Friday, January 17, 2014

A Progress of Purses

I had no idea how much time had passed since my last blog entry.  Looking back, it perfectly coincides with the advent of my third pregnancy.  Nine months of that misery, followed by six months of life with this bundle of cuteness:

 and I've finally resumed normal business.  After finishing a brand new diaper bag for myself last night that I will be using as a prototype for purses for my shop, I started thinking about all of the diaper bags I have made for myself.  Today I emptied out the closet where they are all stashed and took pictures of them before throwing most of them away.

1. This was my first bag, messenger style.  I found a tutorial online and tweaked it a bit.  I had not yet discovered interfacing, but the bag isn't very floppy because I misunderstood the kind of vinyl used in the tutorial and used some clearance upholstery vinyl for the interior. 

 It stunk for ages! I liked this bag, but found it hard to find my stuff.  Also, I tried to have it close with magnets, but they weren't strong enough, and it was a pain to not be able to close it properly.
2. I designed this purse myself.  It is pretty and has plenty of pockets, but absolutely no interfacing.  It's super floppy, but has cardboard as the base!

3.  This next bag remains one of my favorites ever.  I used an online tutorial for the pattern, though added a zipper. This bag is actual leather.  I had a leather coat that was too small for me, so I took it apart and had the perfect amount of leather for this bag. 
 I used an old cargo skirt for the interior and incorporated pockets from it on the inside.  I loved this bag, even though it was still a bit floppy from no interfacing.  I used this purse until the leather gave out on one of the straps and it wasn't easily fixable.
4. Next, my Ameribag-inspired diaper bag.  I borrowed my mother-in-law's Ameribag, made a pattern, and created this bag.  I really loved it. 
 It looked nice and the fabrics were pretty.
 The inside has pockets up the wazoo.  However, I used really thick interlining but didn't interface the fabric, and so the seams were thick and the fabric was thin and ripped out easily.  Also, by this time I was cloth diapering my second child and toilet-training the oldest, and this bag didn't expand at all.  Unbelievably, it just wasn't big enough!
 5. I fell in love with this blue tweed fabric and was determined to make a purse out of it.  This diaper bag was fun and the handles are nice and soft.  The light color got dirty very easily, and there are a few construction things I didn't like a lot, but in general this was a great bag.  But eventually my oldest and youngest were both out of diapers, or at least didn't need them very much.
 I started using a cute small diaper bag that was gifted to me with my first child, then finally moved on to using just a normal purse again. I know I made another diaper bag (6.) sometime, but it had too many problems and I threw it out.
6.5. Oh, and here's the purse I carry when I don't want my whole diaper bag.  It's big enough for my kindle, wallet, phone, keys, and not much else.  It was a prototype for my shop too, but I think I never actually made any for the shop!  Whoops. 


7. Of course, the third baby was reason enough to pull out my diaper bag designing skills again.  I was determined to make a backpack-style purse.  This one converted from a backpack to a shoulder bag.  By now I've figured out interfacing!  This purse was fun and used really cute fabric.  However, I didn't make the straps long enough, and when I tried to fit everything in it, there wasn't enough room.  This purse never was used.


 8. I made the previous purse while in my final week of pregnancy.  After realizing it wouldn't work, I designed a purse and made it, all in one day!  I ran out of brown fabric repeatedly, so this purse uses four different solid brown fabrics.  I liked the idea of this giraffe accent fabric, but in reality, this purse doesn't have the classy factor I wanted.
 I've used it for six months, but I'm tired of it and when I started having purse designs pop into my head for a new purse, I ran with the idea.

 9. Which brings me to the bag I finished last night.  This thing is a little beastly.  It's fairly wide.  In my head it would droop a little more and the extra fabric would fall into nice pleats and draping.  However, it wasn't working as well when I used actual fabric and interfacing like it did with my first run-through.  I also picked some lightweight vinyl for the inside to make it wipeable, and that fabric, while convenient, doesn't hang and drape.  I had to take this purse apart and put it back together with pleats in different places and corners sewn differently and the bottom eliminated.  I was relieved that it was salvageable, and now that it's complete I love it.
 The inside fits everything.  There are special places for my wallet and kindle on the inside, and zipper end pockets on the outside for my phone and keys. Also, those end pockets are big enough for bottles or sippies.  I don't like obvious bottle pockets, because I don't want my purse to scream "diaper bag!", so I try to hide the bottle pockets now or put them on the inside. This purse is large, and I foresee that being annoying at times, but the nicest part is that it hangs beautifully and the weight is distributed really well. 

 I will tweak the pattern more before offering it in my shop, but I fully plan on making more.  I love seeing my progress through the ages.  I'm also happy to be offering something besides clutches and wallets in my shop.
Me and my Tardis phone and my bag that can fit the baby as well as her stuff. :]

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Rockabilly purses

I love creative customers!  And this one was a great one to work with.  She decided on seven different purse designs, most of them Rockabilly inspired.  This was the concept collage we came up together.
 
I knew the hardest purse would be the one with the sparrows.  I was fairly confident that I could come up with something on my new Silhouette Cameo.  My ideas were to either use vinyl as a stencil and paint on the sparrow, or to use heat transfer.  This is the free sparrow vector graphic that I found online.  Adam (my husband) and I both have limited vector abilities, but our combined efforts worked well.  Adam simplified the graphic, and then I figured out how to make it compatible with the Cameo software. 

 Here is a progress photo of the purses.
 And after several miserable attempt at cutting out a sparrow, I finally figured out the vector program and got this to cut out successfully (with only a little hiccup on the tail from a lump in the vinyl).
 I experimented with both fabric paint (fail for several reason, mostly that the vinyl really liked being stuck to the glitter vinyl), and heat transfer.  I had to be really careful to not scorch or melt the glitter vinyl.
 Sewing a couple layers of glitter vinyl is tricky, so sewing these purses wasn't a walk in the park.  I'm really happy with the final order.
 Some close-ups.

I think my customer will be happy!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Purse Week Top 10!

My teal purse that I entered into Purse Week got into the Top Ten! If you're interested in voting for me head over to here and cast your vote.  I think voting goes through Monday the 22nd. Thanks!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Purse Week

It's that time of year again--Purse Week!  The blog Lemon Squeezy Home does a Purse Week each year where people can enter with bags they have sewn and win prizes.  I think I've joined each year.  This year my real motivation was to make a new purse for myself.  My son was recently pottytrained and so now I have both kids carry a backpack with their sippies and other stuff.  So I needed a smaller purse!  I have only a few things that I carry in a purse: my wallet, kindle, phone, keys, checkbook, pen, and hand sanitizer.
 
 
I took my machine to the shop on Monday and they told me it would take 5 days to work on.  I got out my old machine, which is slow and clunky and can't really sew a straight line, and managed to make this purse.  The next day I was shocked when they called me and said my machine was done, so I hurried out to get it, because I couldn't handle sewing on my old machine for any more projects!
 This fabric is a gorgeous embroidered wool blend, and sadly I am at the tail end of it.  I didn't even have quite enough for the gusset. The front has a pocket for my keys and phone.  The back has a zippered pocket for my kindle.
 The inside has a small zipper pocket for chapstick or any other small things. 
 And because I have kind of sloped shoulder and purses slide right off at the most inconvenient times, I made a crossbody strap.  I had to knot the top because it's too long, so I'll probably end up shortening it, but I just haven't done that yet.
 The purse ended up being really cute and really comfy to carry around.  It's just a smidgeon too small, so I have to work hard to get everything in it.  Because I also considered this purse a prototype for a new design for my shop, I decided to keep going and make another one.  This one is three inches wider but the same height.  My husband thinks it's a little too wide, but I actually like it.  I do intend to have the gusset go all the way around for the next one I make.  I decided to use the woven style that I use for many of my clutches in order to transfer it from a fun purse to something unique.
 I really love the handle--it's faux leather and slightly adjustable.
 It also has everything the other purse does--front slip pocket, back zipper pocket, inside zipper pocket, and a recessed zipper to look extra nice. 


I'll definitely be making more of these!  I think I only need to make a few adjustments to make them perfect.

So I think the teal one will be my first entry, and for my second I think I'll use one of my clutches.  I'm still debating, but I think it will be this one:

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fun things in my studio

I have known for awhile that my storage system for my purses was really flawed.  Purses were getting squished, finding them was difficult at times, and one of the places I stored them was right next to a vent, so I was concerned about lint.  So I did some internet research, and ultimately decided that shoe storage was the chepapest and most efficient way to go.  I ultimately bought four of these shoe shelves from Target, each with 15 slots.  I stacked them all up in the corner where I used to have a normal bookshelf full of purses.  We bolted it to the wall.
 I love it!  Most slots can fit two purses, but a one style fits 3 to a slot, and one style only fits one to a slot.  I don't have much more room left for more purses, but they are small enough that I could probably fit one or two in my dining room if necessary.
 And I do plan on filling more!  This is a shelf I bought last month specifically for storing in progress purses.  I'm not even sure how many purses and wallets are cut out on this shelf!  I'm having a slow time working through them, because I always have current orders, but it helps a lot to have them already cut out and interfaced.
 Here's a fun toy I bought last month.  I may not use it much for my business, but I already have a few ideas.  It's a Silhouette Cameo, which is a cutting machine.  I know I'll be using a lot for cutting out quilt appliques and Christmas gifts.
 Here's something I made that I may use for the shop.  I use these postcards to close the tops of my packages.  I tried cutting out one, and I think it looks kind of cool!
 Here is a collage of bridal orders for the last month or so.  It was a busy month! 
 And here is a collage of individual purses that I added to my shop or made for custom orders this month.
And lastly, I hit a big milestone this month!
500 sales on Etsy since starting just over 2 years ago!