. Fun pumpkin leggings, black cat dresses. We have seen so many cute designs made with our Little Smilemakers Spoonflower fabric.

And even though this holiday has turned into this crazy dress up party world wide, it is also a day to remember those that passed. Enjoy this joyful holiday, celebrate and remember the life of those whom have passed and left a mark in your life or have influenced your being. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Safari Animals and Scandinavian Pastels // New Children's fashion // Naturkind Biomode // Grand opening

We are very excited Naturkind Biomode will open it's little kids paradise in Germany later this week. For this colorful new brand we created over 15 designs that will be available on kids fashion. Giuliana is the big brain behind it all, she approached me during spring this year with her story about how she wanted to offer parent eco-friendly clothing with a good price tag and fun modern designs convinced us we would be a good match.

Working for children's fashion is not new for us. We have worked with companies in Australia, UK, Canada, South Africa Sweden and the list goes on. But up until now we have never created a series of designs for a German company, we have designed fabric of course, but Naturkind is our first retailer in Germany in toddler and kids fashion. And what a great brand to start with!

We have worked on different themes for girls, boys and also some gender neutral prints are included in her collection. We especially love how our Safari Animal print turned out. Soft beige with fun pink and blue color pops. Giuliana is not afraid of colors and our colorful prints have been featured in numerous magazines in Germany, they sure like a bold statement! So we are convinced she will be doing great with her pick of African Animals and Scandinavian pastels.

After finalizing all designs for her range of children's clothes she also asked us to work on some signage, posters, stickers and wrapping paper for her shop. It has been a fun process all together of which we can now show our final results.

October 31th will be the day of the grand opening of her shop in Bad Harzburg, Germany. So good news for all German parents but how about the rest of Europe then? No worries Giuliana also has a webshop, she originally started selling online, where you can order all here colorful, fun kids fashion.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

New range for Daily Objects India // geometric summer prints and scandinavian style animal designs // iphone cases and laptop sleeves make a perfect gift

More than 150 Little Smilemakers designs are being sold via Daily Objects. We started working with daily objects almost two years ago when they started to sell iPhone cases on the Indian market. Over these past few years the company has expanded it's product range and also offers wooden cases and most recently Daily Objects launched their series of laptop sleeves.

Christmas is coming closer and we are working on new designs so you can order some cute presents. These new trendy laptop sleeves & confetti make a perfect gift for your girlsfriend or sister. Take a look, with over 150 Little Smilemakers designs to choose from it won't be hard to find something you like. Little Indian tuctuc patterns, rickshaws, Tata trucks, our Scandinavian animals, abstract gender neutrals and geometric designs and many more. Every month new designs are added to the shop so take a look around and pick out a cool gift for yourself or one of your loved ones.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Splash About // New outdoor collection for kids // Raincoats, capes and stomp suits // Rainy day fashion

When I was a little girl I grew up in a little town in Holland. And as good Dutch parents teach you; we go anywhere on our bike no matter what kind of weather. I loved the bike trips me and my friend made during our summer break. We would cycle around for hours and hours until we got thirsty. The warm breeze, the lush country side. It is a great place to grow up, a place where you can let your kids play within a 10km radius, carefree. It was safe and easy. But then fall came, with it's crazy stormy days, bright lights and of course the cold rain.

Every Dutch kid has been brought up to go through whatever weather, on a bike. I have been wearing raincoats and... yes pants too for as long as I can remember. I never liked those sad colored things though, since they only came in sad gray, dark blue and black colors. Oh yes, and there was a great pink, I call the 80's shade. But my mum was too much of a feminine to let me have a pink raincoat. You can imagine how excited I got when I got to make a new outdoors collection (25 years later). Finally we were able to make this wet rainy world a little better, at least during stormy weather, rain and of course snow. Yes, we cycle through snow… We can do anything on a bike. Carry extra people, moving house. So this collection is very welcome.

Splash About makes wetsuits, baby and toddles swimsuits and lot's more water-related fashion for kids. Their swimwear protects little ones from nasty sun burns but now they have also launched a outdoor range. For this collection of raincoats stomp suits and capes we have made a cute girls and boys print. Some cool quirky dinosaurs and colorful Russian dolls.

Take a look into the Splash About webshop and check out our new designs. It will only take a matter of time before we will stumble upon one of these during a rainy day here in Holland. They sure bright up a gray fall and winter day!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Exciting news // The Junior Design Awards

Great news! We work for some amazing clients all over the world. We make prints for young adult fabric collections. Home decor items and of course we make lot's of designs for little ones. We are very excited to see that Bambino Mio's miosolo all-in-one nappies have been shortlisted in UK's The Junior Design Awards!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // October 2015

It is so exciting to see a finished project after working hard on a new collection or a series of illustrations and surface patterns for our clients. But with finished fabric designs it is even a bigger surprise to see what customers create. To see how final products evolve when people put their own creative energy in there is amazing.

Here is our monthly blog post featuring some creative results from Canada, Australia and Russia. This is our new September selection. We love how Little Smilemakers creations are the foundation for other creatives all around the world to work with. If you browse around on Etsy for some kids fashion you are very likely to stumble upon some Little Smilemakers. Most creatives with small home based businesses sell their finished fashion and home decor projects via Etsy. So take a look and see if there is something for your little one too and support these small business owners.

Meet the adorable Archie
Meet Archie, the newest member of the owl tribe. Don't you love this teepee cactus woodland print? This cuddly owl was made by Andrea who owns the All Things Owls Big Cartel shop where she sells her cute cuddly owls and fun kids fashion pieces. She also attends local markets so if you are living in Australia, I know, it is huge, check dates and locations where she will be selling her owls on her Facebook page. Take a look in her webshop, maybe you can find something for your little one! There are also some more Little Smilemakers prints on there.

Flamingo's and palm trees
We love to see how carefully picked fabrics are turned into pieces of fashion and home decor. These flamingo's we have never seen a finished item of so we were so happy to see Ollie & Mojo's cute Flamingo range of baby and toddler items and when we looked on their Facebook page we noticed another summer hot seller: Our cool palm tree print. Such a cute combo! Ollie & Mojo has a fun whimsical organic baby and kids range. A mixture of trendy, alternative clothing and accessories to make your Kids stand out from the crowd! So take a look in the shop!

Fun New York City and Penguin tea towels
Ryaabaa Kokoko is a Russian company run by Vika that creates the most adorable little long sleeved t-shirts, leggings, blankets, tea towels and PJ's from our less trending designs. She has an eye for colorful and fun and just-a-little-different prints and her shop is such a delight. These tea towels would throw a party in your kitchen when you're not looking! You can follow her Instagram account and watch all her creative projects.

Fresh geometrics and Scandinavian style kids fashion at Kewe Clothing
This Canadian company provides easy to style clothing and complementary accessories for the tiny trend setters in your life. Their soft, breathable organic and bamboo fabrics are printed in small batches with water based inks to ensure premium quality while leaving them safe against baby’s delicate skin and for the environment. Handcrafted in beautiful British Columbia Canada, each piece is as comfortable and functional as it is fashionable. We found some of Little Smilemakers geometric triangles and pink diamond fabric used in their new kids collection when a customer tagged us on Instagram. Roam around on their website and check out all cute t-shirts, leggings, bibs and more.

Whimsical foxes for your kids interior
You might know My Little Hands by now, an Australian based company we have created several designs for. The company is run by the gorgeous Emma. She has a heart for true designs and asked me to create a range of products for her shop. We started out with a series around the water colored foxes. A cute simple repeat of these yellow creatures is now available on cute blankets and other MLH items. Since the shop is growing rapidly Emma has taken a new approach to her business and rebranded her My Little Hands shop that is now named My Little Organics. With a new logo and new designs we wish here all the best!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Let's celebrate blue // 5 reasons why we all adore this color of strength and calm

Colors have a strong but also subconscious effect on our everyday lives. During my design studies, studying color was our most demanding and time consuming subject. As a visual artist I was taught how to influence and effect others with my use of the color spectrum.

Blue is the color that is most beloved color of the spectrum. It represents calm and piece and the color is often used for male related subjects all over the world. Blue relaxes and has a suiting and cooling effect in the soul. It's the color for inspiration and self exploration. It is the icy cold color that represents the winter season. Melancholia. With a little hint of yellow blue turns into a turquois that supports our spiritual senses and our road to awareness, confidence and self awareness. Studies have shown that when you are surrounded by blue, our minds are more clear and calm and there is more room for creativity. Good to know if you are in a creative profession like me. All though nowadays society sees blue as a gender related color, a color of masculinity and can be perceived as a cold, unemotional and unfriendly color. But there is a good reason to celebrate blue for all of us.

1 // I love blue personality
After blue, pink is the most beloved color of the spectrum. It works soothing and is associated with our masculine side. Is blue your favorite color? It will probably reflect in your personality. People that prefer blue over any other color are usually not very hot headed. They keep to themselves and are often creative, intuitive individuals. Do you have a need to be in charge and take control? Do friends see you as confident and creative?

2 // Blue & business
Are you the girl boss just like me? Do you have people working for you or are you manager in a big firm? Studies have shown that powerful woman wearing blue are seen as professional and formal. It might be a good color for negotiations and business meetings. But the color can also be perceived as cold and distant.

If you think about brands using blue for their logo you would probably come up with a lot of communication and tech related companies. A fresh blue is clean, classy and trustworthy, at least that is how most people perceive the color. Using a darker blue will give the brand credibility, it is often used for conservative brands that like to be taken seriously. A very formal color often used in finance and legal businesses. Blue is often used in medical professions too, nurses, dentists, and also often used for uniforms. There is no color to ease the nerves better than blue.

3 // The Blue City
As you might know, since I only mention it everywhere: I adore India. The city of Jodhpur, also known as the Blue City, is one of the sunniest and also warmest cities in Rajasthan. Most of the houses are painted in a fresh bright blue. Traditionally the color was used by the Brahmin caste who housed themselves in these blue homes to differentiate themselves from the other casts. Blue was considered to be the color of the psyche but nowadays these homes also serve the purpose of a tourist attraction and I must say it is a beautiful sight.

4 // The royal color
Blue pigments have a long rich history. Blue, the ultramarine pigment to be more precise used to be the most expensive pigment of the color spectrum during the Renaissance. The color was not easy to get therefore blue is related to wealth, it was an expensive and prestigious color in European paintings and was mostly used for Royalty. Blue was a difficult color to extract. During the same period our European blue got some competition from indigo. The brighter indigo pigment had to come all the way from India. Maybe you have heard of Delft Blue porcelain? Of course the blue porcelain came from Asia originally but it was only a matter of time before these pigments arrived at Europe's main ports and we were able to use blue in porcelain, decoration, fabrics and art too.

5 // Girls & boys
Of course whether it is subconsciously or because we were brought up in a world of pink and blue, we woman all feel a little more girly when we are dressed in pink and we choose a soft blue for our little boys nursery since it represents masculinity. Soft shades of blue calm the mind and improve concentration. A great color for your little boys room. But personally I think we now are at a point in time when we all want to let go of the little girl boy box too.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

About being an artist // Running your creative business and embracing who you are // 5 tips for the introvert

My work is obviously very visual and most people would think since my work gets a lot of exposure, I would adore the spotlight too. Nothing could be further from the truth though. I love to be by myself, on my own, but I have always known even as a kid, I had to push my boundaries to accomplish what I wanted to do in life and step out of that comfort zone. I am an introvert, that might come as a surprise. But sometimes things that are not necessary you are part of running a business.

To actually make a living as an artist it means I have to get together with clients, meet up with new people, network. I have never felt very comfortable in groups, let alone have financial negotiations with giant companies... It can be exhausting. But since I was a little girl, I always knew I had to do things I didn't like to get some place I would love to be. I pushed myself to sing on a stage, because I knew it would terrify me, and trust me, I am not a good singer. I have skills but singing is not one of them... I would always say yes to new things to get me out of my comfort zone. So yes, I do these interviews and yes, I welcome in a camera crew for a little 'day of an artist' shoot in the studio. I guess the friction also is a form of inspiration, reflecting on what I am doing. Without any tension being creative is hard. It is a love/hate relationship with that part of my creative career.

I know lot's of creative people, designers, architects, dancers, musicians that are passionate and great in what they do but really struggle to put their skills out there since part of their business is reaching out to potential clients. Here are 5 tips for all introverts that try to run there own business.

1 // Don't try to be an extravert
Being an introvert is good enough. Embrace who you are. Except the fact that you use your energy slightly different than your extravert friends. Surround yourself with people that understand your needs. Embrace your needs and don't feel bad about spending time alone to recharge. Trying to be someone you are not will exhaust you. Take your boundaries seriously. Think about what gives and takes your energy and find your personal balance.

2 // Meetings with clients
I like working together with people, but spontaneous meetings are not my thing. Find a way of working together that suits you best. Preparation is key. For me that means taking a step back and writing down all essentials. Researching the topic, finances, listing questions and then get a face to face. Preparation will get the introvert a long way. If I can not do any research or have a get together without a proper preparation my mind will drift off and never get to the point. In meetings other people will comment and I would never get my point across.

3 // Talking about finished projects & doing interviews
Introverts need some time to let things sink in. Take time to prepare yourself and be loyal to yourself. You will be much happier about the outcome. I once had an interview and was completely unprepared. I asked for the list of questions to prepare myself but never got them. Once we sat together and started the interview and the camera was rolling every question seemed completely irrelevant to who I was and what I created so the answers, oh dear god the answers…. I talked about all random things popping up in my head, i felt pressured to say some certain things and finished my interview with a speech about how awesome seed is. That was not a good interview!

4 // Personalize your workspace
Usually introverts are more sensitive for their surroundings so make a list of what you need in your direct work environment. I start each day with a clean slate, with a clean and empty desk. And since I have my own home studio I can surround myself with things I love, artwork that inspires me, photo's of loved ones. If I am researching I use the living room where I can create a mess of magazines, sketches and moodboards. That way my desk will always be organized. Create your own little bubble you feel comfortable in, where you can recharge your battery.

5 // I will get back to you on that
Introverts might have a little difficulty responding to a certain situation in the moment. While extraverts try to get an answer at the spot. When I visit trade shows and meet up with new potential clients there are so many things to discuss. Can we work together? Where can we see your portfolio, can you do this and that for us? What does it cost? I try to keep a first meeting a little superficial before making promises I can not keep. Negotiating finances and bringing structure in planning new projects needs a little maturing, having a good thought things before answering is more for filling than a quick agreement. Also your business partners will get the impression you take them seriously when you spend some time researching the matter. Just say: "I will get back to you on that."

Friday, September 25, 2015

New fall fabric // Hot Sellers // Spoonflower

As a country girl I used to play outside a lot and enjoy the change of season. From lush green leaves to bright red, orange and yellow. I enjoyed playing out in the windy fall weather. Hiding out in a big pile of crisp leaves, dancing in a puddle of mud.

I loved playing outside, see birds build their nests and take care of their little ones. Me and my bestie took long hikes to spot little animals. Rabbits, owls and an occasional fox. And after the summer we would wear our rain boots to walk through the cornfields to see crops grow.

These little parts of my childhood are a great source of inspiration. The little girl hiking in her own Alice in Wonderland fantasy land, where oak trees came alive and little birds would turn into dinosaurs, well everything could turn into a dinosaur or a unicorn of course, those happy moments still inspire me creating seasonal designs.

Fall might just be my favorite season. It is all about starting new things and a time to reflect. Stay in, find your way around the house again and maybe improve small things to make it home again. I noticed the past few weeks a lot of DIY fans have started their new projects. Sales are up and it is time to make some new warm fashion items and fun home decor textiles to lift up the interior. A great way to start this colder season. We are all ready to look ahead and show you the latest trends at Spoonflower. Fun fabric for the colder season.

1 // Pastel Feathers
The pastels and the black color scheme form a light crisp contrast to the background. This 2-directional repeat has been very popular for baby and toddler fashion items but also very suitable for home decor. This soft design has little Aztec detailing and small arrows.

2 // Geometric fox
Geometric designs still are trending. For this design I tried to combine both fall and fashion. The design has been added to the Spoonflower shop just two weeks ago but already a hot seller. Looking forward to seeing all finished projects made with this woodland theme.

3 // Pine trees
Never expected this print to be picked up like mad. But I am happy to say this pine tree design made the top sellers too. If you are looking for a clean Scandinavian style winter design this is all you need. A simple repeat in black and white with little pops of color.

4 // geometric Woodland
This must be my favorite design on fabric this season. A mix of woodland animals and geometric details in soft powder tones. This designs has been used for kids fashion but is also very popular for winter and Christmas decoration. This print is also available in black, white and gray.

Want to purchase one of these designs or check out all other themes? Take a look at the Little Smilemakers shop at Spoonflower. There are over more than 600 designs to choose from. And of course, don't forget to show your finished projects and leave a comment.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sources of inspiration: Budapest // Where old meets new // Classical Music and Ruin Pubs // Top 5 travel tips

Budapest, Hungary’s capital, always has been a city I wanted to visit. Cities that breathe history always have a certain attraction to me, there are stories to tell. Budapest is one of those cities where you can wonder around the streets and get surprised on each and every corner. The city has a fascinating heritage. It was about time for a visit!

The city is decided into two parts. Buda and Pest that are both worth a visit. Pest is the place where you are likely to spend most of your time while visiting the city. This is where you can find astonishing pieces of architecture. If you are a fan of Jugendstil and Art Nouveau brace yourself! Those beautiful details, painted glass, metal work... OMG it is breathtaking especially for a visual nerd like me. You can find remains of Budapests rich history everywhere, like the Old Jewish Neighborhood which housed the Jewish ghetto during the second world war, the old synagogue with live performances of great Jewish composers. But you can also see new trends like modern designer pop up shops and coffee places appear. Wonder the streets for a day and kick back in one of the ruin bars, where people get together for a drink, a musical performance and long nights with friends. Buda is located on the other side of the Danube river and offers a romantic view of Pest by night so if you'd like to impress your loved one, cross one of the bridges during and spend your magic hour on this side of the city.

Each and every European city has it's grandeur. But Budapest is still very affordable. I stayed in a little airBNB apartment right in the Jewish district, a great location to start exploring this magnificent city. Here are my personal favorites. A shortlist for a long weekend in Budapest. This is my personal top 5.

1 // Ruin Bars - Jelly fish and cocktails
What I really like about Budapest is the fact that you don't really see overly crowded shopping streets. Most of the crowd hangs out in little pubs, restaurants and typical Hungarian ruin bars where you can enjoy art, music, films, workshops and relax after a busy day in the city. Most inhabitants of Budapest don't have a balcony or garden, the ruin bars are the place to sit outside on a hot summer night and meet up with friends. These ruin bars are located in small alleys, basements and courtyards and they have one thing in common: they are all a little hard to find but you are very likely to stumble upon these little gems while roaming the streets.

There are two places I highly recommend. I visit the Anker't, a whimsical place with a huge bar, Hungarian menus for alcohol are massive, from German weisse beer to Cuban cocktails, they serve it all. While listening to a live string quartet I attended a painting workshop at the other end of the courtyard. The place is packed at night, as is Kuplung, another ruin bar close to my apartment. I particularly like this bar because of the vibe and decoration. Who doesn't want to see jellyfish lightning and a giant under water painting? Go visit a ruin bar and you will meet a whole bunch of interesting people when you travel alone this is a good place to meet with locals, drinks are good and the cocktails cheap. What else do you need?

2 // Designer shops - Where old meets new
As a designer I always try to research trends in each city and country i visit. I go look for small shops with local fashion and home decor design and try to understand the local art movements. With a communist history the country does not have a massive amount of shops (I hate shopping so that is a big plus) and maybe that is why fashion, home decor and design are very different and unique. It does not have a main trend, there is still room for difference and authenticity. I love it! And yeah, of course you can see some Scandinavian design influences and small designer shops like Mono that are a little more on 'our' trend, but it all has a little more honesty to it. There are several vintage shops such as Retrock, that are great places to get an impression of what once was. Designers are actually designing in their little shops and you can touch and smell the materials while they are sewing, cutting and gluing when you visit the Paloma designers collective. It never has been a mass production. Is it communist souvenir? I don't know, but it is definitely surprisingly different, that's is what I love about creation.

3 // Musical heritage
When you visit Budapest you are very likely to stumble upon some live music while looking for a place to have dinner or a drink. There are lot's of restaurants with live music, from classical harp to string quartets, jazz and DJ's, Budapest is a great place for music lovers. The city has an amazing musical heritage and I loved how there are so many people passing me on the streets carrying an instrument. So do take your time to enjoy some music. You can also buy some tickets to the Opera if you're in for a little drama or to a concert in the synagogue. Music is everywhere.

4 // Thermal Baths
Hungary is a country of thermal springs with healing water. The bathing tradition dates back to 16th and 17th centuries and during a trip you can experience a traditional Turkish bath. After a day of walking around town it is a great way to relax or visit one in the early morning before the tourist rush. Budapest's largest medicinal bath, Szechenyi is a great place to visit in the morning. It is one of the largest bathing houses in Europe and it's old exterior makes you feel like royalty. The interior however could use a little renovation, but the old details, tiles, pools and changing rooms are still authentic and really add a certain romance to the experience. The bathing routine can be a little daunting though, make sure you have a bathing suit, hair net and a towel when you visit a thermal bath. And acquaint yourself with the regulations since they differ in each pool.

5 // Architecture
Budapest is a true paradise if you love architecture. Arabic elements, Art Nouveau, Baroque, it's all there. Every corner of the city seems to have an architectural gem and there are lot's of buildings open for the public if you also want a little peek on the inside. Seriously, the architecture! The Gellért Hotel for instance, this elegant hotel also houses the Gellért Spa with colorful tiles, jugendstil ornaments and stained glass windows. The Parisiana Club, with it's interesting facade. The Paris department store, that is home to a bookstore but also has an ice rink during the colder season and has a crazy beautiful restaurant with neo-Rennaissance elements. The synagogue, the parliament building…. There is so much to see! But my favorite must be the Hungarian State Opera House that was partially funded by Emperor Franz Joseph, so there was some money there. It is nothing like I have every seen. The roof, the golden detailing, the marble, this must be one of the world's most breathtaking theaters in the world, do take a look inside if you have the chance.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // September 2015

It is so exciting to see a finished project after working hard on a new collection or a series of illustrations and surface patterns for our clients. But with finished fabric designs it is even a bigger surprise to see what customers create. To see how final products evolve when people put their own creative energy in there is amazing.

Here is our monthly blog post featuring some creative results from Australia, Sweden, United States and Canada. This is our new September selection. We love how Little Smilemakers creations are the foundation for other creatives all around the world to work with. If you browse around on Etsy for some kids fashion you are very likely to stumble upon some Little Smilemakers. Most creatives with small home based businesses sell their finished fashion and home decor projects via Etsy. So take a look and see if there is something for your little one too and support these small business owners.

Geometric triangle storage bags - Oxzyde
Oxzyde is all about handmade, unique products and specialize in cushions, wall art & homewares. Based in Melbourne, Australia. Our very trendy Little Smilemakers Triangle fabric was used for their new range of fabric storage bags. Oxzyde fabric storage bags come in two sizes, and many colours. All bags feature a plastic lined base which protects against water damage, making them great for pot plants or for serving bread on the table. A fun eye catches for your Scandinavian style interior. The uses for these little bags is unlimited. So take a look at the website to get one of these trendy bags.

Pale pastel ice-cream fashion - Tiny Tiger
Tiny Tiger is a small business based in Sweden. Living in India Hannah searched for an opportunity to be able to work from anywhere, independent of location, and that's how the idea of Tiny Tiger was born. Her passion for comfortable, organic and pretty baby clothes started when she became a mother and is the fuel behind the company. Now she creates hand made baby and toddler fashion and home posters. Take a look, she offers world wide shipping too!

Dachshund Cosmetic Bag - Tiny Tiger
For the love of pattern is a design studio based in Savannah, Georgia with a focus on textile design and creating signature handmade fashion accessories as well as home goods. Abby creates her own original textile designs but also uses Spoonflower fabric for her beautiful creations. Visit her website if you are getting curious!

Quirky foxes, clouds and bohemian feathers nursery textiles - My Little Hands
My Little Hands is an online shop, a place to find all things beautiful for your little one’s including bedding for babies and children, clothing, floor rugs and room decor including wall art, garlands and wallpaper. The Australian company is run by the gorgeous Emma Colombera. She has a heart for true designs and asked Little Smilemakers Studio to create a range of products for her shop. Check the entire new collection now.

We have already seen a lot of awesome sewing projects made by Little Smilemakers fabric customers. We made a little selection out of the dozen photographs that were sent to us or that we were tagged in. Cute home decor items. Personalized bedding, scarfs, leggings and head bands. So much to choose from! If you'd like to be featured in on of our monthly "made with..." posts. Please send us your images. If you are looking for cool designs for your own projects take a look around in our Spoonflower fabric shop and start creating!

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Spoonflower Handbook // DIY Guide to Designing Fabric, Wallpaper and Gift Wrap

What if learning to design fabric was as easy as messing around with pencils and paints? The Spoonflower Handbook puts surface design for fabric, wallpaper and gift wrap well within the reach of creative people everywhere.

Designing fabric, wallpaper, and gift wrap used to be the stuff of dreams. Few artists ever got a chance to try it, and printing even a few yards required significant financial investment. But times have changed, and today anyone with a computer, internet connection, and idea can upload a file and, at modest cost, order their own fabric or paper, printed one yard at a time. At the forefront of this revolutionary DIY movement is Spoonflower, a North Carolina startup that produces designs for hundreds of thousands of creative people worldwide — printing 24 hours a day/seven days a week to keep up with demand.

The Spoonflower Handbook is an essential step-by-step user’s manual and project collection for this booming new creative outlet. Written for both new and experienced users of this print-on-demand technology, it covers everything from equipment to software to working with photos, scans, repeats, and vector files, and includes projects for the home and wardrobe as well as special tutorials contributed by members of the Spoonflower community.

Spoonflower began in 2007 with an idea, when cofounder Stephen Fraser’s wife, in search of fabric for curtains, casually said to her husband, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a place where you could order fabric you designed yourself?” With the Spoonflower Handbook, now all the DIYers who have ever thought about sewing their own curtains can design not only their own fabric but also their own wallpaper and gift wrap, and have it delivered right to the front door.

For this book Little Smilemakers Studio was selected as one of Spoonflower's participants. Would you like to order a copy of The Spoonflower handbook. Order this creative resource on Amazon today.

This post was originally posted on the Spoonflower blog.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Behind the scenes: Top 10 pro's & con's // having a home office

When starting Little Smilemakers Studio I knew one thing: to make a living as a creative artist I had to keep my expenses as low as possible. So I started working from my home office instead of renting an expensive office downtown. I thought: "If the cash-flow will get steady, I can look around for another place to work outside of my own home" Almost 4 years later I am typing this post on my dinner table with classical music playing in the background and a washing machine reminding me to hang my wet clothes.

Sometimes I wonder why not rent a place and keep my work a little more distant from home. But at the same time working at home makes me more creative, gives me more freedom and of course, I travel quite a lot, so why pay rent for a workspace that is empty four months a year? So yes, four years later I am still working from my home and I love it, wouldn't change it for the world. But then again I am single, don't have kids, so I have the place all by myself.

I always advise young start-ups to not spend money on rent if possible. Cut costs as much as you can. Start small. First and foremost you will have to earn a steady income to provide a living for yourself and maybe also for your family. I do not have the responsability for a kid, or have to be a girlfriend when my spouse is home, have food on the table at some certain time... Does it work for everyone? I am not sure, but I have made a little top 10 of things I love and things I do not love about working from my home. Here are my personal pro's & con's having a home office:

1 // It is cheap
Face it, starting your own business can be a huge struggle. Make end meet is hard being creative so cutting costs starting out is a must. I started working from my own dinner table simply because i could not afford a decent place somewhere else. After three years I turned one of the rooms into a proper office. Not worrying about paying the rent, that is a great luxury.

2 // Never stuck in morning traffic
The best thing about working from your own home office must be the fact that you have so many extra hours to spend on whatever you want to do. You won't have to worry about being stuck in traffic every morning and every night. You don't need to spend any money on a car or gas, cutting costs is a big must if you start your own business.

3 // The Healthy lunch
I remember working in a 9 to 5 business structure where my lunch time got planned by projects and deadlines. I had a very unhealthy diet since I did not have time to eat a proper lunch, sometimes I forgot all about it or the pile of work forced me to skip lunch all together. I love that I can make whatever I want, my kitchen and fridge are only a few steps away. I eat more frequently and a lot more healthy since I run my home studio because I have time to prepare something decent. It takes a little longer but it is also a nice break from work too.

4 // It is all yours
I thought about sharing a creative space but the thing I got attached to during the years i am working from my home is the fact that everything feels like me. To feel comfortable is so important for my creative process. Putting me in a clean cubicle or office space where I can not decorate my walls, add a personal touch or rearrange furniture will kill my creative flow. I need to be surrounded by good energy and my studio if filled with things I love. Inspiring artwork, little personal memorabilia, reminders of loved ones and travels.

5 // Flexibility
Oh I love the freedom. I can pack my laptop and work anywhere. Lot's of lunchrooms and coffee places have free wifi and working from a free spot like that will change your perspective a little and triggers creativity. I can do errands during the day and don't have to get into shops on rush hours. I can go to the beach on a hot summer day and work nights if I want to. Freedom is very dear to me. I love it.

6 // The daily mess
There are always things to do at home. Clean dishes, scrub the floor. A home can be a place of distraction. My home is always clean and tidy. If not, when I have a deadline and finish up work I find myself in the kitchen, cleaning. A messy home is a messy head so I can only focus when there is no random stuff laying around the house. These house chores can be a real distraction!

7 // Smelly food & meetings
Before meeting a client i made this amazing salmon, broccoli pie. Not a very good idea when you invite professional people over to have a chat.

8 // You never leave work
That is probably the hardest thing about working from your own home. Your work will never leave the building. It is there, so I work late hours and during winter nights I can be stuck at my desk round the clock. Closing the door to my home office doesn't seem to do the trick. Separating work and quality time can be hard. I love my work so it always draws me back in.

9 // My house is always clean and organized
I can not work in a mess. It will distract me from my deadlines and it really bothers me up until the point that I will do my dishes before finishing my deadlines. So my home is always tidy and clean. I can do my laundry while working and take little breaks to vacuum or clean the windows. Even though is is a distraction is a bad way, it is also quite healthy to stand up from your desk and move around a little.

10 // Unlimited Space
I have a studio in a separate room so I don't have to work on my dinner table. But I do have enough space to expand to my living room when I have meetings or I can use a few friends to pick their brain about a project or concept I am working on. I can use my entire house when needed or limit myself to one room. Usually I shift my work into different rooms. My home office is used for serious labour: Designing, e-mailing clients. And my living room I use for writing my blog, painting, drawing and doing research.