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Top 10 Fabric Prints for Children

I can still remember the images of my childhood. The rainbow curtains I had in my bedroom, the illustrations in my fairy tale books, and the animal wallpaper I had up in my nursery. I loved looking at them and creating characters and dreaming up stories before I fell in to the land of nod. Still vivid to me today, these designs sparked my imagination and introduced an appreciation of art and design. I’d like my children to have similar experiences, and have picked out some designs that I think children will love, and represent the fun and free spirit of small imaginations.
n.b – All fabrics are available to purchase direct from suppliers at time of writing

Ed Emberley, Forest Friends for Cloud 9 Fabrics

Ed is a writer and illustrator of children’s books, and has written over 80 books for children. I love Ed Emberleys illustrative style and bold colours he uses for his prints. His characters seem to have so much personality and charm. There are lots of prints to choose from, and if your little one is in to a particular animal he has drawn tigers, elephants, dragons, frogs, giraffes, owls, aligators … a whole arc full of creatures! His fabrics are produced by the amazing Cloud 9 Fabrics who print all of their designs on organic cotton. Ed’s prints are available in 3 collections, Picture Pie, Happy Drawing Too!, and Happy Drawing. I promise you’ll find something you like.

Meet The Gang Kids, from Creative Thursday by Marisa Anne Cummings

Creative Thursday is the work of artist and designer Marisa Anne Cummings, who has produced 7 glorious fabric collections since 2011. In Marisa’s words, she aims to design fabric when ‘every time you look at it, {or use it to sew with} I want it to bring you joy, comfort and inspiration, butterflies in your stomach‘. I for one think she has succeeded. I’ve never made a patchwork quilt, but if I was i’d use Marisa’s designs. Her collections so far include Meet the Gang, Zaza Zoo, Just for Fun, Locally Grown, The Red Thread, Ric Rac Rabbits and Santa Claus is coming to town. I think some of Marisa’s fabric can be a little difficult to get hold of, especially the older collections and here in the uk, so my tip to you is to keep your eye on her blog and snap it up as soon as it comes out!

Makower – Washday Clouds Blue

makower-clouds Don’t those rain clouds look so pretty? I wouldn’t mind getting caught out without an umbrella if the clouds looked like that. Clouds is a print in the washday collection, produced by Makower Uk fabrics. It’s from a collection a few years back, but is still available to buy from a few online retailers.

Dan Stiles, Marine Too, Anchors Away for Birch Organic Fabrics

anchors I love a good anchor print. Not sure why as I get quite sea sick but one can make believe. Anchors Away is part of the Marine Too collection, designed by Dan Stiles and produced by US company Birch Organic Fabrics. Stiles is perhaps best known for his Poster Art, working with artists across multiple genres the likes of Death Cab for Cutie, Sonic Youth, Arctic Monkeys, Cat Power, Hot Chip, Sigur Ros, Ted Leo, TV on The Radio, Dizze Rascal, Wilco, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and countless others. I think modernist designs and bright colours translate perfectly to fabric kids will love.

Sarah Jane, Wee Wander Collection, Wander Woods Turquoise

wander_woods Sarah Jane is an illustrator of childhood. She believes that pictures, stories, design and colour shape the way a child perceives the world they live in. So far Sarah has created 4 fabric collections, Out to Sea, Lets Pretend, Wee Wander and Children at play. I love the Wander Woods print. It reminds me of my childhood daydreams when I used to gallop about on my invisible horse. I don’t have a daughter, but the if I did she would definitely be getting a dress made out of this. In fact, I love it so much I might just make one anyway. Sarah Jane’s designs are produced by Michael Miller Fabrics.

Bunny Brigade by Alyssa Thomas for Clothworks

bunnybrigade Alyssa Thomas is the owner and designer of Penguin & Fish. She has produced four fabric collections, Safari Sweet, Picnic Pals, Here Kitty Kitty and Critter Patch. Alyssa also creates delightful embroidery patterns, one of which you can get for free if you sign up to her newsletter. Why wouldn’t you? Penuin & Fish fabrics are produced by Clothworks.

Briar Rose Frogs, by Heather Ross for Windham Fabrics

briar-rose How delightful is this view of little froggies picnicking by the lakeside? My little boy loves frogs and i’m sure this print would have him down at the bottom of the garden, seeing if he could find some paddling frogs too. Briar Rose is Heather Ross’ collection for Windham Fabrics. She has other collections called Mendocino and West Hill both for Free Spirit Fabric. Heather makes her popular out of print designs available from Spoonflower. Isn’t she a gem.

Alain Gree

Alain Gree is a French illustraitor and author.
I discovered Alain when my toddler found one of his childrens books, Transport in a museum gift shop. He became engrossed in the drawings and was quiet for long enough for me to have a good look round the shop and buy some overpriced turkish delight. Result. I hoped there would be some fabrics available and found 6 or 7 prints to choose from. I know my son approves and so do I.

Happy Camper by Alsion Cole for Camelot Fabrics

happycamper Alison Cole is a full-time freelance illustrator and designer, many of whose designs are available through Camelot Fabrics. She has six fabric collections, What a Gem, Festive Forest, Birds of a Feather, Happy Jungle, Happy Camper and What’s cookin’. She also loves tofu which means I love her.

Lisa Congdon, The Land That Never Was, for Cloud 9 Fabrics

1119_TheLandThatNeverWas_500 Lisa Congdon‘s first fabric collection for cloud 9 is amazing. The Land That Never Was, exudes folklore, fairy tales and travels to distant lands. Plenty of cues in these designs to get children’s imaginations to run wild. I hope Lisa turns more of her artwork in to fabric collections, I’d be really excited to see what she does next.

Loulabelle Frilly Knickers

I have had knickers on my mind for months. You know that feeling when you open up your knicker drawer and wonder how your undergarment situation became so dire? I’m embarrassed to admit there are pants in there I had back in my university days, we go way back, and pre-date some of my best friendships, and span many relationships! I think becoming a new mum has meant that new knickers became A treat, rather than a necessity. Well it’s time to turn over a new cheek.

Ethical Pants?

Being a green kind of gal, I wanted to source my pants from an ethical retailer, one who looked after their workers and avoided sweatshops. On my hunt for ethical undies I discovered some businesses who ticked all the boxes:

Who Made Your Pants? – This company buy up waste fabric from large underwear manufacturers to reduce waster and create jobs for women who have had a hard time. Plus all the profits go back in to the business and are invested in to training and support. Pretty special.
Amnesty International – Amnesty sell three packs of organic/fairtrade cotton knickers just short of £15. Many of the companies I looked at charge this for one pair, so these pants are really affordable.
Pants to Poverty – Work with farming / manufacturing cooperatives in India to produce organic and fairtrade undergarments.

Make your own pants

Of course, in my hunt for the perfect pants, I had completely overlooked that I could sew my own knickers. What could be more satisfying than a pair of custom made, frilly pants. Why do we call knickers a pair anyway? It’s not like there are two of them? Suddenly I welled up with enthusiasm and ordered lots of gorgeous cotton to revamp my underwear drawer. Here is what I picked:

Pretty Fabric for Knickers

Briar Rose Orange Fabric Stack, by Heather Ross for Windham Fabric


Cross Stitch in Blue by Shannon Lamden for Riley Blake Designs


Feed the Birds, VeloCity Collection by Jessica Hogarth, P&B Textiles


Sunny Day in Fluffer Nutter by BasicGrey


Wells in Bright, from the Stile Collection by Liberty Lifestyle Fabrics


Knicker Sewing Patten

After scouring the web for suitable sewing patterns, I decided upon puchasing a lovely frilly knickers patern from Loulabelle. This arrived in the post as a pre-printed A3 pattern. Excellent, no need to stick the pieces together! Loulabelle (Verity) writes a great blog, and also sells some other patterns in her store.
You can have a look at lots of other knicker patterns and inspiration on my Pinterest board Knickers, Pants and Undies. Blooming marvelous.

Loulabelle’s pattern looked exactly what I needed, fun, frilly and it came in sizes 8-16. Perfect if I want to make them for presents for people. I have a friends wedding come up, so she may even be getting a special bridal pair. Exciting!

Look at my knickers!

I am so pleased with how these turned out. Not only are they beautiful but they are really comfy and a great fit. Not one wedgie or sneaky knicker re-adjustment needed all day. Perfect.



Tips on following Loulabelle’s knicker pattern

  1. Use more elastic for a comfier fit – I went one size up on the elastic. I cut my pattern pieces for a 12, but used elastic sizes for a 14. For the test pair I made I used less elastic and it dug too tight in to my skin which wasn’t the most flattering look.
  2. Trim edges of fabric once elastic is sewn on, but before using the zigzag stitch. Make sure it can be hidden under elastic once turned over, ensuring a neat finish.
  3. You’ll need 1 fat quarter to make the knickers.
  4. Use an old T-Shirt for the knicker gusset – saves time if you can use an already overlocked edge piece.
  5. Use a similar colour thread to the elastic if you want a tidier finish. You’ll notice on the orange liberty print pair you can see the stitching quite clearly over the elastic. It looks ok because it matches the fabric, but I think I prefer it to be less noticeable.
  6. Sew close to the edge on the knicker elastic, leaving as much elastic as possible to turn over and hide the seam.
  7. Sew slowly, making sure the elastic on the other side is flat. I had to unpick in a couple of places and redo the stitching where the elastic just wouldn’t behave.  I always need to remind myself to take my time. It always results in a better finish.

Tips on finding knicker elastic

I had a really hard time finding knicker elastic in the colours I wanted. I discovered that the best thing to search for was either ‘Lingerie Elastic’ or ‘Picot Edge Elastic’. Ebay has a small selection of knicker elastic but the best choice and most reasonable prices I found were from a UK mail order sewing supplies company called the Sewing Chest.  At 35p a metre you can order enough to revamp your entire knicker collection. I’d still like more colours though, so if anyone knows of other good retailers please leave a comment.

Lion Trousers

As soon as I saw this fabric, I knew it had to become something for Evan. With his tangled mane, and toddler like roar it just seemed to really suit him.


The fabric is called ‘Lions’ and it’s one of Ed Emberley’s happy drawing designs for Cloud 9 Fabrics. Cloud 9 are one of my new favourite suppliers, and I love that their fabric is both affordable, fun and organic! Do take a look on their site and do your utmost to resist buying it all. I’m sure I will be showcasing many of their other designs on this blog, as I adore them. For me, they stand out in a sea of overly cutesy and blandly illustrated children’s fabric.

I had originally toyed with the idea of making a bag, and quite liked the look of this toddler backpack pattern, but decided to go for trousers after finding this online tutorial for Boy Trousers from ikat bag which looked a bit less tricky. Here is how they turned out. What do you think?

Lion Trousers in Ed Emberley’s Lion Print

As well as the cloud 9 fabric, I used some bright orange cotton which had a previous life as some table-mats, and some extremely soft, flannel like pastel yellow cotton, which was a babies cot sheet. Both purchased in the charity shop for under £3! Bargain!

Although the pattern was well designed, and easy to follow I had a few issues with it. It said it was for a tall 3 year old, and to add seam allowance, so I thought if I didn’t add seam allowance they would be ok for my small 2 and half year old. Well I was wrong… Although they fitted well on the waist and were the right length, the waist band at the back just sat far to low, which gave Evan a permanent builders bum. He’s not a modest boy, and pranced around delighted in his new Lion trousers with his half moon shining out!

Check your measurements!

I think I’ve leaned a lesson here, and that is to check your measurements before following any pattern. We are all different shapes and sizes, and the great thing about making your own clothes is that you can tailor them to fit perfectly, so from now on I vow to make best friends with my tape measure. If I can just get the boy to stand still for long enough.

I think I am going to make these again, with Ikat Bag’s original design in mind, but make my own pattern based on a pair of trousers that already fit Evan. I may also make some adjustments to the pockets and perhaps add knee pads for extra durability. I also think they would look pretty fab with a furry lion tail attached at the back. What do you think readers?

Please leave me a comment below to let me know how you think they turned out. I would love to hear from you, especially with it being my first blog post and all!

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