A year last Spring I wrote 'A Bag for Little Dumplings' about the first baby event the bags would appear in. I was excited just to be in the same room as babies.
Indulge me, please.
Though my children were brought up to think for themselves & never conform to what other's perception of them should be, somewhere in there, I figured one of the 3 kids would consider having children. My oldest was about to turn 30, the other 2 not far behind. There's still time, I'd tell myself, although I'd bite my tongue in front of them. No pressure.
Well, my dreams have come true. Okay, let's be real honest & say also my mother, who has been (im)patiently waiting to become a great grandmother because after all, her coffee gals & euchre gang all are. She is a Great Gramma & I'm a Tootsie.
Yes, Tootsie. Don't ask. Let's just say it was my idea.
So, a baby bag was impending. The gender was unknown, the belly grew & I scowered for the perfect fabric. And the bag was made only a week before the baby was born. But still, just in time for Norah!
A Jenna and Chloe bag with a secured closure.
You asked, I resisted. I had keep the integrity of the bag in tact. A hunk of velcro plopped in the middle of the opening is not up to my standards. Closures that way would completely void the whole purpose of the bag.
But by no means did I relent.
Sketching, trying this & that.
No to zippers (they'll scratch & break)
No to velcro (again, it scratches, catches on the fabric & fills up with fuzzys)
Snaps rip off...within days or weeks. A personal peeve of mine that I refuse to pass on in my super-quality bags.
Magnets were my first choice, but more labour intensive. If my goal is to keep the price reasonable, it's not going to be a good fit.
Therefore: A flap is the only viable answer, but what for the closure?
Voila! The good old fashioned, multi sized, multi faceted Button! Stylish yet functional. The options are endless. My main concern was that some of the fabrics I love to make the bags from can be bulky, so I didn't want the button to be difficult to do up. So, (ta da!) I decided to go with a soft, pliable faux suede tag with the buttonhold, easy enough to do up with one hand. Imagine...a button! The underestimated, overlooked, quiet tortoise of the garment world.
Not just any button, of course. I had fun shopping for gun metal, wooden, copper coloured, antiquey, dome shaped, long, round. As with all aspects of my bags, the utmost care & consideration went into the choice of the buttons I offer.
Here's a peek...
For the last couple of years I've noticed that quite a few of the university & college students who bought a bag for school are now calling & requesting a another bag. It seems that this new chapter, this one called A New Family requires a new, fun bag with more pockets & defiately machine washable.
A bag for Little Dumplings.
Available in Full & Mid Size bags, with an additional panel of pockets*. Mom or Dad can keep their wallet, keys & phone in 1 pocket; baby items in the other 5. Lots of room & organization.
Contact me with the colours you'd like.
*Please add an addtional $5.00 for the extra pockets
Team bags have become a welcome focus. The best orders to receive are the ones where, I am awarded artistic license as long as I use the same fabrics & incorporate the colours It is, by far, the BEST way to order, not only for me, but also in the best interest of the customer.
Any volume of bags, all exactly the same would be boring, not only for me to make but also for the team members who carry them. Twety-four of the exact same thing is flat & un-expressive; the opposite to what a team should be! Change the look up within the team...some have the quarter bottom pael, some have a stripe, etc.
I have close access to a embroidery shop who can apply the team name or logo for an additioal cost. I only pass on what I am charged, no handling fee.
I was always a goer for school & team spirit, so why not show it through my bags? A bag also makes a fatastic gift for award winners.
If you are interested in prices & ideas for team bags...no matter how many or how few, please send a inquiry through Contact Us. Thanks!
Every once in a while I am met with a bit of a challenge order. I welcome them, I like them. I like quirky, unique, funny little discombobilations. I get to ponder. I love to ponder.
One came to me very shortly before Christmas from my brother's best buddy.
To most anyone else I would have tried to put the order off until after Christmas...gift or not...but it was Randy who apologized & suggested I wait until after the holidays. Sometimes just being humble is enough to make me crumble. It was a small order, so of course there was no problem to have it filled by the big day. But most importantly, it was a puzzle.
I had been commissioned to put together something that would hold remote controls. A line of pockets. Wide enough for a man's hand, slender enough for the remote to stand vertical. It sounds easy, & the construction of it would be. The challenge was how to present these pockets.
The gift was for Steve, a crazy avid sports nut who cruises the channels happily throughout each day, but when the Toronto Maple Leafs play the surfing stops. A stedfast fan, no doubt with a terrific sense of humour. But the tremours Steve must live with get in the way when it comes to reaching for his remotes; the darn things will skatter about the table, sometimes falling off.
So what is the simplest way for Steve to have access to his many remotes?
The result, after no less than 4 of us interested parties putting our heads together, was for Steve to wear the pockets across his chest with a soft comfortable strap to connect the top corners & reach around the back of his neck. So simple! I ended up making 2 units, so one could be in the wash while the other is worn. They were sewn with with a terry cloth underside for easy washing.
I will say the queue of pockets was fun to make. All the while feeling good about being able to help Steve's day flow a little easier. It has been wonderful & gratifying for me knowing that he was thrilled with them when they were opened a Christmas! But the very best part for me...and Steve?
I was able to make them of soft white polar fleece. With Blue Leafs.
I like to believe that what keeps me so motivated in my mere 2 patterned, 3 sizes profession is ideas...always looking around the corner for new, fresh even crazy choices for the bags.
The Gothic look came totally from an email enquiry. "Can you make a bag with skull fabric," it read, "blacks are best, but please NO pink or heart shaped eye sockets." Classic. And so my knowledge of Gothic tastes budded.
Uni & college students prefer corduroy, which confuses me, because, for the most part, they don't make a point of wearing it. A good sturdy accessory look I suppose, which is terrific for me. Fabricated in loads of colours, weights, wide, medium, thin & pin size wales, I love the assortments available to make my inventory so impressive!
Colours alone will sell a bag. Always have a red bag on hand. Emotional prints stand out too. Dogs, cats ("Oh look, she'll love this one, it has dogs on it! Is there a beagle on there?"), the unmistakable Pink Ribbon, I love to offer what makes folks feel good.
And then once in a while, something so unusual, so compelling will come along, that I tease myself for awhile with ideas, I let it simmer in the thought pot. My newest escapade. I'm 007 pensively stirring the martini, waiting for the elusive.
Her name is Jumoke (don't you love that name!) Rich dark African skin, beautiful enriching smile & enthusiasm that is infectious. She sews the tradional clothing of her home country Nigeria, & some house accessories, along with beautiful beading. I met her at a networking meeting & immediately took a notion to her because, at the risk of sounding smug, Jumoke seems to be alot of me. Her business started out exactly like mine, & has grown at a similar rate. And she loves fabric, a fellow fabric junky!
She invited me to her home to show me her fabrics & handiwork. Every year she returns to Africa for 2 months in the winter & while there purchases & orders handwoven fabric pieces from women in the markets. Imagine! To me, a vision from an exotic book! Open markets alive with activity; women crouched at their wares squinting in the warm sun, folding, hanging the wares, guiding the spools within small & simple looms, back & forth, back & forth. Slabs...lengths of incredible weaves, substantial weights, fabulous colours. All made with 2 hands.
On the back side of the pieces, there are tiny seams about every 6 inches running the length. The looms, Jumoke explains, are quite often only that wide, & long runners are made, then sewn together. So finely done, it isn't even apparent from the right side.
While she is showing me different fabrics, Jumoke is easily folding, & wrapping this piece around her waist to fit a skirt, a lighter weight piece magically swirls around her head into a headdress. So lovely, so beautiful! I was agog to say the least. These fabrics start out as easy rectangles & with a wrap & a tuck, become elegant, graceful, comfortable garments. The colours are so enthralling, all seemed to reflect the earth. Rich greys & browns, jewelled purples & reds. The energy is palitable.
I bought 5 pieces. At the moment they are relaxing in my sewing room, paired with soft toned co-ordinating, so carefully chosen cotton fabrics. I like to think these fabulous rich threads will patiently guide me, lead me through a mystical adventure. These weaves made from the skillful hands of a woman half a world away, into an enchanting experience for me.
Examples of past, handwoven fabric bags.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
I am laying on the livingroom floor beside Molly. She doesn't want to be alone, although she has never been one to complain or demand, today has been a quiet exception.
One day short of 2 weeks ago I took Moly into the vet because of a slight limp & swollen front leg. Seeing that she could move it, it didn't appear to be anything we needed to be concerned about, however at a casual mention of her gums being quite pallor, Dr. Tim decided to take some blood & run preliminary tests. Anemia was the result, but the question was why. Further blood tests revealed the likelihood of a tumour. Only 10 days ago we were given the news. A timeline was almost impossible to predict. It could be months, it could be days.
She was fortunate to have a healthy base to go from & a strong & happy outlook to carry her through. Naturally, not knowing what the heck is going on inside her body does have it's advantages. Molly didn't become increasingly weak, & her swollen paw (which ended up to be adema, poor ciirculation basically) returned to it's normal size. She enjoyed her usual lay daily routine & for about a week, we chose to be completely oblivious.
The morning MilkBone was the first to get the nix & then the canned dog food I'd had her on for the past year. She nibbled all day on kibble instead, but ate just the same & to her eating didn't seem important anyhow. Laying in her favourite spots out in the yard visiting with Sadie & Charlie, keeping a helpful eye beside me while I tended to my gardens & barking at the hawks who floated overhead were filling her days in the warmth of the springtime days.
And that is how we watched our Molly live. Her smiling face, & tail going strong while visiting neighbours. Everyone who knew Molly, or even just had the pleasure of spending a few minutes with her loved her. She liked every person & every cat she ever met.
And now, I'm afraid, we will watch our Molly die. Dr. Tim is coming to the house in a short while. He will inject a sedative for her to slowly fall into a deep slumber, & once she's there, another drug will stop her loving heart.
Yet I know her heart won't stop loving. That's the way Molly touched us all; drawing out the most tender spot in each of us. We all carried on conversations with her, we all shared secrets & laughed when we were alone with her. Each day Molly received the most fervent 'Good Morning', was kept abreast of the itinerary ("I won't be long...) & every single night, between the time of her pre-bedtime nap & the big settledown, Molly & Mandy (the cat) & I would lie on the floor together; chat & scratch heads & end the day with a hug.
Somehow, Molly just made life easy. And now I'm counting on my mulititude of memories with her to carry me through. She's wishing that for all of us, that's just the way that Molly is.
Since I primarily sew & sell the bags from home, each sale seems to cast it's own personality to a familiar scene. They're all extraordinary, but some more than others.
On a lazy Thursday afternoon I was just leaving the house to attend my monthly No Book Club afternoon 'meeting' (this term used very loosely!) when the phone rang. I decided I had time to answer. The young woman on the other end asked if she & her friend could come over right now to see the bags. I apologized for not being able to see her at that moment, but we made arrangements for after supper. Just as I'm hanging up the phone, I saw a van park in my driveway so quickly I run out to meet a young mom & her little guy...could she please see the bags her friends have been telling her about?
Are you kidding me? This is so awesomely weird! Sure she can, she's here now (At this point Iwished I would have told the other girl too). She laughed when I announced she could see them as long as she didn't mind shopping from the trunk of my car! The day before I had been in a show in Windsor & had left the bags in the car, being pressed for time. Fortunately, I take good care of my stock & all were laid neatly acccording to size, so upon opening the trunk, it looked like a treasure chest of bags!
So there we stood, by this time rifling through the bags, she spoiled for choice, trying different sizes & colours. Bless her, she bought 2 bags & ordered 1 more.
The story doesn't end here. While we were stood chatting about the bags, with the trunk of my Honda open for business, an OPP officer, drove up to investigate this odd sight.
"Hello Ladies, just come to see what's going on."
Guess who's wife came to buy a bag the next day?