Fruit and Veggie Art Challenge: N-S

It is time for the 3rd “Quarter” Recap for the 2018 Fruit and Veggie Art Challenge!  Letters N thru S were an interesting group and I am beginning to see some of the limitations of my “geometric” design criteria. Before I jump into my thoughts on this group let me share my 6 fruit and veggie creations for this portion of the challenge:

N thru S Fruit and Veggies by Brenda Zapotosky

Overall I really like this group.

You may notice that the pear and quince are quite similar.  This was completely intentional.  I thought since their shapes are so similar AND they are in season around the same time that it would be nice to have them “go” together.  While I already have a Geometric Apple pattern in my shop, I think I would like to do a new apple that matches the style of the pear and quince and create a pattern using all of them.

Also, I had an interesting creative process with a few of these.  I recently created a new pattern, Geometric Taco Bar, that includes a variety of fruit/veg, including both the onion and the radish.  The letter “O” fell during the time that I was making the pattern so it was created for both at the same time.  As for the radish, that was created for the pattern first, but I did not feel compelled to do another “R” fruit/veg when it arrived, so I simply composed a board featuring the Radish.

Geometric Taco Bar was created for a Spoonflower Design Challenge and is available in my shop!

Geometric Taco Bar Pattern by Brenda Zapotosky
Geometric Taco Bar is available as gift wrap, wallpaper, and fabric.

I also included both the Jalapeno and Iceberg Lettuce which were created earlier in the Challenge (adding in slices of each).  I love this pattern.

It is hard to pick a favorite in this group.  I am actually more prone to pick a least favorite:  The nectarine!  It is difficult to differentiate between the specific varieties of round fruits especially in the geometric style I have chosen.  I like the cut view of the nectarine better and do think it captures the essence pretty well.  This difficulty is one of the limitations I was referring to at the start of this post.  I am also finding that even in the “non-circle” fruit/veg that there are a lot of similar looking shapes.  For example, radishes, beets and turnips, when drawn in the geometric style are also hard to differentiate.  The same would hold true with leafy greens.  Hopefully enough unique shapes will present themselves as I complete the challenge.

One fun aspect of this group is that half of them have been included in surface patterns! The onion and radish are both part of the Geometric Taco bar design.  Additionally, I love the strawberry so much I already created a pattern for it!  This pattern will be added to my shop very soon. So that is 3/6.  And, as I have already mentioned, I hope to create a pattern using both the pear and quince together. One of my favorite aspect of this challenge is a library of illustrations to use in other applications.

Speaking of the strawberries, I wanted to share a look at the pattern!  I have ordered the swatches, so it will be in my shop soon.  But I do want to say it COULD CHANGE.  I often tweak designs after seeing them printed, so this is how it will tentatively look.

Geometric Strawberries Classic Pattern by Brenda Zapotosky

This is the Classic colorway.  I also created a Pinky colorway too! I’ll update this post when they are available in my shop.

And that’s a wrap!  Looking forward, I expect this final batch of letters to be challenging.  For the most part I do not look at the options for a letter until I make the prompt list, so there is a chance that I will be surprised, but I think the options for everything but “T” to be very limited.  Follow me on Instagram if you want to see each letter (and the prompts as I create them).

As always, thanks for reading!

Brenda

 

 

UPDATE: Alphabet Animal Art Challenge – 6 months later

Alphabet Animal Update Title

With the end of June it has officially been six months since the 2017 Art Challenge:  Alphabet Animals has come to a close.  I wanted to do an update since I have used those animals I created in quite a lot of new designs!  One of the goals of the Challenge was to create a library of illustrations I could use in various ways and in that goal I have had much success!  So today I want to share all the creations that I have made since the challenge ended.  If you are hearing about this challenge for the first time you can read the final blog post recap and see ALL the animals.  You can also see the other designs I created last year.

SURFACE PATTERNS

I’ll start with surface patterns.  All these have been created this year, so after the close of the challenge.  Since in many cases I ended up tweaking the animal illustrations I will share a look at the original animal and the pattern side by side!

All of the patterns I have created this year with animals so far have been created specifically for Spoonflower Design Challenges (although one did not end up being entered as you will soon learn).

Modern Farmhouse

Quail Illustration by Brenda Zapotosky

As you can see for this pattern the quail is playing a supporting role. I removed its top plume and did some recoloring to make it more “generic bird” versus a quail specifically.  I really love how it fits in so well with the other farmhouse images I created.  Modern Farmhouse is available in my Spoonflower shop.

Elephants and Polka Dots

Elephant Illustration by Brenda Zapotosky

For the “Endangered Species” Design Challenge I chose to feature my elephant illustration.  I didn’t make many changes to this character.  I changed the toe nail color to white and made the line weights for the facial features a little thicker.  (And overall color changes of course).  Since my elephant already had a unique polka dot detail I decided to build upon that for the pattern.  I actually created 4 different colorways of this design.  The Taupe colorway one you see here is the version that was entered in the contest.  You can find it and the 3 other colorways in my Animal Fun Collection.  This was actually the second time this elephant was selected from the library.  Last year I created a greeting card featuring the elephant!

Hedges and Hedgehogs

Hedgehogl Illustration by Brenda Zapotosky

The idea for this pattern was in my head almost immediately after creating the original hedgehog so I was very excited when the “Animals by Land” Design Challenge was posted giving me the perfect excuse to create it!  I kept the hedgehog mostly the same but tweaked the facial features again on this one, the most noticeable being that I gave it a round eye.  I think it is cuter that way!  The hedges got a bit more colorful too!  Find Hedges and Hedgehogs in my Spoonflower shop!

Mostly Happy X-Ray Tetras

X Ray Tetra Illustration by Brenda Zapotosky

Last but not least is my X-Ray Tetra.  For this one, I kept the pattern simple since there is already a lot of detail in the fish itself.  I did play with adding some polka dots, but I didn’t like them.  I did, however, do a fun little switch-up!  As the title suggests, not ALL these tetras are smiling… I added some frowny ones to the mix and reversed their coloring in places to make them just a bit more distinctive.  This design was created with a contest in mind but was never entered because I got the THEME wrong!!!  I thought it was Animals by/in/of WATER since the previous two contests were Land and Air… but for this one Spoonflower mixed it up and themed it “Animals of the OCEAN”.  Technically tetras are not ocean fish (which I learned through research, I am not a fish expert!) and I did not feel right entering this design.  Oh well… at least it gave me the motivation to create it since this was also a pattern idea I had in my head for a while!  Mostly Happy X-Ray Tetras is also available in my Spoonflower shop.

GREETING CARD

I have created one new card since the close of the challenge.  I have a niece and nephew who both turned 3 in June (cousins, not twins) and I thought the koala was a good pick since it was already holding onto to something making it easy to swap in the number 3. I also changed the hat to a party hat. I left the koala itself the same (even the position of the arms worked as is for the number 3!)

Koala Illustration by Brenda Zapotosky

I was there when my niece opened her card and upon seeing it she recognized it as a koala!  Granted she had recently seen a show that had koalas, but still, it made me really happy to know that my characterization was accurate enough for her to name the animal specifically!  I call that success.  The koala cards joins several other animal cards I created last year which you can find on my Cards and Gift Wrap page.

ARTWORK

The biggest thing (literally) that I created with the animal illustrations is a poster that incorporates ALL of them!  As I mentioned above my niece and nephew turned 3 and I decided that for their gifts I would create this poster.  It was actually quite a bit of work to pull it all together and fit them in a logical way and adding in all the text circles, title, etc.

Alphabet Animals Poster by Brenda Zapotosky SM

In addition to removing all the “props” that were originally paired with I also did some minor re-scaling, both enlarging and reducing scales of some of the animals to get them to work better as an ensemble.  Other than that all the animals except one stayed the same as the original in look and color (all the tweaks I made for the patterns came later).  The one animal that DID get changed was the armadillo since that was my very first illustration and it did not have the same “cute” look that I started with letter B.  Here is the “Before” and “After”.

Armadillo Illustration by Brenda Zapotosky

It was actually my husband who suggested I make them “cuter” after seeing the first animal, armadillo.  I am so happy he did, because it definitely enhances my already slightly cartoon-ish interpretations.  And I am glad I changed up the armadillo for the poster!

It is definitely a bit of a gamble to give the gift of art.  Especially BIG ART that is intended to be hung in someone’s house.  I took that chance because I thought my niece and nephew as well as their parents would like the gift.  And because I expected these to be hung in the kids’ rooms and not the main house.  I am so happy to report that gifts were well received AND have both already been hung!  Here is a look at the posters “in the wild”.

Posters in the Wild

I printed these posters at a standard 20″ x 30″ but sized the poster border proportions to work with a favorite IKEA frame line that I love (Its similar sized frame is 19.75″ x 27.5″). (Seriously, almost every wall frame in my house is from this line).  For the smaller frame on the left (which I framed) I trimmed it to fit the slightly smaller proportioned frame.  My sister opted for the same IKEA frame but with bigger dimensions so it has a mat (on the right).  It is fun to see the two looks side by side.

My husband’s reaction to seeing the poster for the first time was that I should sell them!  After selling greeting cards for a number of years I decided that being a producer really wasn’t for me.  I have been focused for the last several years solely on designing and selling my work where someone else does all the work.  However, these posters, which I am extremely pleased with, have me actually considering maybe selling (on a VERY limited basis) again.  It is just an idea at this point.  I would probably sell them both wholesale and retail if I did.  If you are a retailer or an individual and would be interested please let me know!  If there seems to be enough interest I would start investigating larger quantity printing!

And that about wraps it up!  I anticipate using more of these animals in future design projects.  Do you have a favorite you’d like to see used in something?  I’d love to know!

Thanks for reading!

Brenda

Fruit and Veggie Art Challenge: G-M

We have officially reached the 1/2 way point in this year’s Fruit and Vegetable themed Art Challenge!  It has been a fruitful (ha ha) challenge thus far, and even though the selection is a bit leaner than with the Animal themed challenge from last year, I have managed to find a good subject for every letter! But before we dive in to the works… If this is the first time learning about this challenge you can read more about it here.

OK!  Onto the good stuff! Let’s start with a look at the 7 fruit/veg I drew for this portion of the challenge:

G thru M Fruit and Veggies by Brenda Zapotosky

Overall I like this batch a lot.  I was able to find a good mix of round and non-round fruit/veg to draw and all of them are commonly known.  I think those are the two biggest challenges.  I love discovering new-to-me varieties of fruit and veggies when I put together the letter prompts, but since I am drawing these in the hopes of future uses, choosing more commonly known fruit/veg is the better choice.  Plus, since I am choosing to do geometric versions, having the fruit/veg already be known helps them remain recognizable.  The other challenge is that so many fruit/veg are ROUND… often they are more distinguishable cut than whole (like the honeydew) especially if I am doing stylized versions.  A geometric, minimal detail round fruit or veggie could end up looking like a solid oval or circle!

Interestingly my favorite of this batch is an “oval” fruit… the kiwi!  Here is a closer look:

K is for Kiwi by Brenda Zapotosky

Obviously I used a “cut” view to make it more interesting.  I love how with the geometric stylization a common fruit takes on a beautiful “abstract” look.  I am considering making a pattern with this one. I might not even make it a kiwi pattern!  I think with some re-coloring it could simply be a geometric design element!

Speaking of patterns.  I have not created any new repeating patterns (or any other art pieces) with any of these fruit/veg or ones from the first batch (my only “extra” so far is my Geometric Carrots design which I shared in the last recap).  This is partially because an opportunity has not yet occurred to give me a chance to do so (like a Spoonflower contest or a new card need).  But also, I think that patterns that incorporate multiple fruit/veg or have the fruit/veg combined with non-food elements, etc. will probably be the way that I will most likely use them.  I expect at the END of the challenge that I will take the new produce library as a whole and work them into a pattern(s).

COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION:

Another aspect of this challenge that I have been encouraging is participation from other artists.  You may recall that in my first recap I shared the work of Jill Byers.  I am happy to report that Jill has been continuing with the challenge and that there has been another artist, Al Donzza, who has joined and also been posting for every letter.  Since we all chose the Jalapeno for our “J” letter, I thought it would be fun to see all three together.  I absolutely love how different are our interpretations can be of the of the same subject.

First up is my jalapeno, which is obviously in keeping with my geometric theme.  I chose to hatch this one and I am quite happy with how it looks.  I did struggle with the composition of this art board though.  I think the jalapeno will work better in a repeating pattern, maybe with a few other variations thrown in.

J is for Jalapeno by Brenda Zapotosky

Next up is the gorgeous oil paint version by Jill Byers which is so drastically different from mine.  I love how Jill has chosen to compose all her canvases so that the subjects disappear off the sides of the canvas.  It adds a unique perspective which complements her realistic style and makes it more interesting!  You can see all of Jill’s paintings grouped together here.  It is an amazing collection!

Avocados
Jalapeno painting by Jill Byers

Next up is the work of Al Donzza who has also been doing paintings but in a totally different style and medium: Watercolors!  I love the vibrancy of Al’s work and the “action” worked into a usually static subject!  These red jalapenos really pop!

Al Donzza Jalapeno
Jalapeno painting by Al Donzza

I find it interesting that we all included two jalapenos in our compositions.  But that of course, is where the similarities end!

I hope you have enjoyed this review of the second quarter of Alphabet Illustrations.  If you have been thinking about joining in it is not too late!  I would love to have you take part!  I post a letter prompt every two weeks as a reminder of the start of the next letter and help get the creative juices flowing! And don’t forget to include the hashtag for the challenge with your posts:  #2018fruitandveggieartchallenge

Thanks for reading!

Brenda

Me-Made-May 2018

MMMAY 2018 Blog Recap Promo

Happy June Everyone!  It is that time of year again… Me Made May Recap Time that is!  Did you participate?  My “pledge” this year was basically the same as last year.  I wore and documented Me-Mades for everyday I left the house.  I actually probably wore me-mades almost everyday since I have a lot of lounge wear and pajama bottoms that are handmade.  They are, in fact, some of my favorites in those “genres”!

My post will follow a similar format to last year.  I will group my outfits by week (Sun-Sat for full 7 day weeks), note all the patterns and share any thoughts I might have.  They are numbered by DATE.  I won’t include much in the way of sewing details, but if you have any questions about sizing, alterations, etc. please ask in the comments!  I rarely make a pattern exactly as drafted so expect that the majority of these had some sort of tweak.  I am only going to link patterns once, so if you see a pattern you like without a link scroll until you find one from another week!

WEEK 1:

MMMAY 2018 Week 1

May 1: Bento Tee (Heavily Hacked) by Liesel + Co., Not-so-Knotted Tote (Made with my own fabric design, Geometric Cactus Flowers. )  I made my sister a very similar bag using the same fabric which you can read more about in this post.

Thoughts:  This was a typical week for me, with the month starting on a Monday, I only had one day out of the house (until Sunday which started week 2).  Knowing that I would be going out on the first day of May was exciting since I would kick off the month with an outfit… but I was not feeling well that day which majorly deflated that excitement.  But I pulled a (very wrinkled) look together (paired with RTW blazer).  This Bento actually has some fun details added (Like the deep side slit in the second photo) but I have never managed to get great photos of it.  (I will have to try again).  This was also my first attempt at selfies with my new mirror… hadn’t quite found the right place to position it yet.

WEEK 2:

MMMAY 2018 Week 2

May 6:  Coastal Breeze Dress by Make it Perfect, Julia Cardigan by Mouse House Creations, Self-Drafted Infinity Scarf

May 8: Lane Raglan (With an extra giant scoop neck because I had to cut off the first neckband).

May 11:  Lane Raglan by Hey June Handmade

Thoughts:  It was cooler weather this week (no complaints) so more fall/winter outfits than spring.  I think it is amusing looking back that I wore two items that used the same floral fabric.  Two lanes too!  (But it is one of my most made patterns so that is not surprising).

WEEK 3:

MMMAY 2018 Week 3

May 13 (A): Lane Raglan, Self-Drafted Mini Cowl (featuring my own fabric designs from the KIKU GARDEN Collection).

May 13 (B): Oslo Cardigan, “Taormina Tee” (Drafted from the Renfrew Top, but majorly changed).

May 14: Bess Top by Imagine Gnats, Blackwood Cardigan by Helen’s Closet

Thoughts:  This week featured two “special events”:  Mother’s Day Lunch (Hence the second May 13 Outfit, the first I wore to Church earlier in the day) and my husband’s birthday.  He took the day off and we went out for lunch at a favorite french restaurant, so I was able to get a mid-week “non-selfie” photo!

WEEK 4:

MMMAY 2018 Week 4

May 20: Cheyenne Tunic by Hey June Handmade and Oslo Cardigan (See photo at top of the blog post)

May 22: Oslo Cardigan by Seamwork, Hudson Pant by True Bias

May 26:  Hadley top by Grainline Studio, Not-so-Knotted Tote

Thoughts:  It was actually too cold for the outfit I wore on May 22, but I REALLY wanted to have at least one pair of me-made pants make it into a photo!  Ha ha!  Anyone else dress for the photo instead of the weather/activity/etc. ?

WEEK 5:

MMMAY 2018 Week 5

May 27: Chai Tee, Everyday Skirt both by Liesel + Co.  I also wore a me-made cardigan (not pictured), either the gray Oslo or the navy Blackwood again… (Can’t remember for sure). I chose not to take a photo with it since the tee was new and I wanted to document it.

May 28:  Renfrew Top by Sewaholic, Halifax Hoodie by Hey June Handmade (BLOG POST coming soon!!!)

May 29: Out and About Dress (Peplum Top Hack) by Sew Caroline

May 31: Lane Raglan, Oslo Cardigan

Thoughts: My husband was off this week for a “stay-cation” so there was a lot more out of the house activity than usual!  It also got very hot so I was able to wear more of my warmer weather items.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Overall Me Made May was fun.  I love seeing what everyone else is wearing (especially how they style their me-mades).  I love my handmade wardrobe and wearing my me-mades all the time already so I don’t really need the motivation.  And actually it can be a bit tiring taking all the photos.  Plus I feel more pressure to curate my outfits rather than just grab whatever I feel like wearing. But I am happy I did it!  It challenged me to style and wear some things I might not have naturally grabbed.  I obviously love my Lane Raglans… in fact I have already made another one, in solid purple, since I don’t have a lot of solid short-sleeve me-mades.  I also wore my Oslos a lot, but that is no surprise, I am all about layers!

And that’s a wrap!  I may or my not choose to participate next year…. or more likely I will participate but might not worry so much about pictures!

Thanks for reading!  And again, if you have any questions or just want to say hi!  Please leave a comment!

Brenda

Sewing and Design Meet: Pebbles

Sewing and Design Meet Logo

It is time for another installment of “Sewing and Design Meet”.  This time I am sharing all about my Pebbles design and what I have made with it.  The majority of this post will be focused on the Lark Tee I sewed via a cut-and-sew project I ordered through Spoonflower’s sister site, Sprout Patterns, and I will be speaking a bit about that experience too.  At the end I’ll share a quick look at a simple winter accessories set I also made. This post is LONG.  If you don’t care about sewing details you can read about the design and then just scroll and look at all the photos 🙂

DESIGN:

Pebbles is a coordinate I created to go with my Sandcastles design as part of my Beach Bliss Collection.  I originally offered this print in 2 different colorways and then added a third one which does not actually color coordinate with the collection because I specifically created it for the winter accessories project.

Pebbles Pattern 3 Color Versions by Brenda Zapotosky

The Sandcastles design was created from hand drawings that I vectorized and turned into a pattern in Illustrator.  I included pebble details on the sandcastles and as background infill.  To create the Pebbles print I pulled out pebbles from the pattern and arranged them into vertical lines.  Below is a look at Sandcastles and some of the original hand drawings.  Most often, even if I do a hand drawing first, I completely redraw them in Illustrator, but this time I used auto trace since I wanted to maintain the feel of the hand drawing which I think matches the beach theme well.

Sandcastles Pattern and Illustrations by Brenda Zapotosky

 

FABRIC AND SPROUT PATTERNS:

Pebbles by Brenda Zapotosky on Modern Jersey Fabric
Design:  Pebbles Multicolored  Printed on:  Modern Jersey Fabric

Instead of purchasing “raw” fabric for this project I ordered my fabric AND pattern through Sprout Patterns.  If you are not familiar with Sprout they are one of Spoonflower’s sister companies.  With Sprout, you can order sewing patterns from a wide range of companies and designers printed directly on the fabric!  It is the ultimate, cut-and-sew: all you need to do is cut around the outlines of the pieces and start sewing!  With your Sprout purchase you also get a pdf copy of the pattern so you can sew it again in the future and also use the pieces for adjustments, etc.  (Which I definitely did).  I chose the Multicolored version of my Pebbles design printed on Modern Jersey.  Here is a look at a portion of the printed fabric where you can see a pattern piece and how the design continues on the unused fabric:

Pebbles Lark Tee Printed by Sprout 1

There are some pro’s and con’s to using Sprout and I think ultimately it will vary person to person on whether this sort of sewing experience is right for you.

PROS:

  • This is definitely a time saver.  Not only does it save you the time of printing and assembling a pdf or cutting out a paper pattern, but it saves on the time it takes to cut fabric too since all the arranging of the pieces on the fabric and lining up the grainlines etc. is already done for you.
  • You can order exactly the amount of fabric you need!  Instead of having to over buy on yardage numbers, the cut of fabric you get from Sprout will give you the fractional yards without having to buy a full 2 yards for example for a 1.5 yard project.  You can also mix and match fabric designs within a project… so if you want all your trim pieces to be a different fabric, you can select a different fabric design or even a solid color for those pieces.
  • Even though the fabric is sized to fit the pattern, for many projects there will still be some unused spaces leftover.  Sprout prints the fabric design on these areas too (as you can see in the photo) so you might end up with some bonus fabric pieces you can use for something else.  (I did end up NEEDING some of my extra, which you will read about below).

CON:

  • You can only choose to have one size printed… they do not grade between sizes.   If you are a “straight out of the package” size this is probably not even a con.  I am most definitely NOT a single size gal and this is a big issue for me.  I found a way to work around this and grade a bit between sizes which I will discuss in the sewing section of this post.

One last detail that is VERY important to note is that you MUST follow washing instructions.  I learned this the hard way as I shrunk my fabric, which changed the size and proportion of the pattern pieces!  I am so used to pre-washing my fabric in a blast of hot water and hot dryer to get the fabric to shrink as much as possible before I sew with it, I was basically on auto-pilot and did the same with this project.  BAD IDEA.  I was able to make it work, thankfully, but my shirt is a bit shorter as a result.  AND I had to cut new sleeves.  Thankfully they were the cap style and needed very little fabric and were able to fit on unused portions of the fabric but it is a bummer that I had to do that instead of saving those sections for a future project.

SEWING:

Lark Tee in Pebbles fabric by Brenda Zapotosky 1

The Lark Tee is a basic tee shirt with a ton of options.  For my Sprout project I chose the scoop neck with cap sleeves (but as I mentioned above you get the pdf so you get ALL the views and variations with it and can print it and use it like a regular pattern. I have already made several other versions).  I chose Modern Jersey as the fabric option.  The sewing is very straightforward so I won’t really go into that, but I do want to talk a little bit about grading the pattern.

I am pear shaped and in this pattern (and pretty much all Grainline top patterns per the SIZE CHART) I am a size 4 bust and my hips sort of hover between size 8 and 10.  But with Sprout you can only pick 1 size, so I had to do some creative thinking.  I have square shoulders and a wide upper back so I usually like to go up a size (to a 6) for my bust.  And since this was a stretchy tee, I figured I would be safe going with the size 8 for my hips.  So I ordered a size 8 with plans of using the pdf pattern pieces to grade the top smaller.  Of course needing to print and assemble ALL the tee pieces pretty much negated the fast and quick factor of Sprout, but I really wanted to try the whole process once to see how it worked, AND it was still faster having the pieces already outlined on the fabric since it saved me from laying them all out and finding the grain, etc.

As I mentioned above, I unknowingly shrunk my pieces, so when I laid the pattern pieces on the printed fabric things did NOT line up like I expected.  The fabric shrunk WAY MORE vertically then it did horizontally… so they weren’t smaller everywhere, more like squashed.  In the end it was almost good that I was grading it smaller, because I was able to fix this with my adjustments.  It did mean however, that the top got shorter.  AND, the size 6 sleeve piece did not fit within the outline.  Thankfully, there was enough extra fabric elsewhere to trace the sleeves.  After that was all worked out the sewing was easy!  Especially since I sewed it twice with other fabrics prior to cutting into the good stuff.

Lark Tee in Pebbles fabric by Brenda Zapotosky 3

Overall I am very happy with the fit of this tee.  I LOVE the size of the scoop neck! It is basically my “dream scoop”.  The sleeves are maybe a tad snug for cap sleeves and I would like the tee to be an inch longer (but that was the fault of the shrinkage).  I absolutely LOVE the Pebbles design as a tee, but the white background version might not have been the wisest choice. (Thankfully I ALWAYS wear a tank top under everything).  I also do not love it in Modern Jersey and wish I would have chosen the Cotton Spandex instead.  I have sewn a TON of things with Modern Jersey, I love the fabric, but for a tee shirt… it is just not breathable enough for my tastes.  But this is totally personal preference.  I am a natural fibers gal.

Lark Tee in Pebbles fabric by Brenda Zapotosky 4

Lark Tee in Pebbles fabric by Brenda Zapotosky 2

*** You might have noticed a pants change in these photos… I actually took photos on multiple occassions (months apart!) and locations.  I actually finished this top last year!  The blog post was so delayed I had a chance to take another round!

If you love this project and want to make one for yourself, here is the direct link to the Lark Tee on Sprout Patterns already combined with this design.  If you like the tee but don’t want to use Sprout Patterns you can also buy it from Grainline Studio directly.  It is also available as a paper pattern.

PROJECT #2:  Neck and Ear Warmer Matching Set

Pebbles Winter Set by Brenda Zapotosky

Technically this Project #1 since I made this well before the tee shirt but the blog post flows better to have it at the end.  Using the Drizzle colorway of the Pebbles design, printed again on Modern Jersey, I made a matching fleece-backed ear and neck warm set.  Both of these are self-drafted.  I love the fit of the ear warmer but I think I would tweak the neck warmer proportions should I make it again.  And I would not use the Modern Jersey again.  While I do love it for infinity scarfs, in this application where I backed it with fleece, a fabric with more structure like cotton spandex works better.  I have made several ear warmers and the ones that used cotton spandex are much smoother against the fleece.

That’s it!  You made it to the end!  Woop!  I actually have made one other item with some of Sprout leftovers, a headband, but I don’t have a good photo to share.  (And still have pieces left I could use as accents on a future project too!) I think I covered everything, but feel free to ask any questions or just say hello in the comments.

Thanks for reading!

Brenda

 

Fruit and Veggie Art Challenge: A-F

It is here!  The first blog recap of the 2018 Fruit and Veggie Art Challenge!  6 letters and 12 weeks completed!  Wow.  This new theme has been quite fun and overall, for me at least, easier than the Alphabet Animal Art Challenge from last year. If this is the first time you are learning about the 2018 Alphabet Art Challenge I recommend reading this blog post first.

Also, a side note:  I have been struggling with what simple word to use when writing about my illustrations.  I have settled on the generic combo fruit/veg to try to make things as simple as possible 🙂

Let’s start with a look at the first 6 illustrations I created:

A thru F Fruit and Veggies by Brenda Zapotosky

4 Veggies and 2 Fruits so far.  As I shared in the original blog post for this year’s theme, in addition to the Alphabet Fruits and Veggies I am also giving them all a “geometric” flare.  I am absolutely loving this twist on the theme as it frees me from trying to exactly recreate the fruit/veg I have chosen and gives me a bit of creative flexibility.  It is quite fun to choose my fruit/veg then think through the best way to geometrically create it.  In addition to the fruit/veg itself each illustration has a rectangle and hatching as part of the composition.  I added this for the first item, asparagus, to fill in the blank space and liked it so much I decided to make it a standard element for all the illustrations.  I think my favorite illustration this round is the Fennel, it was such a perfect fit for my geometric style.  Here is a closer look:

F is for Fennel by Brenda Zapotosky

I also really like the carrot.  In fact, I have already made it into a repeating pattern and added it to my Spoonflower Shop!  I think this Geometric Carrots print would be especially fun for the kitchen!

Geometric Carrots Pattern by Brenda Zapotosky Outlined

 

I anticipate more patterns in the future and probably a few that incorporate more than one fruit/veg. Those will probably come closer to the end or after the challenge once I have an entire collection.

Probably the biggest challenge I have encountered so far is fitting the fruit/veg well on my template.  I really liked the framed square I used for the Alphabet Animal Art Challenge and definitely wanted to keep the square format for this year too, however, so far the fruit/vegs have been much more vertical than the animals. Had I thought of this before starting I might have tweaked the format of the squares.  This is another good reason to incorporate the background rectangles and sticks as they help to fill the space.

Like last year, I extended an invitation for other artists to join me in the challenge. Not sure if fruit/veg are less appealing than animals, or that others found it too difficulat to stick to a year long challenge, but participation is down from last year.  (Actually last year started strong and then eventually everyone except myself dropped out).  3 other artists started the year with me.  I wanted to give them a shout out because I loved that they joined in.  And since there are less options with fruit/veg there were often repeat picks which I think is quite fun.  You can see all our creations on Instagram via the hashtag for the challenge:  #2018fruitandveggieartchallenge.  You can also check out all of the artist’s individual feeds:  onecreativechameleon, deevlasak, and jillbyersdesign

Jill from jillbyersdesign is the only artist that has also completed every letter and I wanted to give her a special mention!  She is also using a consistent design style and I absolutely LOVE how her collection is coming together!!!  Her style is so different from mine which is super fun.  Painting is NOT my strength, but I have done it enough to really appreciate the gift in others.  Jill definitely has the gift.  Here are her first 6 fruit/veg paintings!

Jill Byers A-F

So gorgeous, right?  I highly recommend giving her a follow on Instagram.  You can also find more of her work on her website and in her own Spoonflower shop (which is how we “met” in the first place!)

Speaking of other participants… you could still join in if you wanted!  I think that the fruit/veg are so much faster to create you could easily catch up at this point.  Or simply start at the latest letter:  G!  I even create a prompt list for each letter to give you ideas.  Find the latest one here.

I think that about covers it all.  I would love to hear which fruit/veg is your favorite!  Or any other comments you may have 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Brenda

Sewing and Design Meet: Transit Lines

Sewing and Design Meet Logo

It is time for another edition of Sewing and Design Meet!  This time I am sharing about my Transit Lines design and the tote bag I made with it. This design is part of the City Collection which can be found in my Spoonflower shop.

DESIGN:

Transit Lines by Brenda Zapotosky

When putting together a new collection I don’t often sit down and sketch out ideas for coordinates but for CITY I actually did.  My original idea for the Transit Lines design was to have criss-crossing lines going in many directions, similar to a subway map.  However, as I started drawing it in Illustrator I really loved the look of just the horizontal lines with the thickened bars and decided to take it in that direction instead.  I love how the pattern is a versatile stripe and yet, when paired with its title, can easily (I think) invoke images of the city site that inspired it.  Whether you interpret the thick bars as trains or stations is up to you!  I also really love the color palette I decided on for this print: mostly neutral but with pops of color.

FABRIC: 

Transit Lines on Eco Canvas by Brenda Zapotosky BLOG

A few years ago Spoonflower had an awesome and rare 50% off sale on Eco Canvas and I ordered a couple of yards.  One yard I divided into (2) 1/2 yard pieces with the intention to make a tote bag with each of them, although at the time I did not have a specific pattern picked out.  I ended up choosing free tote patterns from Purl Soho for both of the totes.  I have a previous blog post about the first one I made, the Railroad Tote, and some zipper pouches I made with the extras.  I chose the Everyday Tote for the Transit lines design as I thought the more horizontal shape would suit it well.

The Eco Canvas has pluses and minuses for me personally.  On the plus side: It washes and sews well and colors are bright and vibran.  On the minus side: It is  much softer and drapier than other canvases which is something I do not like.  But I think this is really just a personal preference. I gave the Railroad Tote to my mom and she loves that soft quality.  When making the zipper pouches I decided to interface the Eco Canvas portions and I was much happier with the structure.  So for the Everyday Tote I knew I wanted to interface those pieces.  I needed to do some construction changes to accommodate this (Along with a bunch of other construction changes) which I detail below.

SEWING:

There were a lot of steps to making this bag, including some extra ones that came along with my changes, but otherwise it was straight forward and easy to sew.  I didn’t take a lot of in-progress photos (my sewing space is not photo friendly) and it was difficult to get a good overall look of the bag.  Here is the best one:

Transit Lines Tote by Brenda Zapotosky 3

As mentioned above, I made several construction changes when sewing up this bag.  I knew I wanted to interface the Eco Canvas pieces and since the bag isn’t lined, I needed to underline at least those portions so that the interfacing was not exposed.  After contemplating solutions for this, I decided to also change how the bag panels were sewn.  Per the instructions, you cut two full side pieces from what eventually becomes the “upper” fabric, and then cut bottom panels of the “lower” fabric which go over top the first fabric on just the bottom portion.  There are some good reasons to sew the bag this way.  It ensures you aren’t relying on a horizontal seam to hold the top and bottom half of the bag together and it creates a nice double layer for the bag base.  But, it meant that 1/2 of my good patterned fabric was going to be covered which I wasn’t crazy about.  So, I decided to instead cut both pieces at half height and let the seam where the bias “piping” detail is connect them together.  Since the bag side pieces were already cut, I chose to cut one in half height wise and that determined the height of my bag (and preserved a nice FQ sized piece of the Transit Lines for a future project!).  I sewed the top and bottom halves together with the accent bias “piping” in between.  I then UNDERLINED the entire height of the bag sides with a coordinating quilting cotton that I had leftover from the previous Eco Canvas projects.  I quilted this to the bag panels which helped provide the extra stability I lost when I changed the construction.  The quilting, despite using a walking foot AND having design lines to follow, is kind of wonky… Quilting is not my forte!  Despite the lackluster quilting, I absolutely love the end result inside the bag.  I think the quilted underlining really gives the bag a high quality look!

Transit Lines Tote by Brenda Zapotosky 1

Other changes I made:

  • I flip flopped from the directions which fabric I used for the front and back of the pocket so that I could enjoy more of the print.  I also made the pocket wider since there was plenty of room to do so.
  • I changed the order of sewing so that the folded over top hem of the bag was sewn last.  I did this on my Railroad Tote too.  By saving it until last the tops of the side seams are concealed instead of exposed.
  • Longer straps.  I like to wear my bag over my shoulder and longer straps make it more comfortable when I do.

I chose to use 2 different colors of bias tape instead of one and I am very happy with the results.  On areas where I wanted the trim and finishing to stand out (like on the exterior seam or around the top of the tote fold over hem) I used black.  To finish all the interior seams I used white.

Transit Lines Tote by Brenda Zapotosky 5

Transit Lines Tote by Brenda Zapotosky 4

Transit Lines Tote by Brenda Zapotosky 6
DETAILS! Pretty details are one of the “perks” of sewing your own!  Like rotating the print to be vertical on the pocket.

The webbing I used for the straps (linked at the end) is a bit industrial.  It works ok… especially since the Eco Canvas is also a synthetic, but I wouldn’t get it again.  I purchased a large roll of it and have a lot leftover, so it will probably pop up in another project at some point. It was a really good deal though, and should be pretty durable (I hope).

I was hoping that this bag would work as my music bag and I am happy to report that it works perfectly!  My previous bag was a freebie tote that I got when I worked in Architecture.  It was rather ugly and advertised a window company that I am not even a big fan of (otherwise I might have posted a “before” photo).  I love having my new “chic” bag that is me-made and features one of my own designs!  It holds all my music, books, and misc. with room to spare! (And even packed can sling over my shoulder!)

Transit Lines Tote by Brenda Zapotosky 2

DETAILS SUMMARY:

(I have seen others do a summary like this and think it is a fun way to provide quick access info all in one place. I will probably make it a regular feature of my sewing posts.)  

Pattern:  Free Everyday Tote from Purl Soho

Fabrics:

Notions:

  • Pellon Interfacing, Lightweight, Fusible (I can’t remember the exact #)
  • 1 package each white and black bias tape
  • HipGirl 1 1/4″ Black Polypro Webbing
  • Sewing label designed by me and printed by Spoonflower

That about wraps it up!  If I missed a detail that you would like to know about feel free to ask in the comments!

Thanks for Reading!

Brenda

 

Handmade Christmas Gifts 2017: PART 2

Handmade Christmas Gifts 2017 Part 2 Rectangle

Today I am back with the second installment of my Handmade Christmas Gifts 2017 Recap!  If you missed it, you might want to start with Part 1 as it gives some general context, etc.

The projects I am sharing this round are mostly apparel but there is one fun/silly non-clothing item bonus project at the end!  But first…

RAGLAN TOP AND COORDINATING MINI-COWL NECK SCARF:

Eggplant Bethioua by Brenda Zapotosky with Words

I sewed up this combo for my mom, who is one of my biggest fans and is always so appreciative of the items I make for her.  She is a pleasure to sew for and thus I have made her many items over the past few years.  She has a lot of Brenda-Made clothing that was either made specifically for her or was an item that didn’t work for me.  So for her gift I wanted to make her something from a “new to her” pattern.  I have sewn up the Bethioua Raglan top once before for myself and my mom loves it so I thought it was a great choice for her gift.  For the main fabric I chose this awesome Eggplant French Terry from Raspberry Creek Fabrics.  I love this “line” of french terry fabrics that Raspberry Creek carries because they are a cotton/spandex blend!  And jewel-tones are a good color on my mom.

Bethioua 3 Views by Brenda Zapotosky

Originally I planned on using some charcoal gray cotton spandex for the cuffs and collar but I had a scrap of this AGF knit (from the Etno Collection, can’t remember the design name) sitting on my table when I was working on this and they looked so perfect together I decided to use it instead.  I like how it adds a really special and unique touch to the sweatshirt.  AND, after I cut the shirt pieces I had a perfectly sized piece left to make a mini-cowl!!!  Bonus Gift!  I just love how it pairs with the shirt.

The Pattern:  I have sort of mixed feelings about this pattern.  The Bethioua Raglan (which I purchased from Indie Sew) is a a fun one, since it has some special details that set it apart from other raglan tops, including subtle bat wing sleeves and really awesome curved back seams where the sleeves attach (instead of the usual angled raglan connection).  Both big pluses.  It also has shoulder darts… which is a minus for me.  I have made this pattern twice now, and I am just not sold on them.  I am not sure if I am not sewing them correctly… since on other examples I have seen they do not stick up like they do on mine.  Or if they are more pronounced when using heavier fabric.  Or they need to fit just right to look good.  But I am not loving them.  (In fact I am now wary of trying any other design that has shoulder darts!)  If I make this pattern again, I am going to try to eliminate them by modifying the pattern piece.  I also have an issue with the sleeve cuffs.  I think the size the pattern instructs you to cut (there is no pattern piece) is definitely too skinny. There are actually 2 size options close-fitting and over-sized.  But even the bigger sized ones are too small.  This is a super easy modification but I did want to point it out so if you are making the pattern you can consider cutting them bigger from the get-go.  You might want to taper the sleeve bottoms a bit wider to match (although I did not).  As a reference, I have SUPER skinny wrists and small hands… and they are definitely too tight for me.

My mom was just commenting this weekend about how much she loves this top and how in the french terry it is like wearing pajamas out and about!  I am considering this gift a TOTAL WIN!

MOMMY AND ME RAGLANS

Next up is a pair of coordinating raglans I made for my sister-in-law and niece.

Mommy and Me Raglans by Brenda Zapotosky

I was assigned my sister-in-law Julie for our Christmas gift exchange and I had her show me some of the patterns I have made myself that she would like also.  Then I picked from there.  I chose one of my most TNT (Tried and true) patterns, the Lane Raglan by Hey June Handmade!

For the fabric I chose this gorgeous Dear Stella knit.  It was my first time sewing with a Dear Stella fabric and I was super impressed with the quality.  I especially loved that the fabric was the coral color all the way thru with just the scallops being the printing (instead of it have a white back like a lot of printed knits.)  I purchased it through Hawthorne Threads (and I wanted to give them a shout out because I am a big fan of their store) but it is no longer available there.  You can however find it here.  This was a pretty straight forward sew.  I did cuffed 3/4 sleeves, so I did do a custom sleeve length/cuff combo for that.

When I purchased fabric for the Lane I bought a little more than I needed for long sleeves, totally forgetting that Julie said she preferred 3/4 or short sleeves… So I knew I was definitely going to have extra fabric leftover and I thought it would be super adorable to make my niece a top to match her mom’s!  Using the size I thought I needed to make, it turned out that I did NOT have enough to make an entire long-sleeved top from the leftovers.  Believe me, I TRIED!  Multiple patterns and pattern hacks were tested.  I needed to bring in another fabric and this solid white scrap from stash was the best matching fabric I had.  And even with that scrap the Raglan Sweatshirt pattern I chose (from Brindille and Twig) still BARELY fit!  Basically I cut one piece at a time starting from biggest to smallest, maximizing the scraps and barely fitting every piece (except maybe the cuffs)!  In fact, the sleeves did not fit fully, I had to shorten those and use extra tall cuffs to make up the difference.  I used my puzzle solving skills to the max on this one!!!

Nieces Raglan Shirt sewn by Brenda Zapotosky

AND THEN… it turns out… the shirt is WAY TOO BIG ON HER!!!!!!!!!!!  Wah, wah!  Oh well. I’d rather have it too big, because it will fit eventually… but I did long sleeves on purpose so she could wear it now.  Not sure a size smaller would have fit on just the Dear Stella fabric anyways.  So… it is more like a dress.  But I think she likes it, because she has special requested to wear it!  🙂

My plans for nice modeled photos fell thru, twice, but Julie got some photos of them together and I found one that was pretty good.  (Bad lighting so not super clear, but gives you a sense of fit).  I still think they look pretty cute together, even if my niece is swimming in hers!

Mommy and Me Raglans

BONUS PROJECT: FLEECE AND FELT SPOON SLEEVE

 

This super quick little project was a bonus gift for my 2 1/2 year old nephew.  He LOVES cooking!  And he loves REAL cooking tools.  So as a fun little gift I decided to give him his very one “big person” spoon for all his play cooking.  To jazz it up a gift I thought a special holder for it would be fun.  This was created entirely with scraps and entirely on the fly. I just kind of made it up as I went.  The navy is fleece and the orange is a piece of leftover felt from another gift I made my nephew for his first birthday!  (You can see what that was and read all about it in this post).

Fleece Spoonholder by Brenda Zapotosky

The spoon does fit inside completly, I just thought it would be cute to take of photo of it popping out a little!

AND… That’s a wrap!  Phew!  I am finding these blog posts that cover a lot of projects to be a great deal of work!  I hope you enjoyed reading them!  (Because then the work is worth it!)  It is also my 5th blog post this month!  Wow!  I definitely won’t be this prolific all year long.  But I already have my plan for my next blog post and hope to be posting more regularly throughout the year!

Thanks for Reading!

Brenda

Handmade Christmas Gifts 2017: PART 1

Handmade Christmas Gifts 2017 Part 1 Rectangle

Today I am excited to finally start sharing with you all the gifts I made for this past Christmas.  I think it is fun to do a post like this, not only to share sewing details, but also to perhaps inspire ideas for handmade gifts. If you want even more inspiration you can read my Handmade Christmas Gifts 2016 post!  I am finding there are A LOT of details to share, so I have decided to break it up into a PART 1 and PART 2 so that the posts are not overwhelmingly long.  Today I will focus of the gifts I made using my own fabric designs, since that always adds an extra layer of information.

It is a tough business sewing for Christmas:  deadline looming, personal projects get delayed or on hold, and you have to keep a lot of secrets!  (really tough for me when I am excited about a make).  Learning a lesson from past years, I started REALLY EARLY this year and yet, somehow STILL found myself down to the wire.  In my defense, I added a few gifts not originally planned AND lost some sewing time I expected to have.  So I was still sewing on Dec. 23!!!  But I got it all done and everything was well received!

NAPKINS AND TRIVETS

Stacked Picnic Napkins by Brenda Zapotosky

First up is a set of cloth napkins and matching trivets I made with one of my own fabric designs:  Picnic (Sunny).  This is actually the newest colorway for this design and I created it specifically with this project in mind.  I chose this print because I think it is a modern take on both plaid and check and perfect for a kitchen.  The colors were picked to match the recipients’ dinnerware.  I really love how this palette turned out and might need to look into offering all the designs in the Flutter Collection in this new colorway.  I ordered 1 yard printed on Spoonflower’s organic cotton sateen.

Since this print has a natural cutting point built in, I let the white space breaks in the pattern squares determine my size options for the napkins.  Ultimately I decided to make 8 out of the yard I had.  They turned out a little small… but not unusable, just smaller than you would expect.  (Perhaps I could have made a smaller hem).  This was my first time sewing mitered corners.  32 mitered corners!  Yeah.  That got old pretty quick.  I found this tutorial from Colette very helpful.  I did the sewn and topstitched version.  Below is a zoomed in look at the corners as well as a “styled” photo with silverware.

Picnic Napkins 2 photos by Brenda Zapotosky
Design: Picnic (Sunny), printed on Organic Cotton Sateen by Spoonflower

I had a good sized strip of fabric leftover so I decided to make a few trivets to go along with the set.  I went with a slight rectangle instead of square for two reasons: 1.  I thought they would be a bit more practical for oblong and rectangle serving dishes and 2.  The fabric shrunk more in one direction than the other, so even if I cut it an equal number of design pattern squares wide and long they would not be square.  (In fact the napkins are not exact squares for this very reason.)  I backed the trivets in a light yellow quilting cotton.

Picnic Trivets by Brenda Zapotosky

KIDDO HATS

Checkered Christmas Hats by Brenda Zapotosky 2

These are created from the FREE pattern for the Blizzard Bonnet by sweetkm. It didn’t take long after seeing this project to know that I wanted to make them for my niece and nephew.  They are both 2 1/2 yrs old, born just 3 weeks apart.  It is hard to resist making them something matching and I thought this little hat was so adorable!  Like a little Gnome hat.  In hindsight, maybe I should not have gotten caught up in the cuteness so much, as I am not sure how much they will actually wear these.  (Although my niece did request to wear it at a birthday celebration!  Ha Ha Ha!  It is a party hat!)

They were surprisingly fun to sew up.  Even the bias binding, which I usually loathe, sewed up so well!  I think because it is sewn twice, instead of just sandwiching over it the edge, which made it “ok” to miss the back side edge in places as it was already sewn down.  I actually changed the sewing of the bias tape from the directions.  I first sewed it to the INSIDE of the hat and then flipped it to the outside.  And I edge stitched on the front instead of stitching in the ditch.  Aside from that, the only other change I made was to lengthen the ties.  I do want to note that SIZING  was a conundrum for me.  The toddler size, which is what I consider a 2 1/2 year old to be, look super small to me.  (I sewed up a quick tester with a scrap of fleece.) I ended up making the small child size and it is perfect.  (My mom did do a stealth head measure of my niece for me.)

Checkered Christmas Hat Festive by Brenda Zapotosky

Checkered Christmas Hat Merry by Brenda Zapotosky

I used my own fabric design for this project as well.  I actually created a brand new design: Checkered Christmas, to coordinate with my Classic Christmas Collection.  I ordered 1 fat quarter of both the Festive and Merry colorways on the Lightweight Cotton Twill.  After getting my fat quarters I decided to tweak design a little, so the designs as listed are slightly different than what can be seen on the hats (Same overall look and colors, just in different places).  I used white fleece to line them and Jungle Green bias tape (by Wrights) for all the finishing (That color is a very good match to this print).  Even in the second largest size, thanks to wider width of the fabric, I have a lot of this twill leftover for a future project.

I am ending with two ADORABLE photos of my nephew and niece “modelling” their hats!  Shout out to my brother-in-law Jacob (of The Traveling Photo Booth) for taking these great photos and to my sister Deanna (of DLynn Design) for using her AMAZING Photoshop skills to crop out all the Christmas chaos in these photos!

O and C together in Checkered Christmas Hats

If I left out a detail you would like to know about please ask in the comments!  And stay tuned for PART 2!!!

Thanks for reading,

Brenda