Wednesday, November 7, 2012

November... Bags, Boas, and Light Dusting

It is hard to believe it is already November. October came and went very quickly.
The leather Zen Bag has been pretty popular this year, so when I found some gorgeous suede in chocolate and caramel at the leather store, I just had to try the Zen in suede.
The colors are great for fall and winter. I love the luxurious feel of the suede and the thickness of it too. The bags stand pretty much on their own.

Gorgeous, don't you think?

Back in September, I purchased three books by Natalie Chanin: Alabama Stitch Book, Alabama Studio Style, and Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. I just adore the simplicity of the looks, the easy patterns, the detailed explanations and the beautiful pictures. So far, I have made a bolero, an unadorned poncho, and I am currently working on two projects: a reverse applique poncho and a scarf- the Rag Boa.

The scarf-
The Rag Boa is from Natalie Chanin's first book,Alabama Stitch Book.
I am making it for a colleague and a friend  *S* who just had surgery to remove most of her pancreas, spleen and gallbladder, in addition to having just completed radiotherapy after breast cancer surgery.
Why a scarf, and a Rag Boa at that, you will ask? Well a couple of years ago, my friend S and I went to New Orleans for a teacher workshop. She had never been there and loved the city, the food, and the "laissez-les-bons-temps-rouler" attitude of the locals. We went into many gift shops and S purchased quite a few feather boas and gaudy plastic rings. You know, she said, when things get bad at school, we will lock ourselves in the principal's office, we will dress up with the boas and the rings, and I am sure it will make us feel better- at least laugh our heads off for a while... Stress relief...
I wanted to make something special for S, something that would remind her of happy times past and future, something that would feel like a hug, and something she could actually wear outside of the principal's office.
As I was perusing the Chanin book, my eyes fell upon the title: Rag Boa. Perfect! I chose pink and gray for the colors.

I was reading somewhere, perhaps in the book, that Natalie gave a similar boa to a friend who wears it and uses the end of it for dusting. It made me smile, I can so see S doing that.
My boa will serve several purposes: it will look pretty with almost anything, keep S warm, hopefully feel like a friend's hug, ....and keep the furniture clean.

Thank you Natalie, for your beautiful books, wonderful accessories, and for sharing them all with the rest of us.

Take care of yourselves-

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Sale in my Bag du Jour shop

Hello friends,
Today really feels like the end of summer. The weather has been so unseasonably nice that I felt like winter would stay away forever. Oh boy, was I wrong...
It is getting chilly, it is windy, and *sigh* the boys brought in my potted orange, lime, and lemon trees as well as the fig tree (with a couple of figs on it) and the zucchini planter- oh yes, the potted grapevine too.
The above mentioned plants have been living outside for four months- at 7,500 feet, a spectacular feat.
The tomatoes are still coming, so I made a cover for them with the heavy duty plastic that is wrapped around my lovely fabric bolts. Talk about re-purposing!

I am thinking of closing my Bag du Jour shop on Etsy It is very, very, quiet, and I sell tons more on Zakken. I have a bunch of ready-to-ship bags and I am offering a 20% discount coupon (bagdujour20). Here is a small sample of the goodies:

Take the time to enjoy the fall colors in your little corner of the world. Southern hemisphere friends: enjoy the end of winter and the fresh colors of Spring :)


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sewing clothes...

I love to sew.
I do.
I make a lot of bags.
I have even made clothes for myself: pajama pants I obviously only wear at home, Thai fisherman pants (ditto), and a lovely sleeveless dress from an Amy Butler pattern that is still on a hanger, waiting to be hemmed. OK, I make clothes for fun, just for me and I NEVER wear them in public- my family notwithstanding.
Well, this is about to change. I just discovered Natalie Chanin ( Our local public library carries her first two books: Alabama Stitch Book and Alabama Studio Style which I found by accident last week while looking for something else. The books include stitching, stenciling and sewing techniques to make cotton jersey clothing. I can't wait to start sewing :)


I also bought a book by Japanese designer Kyoko Sakauchi, with many simple cotton and linen designs. The only hiccup is that the book is in Japanese, so it will take a bit longer to figure out the explanations.

The studio has been humming with activity, orders are coming in regularly- which I am SO thankful for. I finally figured out how to make the Juki work properly. For an industrial sewing machine, it is pretty fickle, and will misbehave if the stars are not perfectly aligned...
The Juki is perfect though for sewing many layers of fabric and leather too.

I would love to know if you have tried any of Chanin's techniques or Sakauchi's designs. Please leave a comment.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

End of summer sale

I am having a 20% off sale on all in-stock bags in my Bag du Jour  shop on Etsy. Here are some of the bags available for sale (plenty more in the shop):


Please visit my shop on Etsy:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Waxed canvas backpack- the Trekker

I had a few orders to fill this weekend, and as a reward for being a good girl and working hard, when I was finished with my orders, I played with a backpack design that I have been thinking about for a long time. Introducing the Trekker...

Waxed canvas, leather, and cotton canvas... my favorite materials...
Here is the link with all the details:
I really need one for myself- in red waxed canvas- yes!!!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Red Waxed Canvas Foldover Clutch

I have been very busy in the studio this week. Regular orders and custom orders have kept me on my toes from daybreak until late at night.
So, what do  I do when I need a break? Take a walk? Take a bath? Read a book?
Nah, I just grab my sketchbook, my pencil, and my measuring tape, and I think up another design...
Last week I received a shipment of waxed canvas, including a gorgeous deep red. This beautiful color has sparked a lot of ideas, including one that I put immediately into action: the Foldover Clutch.
The clutch is quite large (13.5" x 8.5 when folded). It is lined in tan cotton canvas, and for the closure it has a wide band of thick burgundy leather with a snap. It lies flat when not in use but it holds quite a bit.

I just adore the simple lines and the overall elegance of the clutch.
It is 6:40 am. Another cup of coffee, and back to work.
Have a beautiful day!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Waxed canvas and leather tote

The studio has been humming like a beehive. Between custom orders, I have designed a new waxed canvas tote. It is made of cream waxed canvas and 4oz. brown oil-tanned leather with a hint of red.

It is fairly large, and it has a zippered pocket on the inside.
I also received a shipment of waxed canvas this week, including a gorgeous dark red canvas. I can't wait to use it. In the meantime, I have to fill six orders for customers- so, back to work...
Have a wonderful weekend.

Another summer day...

The weather has been really great in the last couple of days: warm temperatures during the day, thunderstorms bringing much needed rain in the afternoon, and cool nights.
The garden looks great. I have green tomatoes, the zucchini are bravely blooming and the carrots will be ready to pick in a couple of weeks. I have had to come up with defensive tactics to protect all my plants from garden pests, namely deer.

When I planted my tomatoes back in June, I did not cover them that first night and in the morning, one plant had been chewed almost to the ground. I could tell what did it because of the hoof prints in the dirt. So, I covered the top of the cages with small gauge chicken wire, and stapled heavy duty plastic to the chicken wire. The plastic is repurposed- it is used to ship fabric rolls. very sturdy indeed. So my garden will never be on the front page of Home and Garden, but the coverings are very effective: the wire protects the plants from hail and four-legged thieves, and the plastic sides protect them from the wind and act as a greenhouse.

To protect the tender zucchini plants deer seem to love, I have surrounded the zucchini bed with dead branches - very organic, yay! and also- so far, cross my fingers- pretty effective.

I tried- one more time- to do some container planting and I like the results this time. Not sure what kind of yield I'll get, but hey, it's pretty!
Cherry tomatoes and zucchini

My Dr. Scholl's sandals have arrived! I am so thrilled!!! The leather is more strawberry red than the darker red I expected but I love them.

I love the way they click along on the concrete floor... and they are oh so comfortable...

I hope you will have time to work in the garden, smell the flowers, and take time for yourself today.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Playing with leather

While still waiting for my industrial sewing machine to be up and running, I spent most of my weekend playing with leather. I had a couple of pieces of 3-4oz glazed cow leather that I thought would make nice everyday totes. The totes turned out well and are listed in the shop. The brown tote seems to be more popular than the burgundy one, according to shop stats.



Both colors (brown tote in foreground, burgundy behind it)

I am off to the leather store to purchase a couple of hides and some new tools- I LOVE having my own set of tools...
The next tote will be hand stitched- hence the new tools...Another adventure in the studio.

Friday, July 27, 2012

New things

I finally got my new sewing machine. YAY!
It was shipped while I was on vacation, so we opened the boxes on Sunday and, slowly but surely, Joe started putting it together. This is no small job; the directions are sketchy, the pictures dark, and  some steps are missing altogether. However, I have a very smart husband and he managed to figure things out, working on the assembly a little bit every night after work. Some nights, the air was blue...
I won't be able to use the machine just yet, as we found out that the belt is too long and we will have to order another one. Bummer...
Three of the four boxes

The top

Almost finished

What are those extra parts?

While Joe was assembling the machine, I designed a new bag for my brand new line of recycled denim/vintage fabric and leather totes. I love denim and the way it ages in different shades of blue.  

It is a pretty big bag with a square base (10"x10"), 15" high, and 20" at the top.
I hope you'll like it too.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lap desk

While browsing at a nearby department store earlier this week, I spotted a lap desk. Ooooo, I needed to get one. Sadly, all were either scratched or chipped, and for $15.00 plus tax, I did not feel that I should re-do the top. I searched the internet and came upon this great tutorial :
After exploring the possibilities for a top in the garage - I even considered a skim board...waaayyyy too big-, I headed out to the dime store. I spend about 30 minutes searching up and down the aisles for a suitable top for my lap desk. Finally, I found it: a 12"x16" picture frame!

Next, I chose the fabrics...always the fun part.

I decided to make the pillow out of the striped fabric and use the floral under the glass.
I popped the glass and wrapped the fabric around a piece of heavy paper the same size as the image insert.
I then followed the directions from Pleased as Punch to make the bottom pillow. Very easy. The only modification I made was the addition of a handle at the top to make the lap desk easier to grab, or perhaps to store on a peg. I stitched the handle at the same time as the piping.
Here are the results:

I like the little edge on the frame which will keep a notebook or a pencil from sliding off.

The bottom- love, love, love the fabric...

My next project is a big one: a dress from an Amy Butler pattern in the same fabrics as the ones I used for the lap desk... Will I be brave enough to wear it in public?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bees, deer, and bags

May has been very busy here.
Spring has finally come to our area- much later than in other parts of the country, I suppose, but it is here!!!
Trees are leafing out, the grass is growing and my herb garden looks great!

I took a couple of pictures of some of visitors to our backyard- bees and deer. The bees were in the ornamental pear trees that line the driveway. There were so many of them you could actually hear the buzzing from the house- a good 90 feet away.

A few days later I was in the sewing room when I caught movement in the backyard out of the corner of my eye; I grabbed the camera and ran outside where a few young deer were grazing in the grass.

They are so beautiful...

I have been busy in the studio as well, working every night after school as well as putting in many hours on weekends.
This is the newest addition to the shop: the Field Bag. I really like it. It is made of dark oak waxed canvas (brown with a tinge of gray) with brown leather accents. The Field Bag has bellows pocket in the front, a spacious interior with slip pockets, a back pocket with a leather and snap closure, and a clever hand cut leather and buckle closure strap. I also added a D-ring on the side, for water bottle, keys, or dog leash - why not?:)

Let me know what you think...
Have a great week,