Tag Archives: etsy

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.

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!

Beauty. Simplicity. Utility. Quality.

MacBook Air cover

MacBook Air cover

MacBook Air cover

iPhone 5 cover

iPhone 5 cover

One of the wonderful things about starting a making business is that people ask you to make things for them. Every time someone asks me to make something, especially folks who ask me to make something they’ve never seen or trust me to dream up a design, I’m honored, deeply flattered, and terrified they’re going to figure out that every once in a while, I have no idea what I’m doing. So far, things have worked out and the special orders are one of my favorite parts of this business.

In August, I made a special order iPhone cover , and a MacbookAir cover. As with all special orders, I took advantage of the project to think about whether I want to make more. They would be a logical extension to the Earth Apple Studio shop and are in demand, especially Apple coming out with a new iPhone every time I turn around.

Debating whether or not I want to make the covers got me thinking. A couple of timely posts also reminded me of the importance of not taking on too much, of pruning as Eve Fairbanks put it. It’s tempting to start making lots of different things just to see what takes off. It’s also important for me to remember that my goal is to design and make beautiful bags. Every product I decide to develop or make along the way takes time away from achieving the bag making goal and those decisions should be made carefully.

To help myself along, I came up with a couple questions to answer before I move forward with developing or making new products. In addition to some basic market research questions about what’s available, pricing, costs, and audience, I found myself returning to two key questions.

  • How will my product be an improvement on what’s already available?
  • How well will the product represent beauty, simplicity, utility, and quality?
  • I only want to make a product if it improves upon what’s already available. If I can’t do that, then it’s better to leave it to folks who are already making them and making them well. In the case of the Apple product sleeves, it came down to a material choice. In all the sleeves and covers I’ve seen, felt seems to be the best fabric for making durable and beautiful sleeves. Check out Westerman Bags if you’re not sure. She makes gorgeous Apple product sleeves right here in the Netherlands.

    The second questions keeps me working to meet my own standards. If I can’t make something that is extra beautiful, extra simple, extra useful, or extra quality, I don’t want to be making it. It’s as simple as that.

    So there you have it, some new things I made and how I decided to not make any more. How do you decide which projects you want to work on? Are there more questions I should be asking myself?

    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!

    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!

    Continue reading

    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!

    Continue reading

    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.

    Continue reading