Category Archives: shop

The Big Bag Reveal

Big Girl's Bag 1.0

Big Girl's Bag 2.0

Big Girl's Bag 2.0

Big Girl's Bag 2.0

Big Girl's Bag 2.0

Big Girl's Bag 2.0

Big Girl's Bag 2.0

For the past few weeks, I have been working on a new bag design. You might have seen some sneak peaks on my Facebook page. Well, here is the whole bag, inside, outside, and insides out! This is my “mama doesn’t have to carry the kitchen sink anymore” bag. That means I still have room for a little water bag or piece of fruit and any bit of paper that gets thrust in my general direction after school, but no longer have to tote a gigantic bag everywhere I go. The design and construction were inspired by interest in the Little Girl Bag for bigger girls. It has been made possible by skills I’ve learned over the past few months of bag making and projects like the Kokka Messenger Bag. In order to move another step closer to a finished design, I’m asking for your feedback, comments, and opinions.

The pictures above also show version one of this bag (no exterior closure, straps on the sides). The change from version one to version two were minimal, but I feel like they made a huge difference in how the bag’s personality. I’m much happier with version two and the final version won’t be too much different, I think.

I’m most excited because this project brings me one step closer to my goal of making and selling a bag of my own design. Of course, now that I’m nearly through the basic design, I’ve realized that there are fabrics to pick and colors to plan if I wan to sell these bags. That’s got me dreaming about making a series of bags in wildly varying fabrics. Bright canvases, modern prints, wool, wool + leather, linen, waxed cotton – they’re all on my list of possibilities. It will depend a lot on what I can source over the next few months, but I’m dying to see how this design will look in all kinds of different variations!

This is a cross-body bag that is slightly wider across the top and sized to fit an A5 page or piece of paper folded in half or a journal. It’s a slim bag, just 4cm wide at the bottom. It is small enough to be comfortable for solo trips on the town and big enough for your wallet, keys, phone, tissues, notebook, and pen. There’s an interior zipper pocket sized to fit paper money laying flat. The flap can be securely closed. The handles are attached at the back so the bag maintains its shape and lays flat against your body. It’s fully lined and interlined to give it body and shape. The exterior is firm to the touch and the interior is lightly padded.

I’m hoping to have this bag in production soon, certainly in time for the holidays. Will you help me? Please share your opinions, impressions, and advice in the comments. It would be a great help!

Inspiration: Quilt Exhibition

Maria Hofmans: Linnen-Goed
Maria Hofmans: Linnen-Goed

Maria Hofmans: Linnen-Goed

Maria Hofmans: Linnen-Goed

Gert van Raalten: Watashi no Nihon no Takarabako
Gert van Raalten: Watashi no Nihon no Takarabako

Almut Raaijmakers: Wie het oude niet eert!
Almut Raaijmakers: Wie het oude niet eert!

Almut Raaijmakers: Wie het oude niet eert!

Earth Apple Bib

Last Thursday, I went to the Dutch Quilt Guild’s annual exhibition in Arnhem. There were some really beautiful pieces to look at. When I look at a quilt, I think about the massive amount of time, work, and skill it takes to make one. The color, fabric, and pattern combinations are inspiring. In Arnhem, I saw traditional quilts and art quilts. Quilts made with new fabrics, Japanese fabrics, linen, and scraps. A few quilts particularly struck my fancy and I thought I’d share them here.

Linnen-Goed by Maria Hofmans is a gorgeous quilt made of linen. I loved the details. Each scrap pieces was quilted on so that there was a pretty pattern on the back of the quilt, too. The actual quilting was done in a very loose style, which I love because it shows that it was made by hand. Being able to stitch perfectly is important, but letting go of that can often give a more expressive result. The linen squares all vary slightly in color and they’re beautiful neutrals that look lovely together. I love the style of this quilt and am sure this will inspire some of my work in the future!

I also got a kick out of this piece, Watashi no Nihon no Takarabako by Gert van Raalten. The colors are fabulous in and entirely different way. I love the punctuating color in the field of brown. The colors get to pop against the monochromatic background. My favorite detail on this piece, though, is the fact that the pattern runs out in the corner. It is a fabulous surprise to look at the pattern, be drawn into looking at all the individual colors, and then, oops! I love it.

A third piece that made a big impression me was Wie het oude niet eert! by Almut Raaijmakers. It has a few repetitions of the same image, each using a different technique and the same colors. There was some applique, french knots, chain stitching, and beads. Then I took a step back for a bigger picture and realized that all the small pieces were on a background that was the whole image again, but gray on gray. The quilt works as a wonderfully patient exploration of the impact of different techniques.

My bibs and a lot of my work are inspired by the piecing that is the basis of quilt making. Put two fabrics together and way they contrast or compliment each other can be transformative. Last week I made a new series of bibs. I used a beautiful fabric from Amy Butler’s Mid-Century Modern series and paired it with a contrasting rusty red. It’s in my Etsy store now. After two weeks of bib making, I’m going to move on to card holder making this week. I’ve got some fabric choices in mind and can’t wait to see how they turn out.

New Bibs New Plans

Little Bird Bib

Little Bird Bib

Little Bird Bib

Last week I took some time to put together a production schedule through the end of 2014. It’s organized by week and on basically has three categories; make, develop, and extra. Make is for the product I’m going to batch make, including fabric notes. Develop is for products I’m developing or improving. Extra is all the other stuff I need to do to keep my little shop running, packaging and banners for example. The idea of a production plan is ridiculously simple and basic, but this is the first time I’ve done it. I couldn’t be happier with the way it’s changed not only how I work, but how I feel about my work.

For the past year, I’ve been making it up as I go. That meant making a lot of choices and usually making them based on intuition rather than information. Selecting fabric by intuition works. Making production decisions by intuition is not fun. The worst part of it was that it was impossible to know when I’d done enough. Every time I crossed one thing of the list, something else filled the spot almost immediately. My non-system left me feeling nervous and frustrated. A market date sent me into a making frenzy, but I also spent a good bit of my sewing time looking around my workroom wondering where to start.

When it came to putting together my production plan, I set manageable goals. In my weekly schedule, there are only three to four hours of guaranteed daytime sewing time. The rest is full of kids, household, and the other shop work that needs to be done. I can sew in the evenings and on the weekends, but the first nine months of this endeavor taught me that working like that was bad for me, bad for my family, and not too much fun. I’m being realistic and with some luck, that will keep me happier and ultimately more productive.

The unexpected magic came when I realized that a production plan was a great tool for organizing a lot of aspects of my business that I’ve been struggling with. Knowing what’s going to be new in my workroom and Etsy shop every week means it’s easier to plan blog and Facebook posts to support those additions. Make this week, blog about next week. Make now to prepare for the Lindenmarket on November 30. I also have some idea of how my inventory will build over the next few weeks, which means I also have a better idea of what supplies I need to have. Planning down to the fabrics I’ll use means fewer last minute panics about KAM snap colors (ahem). One week in, I’m pretty excited about how useful my production plan is going to be.

All of this brings me to my latest batch of bibs! The fabric choice was inspired by friends who’ve just had a baby and gave him a lovely bird name. I got a bit emotional about it and decided to make a series of bibs in his honor. If you’re following me on Facebook, you know they are already in my shop here. They are a bright teal with dark purple birdies. Figuring out which fabric would best coordinate for the neutral was tough. Once I gave up on anything matchy-matchy, I found this lovely dark gray tan in my stash that lets those bright colors just pop! I’m very pleased with the results and hope you are, too!

New Horizons

Bibs in a row

Key fobs

Last Monday, I put tags on a few bibs and key fobs to drop off at Studio Zipp. Studio Zipp is Wilma van Beek’s shop that she’s recently moved into a gorgeous location in downtown Nijmegen, Priemstraat 1. She fills it with unusual and beautiful creations, both hers and others’. I first met her when we needed to get our dining room chairs reupholstered. We spoke to a couple different people, but Wilma was the one with a modern vision and great skills to go with it. I was so flattered when we ran into each other as fellow stall holders at the Linden Market in March and she admired my work! One thing led to another and on Monday afternoon, I dropped of a few pieces for her shop. But there’s more.

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Anya cross body bag

Anya cross body bag

Anya cross body bag

Anya cross body bag

I took some bag pictures last week to get ready for posting this bag on Etsy. It is my favorite bag. Well, it’s a new, lined and better version of my favorite bag, which I made in 2009 and still use every summer. It’s a soft, squishy pile now, but my favorite. It’s linen, a combination of new and a vintage British home furnishings fabric I found way back when and have been hoarding! Anya’s gotten some design adjustments for production. The pockets are properly put together and the handle is as well. Neither has raw edges. I miss the rough look, but this is a sturdier bag. The interfacings are different as well, so it has some body and the handle is sturdier. It’s really neat to see how much I’ve learned about construction techniques just over the past few months. This one will go up in my Etsy store in the next week or so. If you’re interested in buying it before then, email me, and we’ll work it out!

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Biking to market

View from the cargo bike

Cargo bike

I was prepared for lots of new experiences when I started this business, but never did I think biking myself and all my gear to the market would be one of them! Luckily, the fates intervened an on Sunday morning I pedaled myself up from our house to downtown Nijmegen with a full load. Getting started on the bike was a bit shakey, in part because of the size but also because this bike required handlebar steering. Leaning to the side would probably only have landed me on the pavement (which didn’t happen, thank you very much). It was, in fact, a pretty awesome experience. Cargo bikes are very popular in the Netherlands and often function the way Americans would have a second, smaller car. Between the good biking infrastructure, the price of gas (currently around 8.40 USD a gallon), and the social norm of biking, it’s a choice that makes a lot of sense!

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Making: small and sweet

Mini-tote party

Wrist strap, key fob

In Dutch, there’s a phrase “klein maar fijn.” It refers to things that are small, but oh so nice. This has been a week of klein maar fijn sewing. Little wrist straps using my scraps and mini-totes to do some workshop marketing. If you follow Earth Apple Studio on Facebook, you’ve been treated to my making and mini-tote tour. It’s all in preparation for de Linden Market this coming Sunday (6 April) and workshops at Studio Jurk starting on 14 April!

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Sewing for market

Sewing, sewing, sewing

Bibs

Work in progress

Card Holder

This has been my busiest and most productive sewing week yet. I’ve been making inventory for the Feel Good Market on Sunday – that’s 12:00 – 18:00 on 16 March 2014 in Eindhoven. Last October I visited the Feel Good Market with a friend. It was during Dutch Design Week and there were lots of people, lots of energy, and lots of really good and interesting products to see. People were there with everything from artisan breads to greeting cards, to gorgeous scarves and vintage interior pieces. I knew it was a place I wanted to be and can hardly believe it is going to happen on Sunday.

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Labels have arrived!

Earth Apple labels

The best part of this story is the part where I walked into my workroom after dinner a couple days ago to find Pumpkin standing at my work table. This usually prompts an all too automatic mama script about staying out of the workroom or not touching. When I looked, though, I saw on the work table, at about her eyebrow level, my empty label box. After seeing me open the package, she’d gone into the workroom to get out the box so we could fill it up again. Mama humbled (again) and happy.

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