Friday, March 17, 2017

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // Top 5 // March 2017 



It is so exciting to see a finished project after working hard on a new collection of design 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 or Instagram for some kids fashion or home decoration you are very likely to stumble upon some Little Smilemakers prints. Most creatives with small home based businesses sell their projects via internet and tag us via Instagram. So we see some amazing things pop up in our feed every month. 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, UK, The Netherlands and the USA. This month we selected a whole bunch of fresh trendy fabrics, turned into the most gorgeous items. Kids fashion, nursery accessories and have you seen those baby booties? There was so much to choose from! We have selected some cute baby shoes, leggings, masks and swimwear. Take a look and see if there is something for your little one too. This is our top 5 March selection., 
 
Tiny Little Cactus
Krista visit our shop in The Hague last month to get her hands on some of our Memphis fabric. She became a fan of our designs and a week later she ordered a whole lot more of our fabric via Spoonflower. When we asked her to tag us in her social media posts, because we are curious what peeps make from our fabric, the most wonderful items popped up. We love anything cute and love this local webshop filled with crafty stuff and everything Kawaii. For this months “Made with” we selected her adorable little baby booties in our colorful Memphis print. Soft sole shoes, perfect for your little ones tiny feet. Seriously, things don’t get much cuter than this! She has our Memphis print in both black and white in her shop but also lot’s of our other abstract designs are coming. If you are looking for some baby shoes or if you are a big Kawaii fan like we are check our her website.   
 
Ad Hoc
We were going bananas when we saw these fun eye masks made by Ad Hoc sleepwear. For their new range of masks this Australian webshop selected three Little Smilemakers prints including one of our all time favorites: Our Banana Memphis design in yellow. We love their fun range of sleep marks and pajamas for both men and women. These fun masks make a great gift for the travel addict like me. I really wanna get my hands on one of these a.s.a.p. Feel the same way? Check out their webshop



Bambino Mio 
The new Bambino Mio swim nappies are finally launched. For this years splashy season we made two designs that are included in their new range; Pink blush coral for girls and Memphis rain drops for boys. We have been working with Bambino Mio for a while now and we love their nappies, potty training pants and other products, making life so much easier for moms and dads. Their now have a broad range of Little Smilemakers designs in their range of products and we love to see all those cute little baby bums pop up in our feed. Check out all Bambino Mio products in their webshop
 
Little Eskimo
Good news for all Little Smilemakers fans down under! We found this modern lifestyle label for baby and kids over at Etsy. This Australian shop has a big collection of Little Smilemakers fabric in their cute shop full of kids clothes and accessories. We love their colorful fresh picks that are on trend. Abstracts, cool gender neutrals, lions, ice cream and many more fun prints are included into their collection. For this months blogpost we selected a cute range of girly harem pants. Aren’t they darling? Go take a look
 
Mama Sew Happy 
We love this small online shop full of fun, fresh fashion pieces for kids created by stay-at-home-mom Amber who runs her small business from her home in California. With a good eye for design she has created a wonderful collection of kids clothes. And she is one of our returning customers so you might have seen some of her handmade items already somewhere in our social media feed. Her style is fresh and cool and full of gender neutrals to choose from. Take a look at her shop and select your fave pieces.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Sources of inspiration: London // Food, art and shopping // Top 5 things to see and do in this bustling city



The last time I visit London must have been around 9 years ago when I was meeting up with a friend that moved to the UK. I haven’t been back ever since, so many places to see and so many new cities I haven’t been yet. This year i decided it was about time to rediscover this fun metropolis.

As you might know, I live in The Netherlands, from here it is only a 40 minutes flight to London, traveling to my nephew in the south of The Netherlands takes me more time. But of course there are so many places to discover on this earth going back to London was not really on my list, even though I loved it every since my first visit, when I was sixteen London was my first destination to travel to all by myself. I love experiencing the freedom, see all neighborhoods and it’s subcultures, art and live music.

I got to make two trips to London in a row this year, and I finally had some time to rediscover the city last week when I decided to stick around for a little longer. Go check out the Hockney exhibit and soak up the creative energy. And whenever I make a trip a little tip 5 follows. Here is my top 5 of things to see and do in this amazing always buzzing capital of Britain.



1 // Transportation
Ride the Tube, take the bus and travel over water. Ok this might sound a little nutty, but if you visit London make sure to use public transportation. It shows you London’s diversity and gives you a little taste of the buzzing city life. Take the underground going from A to B. I love traveling with the tube, seeing the different stations, architecture, tiles, signage. Traveling on the deck of the buss gives you a lovely view over the busy London streets and taking a boat will give you a sense of freedom. Watching people go on and off and while you visit different neighborhoods the people change too. London is a colorful place with so many subcultures and fashion styles. So use public transportation, I would usually recommend a walk, but London is huge and it is definitely worth the experience if you are not used to living in a city.

2 // Brick Lane
Whether you like shopping or not spend you Sunday in the East of London. Take the tube to Liverpool Street or Aldgate East and visit the brick Lane market full of fun unique fashion and accessories. I am not a big fan of shopping myself but love to see unique creations and I love the atmosphere of this place. Brick Lane is famous for it’s market, vintage stuff, but there is so much more to do and see. I love spotting street art. And this place is heaven for people like me. Amazing pieces of art cover building facades form top to bottom. Huge pieces of art. Stencil art, spay painted animals and portraits, stickering, you name it. This is street art at it’s best and around every corner you can spot beautiful gems, pieces of art. If you walk up North you reach Shoreditch, another up and coming neighborhood filled with graffiti murals. Done sightseeing? Sit your ass down at Spitalfields market and grab some food or have a beer at the Old Truman Brewery. Enjoy your day!



3 // Tate Modern
All right, this may not come as a surprise. Of course my number one place would be the Tate. Even though I got to see the Hockney exhibit in Tate Britain I have to say whatever happens I just love Tate Modern, go when you have the chance. The building itself is magnificent from the outside, and an adventure from the inside. This former Bankside’s power station has been turned into one of the the worlds most amazing art galleries. This very spacious and industrial building is perfect for large scale art pieces. Quite recently the museum expanded with a brand new wing, the tanks and the switch house, go up to the bar and from here you have an amazing view over the Thames and the city of London. Get a proper coffee, grab some lunch and enjoy the breathtaking view. But, enough about the building itself. Tate Modern might be my number one art museum and it is not because of the building itself. The permanent collection of contemporary art is free of admission charge, you can find pieces by Klee, Lichtenstein, Mondriaan and Warhol. Sculptures, paintings, video’s. The permanent collection itself is worth a visit. But don’t forget to check out the temporary exhibits as well. I spend a good two days here. So if you visit London on a rainy day and need some inspiration, fuel up on some art and go visit Tate Modern.

4 // Pot roast & Beer
The food. I always chat a little about food. I remember London having a bad name what it comes to food. But a lot has changed over the years and there is so much to choose from besides the traditional pot roast, eggs and beans, and fish and chips. There are some amazing places to have food, like the peep show my friend took me to that turned out to be a Mexican restaurant. And a good one!
What I also like about London is the beer culture, I love beer, a proper one, and there are a lot of breweries where you can find some local draft beer.

If you are a foodie go visit the Borough Market, you can grab a quick bite for lunch or shop for some whole foods or fresh flowers. Have a quick snack or taste some imported olive oil. I love the raw atmosphere while wandering around the place. The market is located under the railway track and is a dramatic place of brick and metal. The market consists of more than a hundred food stalls with a range of fresh products like fish, cheese, meat, veggies and baked goods. The Borough market used to be a wholesale market for local groceries in the city and has been around for centuries. It is one of the oldest and largest food markets in London.

5 // Camden Town
There is so much to do all around London. But there is one thing I love: see some live music. One place that will be stuck with me is The Monarch in Camden Town. Back in the day I was a little rock chick, do you remember those metal beads necklaces? I think I even bought one back in the day when I visit London for the first time and came to Camden Town. Anyway, if you like to see some live music; this is the place where metal is alive and kicking’. Every Sunday there is a live performance with some proper metal and rock music. Guns ’s Roses, Iron Maiden. It is all part of the weekly playlist. Camden Town is a great place to wander around and spot some street art, do some shopping. I still like this neighborhood, it is like time stood still here.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

BB Fabrics & Little Smilemakers Studio // New Memphis style inspired collection



Have you seen our new collection over at BB fabrics? We have been working with this company for a few years now and last months they launched their new summer collection of colorful home textiles. I collaboration with their creative studio we made a new collection with a mix of pastels, geometric basics and a Memphis twist.

BB fabrics is a company that has been running around the textile business for four generations. With an eye for good design and a warm heart in doing business they are the absolute top of the industry. This year they changed their entire look with new name, a new logo, and a stylish new website and we are honored to be part of this new direction with our new summer range.

You might have seen some posts on our Instagram already. We are very proud to share this new collection with you. We made some memphis inspired ice cream designs that lead to this colorful collection for the summer season. BB fabrics offers a large collection of home decoration textiles and heavy weight fabrics. With their in house design studio they collaborate with designers and license brands to offer a broad range of unique prints with every new season. Their high quality fabric is sold from stock, so they are ready to ship within 48 hours. Check out their website for all new prints and order your favorite Little Smilemakers designs here. Stock up for your business and order these new prints before they are all sold out!

For a few years we have been collaboration with BB Fabrics now. We have developed a whole bunch of designs together in the past. We love their no nonsense honest way of doing business and which lead us to a long term collaboration with hopefully many more fun collection to come we are currently looking into doing exclusive work for them. We love to give them a shout out here. So stay tuned!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // Top 5 // February 2017



It is so exciting to see a finished project after working hard on a new collection of design 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 or Instagram for some kids fashion or home decoration you are very likely to stumble upon some Little Smilemakers prints. Most creatives with small home based businesses sell their projects via internet and tag us via Instagram. So we see some amazing things pop up in our feed every month. 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 Canada, Sweden, The Netherlands and The United States. This month we selected a whole bunch of fresh trendy fabrics, turned into the most gorgeous items. Kids fashion, nursery accessories and home and interior decoration, so much to choose from! We have selected some cute blankets and baby nests, leotards, leggings and jammies. Take a look and see if there is something for your little one too. This is our top 5 February selection. 

LoveBird BabyNests
LoveBird BabyNests was founded by Ashley, an adventure seeking, outdoor enthusiast, nutrition and fitness passionate, loving mother of 4 beautiful children. While she was pregnant she decided to take on a sewing project creating a little baby bed that turned out to be a cute little baby nest. After her son was born she it became clear she couldn’t live without it and started making custom BabyNests on request for friends and family. Her business grew and now Ashley has a wonderful little online shop. For her small collection of BabyNests she selected some of our favorite Little Smilemakers fabric. Our Geo Rain in pink and our very popular minty blue Camping print both available via Spoonflower. Not having any sewing talent? Don’t worry, you can order a custom BabyNest via her webshop.
www.lovebirdbabynests.com

Maxomorra
For the new fall/winter 2017 collection we have licensed some really cool prints to one of the most trendy Scandinavian kids fashion brands: Maxomorra. For this year’s fall and winter season they expanded their collection with 8 of our designs. We love how our bunnies turned out. They make the cutest little Jammies. But of course we also have these 8 prints available in our Spoonflower shop as well. So if you would like to start your own roject with one of these designs check out our Spoonflower shop. The new collection hasn’t been launched just yet but stay tuned for more info. We will let you know as soon as these items become public and available in the Maxomorra shop.
http://www.maxomorra.com/

Ansje Handmade
For our brick and mortar shop in The Hague we are collaborating with Anouck who runs a small online fabric and sewing supply shop, and of course creates the most adorable kids fashion pieces and home decoration for our new collection and store in The Hague. For this months “Made with” we selected some of her kids home pieces. Gorgeous blankets and pillow made with our Bebé Casa Poland textiles. Soft certified fabrics with our cute kawaii designs and spring pears and triangles are available on pillows and blankets in our shop and fabric per meter via the Ansje Handmade webshop. Wanna see more of what she makes? You can visit our store in The hague from Thursdays to Saturdays or check out her website for more handmade items.
http://ansje.eu/



Woodbean
If you are looking for some unique snuggle wear for your little one this shop is the place to be. Lisa, who is based in Minnesota, creates the most wonderful soft pieces for your little one and we love her style of mixing and matching prints and uni’s. Her style is like no other and we wanted to share one of her custom made orders with you for which she has used our Amsterdam Bicycle design. These soft little shorts and cute romper are just to die for. We love how Lisa mixed the print with the contrasting ochre and mint. Such a lovely set. Check out her Etsy shop where you can see her wonderful collection in a series of beautiful, soft photography. Check out all her wonderful handmade creations.
www.etsy.com/shop/woodbean

Quinn & Belle
Last but definitely not least we wanted to show you two of our favorite prints that were tuned into cute joggers and leotards by Quinn and Belle. We love this blue Lion design picked for their new leotards. Usually leotards are pink and meet with the girly ballerina dancer cliché but not there. Quinn and Bell turned are cool Lions & Arrows fabric into some super cool stuff for tiny little dancers. And they also added our bunnies to their new spring collection. Our hot selling bunny fabric is now available on joggers. But you should definitely check out the rest of her fresh new spring range of kids fashion items; headbands, tops, leggings, bloomers and more. Check out their shop!
https://www.quinnandbelle.com/

Friday, February 17, 2017

The man that made me follow my dream and inspired me to do what I am doing today // A short story about an amazing illustrator // Dick Bruna (89) you will be missed

Today we have to say goodbye to the greatest illustrator in Dutch history. To celebrate his life I am posting this old piece about Dick Bruna. Meeting my biggest inspiration. I hereby want to send my condolences to his family and friends. Dick Bruna you will be missed!




I wanted to write about this man for ages but never got around to do so. This summer Dick Bruna decided to stop illustrating and enjoy retirement after 61 years of creating whimsical illustrations. And with his birthday today I thought this would be a great day do drop something about this warm Mister.

For those of you that do not know this man, a little introduction: Dick bruna was the creator of Miffy, the little adventurous bunny little toddlers all over the world get to know during their bedtime stories. But he has also made numerous other books and stories and started his career as a graphic designer.

During my Graphic Design studies we had to interview someone we looked up to. I knew that mister Bruna has had worldwide success with his great Miffy books but I also loved where he came from. A history in book publishing, designing book covers for years, yes I wanted to meet this man.

I wrote him a long letter about how awesome I thought he was. Yes, I felt like a teenage groupie going on 22 back then and I never expected a letter in return. He welcomed me to visit him in his Studio in Utrecht. So I prepared some questions, packed my camera and took a train to his hometown Utrecht to meet him.



When I rang the bell and Dick Bruna opened the door I remembered my first thought was; what a sweet smile, his eyes were twinkling and his mustache made his smile look even bigger. He welcomed me with a big hug and offered to make me some tea. While he was preparing our drinks in his studio kitchen he told me he loved interviews, because inviting people over would give him a good excuse to buy some of his favorite cookies. But why they were all so interested in his story he could not figure out. " I am just a man that has made some books, I am not any more special that a guy on the street."

"If someone takes the effort to sit down and write me a letter, sending a response is the least I can do."

We sat down for a chat and I was caught up in his stories right away. He talked about his daily drawings for his wife before leaving home, how he took his bike to the studio every single day and I loved how he spoke about his fans. Little kids from all around the world sent him little artworks and drawings. Mister Bruna made room in his studio to save each and every single piece that came by mail and told me he sat down to answer all those expressions of admiration, letters, postcards, everyone got a personal thank you from his hand. After all these years, still making time to do so! I was so moved, a man would put so much effort into others.



He showed me his studio. With an impressive bookcase with all his Dutch children's books but also translations of the Miffy books, published all over the world. A little nook to sit in with cushions and kids artwork everywhere. He picked up some artwork "Look what amazing pieces of art. This stencil art was send by a little girl all the way from China, can you believe that?" He opened one of his cabinet drawers and showed me some folders and flyers, some logo designs and magazines that he had worked on. An entire very impressive portfolio was lying there, right in front of me. With his typical colorful illustrations and clean crisp typography. And then I saw his drawing table. His glasses, pencils and a large sketchbook. He told me drawing was not as easy anymore. His hands sometimes were too shaky and it took much more time to drawn clear clean lines like he used to. "But now it is up for your generation, nowadays the industry is much more competitive it must be a lot harder to make ends meet with doing what I do. But remember this, it is possible. If a small man from Utrecht can do it, you definitely can do it too."

It has been a great ride: 120 children's books and a respectable age of 87. Mister Bruna, please enjoy your well deserved retirement. Your work will influence many generations to come. And you have inspired me to follow my heart and take the risk to do what I love. I find myself working in my own studio, just doing what I love and people happen to pick up on my work. Thank you mister Bruna! You are an inspirational man.



If you ever visit Utrecht you can also visit the Miffy Museum: The Dick Bruna House, which is very close to Centraal Museum. It is a great place to visit with kids.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine // Share the love and send out a romantic gesture



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, friends or family. You can choose a design, add images and you can even upload text in your own handwriting.

Since social media took over there are not many people sending out paper 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!) No, seriously, I am not a very big fan of the commercial Valentine's Day. But any gesture is welcome right, when you love someone? You just want to take some time and think about how to make that special one actually feel special, so we have a whole bunch of cards inspired on love available. To send to your significant other, your best friend or family member who should know they are lover.

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 is 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. For this post we featured our less common love prints and we wanted to show you our Panda postcard. I am celebrating not having any panda point today! Yay!



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 9, 2017

New exclusive fabric collection // Brick and mortar pre-opening // Makerskwartier Den Haag

For some of you this might not come as big news, we have been posting some of our renovations and process on our Instagram and Facebook already but it is in fact pretty good news. Behind the scenes we have been working hard to move the studio to our super fine brand new location in the old heart of The hague. And we have been working on setting up our own production for the past few months.

Located in the old heart of The hague we are joining forces with other creative makers and creators in our street. We became part of the new Makerskwartier in the Boekhorststraat and old shopping street that needed a proper lift. The past year this area has been under the microscope to turn it into a new area for creative peeps to sell their handmade and up cycled items.



Makerskwartier
One of the first shops relocating in this street was Loft and Sound, run by our super cool (seriously be aware of his awesomeness!) neighbor Ard Regenboog. In his shop he sells the most beautiful vintage pieces: restored lamps, old industrial furniture and he is always polite enough to offer his customers a proper coffee.

Next to Loft and Sound you can find the small workspace Cecile, who makes leather handbags and accessories. Pop in and see how she creates these wonderful pieces.
Accross the street you can find Studio Joske, she is currently renovating her space but it is turning in to something mighty fine. She knows how to work her tools. She creates the most gorgeous pieces of furniture. Chairs, tables, pillows, all with her very own unique colorful style. Of you love color to enter your home, pop in!

Two doors down there is another very colorful shop that is part of our Makers. Liries Conceptstore run by Richelle has some bright and colorful paintings and other pieces of art, interior items and vintage. I love Richelles style, she mixes color with current themes and mixes different techniques creating stories with her artwork. This concept store is a mix of her personal work and some whimsical pieces made by others.

Pre-opening
At the end of the street you can find our brand new shop. We relocated last month and our space is divided into a shop and work space area. Since our pre-opening we have been welcoming lot’s of people into our tiny shop. I never expected it to be so much fun. We are not ready and working full swing yet, and we will still need to have the grand opening but we planned on opening the shop to clear out all of our samples and do a little testrun first, clearly we are pretty much doing this for the first time so yes, setting up an entire production and brick and mortar shop takes a whole lot of time, patience and effort. The shop has been pre-open for a month now and I never expected to get so many awesome customers in there, giving us the sweetest compliments and some very useful feedback.

We now sell our sample fabric, designs we ordered at our GOTS certifies producers the past few months. We have some fun boy prints, designs for girls and some cool gender neutrals and abstracts if you would also like to create something a little less kiddie-like. We are working hard to find the perfect match for our first collection. Hopefully within two months we can stock up and our shop both brick and mortar and online will be up and running by then. While we are already working in our new space we are also setting up our own production. This spring we will launch our very own exclusive range of designs that will only be available via our official Little Smilemakers Shop channels. But we are definitely not ready yet. We are waiting for our fabric, working on our visual communication and so much more. You’ll be the first to know once we have ur new collection available. Stay tuned!



Workshops & Sewing classes
My new business partner Anouck has been working her ass off (she pretty much forgets all about her lunch most of the time) on some sample pieces for our fashion collection. With her sewing skills she has proven to be a real sewing magician. We now have some new born fashion accessories, home decoration such as pillows and blankets, and of course a small collection of new born baby, toddler and kids clothes. If you visit our shop you can now handpick your fave fabric & product and Anouck can turn it into something custom made for you or your little one. But you can also attend one of her weekly sewing classes on Tuesdays. You can just join the class, sign up via Facebook or email and create your own Little Smilemakers pieces. Anouck has also planned some workshops on Sundays you can join her and make something from scratch and finish the same day. Usually she works around a theme; make a baby romper, or harem pants. You’ll be working on the same project with 5 other people and go home with a finished item at the end of the workshop. You can find more info on her Facebook page, check it out and sign up!

For now Little Smilemakers Shop is open from thursdays to saturdays 12:00 / 17:00 - Boekhorststraat 191 Den Haag - Netherlands

Friday, January 27, 2017

Sources of inspiration: Catania // A culinary trip through Sicilian cuisine // 5 reasons to visit this ancient Italian city by the water



Every year I try do visit some places I haven’t been before. When my friend surprised me with plane tickets for my birthday we decided to book the first destination on the list of destinations we hadn’t heard about before. Catania it was. Luckily after booking those tickets we figured out Catania was a small city in the south of Sicily, Italy.

I have a soft spot for Italy. The food is crazy delicious. The wine is smooth. The people speak all sexy Italian. Yes please! Enough ingredients for me to have an awesome time! Catania is a pretty small place, mostly visited during the summer season when Italians come out of their homes and roam the street. But it can be a pretty nice destination during the winter too. With the beautiful view of a snow covered Etna. And the streets are not packed with tourists and souvenir stands.

1 // Outdoors
Catania is located on the foot of the Etna Volcano and is a perfect location for hiking in both winter and summer. You can see the white powdered curves all the way from Catania’s city center and there are organized trekkings and tours going up the volcano every day. If you are not very outdoorsy you can rent a little FIAT500 and experience the countryside in a more Italian way, do some wine tasting for instance. If you are a garden lover go check out Catania’s Orto Botanical Garden and enjoy the peace and quiet after a busy day in the city. Villa Bellina park is located in the heart of the city from which you have a great view over Catania if you don’t feel like driving out of the city you can enjoy some green time, watch the sunset and get some romance on from here.



2 // Wine and Dine
Of course a visit to Italy is mainly about drinks and food. And as a red wine lover Italy is a pretty yummy destination. Sicily has some great wines and Catania has some fun wine bars to chill after a busy day exploring the city. But the food. The food, yes, let’s talk about the food. Just talking about dinner only would be crazy. Let’s talk about food in general. Sicily is famous for it’s awesome cuisine and we sure ate a lot during out trip. Catania is famous for it’s street food. Start your day in a local coffee shop with a coffee and some dolce, canoli, some ice cream, yes they eat ice-cream in the morning, or some other baked goods. Italians eat lot’s of sugary things all day every day, nothing savory before noon, I am more a savory kind of person though. But there is enough fresh savory stuff too. Try the arancini, traditional Sicilian rice balls made with risotto rice and filled with anything delicious: spinach, cheese or pistachio. I loved those things! Seriously good stuff. Don’t leave the country without trying one of thses. And then, of course, dinner. The pizza, gnocci, caponata, piadineria, cunzatizzi, you name it. I love Italian food, it is all fresh & seasonal. For foodies Italy is heaven, all regions in Italy have their own specialities so make time to try as much food as possible! Some fun places to eat in the heart of Catania: Razmataz with simple local food, changes their menu every day. Fud, for the hipster foodie peeps. Buatta: Best food I have had during my trip. Try the typical pizza bread here. So delicious!

3 // Culture
Catania is not a very big city but it is the second largest city of Sicily and they recently opened a new contemporary art museum in the city center: MacS. A small gem that offers a small exhibition of modern art made by local, national and international artists. I was surprised by their rich and diverse collection. They even had a Lita Cabellut up there. But Catania has some more artsy places to check out. Just walk around the South side of the cathedral and check out the street art around the food market. When you walk around the city you are very likely to stumble upon some awesome street art. We found some lovely gems shown here. Check out the harbor and take a look at the Art Silos where 50’s industry has been turned into a wonderful colorful canvas for local and international (street) artists.

4 // Majestic Architecture
Catania may seem a little rough on the edges but it is a majestic city like so many in Italy. During the renaissance period Catania was one of Italy’s most important cultural and political cities. The old architecture takes you back to a wealthy era full of roman influences. The overly decorated cathedral, the amphitheater, the opera theater all detailed with marble extravagance are remains of this cultural importance of this ancient port city. The city center of Catania is simply beautiful. Take some time to walk around the Piazza del Duomo en don’t forget to check the crazy elephant obelisk while you’re there. There are many stories about the elephant and the city of Sicily. The elephant might be a symbol of protection against the Etna Volcano, and the story goes the elephant has magical powers, it was the only thing remaining after the catastrophic earthquake in 1696. Made out of lava stone this elephant obelisk is the symbol of the city and you can find this non-Italian animal everywhere. It is funny, but I like elephants, and Italy so hell, it is a good combo.



5 // City by the Sea
Catania has a wonderful Mediterranean climate. The winters are easy and the summers are deliciously hot. I love hot! If you are a little bit of a water rat like me and love to be on the water this is a great place from where you can explore the Ionian and Mediterranean sea by boat. Especially during summer this area is amazing to explore from the water. The city is very much influenced by the sea. if you are not interested in a trip over water go visit La Pescheria, the fish market and go taste some seafood, there is a large variety of interesting fish on Catania’s restaurant menu’s.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Maxomorra Plus Collection // Fall Winter '17



Founded in 2008, Maxomorra is a children’s clothing brand from Sweden. Their clothes are characterized by functional design with playful colors and patterns, produced using ecologically and socially responsible textile processes.

The new Autumn Winter ’17 Plus Collection is a new design project, risen from their curiosity to explore Maxomorra outside the box. The new Plus collection contains eight prints in a limited selection of styles, all made by Little Smilemakers Studio. With a few extra details to the prints and a brand new and beautiful color palette. To create complete outfits, there is also a small basic collection with solid colored jersey and velour available. As always, pick your favorites, mix and match, and go out and be fabulous. There are t-shirts, leggings, hats and so much more to choose from. But have some patience, the collection will be released for autumn and isn’t in shops just yet.

Conscious
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) was developed through a collaboration by leading standard setters with the aim of defining requirements that are recognized worldwide and that ensure the organic status of textiles from harvesting raw materials through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing all the way to labelling in order to provide credible assurance to the consumer.
Maxomorra has been using GOTS certified cotton since 2008 and is a GOTS certified brand since 2011. So if you are looking for some new conscious baby and kids items to fill your shop with contact Maxomorra and ask for their new Autumn Winter Plus collection. Here are three of the designs that will be available next fall.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Sources of inspiration: Cambodia // Lush and lovely // With brutal history and a brand new future // top 5 things to see and reasons to visit this beautiful country 



As you all know I love to travel and get a taste of new cultures. I have seen some amazing places, met some amazing people and every time I pack my back I have no idea what is to come. I travel without expectations. Some people thinks that is impossible but trust me, with my background you don’t dare to expect much, it is something I mastered without knowing but it is wonderful to start a new experience without any expectations attached to it. So I didn’t know what to think of Cambodia, I only knew I was very much intrigued by this war torn country. I love traveling through Asia and Cambodia became a destination I had been wondering about for a while.  

Every year I take a break in December and January. I pack my bags and go somewhere warm to escape from the holiday mayhem. After a few very busy months, renovating the new studio, starting productions, and well, running my business, I couldn’t wait to take off and explore Cambodia. Via Bangkok I traveled to the Cambodian border where my experience exploring this amazing country began. 

Scarred generations 
Cambodia has been a Buddhist country and temples are scattered throughout the country but it is facing so many challenges, the country has had a taste of freedom for just 16 years now. And I will type down some of my worries and a little history in a nutshell here. After the Vietnam war exceeded Cambodian borders the Khmer Rouge Army tried to keep out Vietnamese communists, their fights spread out throughout the country and in 1975 the Khmer Rouge soldiers seized the opportunity to take over the capital of Phnom Penh and ordered all civilians to leave and work as farmers. Leader of the army Pol Pot wanted to make a secular state, free the country from religion, his solution: killing all Buddhist monks. All educated people and intellectuals could be a possible treat for his ideology so any hint of that and they would get killed. The people of Cambodia should work their lands and free themselves from capitalism. They were forced to work on rice fields, pieces of land burned down to grow crops, crops to trade for supplying the army. it is such a sad story. Supported by China, the Khmer Rouge army kept on fighting up until the UN interfered in 1993. What happened in the early nineties, well, nothing constructive really, there were elections and the main pawns of Cambodians bloody history are housing the government up until this day. My guide called them ‘flexible.’ That sure is one hell of a positive way of looking at it. When you think about it Cambodia nowadays is still controlled by those with blood on their hands. But a new generation is standing up now, informed by media, they can obtain information, read, think and discuss. They educate themselves.  

Elections 
My guide is one of those, from my generation. He grew up with a ‘missing’ dad, his older brother was killed by the army and he spend his childhood in a Buddhist monastery. He became a father a day after we visit Angkor Wat with him. He would talk about his past with defeat and repressed anger. He know damn well what is happening. This March Cambodia will have new elections, the prime minister, former head of army, has stated he won’t be going anywhere. Meanwhile Cambodia is paying back their bills to China, the war has left them in great dead for supplying their army with weapons and munitions, so China is building airports, factories, Phnom Penh is turning into an economic anonymous city with a skyline all thanks to foreign investors. What will happen to this country after the elections? What will happen when Cambodians realize they have paid enough, settled the bill? What will happen when China owns all this land and Cambodians want back their country? They are still trying to keep up their democratic appearance. Of course things are way more complicated that how I see them, how I type them down. I hold my breath for what is yet to come. Hope my guides daughter will grow up in piece and prosperity.



1 // Angkor Wat 
Cambodia is very proud of it’s Khmer history. Angkor is one of the world’s most famous archeological places and protected by Unesco, you have probably heard about it, seen photo’s. Maybe you remember the jungle temple from Tomb Raider? From the city of Siem Reap it is a quick drive to the most visited place in Cambodia. The site extends over 400 square kilometers where you can see old remains of Cambodians civilization; the Khmer Empire. You can easily spend three days driving around the old temples, (there are over a thousand), reservoirs and old Khmer architecture but if you only spend one day, do visit Angkor Wat, the Bayon and Angkor Thom and the Ta Prohm jungle temple. Rent a tuctuc and a driver to navigate the area. The temples are breathtaking, I always feel pretty insignificant watching those giant structures. The magnificence of these old creations is breathtaking. The religious sculptures, statues and craftsmanship. The interior detailing. It sure makes you think ‘how the hell did they manage to complete such an impossible task’ with such eye for detail and beauty. It is truly genius. Angkor is a wonderful place and definitely one of the high lights of my travels. A must see.  

2 // Tonlé Sap 
When I was traveling on the bus in Cambodia I loved starring out of the window and seeing the typical Cambodian houses. Built on wooden posts, their homes are protected against floods, entirely made out of wood and painted in vivid colors. So wonderful. Cambodia can be pretty wet and people are used to live with and on the water. The Tonlé Sap lake is the biggest body of water in the country and stretches out from Siep Reap all the way to Phnom Penh were you can travel further over the Mekong River. I love traveling over water. I am a little bit of a water rat but I won’t advise you to swim in Tonlé Sap! Hell no! They have some crocodiles up there. Yikes!But I do try to travel over water if I have the chance. Just rent a boat and explore the lake for a day. You can see how people live on the water. Entire villages, schools, markets, they are all floating and it is wonderful to see how Cambodians live on their colorful boats, doing laundry, kids playing, just a glance of their every day life. 

3 // Phnom Penh 
The Capital of Phnom Penh is a rapidly growing melting pot and you can hardly spot any authentic Cambodian architecture. Next to the National Museum and the Palace there is not a whole lot of typical Phnom Penh left in the city center. But it is very likely you will visit this city to see some historical places. Not far from the city center you can visit the Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide. A former school that was used by the Khmer Rouge army who turned it into the notorious S-21 prison where over more than 20.000 people were executed and approximately 17.000 people were imprisoned. Inside of the old class rooms on the ground floor you can find thousands of photographs of the people that were taken to this prison. The rows of photo’s are endless as are the rows of cell blocks on the second and third story. I wondered around the third story when I got all weezy and light headed. It is not a place you enter that lifts your spirit obviously. It will stay with you for a little while. 



4 // Taste of Cambodia
Let’s talk about one of my favorite things in the world: Food. The Cambodian cuisine is absolutely amazing. The country is rich, fresh vegetables, fruit, spices. Cardamom mountains and rice fields. Because of it’s Buddhist background Cambodians do not eat a whole lot of meat and it is pretty easy to veggie your way around the country. But if you are not a vegetarian there is even more to explore. When you leave the big cities behind and travel through more remote area’s you can find some pretty interesting stuff for lunch. Marinated scorpions, spiders, frogs and tiny insects are a popular snack for the less wealthy. Stop at one of those tiny local markets and try one! And if you like cooking do visit a market to get your hands on some spices. They’re fresh and cheap. I loved the Cambodian dishes. There is so much variety in taste and ingredients and it might be good to know for European travelers: their dishes are not filled with chilly. Cambodians do not eat very spicy, they proper adding a little black pepper. I really liked my Pomelo salad with small pieces of pork and pak choi with a soy sauce dressing. Delicious! Oh and the salad with chicken lettuce and fish sauce was amazing. Do indulge in fruit: Pineapple and Mango. They are so sweet and crazy juicy. And the best thing about it all, everything is still organic. No crazy pesticides or big multinationals importing food. You eat local food in Cambodia. My rash (that was stuck on my face for the past 10 months) disappeared after a few days. While I am typing this, being back home, it is returning again. Says a lot about the food right?  
The French also left their mark in Cambodians meals today, you can find baguettes all over the country. And they are good! Cambodians are also pretty heavy coffee drinkers, you can find a proper Arabic coffee every few blocks. So don’t hesitate and try as much as you can. I loved the Cambodian cuisine. 

5 // Ghosts of the past 
Not very far from Cambodians capital there is another sinister place that is worth the visit but that will haunt you for days. Cambodia has a violent history and when you visit the country you will first and foremost enjoy the scenery, the welcoming people, the delicious food, but this is a must see when you are traveling through this country. The Killing Fields in Choeung Ek is now a memorial site open to public from 1988. When you visit this place you will follow a path which leads you to the numerous mass graves that are scattered around the plot. ‘Don’t step on bones’ a sign says. Bodies were exhumed and smashed skulls and bones are now carefully protected by the walls of the newly build stupa that holds over more than 5000 skulls. While typing this I still cannot seem to grasp what I have seen here, and what has taken place during those years the fields were a place of execution. In the small aula you can see a short video about the process of discovering the graves and the research that began after that. 

Well, with the Killing Fields I am ending this travel post. Cambodia was a wonderful place to visit even though there are some things you rather not see, don’t avoid what is part of their history. It gives you insight for a more in depth experience. Hopefully the elections in March will turn out for the better. My thoughts are with the people I have met during my trip. Hopefully Cambodia will remain ‘safe and peaceful'. Again, I feel so lucky to have been born into a country where safety is a common good.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // Top 5 January 2017



It is so exciting to see a finished project after working hard on a new collection of design 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 or Instagram for some kids fashion or home decoration you are very likely to stumble upon some Little Smilemakers prints. Most creatives with small home based businesses sell their projects via internet and tag us via Instagram. So we see some amazing things pop up in our feed every month. 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, Finland and The United States. This month we selected a whole bunch of fresh colorful fabrics, turned into the most gorgeous items. Kids fashion, nursery accessories and home and interior decoration, so much to choose from! We have selected some cute bedding, head bands, leggings and soft sole shoes. Take a look and see if there is something for your little one too. This is our January top 5 selection. 

1 // Oh Boeys
We were doing a little happy dance when we saw this perfect pair of cactus soft soles in our Instagram feed. We love this fabric and are so happy to see these turn our so cute! Oh Boeys is an Australian webshop selling bows, bibs, soft sole baby shoes and blankets for your little one. They have a colorful range of products and you can also customize your own pair of soft soles. Go take a look and see for yourself!

2 // Little So Beide 
We found these cute little Hemmers Itex lions in Sofia's Etsy store. She is a passionate Finnish maker and loves crocheting, knitting and sewing. Her style is fun and pure. With a wide range of products, bibs, baby mittens, leggings and more. We love the home made items she makes and her little girl modeling those fun pieces. If you are located in Finland or somewhere Scandinavia, check out those soft creations. Here is the link to her Etsy shop. Shop small and make someone do a little happy dance over in Finland!

3 // Tiny Tiger
This Australian shop specializes in bedding for both babies and kids. But they also have a fun range of accessories for your little one. We love to see color and their shop is a wonderful colorful collection of hand made items. For this month's "Made with" we selected our blue grizzly bears and our all time hot selling pastel ice cream fabric. Both turned into bedding. Curious about their collection? Visit their shop!



4 // Le Petit Bouton 
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, and made with beautiful fabric and she 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 hair clips, hair ties and headbands using beautiful designer fabrics and organic knits. Our little koala's have also been added to her webshop featuring in here Australia Day collection. Her products are perfect for special occasions, party favors, birthdays, baby showers, new arrivals, school...the list goes on! For this new collection A Little Love Photography has capture the wonderful Olivia wearing our favorite piece: the top knot. Isn't she adorable?shop if you want to get your hands on one.

5 // Itty Bitty Leggings
Monica is one of our frequent Spoonflower customers, she has a range of Little Smilemakers designs up in her shop every season. She makes wonderful leggings from her Salt Lake City home while she raises her two sons. This shop is perfect if you have some gentlemen to dress. Because she has a fun range of cool boys stuff in there. For this months post we selected out abstract strokes fabric. One of our most popular prints. Monochrome fabric is trending right now! She also has some gender neutrals and more girly items too. They're lovely. Go take a look!


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Have an awesome and creative new Year!



We are just back in the studio and would like to wish you an amazing new year full of joy, creative opportunities, love and warmth. This year so many things will be changing. We are busy starting up our exclusive fabric production, collaborating with a new partner, finding the right producer, we are settling in our new studio space and are finishing up our brand new brick and mortar store here in The Hague. It has been crazy hard work, testing our patience, learning something new every day. But very much worth it. Hopefully by the end of the year we can see our hard work pay off a little. We'll be opening our shop soon, we are planning new sewing workshops, so many things to plan and start. So as you can imagine I am very excited to start this new year. Hopefully 2017 will bring you bliss and laughter.

Love,
Maaike

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Trend alert: Typography monochromes



Some of you might know that typography can make me happy, I have studied graphic designs and typography before I became a printmaker. So seeing typography pop up as a trend makes me go yay! So happy to see this being picked up.

We wanted to feature some of our monochromes for this month’s trend alert. Raw sketches ABC & numbers designs. We have made a series of back to school prints for fabric and also added some typography designs for postcards and iPhone cases in bright popping colors and of course black and whites. Those simple and elegant black and white fabric designs are perfect for gender neutral clothes and home and nursery accessories. And we see an increase in popularity in on our monochrome designs. So come take a look at our collection.

Fabric featured in this post:
Sketch & Type
Spotted dalmatian
ABC Love
Raw Math
Strong Alphabet
Number Love

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Top 10 New Year Resolutions from an artist // Happy New Year



A brand new year! Hopefully you have had an amazing NY eve, did some partying, cocktail drinking with friends or cuddle up with your family or loved ones. After weeks of making lists and taking time to reflect on the past year it is now time to make room for a new year. Make plans, start new beginnings and of course: new year’s resolutions!

I know every year I have a bunch of silly ones. Luckily enough I am pretty content with my life so usually my new year resolutions are not very strict, life altering or sudden. For this year I have made a series of illustrations to remind myself to stay close to who I am and what I want. They say visualizing your goals makes it easier to work towards them right? The past months have been pretty hectic, so many new things, a demanding new business, to worry about, I have to keep reminding myself to be a little more kind to myself. Add some things, remove some habits, balance my time. Here are some of my favorite new year resolutions for this year.



1 // Create something every day
As a designer this might be a little obvious but the past 6 months my days were filled with contacting customers, searching for the right people for our studio renovations, being busy learning new things to set up a new business, meeting with lawyers, trying to get money back on fabric orders, trying to resolve a ‘water’ issue, fighting for justice with a company who is handing out my designs to anyone. Well, I can go on for a while. But all this meant creating was not an option. An artists day only has 24 hours so for the new year I need to sit down and create again. Do what I love most. Start my day with a pencil in my hand. Definitely my number one resolution for the new year.

2 // Don’t work for assholes
Well, as I already mentioned above, working as an independent artists means having to deal with shitty things sometimes. Every year I try to let go of those who take advantage, are disloyal or just behaving like complete ignorant assholes, mind my vocabulary. I am pretty easy going and if you do something stupid and apologize I am pretty forgiving. Unfortunately saying sorry is a little hard for some companies. I have to remind myself: I will be fine without the drama. I rather work with people that have a heart. Bye bye!

3 // Travel
The most important thing in my life is my freedom. Starting a new business might come with some extra strings but I have to remind myself to take time to travel, soak up some new impressions. I am a worthless human being when I am trapped in a routine. I want to experience new things, challenge my own perspective. It keeps me sharp, clear, focussed and most important: inspired to create new things.

4 // Eat more ice-cream
I know right? Such a great goal! No, I don’t want to lose weight, or eat healthier. I pretty much exercise twice a week and eat pretty healthy home made food, fresh veggies, start the day with smoothies, you name it. But this past summer I went out for ice cream once! Seriously! So I do need to eat more ice-cream, treat myself a little. Don’t forget to spoil yourself sometimes!



5 // Write more
I love creating, I am not a very good writer though but I like how it organizes my thoughts and experiences. We do not take enough time to let things in. To experience to the fullest. I love writing down things to sit down and reflect. It is like taking pictures of moments. They will stay with you a little longer. I love sitting down to write blogposts but I am too busy to make them as in dept as I would like. So yes, write more, and take time to write.

6 // Go for walks
I don’t spend enough time in nature. And I love wandering around the forest, take a walk on the beach. Go out and clear my mind. So important! I do not have a significant other special peep to talk about and share my day with over dinner and I know that my mind will go get busy if there is no room to digest things. A walk in the park can do wonders. I should. I will go for a walk. Once a week. With or without company. So doing this!

7 // Smile to strangers
Don’t you hate it when someone looks at you and they try to ignore seeing you? they cannot look away any faster. Especially irritating when they know you personally. What the hell? Such a weird way of treating someone. Sometimes I can feel very lonely, I walk down a busy street. No one interacts with one another. That is definitely not me. I started smiling at strangers, just a second, a short connection can make a day a whole lot lighter. A simple smile makes such a difference. It even releases endorphins, natural painkillers people! Let's give it a try!



8 // Eat more Cheesecake
Cheesecake is my guilty pleasure. I used to meet up with my best friend over cheesecake to talk about life, and love and everything that would keep us busy. Eating more cheesecake means: spending more time with loved ones. Sit down and listen. Quality time with friends. Let's make it a priority again!

9 // Quit buying shoes
And suddenly I was and accidental shoe addict. I don’t like shopping, I don’t like trying on clothes, I don’t like brief trends and I am not someone you’ll catch shopping on a Saturday afternoon. But as a human being I kinda have to cover myself, with clothes. Somehow I always go home with new shoes. I should definitely stop buying shoes instead of clothes!

10 // Get a new kitty
Or make some room in my life for something cuddly. I have had a cat for 22 years and I miss a soft purring creature that makes my house a home. But I am also a little anxious to commit. I might have some issues with commitment nowadays. Hmmm. Get a new kitty might be the first step to healthy commitments again.



Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas // Enjoy the holidays!



It is that time of the year again when half of the world gathers and celebrates Christmas. Christmas time is always a time to look back and reflect on the past year. We have so much to be thankful about!

The past year I have registered my new company, to take a step into a different direction. Together with a partner we are setting up a brand new shiny studio and a shop. So many things are happening! And what a great fruitful year it has been for the studio. We have worked for companies all over the world. Have seen our designs pop up in Canada, Australia, and we added South Africa and Brazil to our list of countries we do business with. 2016 was a fun year but also had some bumps in the road. We discovered a crazy lot of misuse of our designs, and struggled with a representing company not fighting on our behalf. We said goodbye to a 10 year business collaboration but in the end it will only give me and my business the freedom to stay close to the heart, create and make other people happy with our designs.

So we hope you can look back to a great and successful and most of all joyful year. Go enjoy the holidays! And take some time to reflect on where you are. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // Top 5 December 2016 



It is so exciting to see a finished project after working hard on a new collection of design 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 or Instagram for some kids fashion or home decoration you are very likely to stumble upon some Little Smilemakers prints. Most creatives with small home based businesses sell their projects via internet and tag us via Instagram. So we see some amazing things pop up in our feed every month. 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 the US, Australia and India. This month we selected a whole bunch of winter and seasonal inspired fabrics, turned into the most gorgeous items. Kids fashion, nursery accessories and home and interior decoration, so much to choose from! We have selected some cute tote bags, leggings and soft sole shoes. Take a look and see if there is something for your little one too. This is our December top 5 selection. 
 
1 // Daily Objects 
Next to phone accessories, laptop cases and notebooks, Daily Objects now also launched a new collection of tote bags and pouches in different sizes with beautiful high quality leather detailing. We love those new totes! They make a perfect gift for Christmas. In Holland they have banned plastic bags, a cool shopper is a must. They also added some cool home decor to their range of products. Our prints are now also available on pillows. Oh yes and of course Daily Objects offers world wide shipping on their products too. Click here for their collection.
 
2 // Le Petit Bouton 
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, and made with beautiful fabric and she 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 hair clips, hair ties 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 favors, birthdays, baby showers, new arrivals, school, stocking fillers...the list goes on! Baby skyler is modeling her fun products. Such a cute little girl! Take a look at her shop if you want to get your hands on one. 
 
3 // Olive the Things 
For our seasonal ‘Made with’ post we selected a cute reindeer sweater. One our our personal favorites for this jolly season. This Utah based shop offers a great selection of soft sweaters, hoodies, shorts and other cool kids items. of you are looking for some cozy pieces for your little one, this is the place. take a look at their Etsy shop and check all fun mix & match pieces.



4 // Hazel & Holly 
We love these cute Origami Santa leggings. Perfect leggings for the holiday season right? And suitable for both boys and girls. This Washington based shop offers handmade kids clothes has a wonderful collection of seasonal fashion for kids. We have created some new Christmas themes that were selected for her new range. Leggings, skirts, beanies. Check them all in her Etsy shop.
 
5 // Little Pitterpat 
Every month a new set of soft soles pops up in our feed. Little Pitterpat has been using our designs for over two years now and we keep loving the way our fabrics are turned into the most adorable baby and toddler shoes. These soft soles baby shoes are made by hand in Sharies studio in Montana. For this months 'Made with' post we selected their Grizzly Bear Ski Slope print. One of our fave designs suitable for both boys and girls and we know how handy those gender neutral items can be. Looking for a baby shower gift? These cute shoes make a great present. So take a look into her shop if you want to have a pair of these. She has over 500 different items, yes lot's of different prints as well, to choose from. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Top 5 fabric trends // winter 16/17 // watch out for these cool themes and styles this winter



Every season we reveal our best selling designs and make a fun top 5 of current trends. In this part of the world we are preparing for the colder season and all winter themes are picked up. But down under things are getting warmer, so we always have to contrasting geographical areas fighting for the hot sellers title. So much fun to see those two world join in our shop sales. Here is our Top 5 in fabric trends for this year’s winter season. All fabrics are listed below.

Monochromes & Textures
More and more people begin to realize we need a serene and peaceful place to call home after being overly exposed to so many things each and every day this seems to be a ultimate lifestyle change all around the world. As a designer the prints I love most are the basic, plain, pure shapes. We have been making fabric and print designs for over 8 years now and we have seen the shift from crazy colorful-all-colors-of-the-rainbow-in-one to the pure Scandinavian inspired texture like designs. And we love it. In this time and age our fabric buyers are more conscious and fabric should fit into a multi purpose: gender neutral, age neutral, cross seasonal etc. We love this strong trend since we love working with a clean simple shape and turn it into a strong repeat for fashion and home decoration. Especially the monochromes have been very popular this season. In strong black and white, less saturated natural colors and soft pastels.

Kawaii faces
When we visit japan almost two years ago we were inspired to make a new series of Kawaii style designs. We all know Hello Kitty right? Kawaii means something adorable or cute in Japanese and while I was traveling through this amazing one-of-a-kind quirky country I notice nearly everything ‘graphic design’ related, business logo’s, packaging, public adds, infographics: everything was Kawaii. Cute tiny eyes and a smiley face. So we are so happy to see these eyelashes, tiny faces and smiles pop up in home decoration in this part of the world. Our most popular Kawaii inspired print must be our popsicles and ice-cream design. But we also created some winter themes for this colder season. We mixed it up with a little Scandinavian: less colors. Hopefully we can enjoy those smiley faces for another few years.



Bears & Sloths
We looooove all the typical fall and winter animals. Animals will always be one of the most hot-selling themes and every year there is another animal standing out and trending like no other. This winter it has been the grizzly & polar bear. Bears are popping up everywhere and unfortunately a lot of copies are also going around also. But we have a cool, very unique selection in our shop. When we are preparing for snow, down under they are sewing their new summer pieces. This summer we saw our Sloths picked up all around the world. Now 8 months after releasing the Pura Vida series in our exclusive design presentation every single print artist has their own sloth available. So the sloths probably won’t be here next year but we wanted to celebrate them a little anyway. Next to elephants my personal fav-of-all-time animal. How can you NOT love those quirky creatures?



Gender Neutral Kids Themes
The past few years there has been a worldwide discussion about gender. This topic made it a little difficult to sell my pink designs as ‘girls print’ and blue designs as ‘boy print. Sometimes we get the most nasty comments on designs in blue or pink. The thing is: if someone is looking for ‘baby boy fabric’ you kinda need to tag designs in a way everyone can find what they need. It does not mean we think blue should only fit boys. As a Dutch designer I can tell you I am quite happy about the gender discussion and when people get better informed they also make better choices so that is why we see an increase in sales in kids designs that are gender neutral. It is getting more and more important to NOT label and we are so happy to see how strongly this effects our sales. That is why we wanted to add it to our top 5 trends this winter. Buying gender neutral is not only a gender conscious decision, it also reduces the footprint for our kids fashion industry and home decoration companies. Why release two lines when you can cover all at once? I love it! We plan on making more and more neutral prints ourselves but keep adding a boy and girl tag every now and then.

Dreams
All night and sky related designs are crazy popular this year. It is so funny to see how all dream themes and sky related prints are trending. Our hot air balloon designs were all sold with an exclusive license this year, we did not manage to add new designs to our fabric shop but our oldies, clouds, moon & stars, they are all picked up and are popping up in small boutiques all around the world. So funny how quick a trend can set! We thought this dream topic was a good one to end this post with. If you are looking for some fresh themes go visit our Spoonflower shop and show us what you make!


Friday, December 2, 2016

Fabric feature Friday // New Apfelschick fall collection // Plus sign fabric



Our plus sign print has been one of our all time faves all over the world. This design keeps selling like crazy for over three years now. But we never licensed a darker version of the fabric up until this fall.

We have licensed some fabric designs to this small online webshop in the past year. This German company run by Dana, mommy of three, sells fabric per meter and doesn’t really turn these into kids clothes herself, ok she probably does, but when we saw this amazing photoshoot with this cute little boy showing off his new plus sign sweater and beanie we just had to share it with you guys and give them a little Shout Out. Our new plus signs are now available in her shop so if you’d like to start being creative and make some fun fashion for yourself of your little one get your hands on a piece of this wonderful fabric before she runs out. Visit the shop!

Photo credit: Eulis Nähwerkstatt

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Sources of inspiration // Top 10 favorite world wide Modern Art Museums & Galleries



As an artist, I can find inspiration in everyday things — but traveling, that's a whole different creative source. Maybe it's the need to feel connected to the bigger picture, or a different culture; or to get more insight into who I am and explore things from another perspective. Maybe it's simply stepping away from my routine and overlooking things from a distance. But one thing is for sure: traveling provides an endless flow of inspiration, and there's an entire world to explore.

How often do you visit a gallery or museum? Holland has some great art galleries and museums and I love to see all these different artists and skills come to life. I often visit the Pulchri Studio close to my home in The Hague where they have new art up on the walls every few weeks. I try to visit museums during my travels. It is lovely to see cultural differences, there is a different way of expression in each part of the world. What museum would you recommend in your country/city? For this post I have selected a top 10 of personal faves. I have seen quite some Modern Art Museums and would like to share those with you. Some awesome gems of The Netherlands and some less obvious choices, places I have seen during my travels. Enjoy!

1 // MAXXI - Rome
Rome is not a typical place to visit if you love modern art. Also modern architecture is not really common in the city, but if you take a train out of the city center you can visit a few very interesting places if you stop at Euclide. The 'bugs' at the musical auditorium for instance are a architectural feast. The arena Palazzetto dello Sport built in 1960 for the summer Olympics is a very interesting piece, could use a fresh layer of paint though. But the real gem for me was discovering the MAXXI. The National Museum of contemporary art and architecture. The building itself is simple beautiful and only open for public for 6 years now. With it's sharp edges and overlaps it's a surprisingly pretty composition in a slightly neglected looking area of the city. The exhibits are surprisingly well set up and diverse. I was very happy to see a some Italian parents brought along their kids to explore this place. There is a nice library dedicated to the building and Roman modern architecture. Check out the website before you go. All exhibits are contemporary. The ones I visit were conceptual, highly political engaged and visually powerful. But of course every artist and every expo will be different. Enter a place like this without expectations and it will surprise you.

2 // Pulchri Studio - The Hague
This Art gallery is a place you can just walk in free of charge. Every few weeks there is something else to discover here. The short term exhibitions are great for a little break during a busy working day and I visit this gallery in the old part of The Hague frequently. You can also enjoy a good lunch in the restaurant area, or sit down and have a coffee.

3 // Brandhorst Museum - Munich
The museum itself is a great piece of architecture that is already worth a little glance. Inside of the museum you can find a collection of modern art with a large representation of work by American artists. My personal favorite is the collection of paintings by Twombly on the first floor. Unfortunately the Museum prohibits photography. Such a shame since I love to capture the amazing visual art to take them home to stash in my box of memories.

4 // Tate Modern - London
On the bankside of the river Thames you can find one of my favorites of all time. The very immense and industrial looking The Tate Modern is a place for modern and contemporary art. If you ever get the chance to fly in to this city do check what is happening here. There have has numerous amazing exhibitions in the part. Malevich, Kandinsky, Hodgkin, Hopper, to name just a few. You can easily spend an entire day at this place.



// Brooklyn Museum - New York
New York has so much to offer for the creative soul. There are many places worth visiting but on my last trip to the Big Apple I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge to watch the Ai Weiwei expo in the Brooklyn Museum. I am a big fan of modern art but this museum also shows a little bit about the history of Brooklyn and I was surprised about the variety and quality of art that was shown here. It is a gem and truly worth crossing the river for.

6 // Moderna Museet - Stockholm
Pay attention creative peeps! If you ever visit Stockholm: visit Skeppsholmen. You need to visit this little creative island. I was lucky enough to spend a truly magical summer night here with some live music and street food in the Moderna Museet garden during the Yayoi Kusamas exhibit. Surrounded by Picasso scultures I was enjoying a live performance of one of my fav sing and sing writers José González. You can visit the Moderna Museet but don’t forget to enjoy the outside sculptures by Calder and Jean Tingely and Niki de Saint Phalle. From the island you have a beautiful view over Stockholm. Walk around the island and check out the little harbor on the northern part with old steamships and fishing boats. A great place to enjoy the sunset. From the south side you can take a ferry to the Abba Museum or Nordiska Museet.

7 // Louisiana - Copenhagen
As a graphic designer I adore this amazing Danish museum of modern art. If you ever visit Copenhagen make sure to take the train to this museum. It will take you an hour traveling North but it is a lovely way through a beautiful area of Denmark. The museum is located in the most lush area near the seaside and the sculpture garden has a breathtaking view over the water. But trust me, you don’t need the water, there is so much to see inside alone. With over 3.500 pieces of art, a combination of American, European and Danish art from 1945 till now, there is enough to see to keep you busy for a day without noticing the surroundings. Warhol, Picasso, Kiefer, Kandinsky, they are all there. But if you visit the museum on a summer day, do take a stroll through the park and enjoy sculptures from Calder, Henry Moore and my personal favorite: Miró. A must see, beautiful museum. Definitely one of my all time favorites.

8 // FOAM - Amsterdam
My favorite museum for Photography is located in Amsterdam. I think it is the museum I visit most frequently in Holland. They have temporary exhibits and change their walls every few months. I have seen numerous great photographers here. Helmut Newton’s life work. Annie Leibovitz with her famous portraits. The Kate Moss Show. Vivian Maiers black and white, street photography and this winter there is another big name to add to the list: Weiwei. FOAM is a lovely place to pop in for a quick visit. You’ll be in and out in 2 hours so if you want to see something during you stay in Amsterdam but don’t want to wait in one of those crazy museum lines go visit this little photography gem.

9 // Blain Southern Gallery - Berlin
This contemporary art gallery is located in the old press building and offers a huge canvas to artists. This summer the gallery has an impressive exhibit of Morellet. You can see his paintings and also his later work: neon installations. His work was influenced by artists like Piet Mondriaan and Max Bill. You can see some similarities in the movement and the composition but using materials like neon, concrete, metal, and leaving out color were considered to be quite modern back then and still make his work very unique. What I love about the gallery itself is that it has a huge main area with one high sealing stretching up into the sky. The canvas for the work makes the art even more astonishing.

10 // MoMa - New York
New York, one of the most inspiring art museums are based here. With the Frick Collection, the wonderful Guggenheim with temporary exhibits and of course the Witney. All amazing places to go and check out but my fav: the MoMa will always be one of the greatest places to visit if you are an artist, I think this museum is a must see. Don’t get me wrong, there are other awesome places in New York, I will have to type down a top 10 for New York only some time… The MoMa has some iconic pieces every artists should see i real life. Monet’s Water Lilies for instance. Picasso, Matisse and our very own Piet Mondriaan and Willem de Kooning spreading our strong Dutch Design. The sculpture garden has some wonderful pieces too, don’t skip those. But I particularly like this place, not because of those great names but because there is a mix of so many different techniques, that really trigger my imagination. Why choose paper or why stick with ink? Sculptures, paintings, architecture, graphics. Very inspirational place!