New Collection, New Collaboration

Happy February! Spring is around the corner and spring is in the air with a new collection that I am excited to share with you today that is actually a collection WITHIN a collection! Intrigued? Read on to learn all about this new collaboration!

Many months ago a group of us Spoonflower designers joined together to create a color cohesive collection for a Spring release. This is not the first time this group of designers has a created a group collection in this way but it IS my first time joining in the fun! We began by choosing a colorway. Designers were allowed to submit color palettes that we as a group then voted on. The winning colorway is very bright and bold (and a little out of my usual comfort zone to be honest). I do think it is quite lovely for spring!

Once we finalized the colors we moved on to the design phase! While technically this is our Spring Release Collection we did not have to create solely spring themed designs. Since these colors were so bold and playful (and slightly girly) I drew inspiration from my 6 year old niece and designs I thought she would love.. Some brand new and some a new color version of older designs (from several different collections). My collection is called PLAYTIME TEA PARTY!

Playtime Tea Party features whimsical prints inspired by imaginary tea parties and dress up fun! All my designs can be found together in one COLLECTION in my shop. I already have a second colorway in the works and an additional design which will be added to it over time. The designs can also be found in various collections elsewhere on Spoonflower where they are grouped with all the other designer’s patterns.

To keep the group collection to a manageable size and aide shoppers in finding great prints and coordinates there are actually 6 separate collections featuring our spring colors. The main collection features a wide range of design styles, basically we could submit up to 5 designs of anything we liked as long as they met the color guidelines. Here are the 5 designs of mine that you can find it the MAIN COLLECTION:

In addition to the main collection there are 5 sub-collections featuring popular coordinate categories: Basics, Blenders, Florals, Plaid, Checks

I have 3 designs in two of those categories. Two in BASICS

And then one in CHECKS

While not all styles will compliment each other, by designing in a color cohesive collection like this the number of options buyers have to mix and match greatly increases! I did not add any designs to the other collections (some of my designs could fit but I chose to put them in the main collection) but they are definitely worth checking out as they are filled with lovely designs! Here are the links:

BLENDERS

PLAID

FLORALS

I am very excited to be a part of these collections! There are a lot of really great designs. One thing I find very interesting, similar to when I have participated in a Spoonflower limited palette challenge, is how very different the colors can look when applied in different combos and ratios from different designers. For a collection that was limited in color… the spectrum of design differences is big! And really quite fun! Between the 6 sub-collections there are more than 1000 designs from 59 different designers… there should be a little something for everyone!

We are using the hashtag: #designerspr22 on all our social posts and designerspr22 as a search tag on Spoonflower in case you would like to follow along with everyone’s posts or see all the designs not divided by collection.

I will end this post with one final look at all of my designs in a collage together.

And as always… Thanks for reading!

Brenda

Autumn Artwork Showcase

Hello All! It has been quite a long time since I have written a new blog post. I never intended to take such a big break. Oops! We are long past welcoming in Autumn, but since it is my FAVORITE season I thought that before it exits I could dedicate a post to some of my Autumn Art!

My Spoonflower Shop has so many designs tagged Autumn and/or Fall I decided to dedicate an entire COLLECTION to the theme. These designs are gathered from many other Collections and do not all necessarily color coordinate with one another, their common bond is that they evoke the colors or images of Autumn.

One of the designs in that Collection and actually one of the very first patterns I ever uploaded to Spoonflower is my Pumpkins and Squash Design. This one I adapted from a note card I designed.

I also have a design that features only Pumpkins. I created this from an Illustration I did for the Alphabet Fruit and Veggie Challenge from a few years back. As you can see Geometric Pumpkins is VERY different in style. This is interesting to me. I think my signature style is definitely more refined now and while I don’t feel the need to make everything geometric I do tend to gravitate to that stylistic choice a lot. If I was going to choose a pattern that felt more “me” I would choose the geometric pumpkins…

I didn’t do a regular Art Challenge in 2021 (which is of course just one of the many reasons for the lack of blog posts) but I have done a few different ones in the past. You might recall the monthly architecture/house illustrations I did where I followed along with the seasons. I ended up with two fun Autumn themed illustrations in that batch:

I also had a year long Alphabet Animal Art Challenge. I did NOT have a turkey included in that Collection. But I eventually created one in the same style. I am not sure if an animal can really qualify as a seasonal species but if there was an autumn specific animal I think it would definitely have to be a turkey! I did two versions of this cute guy. The second time giving him more detail and some Thanksgiving garb!

I’ll end this post with a look at a few more patterns from the autumn colorway of my Kiku Garden Collection:

I hope you have enjoyed this little Autumn design tour! Do you have a favorite from this mix? Are you an Autumn lover too? As always feel free to drop a comment! And enjoy the season!

Brenda

Alphabet City Art Challenge: Year End Recap

Alphabet City Art Challenge Final Review by Brenda Zapotosky

It is time for the Year End Recap for the Alphabet CITY Art Challenge!  I’ll share my overall thoughts at the end.  But first let’s start by looking at the illustrations!

26 Alphabet City Illustrations by Brenda Zapotosky

What a great mix!  I love the variety in the group as a whole.  It is a great collection overall!

It is interesting seeing the variating and color distribution of the title stripes since I just sort of picked colors randomly as I went (Trying to use the three color options evening but not really paying attention to how the final mix would look).  When I created the Clock Tower I loved how title stripe was layered behind the clock tower (out of neccessity).  I hoped to have more boards like this but if never really worked out again.

One thing I love about the this group that wasn’t true with the previous two challenges is the consistancy of color!  I began with a set color palette already in place from my CITY Collection.  It was this Collection that also inspired the overall look and scale of the illustrations and I love that I now have many more buildings to add to all the existing ones I originally created for my Around the Town design:

Around the Town Promo by Brenda Zapotosky

There a large number of illustrations that do not incorporate with these because of scale, or view, or “levels” (like the subway).  But there are many that do.  When it worked, I was consistant with door height etc so that all the “regular” scale ones CAN work together.  In the course of the Challenge I did create a few street view illustrations here is a reminder of what they look like:

2 CITY Street Views by Brenda Zapotosky

It is impossible for me to pick a favorite out of the group or even a top 3.  Instead you can read about more about my thoughts on the groupings of illustrations in the 3 previous Recaps (linked at the end of this post).

Also part of the Challenge were the CITY Blocks I created for each letter.  Here is a look at them all together:

26 CITY Letter Blocks by Brenda Zapotosky

The look of these were inspried by the original CITY Collection Logo.  All letters are my own original font:

CITY Original Lettering by Brenda Zapotosky Online

I love this font overall and definitely plan on using it in the future.  I will probably need to do a few tweaks.  I did not like the “B” when I created it… and I still don’t!  But I never got around to editing it.

Unlike the previous challenges I have not created any new patterns or cards featuring these illustrations.  I do have a project planned for them AND the font!  A very exciting one in fact.  But it is something I am keeping secret for the moment.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Overall I think this challenge was easier to execute than the others since architecture is already a strength of mine.  And I really enjoy drawing buildings and built spaces so it was mostly fun.  But having to stick to the alphabet was not always enjoyable. And of course there is the deadline of the 2 week time frame…

So for 2020 I have decided that there will not be an alphabet challenge.  While it is a great way to motivate me to create new art pieces on a regular basis, the alphabet component is too constraining.  Also… this has been an Instagram centered challenge and with all the algorythym changes the posts just aren’t getting much engagement.  This wouldn’t be such an issue if these posts were spread across multiple platforms.  But if the main place I am sharing the art isn’t showing the art to many people, then I am mostly just creating for myself.  With that in mind… I think my design time will be better spent elsewhere.

To those have been following along and liking etc for the past year (or longer) BIG THANKS!  To those just reading about this challenge here are the previous posts so you can catch up!

And that’s a wrap!  After 3 straight years of Alphabet Challenges I look forward to a change!  I hope you will follow along with me on Instagram as I share more new work this year (including a NEW, non-alphabet challenge I will be doing monthly).

THANKS for Reading!  And feel free to comment below.  I love hearing your thoughts!

Brenda

Sewing: Handmade Ornaments

Checkered Christmas by Brenda Zapotosky Tree Ornaments

Today I am sharing with you an easy handmade Christmas gift idea that you can make with SCRAPS!  Yay!  Scrap busting ideas are always welcome to me!  Hopefully they are for you too!  And since you can use scraps, you could sew up a few of these in time for Christmas. (You could change up the batting if you don’t have it on hand).

This is sort of a simplified tutorial (my first ever!)  I’ll describe how I made these in a few short steps but no photos of the process.

But first:  The fabric!  The main fabric I used for these ornaments was one of my own designs:  Checkered Christmas, in both the Merry (top) and Festive (bottom) colorways.

Checkered Christmas Promo By Brenda Zapotosky
Checkered Christmas is part of my Classic Christmas Collection

I originally purchased this fabric for another Christmas gift project which you can read about in this POST.  The fabric type was Spoonflower’s Lightweight Cotton Twill (but you could used any woven type of fabric you’d like).  I paired it with some Forest Green Canvas in my stash.  I cut the main fabric at an angle to add a little visual interest and fused it with a layer of batting to give it some extra thickness.  The ribbon for the loops was also in my stash.  You could also use embroidery thread, yarn, or even a tiny loop of thread for an ornament hook to attach.

Checkered Christmas by Brenda Zapotosky Tree Ornaments 3

HOW TO:

Before diving in I want to say that these instructions are for a medium weight fabric like the Canvas Twill.  If you choose something lighter, like quilting cotton, you may want to interface pieces, add fusible batting to the trunk, or even have the batting on both pieces of the triangle.  You want to make sure there is a enough stability that they can hang nicely.

Step 1:  For each ornament CUT:  (2) Tree Top Triangles, (2) Tree Trunk Rectangles, and  (1) Fusible batting triangle approx 3/8″ smaller all around than the tree triangle. (See Diagram at the end of post for dimensions).

Step 2:  Fuse 1 side only of the tree top triangle with the batting. (You could skip this step or interface with non-batting instead.)

Step 3:  Sew tree trunk rectangles right sides together on 3 sides with a 1/4″ SA, leaving the top unsewn.  Clip corners, turn right side out and press well.

Step 4:  Sew tree top triangles right sides together with a 1/4″ SA, leaving an opening in the bottom center slightly wider than the finished outside dimensions of the tree trunk rectangle.  Clip corners, turn right side out and press well.

Step 5:  Insert the trunk into the bottom of the tree, unsewn side up approx. 1/4″  Secure with a pin, washable tape etc.

Step 6:  Add top attachment piece of your choosing.  For my trees I secured the ribbon loops to the top of the trees with a few hand sewn loops of thread.  I THINK I did this before sewing the tree opening closed so I could hide the knotted ends INSIDE the tree.

Step 7:  Top-stitch around entire tree outline with a 1/8″ SA (which will attach the trunk to the tree top).

And Voila!  Your simple ornament is finished!  Repeat steps 1-7 for as many as you’d like.  As you can see below I made A LOT of these!

Checkered Christmas by Brenda Zapotosky Tree Ornaments 2

I hope this tutorial was helpful.  If a step is unclear please let me know so I can clarify!

CUTTING DIAGRAM:

Tree Ornaments Cutting Information by Brenda Zapotosky

These are the approximate dimensions for my trees.  I made these for Christmas 2018 and the trunk might have been sized slightly differently.  I had hoped to have a pdf download of the “pattern” as part of this post.  (and may add it in the future).  For now, if you would like a printable copy of the pieces let me know and I can send them too you.

Thanks for much for reading!  If you make this and share online please be sure to tag me so I can see your creation!  On Instagram: @brendazapotosky

Merry Christmas!

Brenda

 

 

Me-Made-May 2019

MMMay Title Photo Mint Modal Chai Tee Brenda Zapotosky

Hi folks!  It is time for my Me Made May 2019 recap!  If you follow me on Instagram you have seen some of the looks already, but this is the only place I am posting ALL of the outfits.  As in past years I am grouping them by week and numbering them by DATE.  Also as in past years, I only took photos on the days I was out and about in “real” clothes.  Honestly I have TONS of lounge and pajama bottoms that I wear almost daily, so I was probably wearing something handmade most days, but I did not document those.

This May was a lot cooler than in past years!  (No complaints there, I LOVE cooler weather, anything over 80 degrees Fahrenheit is too hot for me!) So you’ll be seeing lots of layers.  Most of what I wore were older garments.  I thought I was going to weave in some of my newest makes (including a brand new pair of cropped pants) but the warm enough days did not coincide with the opportunity to wear them.  Since most of these makes are older, I will only be linking to my own fabric designs, since those are still available. I will link to all the patterns I used the FIRST time they are shown.  So if you don’t see a link, scroll back up to the first time I mentioned the pattern.  Also, I apologize in advance for the grainy selfies.  We don’t have a great place to take photos inside our house and the ipod I used to take them doesn’t have the greatest resolution.  Ok.  Let’s dive in!

WEEK 1:

No documented outfits

WEEK 2:

MMMay 2019 Week 2

May 5Oslo Cardigan by Seamwork, Lane Raglan by Hey June Handmade, Infinity scarf featuring my Spines (Siesta) design printed on Cotton Spandex Jersey.  The Lane and Oslo patterns, in my many variations, are both on heavy repeat this month.  They are wardrobe staples… as are scarves!

May 7:  Almost a repeat of May 5!!!  Ha Ha.  Oslo Cardigan, in fleece this time, Lane Raglan, Infinity Scarf featuring my SW Triangles Haze design printed on Modern Jersey, and thumbhole wrist warmers made from the same fabric as the Lane.

May 10:  Another Lane!  Another Infinity Scarf!  But a different cardigan this time!  This is the Blackwood Cardigan by Helen’s Closet.

WEEK 3:

MMMay 2019 Week 3

May 12:  RTW inspired french terry pull-over that was a mash-up of the Halifax Hoodie by Hey June Handmade and the Tabor V-Neck (hem detail) by Sew House Seven with some custom detailing (like the yoke and top-stitching) to mimic the RTW look.  I posted more photos of this make and more details in THIS post.

May 14:  Julia Cardigan by Mouse House Creations and a Lane Raglan.  This lane is made out of Robert Kaufman Laguna Knit, it is one of my absolute favorite CL.  Lighter and drapier than most, but still a nice weight.  A lot of my me-mades in this post were made from it (Including the May 10th Lane and the May 17th Lane).  You can find it in a lot of online stores.

May 17:  ANOTHER Lane Raglan (custom sleeve length).

May 18:  Another Julia Cardigan, this time paired with a custom tee pattern I have been developing from the Renfrew Top by Sewaholic.  It is my “fancy” tee version.  Actually, since taking this photo, I have modified the neck finish one this one so it dips down more.  Bag is also me-made.

WEEK 4:

MMMay 2019 Week 4

May 19:  Chambray Cheyenne Tunic by Hey June Handmade with custom short sleeves.  This was a newly “made over” garment and I was super excited to bring back into rotation.  I shared about my modifications in THIS post.  I was most likely wearing a handmade cardigan over top but I honestly can’t remember which one and I don’t have a photo with it.

May 24: Oslo Cardigan, Knit Skirt (self-drafted starting from a RTW skirt) and Infinity scarf featuring my Petal Potpourri (Bold) and Sprigs and Leaves (Bold) designs printed on Modern Jersey.

WEEK 5:

MMMay 2019 Week 5

May 26:  Another Oslo Cardigan over a brand new make, the Chai Tee by Liesl & Co.  View of just the top is the first photo of this blog post so you can have a closer look.  I shared the details in THIS post.  Headband is also me-made.

May 28: Halifax Hoodie (An actual zip up hoodie version this time), Another version of my custom Renfrew hack fancy tee, and handmade tote.  I call this one my cool tones geometrics tote, made with all my original pattern designs.  You can see a close up look at it in THIS post and find the fabrics in this COLLECTION (a few have been modified in scale, color, etc before I listed them).

May 29:  Morris Blazer (with quite a few mods) by Grainline Studio and a Renfrew Top by Sewaholic (This time MOSTLY per the pattern, I did eliminate the short sleeve bands, which you can’t see anyways).  The blazer was made a while ago, I shared all the mods in THIS post.

May 31:  Last Day!  We actually took a road trip to IKEA that day and I was SUPER comfy in these #secretpajamas Oslo Cardigan (same one as on May 24) and my first ever Coastal Breeze Dress by Make it Perfect (also made in RK Laguna knit).  I have since made 3 more of this dress.  Another favorite pattern.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Overall I would call Me Made May 2019 a success!  Sure, I had a lot of pattern repeats, but I am ok with that.  One of the things I love about sewing is getting to create garments that really work for me and my body.  And when I like a garment, I make a lot of them!  Especially since I often do a lot of mods to get them how I want them, might as well maximize that effort. And actually, I think it is quite fun to see all the variety and variations you can achieve with just ONE pattern!  I am a bit disappointed that three brand new makes never made it into the mix.  I was especially excited to show off the pants I made.  And I expected to wear my newest Coastal Breeze dress (finished MONTHS ago) to a night out… but it only works with bare legs and it has not been bare leg weather (for me anyways). (In fact 2 of those 3 makes are still unworn!) But as I said at the beginning, I LOVE this cooler spring we have been having, and I will get to show off those makes eventually!

I hope you enjoyed this recap!  If you have any specific questions about fit/modifications that I did not share or link.  Want to know about a fabric I used.  Or would simply like to share a comment I would love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

Announcing the 2019 Alphabet Art Challenge!

It is that time of the year again friends.  Time to announce the theme for next year’s Alphabet Art Challenge.  I have to be honest… I seriously considered NOT doing a 2019 challenge.  They are a lot of work and sometimes the obligation to create something was more annoying than fun.  I am hoping with a little reworking of my task parameters it will be a bit easier this time around.  This will be the third year I am hosting this challenge.  You can read about the original 2017 Animal Challenge HERE and last year’s 2018 Fruit and Veggie Challenge HERE.

Ok.  Without further ado the 2019 theme is: CITY!!!

REVISED Alphabet City Art Challenge Title by Brenda Zapotosky

One of the reasons I decided to do a 2019 challenge is this theme.  I already have a CITY Collection in my Spoonflower Shop and I want to use this year of illustrations to grow that collection of patterns and expand into other coordinating works including greeting cards.  For those who may not know, my field of study was actually Architecture and I have found that designs of mine that incorporate buildings etc tend to do well.  I would like to play on this strength but also still challenge myself.  I think this challenge will do both.  For each letter of the alphabet I will create something CITY related.  This could be a building:  bank, library, skyscraper etc.  But I am not limiting it to only buildings.  ANYTHING that can be found in a city is fair game.  (And let’s face it, creativity will probably be required for some of the letters!).

One big change I will making for this year’s challenge is that I will NOT be posting a list of prompts for each letter.  My original reason for doing the lists was to give others ideas of what they could create for each letter.  And while these lists DO get a surprising amount of likes on Instagram, those likes do not translate into others actually participating in the challenge.  And since I don’t need the lists myself, eliminating them will take off one of the burdens from past challenges.  I do plan on posting a LETTER on each start day as a reminder of the start of the next 2-week period (more on that below).  For the 2018 challenge I decided to create a letter for each week.  I hope to do the same this year, although I haven’t decided exactly what I want the font collection to look like.

Stylistically I will be keeping with the already established look of the existing City Collection and only use the colors in its palette.  I actually enjoy working with a limited palette… I like having limitations!

This is my Around the Town design.  It is a good example of the style and colors you can expect to see from me this challenge!

Around the Town Promo by Brenda Zapotosky

HOW THE CHALLENGE WORKS:

Now for the official “rules” for this Challenge.  There are 52 weeks and 26 letters, so that means 1 letter for every 2 weeks.  Even though 2019 starts on a Tuesday, I have decided to keep Monday as the starting day for each new letter.  And in order to not delay a full week, Monday Dec 31 will actually kick off the letter “A”. On each Monday when a new letter begins I will post a reminder on Instagram with the letter for that 2-week period.

As it was for past years, this is JUST FOR FUN!  There are not any prizes for participating.  You can use any type of medium you like to create your art.  And if you are late to join in or miss a letter or 2, that is totally fine!  Depending on participation I will try to share other artist’s work who are regular contributors to the hashtag.  So if you want to be included don’t forget to use the official tag:  #alphabetcityartchallenge on all the pieces you create!

That’s it!  I have one more creation left to finish for the 2018 Fruit and Veggie Challenge and then there will be recaps for both the last quarter and the entire year coming to the blog in January.

In the meantime you can check out the hashtag:  #2018fruitandveggieartchallenge to see all the that has been posted this year by myself and others! (There have been 3 of us posting to it regularly). And (if you are not already) I recommend following me on Instagram so you are sure to see all the posts that are to come!

If you have any questions feel free to ask!

Happy Almost New Year!

Brenda

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

Sewing and Design Meet: Pebbles

Sewing and Design Meet Logo

SPECIAL NOTE:  Sprout Patterns which is discused in detail in this post is no longer open.  I have decided to keep all the Sprout content as part of this post.  Unfortunately you will not be able to purchase the product I used.  You CAN still get the Lark Tee Pattern from Grainline Studio.

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!

As stated at the start of this blog post, Sprout Patterns is no longer open.  You can still make your own!  You can buy the Lark Tee Pattern from Grainline Studio directly.  It is also available as a paper pattern.  And the Pebbles design on Spoonflower seperately.

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