Friday, May 15, 2015

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // May 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.

I 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 Canada, Poland, United States and Russia. This is our new May selection, this month with a little soft pink theme.
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. So take a look and see if there is something for your little one too.

Geometrics and Ballet
We love the photo styling here. The cute little triangle shirt was made by Posh and Cozy. Danielle makes fun kids and baby fashion she also sells via Etsy. Don't you love the combination of the cool triangles shirt with the soft pink voile ballet skirt? She just received another batch of new Little Smilemakers fabric so stay tuned!

The vintage cabinet project
Ferpie and Fray is a blog where you can find all sorts of up cycling projects. The old vintage cabinet was painted in warm soft pink and the drawers were covered with Pastel Feathers wallpaper made by Little Smilemakers Studio. You can find the step by step process on their blog together with other inspiring home decor projects.

New born soft soles
The feathered baby shoes by Titot were made with Little Smilemakers feather series via Bebé Casa. These soft soles keep you little ones feet warm in the fresh spring breeze. Marta is based in Poland and started our with only leggings and shoes but now you can also find: headbands, scarfs, bandanas, blankets and many more for children and mammas in her easy shop. Everything is made with love for fabric and sewing and with greatest care. So take a look at her shop.

Bows and birthdays
Some Little Smilemakers designs people just can not get enough of. But some more simplistic designs stay in the shadows of the hot sellers. Seeing finished projects of those designs rarely used for kids fashion is always fun.
This cute bow legging was made by a Russian costomer. Petite Princesse is a small kids fashion brand in Moskou and they sure know how to represent themselves. We love the quirky photoshoots and props in their images. Good job!

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.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sources of inspiration: Botanics and Wild life - All about green

I have to admit I do not only draw all day. Half of my work is researching markets all over the world. Doing so I get inspired most by what is happening in Brazil and other tropical markets right now. I am a big fan of the minimal Scandinavian designs but I adore the lush green tropical influences finally coming our way in mainstream fashion and home decor. Much more character!

So why not have a little feature about fascinates me most: Nature. I grew up in a place where we forget how to live in harmony with trees and whenever I travel I find myself a little more at ease when I am surrounded by nature. Culture fascinates me, but come on, the diversity in wild life and plants.

There is of course a serious green trend going on in every aspect of life for a while now. People get more conscious about their health, their environment and about what they eat.

Last year tropical prints were already introduced into the western fashion world. The pineapple made a come back, cactus themes and large green leafs. And with this year's spring entering the country there is finally room for plants. There is a trend going on in home decor as well. Lush branches, large retro plants decorate the living room again and colors of the tropics find their way into our interiors again. Even on minimal markets like in Scandinavia and central Europe. So yes, nature is back and we love it!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Yay it's May // Studio filled with new energy

This post is dedicated to a person that is very dear to me. May always starts with a little knot in my stomach, a trip down memory lane. This year it has been six years ever since my stepfather past away, on the same day as Dutch Momorial day. Right after memorial day the country turns into one big party: Liberation Day.

For me Memorial day will always be a day to remember my stepdad. And every year I buy myself some flowers, he used to bring me those whenever he came over to visit. These flowers remind me to fill my days with joy. Do what I love and bring a fresh energy into the studio. So let's start May by enjoying life to the fullest. Remembering moments we spent with our loved ones and create new ones in this breezy spring air.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Well hello summer // Pineapples and Ice Cream Cones // This year's hot selling fabric // Summer 2015

Preparations are in order! Just two more months and we can give a warm welcome to summer 2015 and customers are already creating entire new collections of cute summer fashion for themselves and their little ones. Our head is already celebrating summer but first a little feature about this year's hot selling Little Smilemakers Designs. And so many adorable items to choose from!

This year we have some oldies that have been hitting the charts like mad. Most popular designs for this years summer have been made a while ago, some designs are made years ago. We always try to make sure to be ahead and on trend. This year all fabric hot sellers are from our Little Smilemakers golden collection. Two most popular themes: Pineapples and ice cream cones. It doesn't get more summer than that!

Brazilian influences are introduced a few years ago, not only in home decor, they now also make their way into fashion more and more. Last year tropical florals were hot sellers. Green lush and tropical flowers. Now the botanical garden and cactus theme is one of our best selling designs on fabric for this year but tropical fruit is selling like mad too this year, maybe the fruits will top the cacti heaven? We'll see. But we sure love to see all these cute items you make with our designs.

The pineapple. We have seen fluorescent and ceramic pineapples pop up in home decor magazines for the last three years and finally one of our favorite designs is picked up. This hand drawn doodle pineapple, featured here, was drawn three years ago and part of a summer garden surface pattern collection then. Two years ago the design was put on the market as fabric and this year all mom's seem to wanna have this print for their little one's shorts, leggings, head bands and tops. Since it has been our spring hot seller we have decided to add five more color schemes to the summer collection, introducing gender neutral and boy versions. So take a look!

Have you seen the Twisted Knot shorts with pineapples and water melons? They are adorable. But our most popular design this spring is the colorful ice cream cone. We have created a few different versions to choose from. Have you seen the geometric cones? You can also mix and match these ice cream illustrations with other summer prints in the same color palette. Take a look in the shop and choose your favorite print for this summer and show us your creations!

Leggings with pineapples and ice cream that are featured here can be found in the Yay for Handmade shop. The Water Melon & Pineapple shorts are made by The Twisted Knot and can also be found online.

Photography via Fotolia

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Orange // Spring in Holland // Celebrating Kingsday // How to survive as a tourist? // Here are some tips:

In about five days' time the entire country will turn orange while Dutch people celebrate Kingsday. On the 27th of April Holland celebrates the birthday of our King. All show windows, supermarked candy and fashion boutiques show off their orange collection this week. Slowly everything will turn into orange. If you are visiting Holland during this period for the first time make sure you know what to do, how to behave and what to wear.

Fleamarkeds and under age street musicians
Kingsday is the day to get rid of old junk. It is the only day of the year where you can get rid of old toys and worn down clothes and actually make money. Street musicians are everywhere sometimes 5 year old kids are playing in the street earn a little something and small games and activities are created to bring in some change to spend on candy the next day. During Kingsday most of the shops are closed. It is the biggest and most celebrated holiday of the country so businesses are shut down so everyone can celebrate this quirky day. Even the entire Royal family is out in the town to celebrate, have a drink and take part in typical Dutch games.

Beer & Orange
If you decide to celebrate Kingsday make sure you don't walk the streets on a empty stomach. Beer is served everywhere but you can see groups of people in the streets and parks drink from their own stash too, they will offer you drinks and before you know it you are struggling to stay on your feet even though it's only 2 in the afternoon.
If you like to be ridiculed on the street you should not wear orange. You will be the joke of town. Make sure you add something orange to your wardrobe. Groups of drunk Dutchies can be very enjoying when they decide you are not wearing enough of this national color. Spray paint your hair, add some orange lipstick or get yourself a cheap orange t-shirt that can be bought in every single clothing shop in the days leading to this party. If it is not over the top orange, it is not good enough!

Where to go?
Kingsday is celebrated in every city and every small town. If you are up to big parties do celebrate this day in Amsterdam. One huge mass of people will turn the city into one giant party. If you like a party but want a little escape go celebrate Kingsday in the South, Brabant. My all time favorite place in Breda. The city center turns into a dance party around noon and if you like to escape the people you can walk to the city park, do some vintage (junk) shopping and grab a drink just outside of the city center where terraces are a little more quiet.
Not good with masses of people? Go visit a small town and see how locals entertain themselves with typical Dutch games and activities on the street. Here are some very typical and interesting activities you might bump into.

Koekhappen - Cookie biting game
Your hands will be tied on your back and without any help you will have to eat and finish this traditional dutch baked cookie that is hanging on a rope just above your head. If you win, finish the cookie first, well, it is all about the honor...

Spijkerpoepen - Nail pooping game
As a kid this was my favorite game. A string holding a nail will be tied around your waist. The nail will be hanging from your back in between your legs. You will have to try and get the nail into the narrow neck of a bottle. It sounds easy but it's hard work!

Zaklopen - Walking the bag
This game is very popular among kids. You will have to crawl into an empty potato bag and run track. Walking in a bag is not easy and can be very painful and I won't recommend it. I sure don't want to break a leg during Kingsday but if you want to take the challenge, I did warn you!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sources of inspiration: Japan // Land of the rising sun // top 5 things to do // a little teaspoon of creativity

My biggest source of inspiration are my travels. I love to explore new foods, cultures and dig deeper for an in dept experience of a country. Japan has been on top of my list for ages. Land of the rising sun, girls dressed up as animation characters, strict rules in public. But I wanted to experience Japan first and foremost because of it's eclectic and vivid visual culture.

Japan is a heaven for the creative eye. Fashion, architecture, graphic design, it is all very distinguished and a feast for the eyes and ears. Everything is covered with a little layer of cuteness and happy. So yes, it is about time to post a little something about this trip. Here is a top five of things to do if you would visit this amazing country.

1 // Sushi Time
I love to eat local specialties and quirky foods that other countries have to offer. Japan can be challenging for some and veggies won't be having a rich food experience here since almost every dish contains fish. You will have visit some more modern and western style restaurants to find a dish without fish or meat. But the fish is excellent. My very favorite: Tuna Sashimi. It's tender and dissolves softly on the tongue.

If you are open for new things take a risk and enjoy a piece of shark or sea cucumber. Go to a fish market where you can get small bites local merchants prepare for customers walking by. But maybe that is too big of a challenge and a sushi lunch is more your style. Take a seat in a sushi restaurant and see all delicious pieces of fish come by on ceramic plates. Enjoy a free cup of fresh green tea with your meal or drink some warm sake on a chilly day. Japanese cuisine is at times interesting but pure and delicate and so pretty on their plates. Enjoy!

2 // A night out in Tokyo
Tokyo is a city of diversity. You can find modern clubs, gay bars and of course a dozen of karaoke bars. If you'd like a night out start with a visit to the Akihabara neighborhood where you can test your luck in a game room or visit a musical performance. Then visit a karaoke bar with some friends.

If you are not the clubbing or partying type you can also visit an Onsen. A traditional Japanese spa, usually hot springs but can be artificially made too. Here you can get yourself a relaxing massage or enjoy the typical Japanese bathing ritual.

3 // Modern design & architecture
Japan offers a great mix of interesting architecture, colorful graphic design and modern fashion. You don't have to visit an art museum to get a dose of creative inspiration, it's simply everywhere. Packaging, adds, everything is colorful, illustrated and with a little touch of naivety. Logo's are usually little tiny animal characters. Instead of photography, illustrations are used to send out commercial messages. Even the food is styled and pretty.

But Japan has a rich art culture. Tokyo has some amazing art museums that are worth a visit. There are some neighborhoods where you can find some amazing street art. Creativity is everywhere.

If you are interested in modern architecture get yourself a wallpaper book about Osaka and plan a day of architectural sightseeing. Frank Lloyd Wright was inspired by Japanese art, you can visit one of his structures in Tokyo: The Imperial Hotel, where you can see his love for Japan in his design. If you are curious about his love for Japan check out the documentary that was made: Frank Lloyd Wright and Japanese Art by Director Ken Love.

If you are not afraid of heights you can visit Japan's tallest structure in Osaka that was opened to the public in 2014. You can visit the top of the 300m high Abeno Harukas building and watch the sunset behind the Osaka Skyline.

If you visit Tokyo visit the Ginza area and see the amazing buildings that house large western brand such as Dior and Gucci. These shops are gorgeous from the outside. So enjoy them without spending any money.

4 // Fashion. Kimono's and unicorn pants
Everywhere you go you bump into girls dressed up in kimono's. Sometimes they wear the traditional wooden footwear but I have also seen the occasional comfy sneaker under these beautiful Japanese floral textiles.

Japan has an interesting sense for fashion. On the one hand there is the traditional formal Kimono wrapped tightly in the Obi that is also used to carry belongings. And somehow every Japanese girl know how to make a Munsuko, the bow on the back. I tried but never reached a perfect knot.

During work days there is also a trick dress code. A dark suit for men and a skirt and long coat for woman. But during the weekend every outfit transforms into something unique. It is like walking the streets of Milan. Every woman looks groomed and shows off her own individual style and taste in fashion. Hello Kitty pops up everywhere and grown men carry around colorful video-game-character patterned bags. If you would like to see Harajuku Girls go visit Takeshita Dori, a pedestrian-only street lined with fashion boutiques where you can find typical Harajuku style clothes, candy shops, cafes and restaurants.

5 // Cherry Blossom, mountains and national parks
Japanese cities are amazing and can be very crowded so if you have some time to travel around go hike in the mountains. Fuji is just around the corner of Tokyo and there are several National Parks that are worth a visit too. During April you can also see the famous cherry blossom bloom.

Japanese vegetation is like no other. There are numerous garden's which you can visit inside and outside of the cities. Usually temples and palaces are surrounded by lush green gardens and pastel colored cherry blossom in spring. It is breath taking and you can see Japanese people also enjoy these amazing gardens and parks to the fullest.

I had the opportunity to visit a small village near the old postal route. The homes are more traditional, the people are friendly and it is a breath of fresh air that is very welcome after inhaling the moist atmosphere in the subway tunnels while visiting the cities.

Nara National park is not so much a hike in nature but a green lush park with temples. The main attraction is the Todai-ji temple where the largest wooden structure even built houses an enormous Buddha statue. Know that this is a very popular place that is packed with the sacred deer that will eat your green tea ice cream when you look the other way. It is funny to see all tourist struggle with these spoiled animals.

Of course we are already working on Japanese inspired artwork. New Mother's Day postcards, new Geisha fabric. Stay tuned and follow our Little Smilemakers Facebook Page.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // April 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. Look at our new April selection here. This is our top five for this month.

We have already seen a lot of awesome sewing projects made by Little Smilemakers fabric customers. This month 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 and head bands. So much to choose from!

If you browse around on etsy for some kids fashion you are very likely to stumble upon some Little Smilemakers. The penguins are made by Sharie who has a few more Little Smilemakers Studio designs in her Little Pitterpat etsy shop. Some of these soft sole baby shoes even have matching hats. Adorable! So take a look into her shop if you want to have a pair of these.

It is almost bikini time! Spring has kicked in and we are all looking forward to the summer season. The cactus print has been one of our best-selling designs this year. Looking for a quirky swimsuit? Check the Batoko shop.

And what about these hot pink pineapple head bands. Want to match your outfit with your little one? These head bands are available for both babies and their mommies and are made by Krystle Dawn. Her collection is fresh, colorful and fun. Visit her adorable shop and look what other cute designs she has to offer.

We are already working on a third batch of designs for My Little Hands Australia but we were big fans of this stylish bedroom with the beautiful white Kartell bedside table and adorable bunny that was styled by L'Amour Kids. And yes, we still love our minty clouds blanket. Looking sharp!

Our favorite this month must be this mustard colored deer dress made by Eva Dinis. We came across this finished sewing project when she tagged us on Instagram. Look at this gorgeous woman modeling our deer print. Of course we love the typical Lisbon tiles in the back. Bright, sunny and colorful. She did an great job! Hope to see more Little Smilemakers creations made by this talented girl.

All featured designs are also available via Spoonflower. Some are scaled and slightly different in detailing. Looking for one of the featured designs? Here are the links:

Cute penguin owl illustration pattern
Cactus cacti garden botanical green pattern
Hot summer pineapple pink trend
Geometric pastel sleepy blue sky cloud pattern
Cute uni kids reindeer antlers deer

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Happy easter // Things to do with your kids during Easter break

This weekend a big chunk of the world will be celebrating Easter and kids will be enjoying their spring break. This holiday is a good opportunity to celebrate and enjoy a fun day with the family. We have come up with some things to do with your little ones during Easter break.

1 // Decorate your home and bring a little spring inside your home
Go out and collect little sticks and stones during a spring hike. You can spray paint the sticks in matching interior colors and put them in a vase. Fill the bottom past of the vase with quirky shaped stones you all collected. You can choose to paint the stones, make little Easter and spring themed illustrations on them, dip dye them half way or make them match the sticks. Be creative!

2 // Make home-made Eater table decorations
You can purchase your easter decoration in the shop but it is much more fun to have a little crafting afternoon to make your Easter brunch a little more festive. Create some cute little Easter decoration with our Free Printable. Download the Easter pattern and cut them into little triangles. Glue them together with a little string of rope and hang them in your dining room. Enjoy!

3 // Hide & Seek Easter egg hunt
My favorite part of Easter, when I was a little girl, was the search for Easter eggs on our local play ground. Boil some eggs and hide them in your local park or garden. Get together with kids in the neighborhood and have a hide and seek party. You can make it a quest and create a fun adventurous trail to the eggs. The more the merrier! You can have a little ceremony for the first, second and third prize winners and have a picnic afterwards.

4 // Bake Easter themes cupcakes and snacks
This is a great activity for rainy days and can be done every day of the year. Bake some cupcakes and decorate them with Easter themed toppings. You don't have to make sweet cupcakes if you want to keep it healthy go for a savory version. You can fill the cups with veggies, spices and cheese. You can make bunny shaped cheese slices. Or make egg shaped meat balls in a salad leaf shell I bet your kids will love it.

5 // Easter Tote bags
Buy some plain linen totes and fabric paint. Maybe you have some left over fabric which you can use too. Let your kids create their own Easter bags they can later use for an egg hunt. With a some glue, scissors and paint you can have a fun crafty morning.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Arrow and Indians Cactus theme // Most popular boys fabric // Spring 2015

For a while we have been focusing on more gender neutral and boy designs. There is a fun trend going on in the sewing mommy world. We are so happy to see so many adorable large scales patterns on onesies and baby leggings. It is a trend that has started a year ago and we get so many requests for fun boys patterns that is was about time to post a little something about our most popular prints and designs for boys here in the Little Smilemakers blog.

Half of our work is trend watching and researching designs all over the world. One of our biggest inspirations is are tropical economies. Like Brazil and India. Countries that get influenced by there blooming economies. Prints are amazingly lush, colorful and green. And even though green has been one of the most difficult colors to sell in fabric, home decor and print, we see those exotic colors and natural themes finally influencing European countries too.

But there is another trend going on which has been something to work with. There is much more demand for gender neutral themes. Costumers are still very conscious about making and creating new but efficient products. Like onesies and baby leggings for both boys and girls. We will still add new gender neutral designs to our collection. But with summer ahead prepare for more popping colors too.

Usually we are ahead of the trend and it is always fun to see a theme finally take off after years of maturing. That is what happened with this year's fabric hot sellers too.
All through the winter we have sold an amazing amount of geometric and woodland themes. All indian summer themes were very popular. Customers in Australia were all falling for our summer pineapple designs. But our most popular print for boys this year is definitely the woodland animals and cactus theme. It is a design that was made a few years ago and matured over time with new details and color scheme's. We are happy to see this print take off. The designs featured here can all be ordered via Spoonflower. Check out all boy themes in our Little Smilemakers fabric shop.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Happy spring // 5 reasons why spring is our favorite season

It is finally spring! The winter seemed to be endless but finally after all these dark months days are getting longer and sun actually shows his face and warms up the little balcony where flowers are now able to bloom. I love spring. I have to say I love the drama of fall and the cosy winter nights on the couch but there is nothing better than waking up in the morning to see the sun light up the home.

I love the outdoors. I grew up in a little village and I remember playing outside for hours and hours. Picking flowers, yes also from our neighbors garden, collecting ants and enjoy the new signs of life. The very first day outside was usually during easter when little eggs were hidden on our streets playground. We know exactly how many eggs were hidden and only stopped our searching for a quick drink. Months later we would find the remains of eater while digging around the swing or building castles in the sand. I loved those first days outside in the sunshine and I am happy to see spring coming every single year.

Of course I am not digging for easter eggs nowadays but there are 5 reasons why spring should be my favorite season.

1 // Quality time in the sun
Since I work from a home studio I can feel quite isolated at times. Especially during winter I can be in the studio working for days without seeing or talking to a living soul. I love to work outside on a terrace, catch up on some paper work in the sun. But this season is also about finding a new way to spend quality time together with loved ones. Reach out again. Some friends moved to a different city, others suddenly have a baby to take care of. Every spring everything seems different. It is shaping your time again. Meet up with friends and meet new people and of course celebrate the spring sun with a cool glass of beer.

2 // Late night ice-cream
Oh I love those late night trips to the local ice cream shop. I live in a country where ice cream shops close up for the winter. During spring new ice cream shops pop up all over the city and I love to hop in for a little ice cream at night, when the sun sets, to have a little bit of a festive end of a regular day.

3 // Byebye layers of clothes
I am one of those woman that does not like to shop for a new season. I do not really like shopping in general so warmer weather means less clothes! Somehow I always end up with shoes or bags. Those are easy to find but clothes… So yes, staying warm with just one layer, only one layer of clothes to worry about, I love it!

4 // New positive energy
What I love most about entering the warmer season is the fact that everyone seems to be just a little more happy. People are out on the street more, there is more time for a little interaction and a quick chat to your neighbor. During spring the city transforms into a friendlier place and people seem to smile just a little bit more. Enjoy the sunshine and take your camera for a spin. Opening up is what it's all about.

5 // City trips
This time of the year is amazing for short city trips. The weather is getting better so exploring a city by foot is not the same struggle as during winter. But the cities are not too hot and smelly yet. I love city trips in Europe for this reason. This year I am planning to have a Japanese blossom trip to Tokyo and some closer to home getaway to Milan hopefully. And all these short breaks give me a great boost of inspiration to start my new work projects with a clean slate.

Of course with every start of a new season we have been working on numerous designs. If you can not wait to start your new spring sewing projects check out all new designs in the Spoonflower shop.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // March 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. Look at our new March selection here. This is our top three for this month.

We have already seen a lot of awesome sewing projects made by Little Smilemakers fabric customers. This month 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 and head bands. So much to choose from!

This month we have chosen to feature some pink girly prints, one of our most popular at the moment: Geometric arrows and love triangles. And a sweet pastel colored design with a little owl on a branch. What an amazing result. What do you think about these cute owl shoes for your new born baby to keep those tiny feet warm?

The girl with the geometric scarf is a photo sent out by Swede Pea Brand. A new online boutique with leggings, head bands and much more. Take a look in their newly opened webshop if you are interested. And last but not least. How about this cute aztec cross design pair of shorts?

Fabric links:
Soft flower branch and owls
Plus cross geometric pattern
Geometric arrow and heart

Want to start on a new sewing project yourself and are you in need of some fun fabric. Take a look at the entire Little Smilemakers Spoonflower fabric collection here. New designs are added every month and from this month on we have lot's of new spring and summer themes. Pineapples, ice cream and popsicles, teepee tents, camper van vwbus and many more. If you would like to send over one of your finished baby fashion or home decor projects send us an email!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Happy Holi // Spring is on it's way!

It has been one year. One year ago I came back from an amazing trip through the Backwaters of Kerala India and I just missed out on celebrating Holi in this amazing colorful country. But luckily I live in a neighborhood where a lot of Hindu people live. The Hague is THE city to celebrate Holi when you live in the Netherlands. I am very excited to be part of this amazing celebration again this year.

Of course you might all know that I adore India. So I had to post a little something about this celebration of spring and India's most crazy festival of the year. A few snaps I took on my trip last year when I traveled through the beautiful lush Backwaters of Southern India. Where I met some amazing inspiring people. Where a Holy man told me to never wait for a man while visiting the temples of Madurai. Where a another woman at the temple told me I would be having 6 kids. Where I visit a little village where some never saw white men before. Where I spotted some amazing wild elephants. Where I spend the night on a little island, listening to the animals until I fell asleep. Where I encountered some strange looking yellow cows, they were cleansed with turmeric. Where I enjoyed an amazing train ride through the foggy mountains of Ooty. And there was so much more...

But back to the reason I am typing this. Tomorrow the Holi festival will be celebrated. A festival without borders. Hindi people all over the world will play with colors, sing, dance, light bonfires and celebrate the victory of good over evil. It is a way to bring people together, it still binds them in their roots. I love the Holi tradition and wish you all a happy Holi festival this year!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Sources of inspiration: Fresh whites // contrasting black and 50 shades of gray // pale nudes and beige.

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!

Friday, February 13, 2015

New series of designs // Bambino Mio nappies

Before we close up for the weekend and finish Valentine preperations there is a little cute something to share here on the blog. This fall we have been working on a series of new designs for Bambino Mio. And after months of patiently waiting the new range of four designs is finally out in the shops.

Bambino Mio is a company that specialized in baby goods and last year we collaborated for their first patterned Miosolo reusable diaper series. After launching four Little Smilemakers Studio designs last year we were asked to add another batch of designs to their adorable baby range.

This time all nappies are gender neutral and to celebrate the new Miosolo prints, Bambino Mio has a little giveaway on their Facebook page. So do check out the new Cheeky Monkey, Circus Time, Pandamonium and Forest Friends designs. And look at those cute little models! Pick your favorite and enter their Facebook competition.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Be my valentine // new postcard & print designs // lovely mail

Little Smilemakers designs are available at several postcard and stationary companies all around the world. There is one company in Holland we are working for directly. Kaartje2Go is an online website from which you can send out a postcard to your loved one. You can choose a designs, add images and can even upload text in your own handwriting.

Since social media took over there are not many people sending out postcards anymore but digital mailing services have grown ever since. It is all about that little sweet gesture. Who doesn't want to receive a little note from their loved one with Valentine's Day? I must say it has been a few years, well maybe even 10. Yes, I know how to pick some very unromantic boyfriends (working on that!) Hopefully my Valentine knows how to surprise me this year. No need for a big present. Just a little note is more that enough.

Last year typical red and pink prints were hot sellers. Popular trends this year are minimalistic designs. Basic black and whites with color pops. A more simplistic style related to the Scandinavian trend going on in surface pattern design. But also typography in trending this year. Hand lettering with sweet notes with a little quirky touch. With a background in typography it is always nice to step aside from our daily surface pattern design routine. These hand lettered designs were made in ink and pencil.

So here we are featuring some of this years new trending designs for Valentine. So have your pick, browse around this years most popular postcard designs and send one to your BFF or love of your life. Not sure what to write to your loved one, family member or friend? Hallmark has come up with a series of sentences if you lack inspiration or don't know what message is appropriate. So if you do not know what to write check out Hallmark's blogpost about what to write to your valentine this year.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Sources of inspiration: Amsterdam in a day // A place for foodies, artists and shopaholics // 5 must-see places for creatives

Since I was born in Holland, Amsterdam is one of my all time favorite places to visit when I need a serious boost of inspiration. I come from the southern part of the country where, during my childhood, my surrounding lacked of creative energy. So moving to an area with museums, pubs, night shops and 24/7 laundromat places was for me the ultimate taste of freedom. Everything seemed possible.

You can easily mistake Amsterdam for 'that city where you can get some legal pot' and yes if you walk outside of Amsterdam central station the smell of this tourist trap will be the first thing you'll experience. But for me, born and raised in Holland, this place is not about the legal soft drugs. Actually, I am not a big fan of drugs. My mind is crazy weird all by itself, I don't need an extra layer or a blurred perspective for now. For me Amsterdam is a cultural melting pot. With new people coming and going, filling the city with a fresh cool air in which anything can happen.

The past few years a lot has happened in this city. Big companies shut down and small creative studio's popped up, little galleries, coffee shops, in which you can actually drink Italian-proof coffee and not smoke pot, small boutiques with Scandinavian labels. After a few years these places are maturing as well. There is room and appreciation for genuine products and customers are happy to see refreshing, one of a kind pieces of creative expression. Every little place has it's own special atmosphere and energy.

Of course Amsterdam is like a playground full of places to see. The canal houses itself are breathtaking. The city has some amazing Museums and sights. But in this post I would like to shine a little extra light on those little gems you might miss while visiting the city for the first time. So here is a little top 5. It could have easily been a top 20 though.

1 // Bakers and Roasters
You can sit down, eat and not leave this place for an entire day. Every plate looks crazy good! This bakery, in which you can also have breakfast, brunch or lunch is definitely worth the try. The p The menu is inspired by their owners from New Sealand, pancakes, poached eggs and cocktails are all on there as well as New Sealand wine, and sitting down for a meal reminds me of a brunch in new York, you can even get a Mimosa with your meal. They serve wholesome sandwiches, colorful salads & delicious hot pies fresh from the oven. Oh my god! Well, no need to write more about this place than this: Go there with an empty stomach and eat your heart out. :) // Eerste Jacob van Campenstraat 54, 1072 BH Amsterdam

2 // Huis Marseille
This amazing architectural building dates back to 1665 and is located at the Keizersgracht. It houses Amsterdams first Photography museum. The interior is simply breathtaking and if you want to see a place of Dutch prosperity this is a good mix of architecture and photography. The museum itself has a diverse selection of old and new work. Young photographers and old iconic pieces go hand in hand with a focus on Dutch, Japanese and South African influences. The art that is shown here is usually more edgy and intense than a traditional museum of photography would show. It is not only about esthetics here. You will leave each room filled with wonder. // Keizersgracht 401, 1016 EK Amsterdam

3 // Cottoncake
The name gives it away already. This place is both a shop and a place to sit down, have a coffee and have a piece of cake. But it also has little art exhibits. The current exhibition “Flowers, Leafs, Memories” by Amsterdam based artist Anita Bogers is on show only until March. I love this little two story boutique. I am not a big fan of shopping and I adore places that have only a few carefully selected items that are basic with a twist. The place itself is light and inviting and the brands in their collection differ every season. And what I really enjoy most about this place is that it is not a typical Dutch energy here. You can feel the owners have been influenced by other places. There is a great respect for natural, pure, basic colors and materials. Quality. // Eerste van der Helststraat 76 HS, 1072 NZ Amsterdam

4 // Grimm Gallery
I am a big fan of Atelier van Lieshout with his industrial inspired art projects so when I crossed this little gallery walking around Amsterdam this exhibit took me by surprise. Famous names have been working together with this gallery the Atelier van Lieshout exhibit 'power hammer' is open to the public until March. I love how the work always is a search for another perspective in the every day. It can be revolving objects but it seems there is always a search with utopia at the end of the road. In this bright gallery you can see some scaled power tool models with a soft pastel color and surprisingly huggable texture. By enlarging the every day raw industrial tools the shape and form seem to be an esthetic sculpture. Go see for yourself! // Frans Halsstraat 26, 1072 BR Amsterdam

5 // My Little Patisserie
My Little Patisserie is just a few steps away from the famous Albert Kuijp market and is right across Cottoncake. In the upcoming Pijp neighborhood there are a lot of places to discover but this little Paris bakery is a serious must-do. The bakery specializes in delicious desserts, smooth creamy fillings with delicate flavors and a crunchy crust Since I started dating this Italian guy I became a serious coffee and food snob and I must say My Little Patisserie serves the best espresso I have had in Amsterdam so far. So if you want to hide out for the rain while shopping at Albert Kuijp market or just want to warm up and have a little break, pop in and enjoy some amazing Rose filled dessert or try a chocolate éclair. // Eerste van der Helststraat 63 HS, 1073 AD Amsterdam

Monday, February 2, 2015

New clients listed // Little Smilemakers Studio website updates

Oops! We were kinda chocked, it has been four months ever since we had done our last update on the website. We have been so busy creating new things and working with new clients, updating the website is the first thing we forget. So it was about time to add our new clients to our list. Unfortunately there are lot's of small businesses using Little Smilemakers designs without permission. If you want to make sure you purchase legit fabric, fashion, home decor and accessories with our designs check out our client list.
If you come across our prints and designs else where please send us a little note!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Swede Pea Brand // Made with Little Smilemakers Fabric

Swede Pea is a new company that specializes in little ones fashion and accessories and is located in the San Francisco Bay area. Stephanie opened up her online boutique this past December where you can find her hand made creations. We are very proud to see our Little Smilemakers designs used for numerous Swede Pea items and are happy to feature this new business on the blog.

After giving birth to her daughter Stephanie was inspired by her little baby girl to go after her long time dream. To create clothes for babies and toddlers that their mama's could match with an accessory. After months of preparation the website has been launched and the products are listed. Now you can find some very cute headbands, scarves, leggings and bibdanas in her shop but there is even more to come. This spring and summer, shorts, skirts, rompers and some mommy accessories will be added to the Swede Pea collection as well. We can not wait to see the collection grow.

"I've always loved to sew, knit, crochet, paint, draw and really anything creative and crafty. I don't have a degree in design or art. I'm a self-taught seamstress. I think I got the creative genes from my Swedish grandmother who used to sew a lot and she also does a lot of crafting, like crocheting and woodwork. I remember how much I loved being in her sewing room and watch her create."

Stephanie was born and raised in Sweden and her style is definitely Scandinavian inspired. The company name also reflects her roots. Swede Pea stands for Swedish Pea, based on the nickname they gave her when she was a little girl herself: the famous fairy tale princess that had trouble sleeping because of one little pea written by Hans Christian Andersen. If you have never heard of the story, go read it, it was also one of my favorite stories when I was a little kid.

Growing up I was called, Prinsessan på ärten (The Princess and the Pea), by family and friends. So when thinking of a name we came up with Swede Pea. I loved it right away!

Stephanie has a good idea of what designs she wants to include in her collection and tries to be consistent in her choice of fabric, colors and prints. For her collection she works with two other fabric designers; Elvelyckan Design and MiaMea Design, both Swedish companies. "I try to pick patterns that are unisex but sometimes it's hard because there's so much out there that is very girly. I like the unisex idea because I don't want to limit colors because of the sex of a child. Colors should be mixed and for both girls and boys."

So for her first few items Stephanie has chosen to work with a bunch of Little Smilemakers designs. The Geometric Feather print with minty blue, soft pastel coral, black and whites. The Pine Tree print with little lime color pops. The Aztec Feathers design in a vivid summer color scheme and the Geometric Triangle print in pink. And look how adorable those little ones look! Curious to see what else Swede Pea Brand has listed? Take a look at the Facebook page and stay up to date, or go to the shop and order some of her awesome pieces for your little one right now. You can also follow Swede Pea via Instagram @swedepeabrand.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A designing process // A brief step by step // From a cold crystal winter hike to a collection of woman's accessories

Since the cold weather is kicking in this week I thought it would be a good idea to talk a bit about my winter inspired collection, a series of designs I have worked on during the winter, and talk about the process of creation. From a walk through a cold winter forest to a collection of woman's accessories. From start to finish.

Last year I was asked to make another collection for Veritas Belgium. I just came back from my trip through the backwaters of India when I started the process of designing a new series of surface pattern designs during the freezing cold winter days of 2014.

With the raw images of India still in my head and after some winter hikes throughout the cold Dutch nature I started my research for this new series of prints. The first step is choosing a material. Usually I start drawing with a pen or pencil, but for this I felt like using a more raw material to make my drawings. Ink and dry brushes to represent the sharp edges of a winter day. The raw outline as an intense reflection of my present being.

White paper & black ink
I always start my drawing process on white paper with black ink. Color is something that will be added in a later stage. First I try to find a shape to represent what I want to create and what I feel. A combination of those two. The new collection should have a little look and feel of the collection I created a year before. This collection should be a logic follow up on what was already made. But a year later there is a different perspective to translate into the new design series. What I know already is that I want to use the raw intense emotion of the cold weather: create a translation of this raw winter woodland. The harsh shapes, clean crooked branches and cold winter weather vegetation.

100 pieces of paper
Finding the right shape for the foundations of the design takes up most time in the designing process. Searching for a base shape can take up to weeks. This collection was made with Indian Ink so that means I will have to be patient until the wet ink is dry too. This process of painting still is a pure translation of how I feel. Thoughts only get in the way of creating a pure output at this stage. How I look and feel can be brought back into simple shapes and if that shape is found I try to improve it and start repeating it until I feel it is just right. That means ending up with piles of paper with similar repetitive shapes. Painting is like a meditation. No thoughts only conversions of emotions translate to paper.

In search of composition
After finding the basic shapes the process begins of making the analog drawings into one colored vector shapes. My scanner is my best friend in the studio and is making a lot of working hours. Luckily for this process I have an assisted digitalizing the work. For this particular series of designs I have created almost a hundred pieces of paper filled with ink drawings. All these shaped will be imported into one vector document. From there the search to a strong basic repeat starts. Making combination of shapes, create layers add little textures and detailing. Another shape will evolve from here. The final prints should be related to one another but also need to have a design that is strong enough on itself. Should the shape be smaller of larger. Should a basic repeat be companied with a more tossed and contrasting composition?

Balancing colors & new compositions
Adding colors is the next step. Shapes can have a very different feel if you combine colors. Will the shape be strong enough? Will details fade or will they be too aggressive? Usually I start out with a few color schemes. Swatches I put together out of a pack of Pantone cards. For this series of designs I also had some color input from my client to work with and I will have to be looking for the right balance of working on a trend and creative a Little Smilemakers design without losing the authenticity. With a selected color scheme I will add the digital color.

When the colors are integrated into the repeat the files will be prepared for the sample printing process. That means the designs will be send to the client who will produce the final product with the print. At this stage the samples will result in small color tweaks. And then it can take up to a year to finally see the entire collection as a whole. But when it is finally there it is time to celebrate!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

2015 trend colors // New retro poppy flower winter garden

Trends. It is something we just have to work with sometimes. And even though we try to stay true in our designs sometimes we have to follow the trend instead of creating the new trend. This winter we have been working around the new Pantone 2015 color scheme. Here are a few preview designs of our new Poppy Garden series.

Little Smilemakers surface pattern designs are usually clean cut designs in either bright popping colors or pastel shades and tons of white. So creating a series of designs in this new palette of colors meant creating something out of our comfort zone. Dark colors and warm tones. But new things evolve in inspiring combinations of colors too. So here is a little preview of what we have been working on.

These apple and floral retro designs are part of a new series of fabric that will be available from February. So stay tuned for their release date!