Tag Archives: bag

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!

The Real Bag: Kokka Messenger Bag

Kokka Messenger Bag

Kokka Messenger Bag

Kokka Messenger Bag

Kokka Messenger Bag

Kokka Messenger Bag

Kokka Messenger Bag

Just before summer vacation, I made The Organized Office Bag from the Bag Making Bible. It’s part of my little challenge. In the process, I was reminded of a fundamental lesson about my work. One must buy high quality fabrics to make a high quality bag. It’s tempting for me to buy affordable (cheap!) fabrics and notions. After all, part of the appeal of sewing is that if you make it yourself, you might invest the time but you won’t have to invest the money. The more I sew, the more I see that it’s just not worth it. Too many nicely made bags have turned out off because the fabric wasn’t right. Maybe it wasn’t the right weight or quality or color. Experience has shown, the wrong fabric can turn anything into a disaster.

On the other hand, the right fabric can take a bag right into the stratosphere of bag-making satisfaction! And who wouldn’t love this gorgeous Kalima Echino decoro by Etsuko Furuya for Kokka? The colors! The birdies! The geometric patterns! It’s a cotton/linen canvas and utterly divine. I picked it up at the Stoffenkamer in Ghent during a family trip. My seriously supportive husband took the kids so I could go fabric shopping and congratulated me when I came home with a bag full of fabric gloriousness. What a guy, right?

As cheesy as it sounds – and it sounds so, so cheesy – this bag was the end of a journey and feels like the beginning of the future. My obsession with messenger bag making goes all the way back to 2009. Seriously! This particular bag felt like a massive accomplishment, the cherry on the cake of my years of bag making attempts and education. It’s a Real Bag. We have upholstery weight or heavier fabrics for the exterior and interior. We have interlinings and interfacings to give the bag structure and body. It uses hardware. There are metal parts on this bag, clasps to close the flap, d-rings to fix the strap to the bag body, and a big shiney metal slider to make the strap adjustable. All that adds up to a Real Bag.

This bag features a zip pocket, and elastic pocket, and a divided slip pocket on the inside. I skipped the optional laptop flap, adjusted the dividing lines on the slip pocket, and added a d-ring inserted into the side seam for my keys. I love the elastic pocket. It’s perfect for my water bottle and I use it all the time!

Kokka Messenger Bag

The biggest challenges when it came to sewing was getting the gussets nice and smooth and figuring out the adjustable strap. Two or three rounds on the gusset taught me the trick: align the sewing lines, not the edges of the fabric. In practice, that means the gusset piece is pulled tightly against the body piece. It looked like I had pulled it too tight, but it worked out just right with minimal puckering. Next time I will try drawing the seam line to help with pinning. My brain was terrified of the adjustable strap and convinced I’d manage some kind of ridiculous mistake. In the end it was easy, but I had the music off and practiced the slider placement at least three times before sewing anything down. Nothing like a little primal sewing disaster fear to make a girl work a bit carefully!

So there you go, I feel like I’ve graduated into Real Bag Making now. The next challenge? Translating the lessons learned here into my own design. Hrm…..

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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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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Earth Apple workshops!

Mini-Tote amongst the Borage

Meet Mini-Tote. She’s here to share some good news. Starting in April, I’m going to teach a series of workshops at Studio Jurk in Nijmegen! The ladies and I sat down and decided on three projects: a tote bag, zipper bag, and phone cover. Each workshop is three hours long and will take you through one project from start to finish. You’ll be working fabrics I select and using the fine machines at the lovely Studio Jurk atelier. The workshops will be taught in Dutch. However, if you want to participate and don’t speak much Dutch, get in touch. We can either see about putting together an English language group or see if you’ll be OK in the regular workshop.

I’m so excited about this opportunity and can’t wait to see who’s going to be in the first tote bag workshop on 14 April! Sign-up now at Studio Jurk’s website!

BMB Challenge: the money question

Reversible Bucket Bag

Shortly after embarking on my Bag Making Bible Challenge, I decided it would be interesting to look at the costs of bag-making at home. Sewing is often seen as a money-saving hobby. You sew your bags or clothes in order to save a bit of money and to have a personalized finished product. But it isn’t always the case. A lot of the bags in the book require hardware and interfacings I’ve never used before. I’ve always been wary of spending too much money on sewing doo-dads. By that, I pretty much mean anything beyond fabric and thread. If you sew at all, you quickly realize that cost of the notions (buttons, zippers, tools, interfacings) required to make something can be a bit shocking. The first two bags from the book were easy and frankly not too pricey, I used fabric from my stash and there was very little extra that went into them, so they won’t be included here. For a more careful look, let’s look at what it cost to make the Reversible Bucket Bag .

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Preview: The first bag

Bag in the wild

Exterior pleated pocket

interior zipper pocket

Exterior detail

The perfect bag for each purpose is different for every person. I started my bag challenge with the goal of learning more about bag making. The amount of inspiration that’s come with the experience has surprised me. It has me reflecting on some well known and wise words about creativity by Ira Glass and . Essentially, it takes a whole lot of work to get good at something and diving in and doing it is both the hardest and the most important part. With that in mind, I’ve been trying to make this year the year of diving in.

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BMB Challenge: Reversible Bucket Bag

Reversible Bucket Bag

Reversible Bucket Bag

While my parents were visiting, there was a lot of time for sewing. It was a great time to do the next project in Lisa Lam’s Bag Making Bible – the Reversible Bucket Bag. Lisa describes this project as an opportunity for trying fabric combinations. It’s also an introduction to interfacings, or adding structure to your bag. I find fabric combinations challenging – mainly because I feel my choices are rather conservative. Putting together lots of great patterns (a la Maureen Cracknell, for example) isn’t something I do. This project pushed me to at least try.

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