Tag Archives: children’s products

Patchwork Game Bags

Patchwork Drawstring Game Bag

Patchwork Drawstring Game Bag

Patchwork Drawstring Game Bag

Patchwork Drawstring Game Bag

Last week I made five patchwork bags and listed one on Etsy. They are game/dice/toy/travel bags. The first patchwork bag I ever made was for Peanut back when he was one (the picture on the bottom). As we prepared for a trip, it became clear that he would absolutely need a special bag to carry his plastic nesting cups for vacation. Notice the trend? I might also have been looking for an excuse to do some patchwork sewing, because it fascinates me. That bag is still in use and still makes me smile. While working on this blog post, I realized depth of my affection for this particular style of bag and instead of holding back and being polite, I decided to let loose and tell you all the things I think are amazing about them!

A little bag for a small child is wonderful for its simplicity and endless possibilities. A bag that children can open and close themselves is a great object. These bags are great for travel. Their small size limits how much the kids can bring with them. If it doesn’t fit in the bag, then it doesn’t leave the house. Once out and about, toddlers love opening and closing the bags to take individual toys out. In the car or on a plane or in a restaurant, a little bag of special toys can provide endless entertainment. A bag can be a cave or a bed or a field, becoming part of play once it’s not holding toys. A bag full of peg people can become it’s own world.

Older children always seem to have a collection of little things to take along. Whether it’s acorns in the forest or the latest supermarket collectable toy, gathering seems to be a hallmark of 4-6 year-olds. A personal bag gives them a way to take their collection with them and imposes limits on how much they can take. It’s also a great way to take games on visits or trips. Games in boxes are bulky and the box itself isn’t always very sturdy. A card game or dice game in a bag is easy to carry and easy to identify.

The color and pattern combining that makes up patchwork allows for endless possibilities. There’s nothing more fascinating than to see how a piece of fabric can be transformed by its neighbors. Making patchwork pieces is an experience in endless variation. For this bag, I sat down one day while Pumpkin was coloring and started trying to figure out just how many combinations there would be for a nine patch piece. The answer is mathematical, of course, but working it out through coloring was fun. I imposed a couple rules because I was trying to figure out a good process for making multiple bags. The results were fascinating. Patchwork or quilt sewing is about the magic of the process as much as the beauty of the finished piece.

I’ve made a lot of drawstring bags over the years, always looking for a favorite method. I like a lined bag for anything the kids are going to use. Exposed seams on the inside are always a weak point and a lined bag has the added element of a surprise when you open it up. I’ve combined a couple different methods to come up with the one I used for these bags. Extra stitching around the string openings gives added strength there. Top stitching at the top of the bag keeps the lining in place and gives a pretty ruffled effect when the bag is closed. These bags can be opened and closed time and time again without wearing thin or wearing out!

So there’s my little drawstring bag obsession in a nutshell. With the Herfstmarkt at Peanut’s school coming up on 1 November, game bags in beautiful fall colors were just the thing to make. I’ll bring along my small collection of vintage games as well. A bag and a game would make a terrific Sinterklaas or Christmas gift. The bags are 9cm x 21cm (7.5in x 8.25in) and made of 100% cotton. There’s one listed on Etsy now, in case you can’t wait until the market or won’t be able to attend.

Friday Check-In

Bubbles and paint

Bubbles and paint

As I’ve gotten more serious about my writing and my work, I feel a need to be more accountable for maintaining balance in my life and for working on long-term projects. In order to do that, I’ve decided to transform my Friday Moment into a Friday Check-in. Here’s the plan. Every Friday, I’ll post a picture and answer five questions. They will be about my work, my home, myself, my project or goal, and the picture. I’ll try it for a season and see how things go!

Things are toodling along around here. School goes on and fall is slowly but surely coming on. We’ve been spending a lot more time at home these days. Empty weekend days seem to invite a day of crafting and working on projects around the house instead of forays into museums or wilderness. It feels good. I think we’re all loading up on togetherness and quiet time before moving into the next week. The feeling that this won’t last is starting to build. We have a trip back to North Carolina planned and the holidays are also coming faster every year. It’s nice to be building a reflection habit now when there’s a bit of space. I’m going to need it a little more every week.


1. How are you moving forward at work?

It turns out that my production plan has fallen nearly entirely to the side. I should revise it. This has been in part to a bit of laziness and in part because of a change of plans. I’m going to have a stand at our school’s Fall Market and decided to make a couple new things and to do some fall colors as well. There are five patchwork bags in brilliant fall colors ready to go now. I’m going to sell them with vintage games, which should be fantastic!

I’ve been waiting for a Moo.com sale to order Earth Apple stickers. The sale came by last week and I designed and ordered the stickers right away. I’m a bit nervous how they will turn out as this will be my first design (I’m using paint.net, it’s a free photoshop baby sister). They should arrive this week, so fingers crossed for great results!


2. How did you improve your home?

Last weekend I finished a knitting project and discovered a little universe of unfinished projects and notes at the bottom of my basket. Getting that cleared out was a good feeling. Now Peanut has a new monster hat, my knitting notes are up to date, and I have a great plan for Sinterklaas gifts using some socks I made that didn’t work out so well.

Yesterday I put a few pictures up on the wall in our living room. We have been living with bare walls in there for a year and a half. None of the pictures are new, but it took me quite a while to decide on what I wanted to do there. I didn’t want to buy anything new and big, it’s just not my style. An arrangement sounded nice, but then it took time to decide which pieces to use and how to arrange them. After finally getting that far, another two weeks went by while the idea marinated for the last time. Did I mention it takes me a while to make up my mind about things? Anyway, here’s the result. I’m feeling pretty good about it!

Living Room

We’ve done another furniture shift. At the end of the summer we shifted furniture in my workroom and the dining room and got an amazing free make-over. This time, we stacked two Besta units from the IKEA and put away a side table. Like magic, our living room expanded. Back in the dining room, we pushed the short end of our table right up against the bookshelves. It’s a gigantic table, so we’re not losing any eating space, but again, the room opened right up. I’m loving squished furniture just now!


3. How did you take care of yourself?

I haven’t taken very good care of myself this week. It’s been a lot of late nights for no good reason. Staying up late is a bad, bad habit of mine and one that I have the hardest time trying to break. What I am trying to do is to give myself a break and to stop being my own hardest task master. Setting your life up as a constant improvement project is exhausting. Learning to just be for a while and accept myself for what I am would be a good thing.


4. How are things going with the daily writing project?

I missed a day. In the middle of staying up too late and a head full of thoughts, I completely forgot to write on Wednesday. So there’s a gap in my dots. I felt pretty upset for a while (see task master comment above). Then I forgave myself. There will be more dots. Today, there are two.


5. Talk about the pictures.

Peanut received Art in a Box for his birthday. It’s a box of twenty A5 cards. On the front, there’s a piece of art. On the back, there’s information about the artist, discussion questions, and an art project. He picked an abstract art project to start with. We added some dish detergent to watery paint, blew bubbles, and put paper over the bubbles to make prints. They’re drying now so we can do more with them over the weekend!

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!

Shop update: Covered Notebooks and Bibs

Bib

Covered Notebooks

Covered Notebooks

Covered Notebooks

Here are some recent additions to my Etsy shop. The bib is made with fabric from Lotta Jansdotter’s Glimma collection. I love the neutral taupe and the mustard yellow. This combination is really beautiful and a great cheerful neutral. The covered notebooks come in three different interior colors: green, red, and yellow. They come with a notebook and when that’s full, you can replace it with either a Moleskine Volant or a Clairefontaine 9×14 notebook. Both are great choices.

If you don’t get a chance to buy one on-line, I will also have these with me at the FeelGoodMarket on 16 March in Eindhoven!

Bib-iddy bob-iddy

Bibs

Would it not be cool to show you new bibs and a new bob? One of these days I’m going to manage a haircut appointment, but until then – bibs. Bibs for kids. Kids who like to eat, smear, spill, splash, and on and on. When our littles were bib wearing age, I found few bibs that seemed to work for us. They were either too flimsy or too small or to hard to tie with strings and whatnot. So here we have it: a big old pretty bib with snaps. Oh yes – snaps. Ahem.

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