Facebook Holiday Market

Thank you very much to those of you who came by my Facebook market last weekend. This market featured a brand new, original fabric collection by the fabulous designer and friend Amy from Gloriousmess! Amy has designed my “Piggy” logo, banners, medical ID card, and other packaging materials in the past. It’s fair to say I’m a huge fan of pretty much everything Amy designs. I have been hoping for a long time that she would one day design fabrics. Then my dream came true!

Here are some of the products I made with Amy’s fabric for the Facebook market.

Piggledee lunch bag Piggledee lunch bag

Insulated lunch bags and matching insulated snack sleeves. Can lunch time get any happier with these fabrics?Piggledee wet bags

These are small-sized wet bags. The designs are printed on a very sturdy, cotton linen blend canvas – perfect for all kinds of bags.

The most popular items at the Facebook market were these coloring pencil cases – black and white fabrics with gorgeous detailed drawings that children (or grownups even) can color in with permanent or washable market pens. There are three designs – sushi, “under the sea” and space. All are fantastic, but being Japanese and all, sushi is by far my favorite! I love that these designs would appeal to both boys and girls, so I used gender-neutral colors for the zipper and lining.

Piggledee pencil case Piggledee pencil case

Here are mini activity tote bags that children can decorate themselves.

Piggledee activity tote

Amy’s fabrics also came in 100% certified organic jersey – which is super soft yet sturdy. For the market, I made simple wash towels with certified organic terry towel backing.

Piggledee organic towel

Piggledee organic towel

Most of these items were sold out in a matter of hours. But if you missed out, please don’t despair. You’ll probably see more items in my shops soon – now we know how popular they are.

It was such a privilege and joy to have worked with Amy to introduce her first-ever fabric collection. Thank you so much, Amy! And if you like her fabric designs, please visit her shop (website or Etsy) for other gorgeous designs in greeting cards, packaging items, and art prints.

 

Mini Coin Purse

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all the support and comments on my Facebook page. There is nothing more gratifying than coming up with a new creation in the morning, sharing it on Facebook, and getting immediate feedback from my customers. Like yesterday, when I shared this photo of a mini coin purse.

Liberty of London Mirabelle coin purse by Piggledee

I made the coin purse with Liberty of London laminated print called Mirabelle. Normally I wouldn’t use white fabric for a coin purse, because it’ll get dirty very quickly. But that’s the magic of laminated fabrics – they are super stain resistant!

The pattern is my own. I made similar coin purses a couple of years ago, and just modified that pattern. The ones I made before had separate compartments for coins and cards, and were more complicated to make.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Original coin purse by Piggledee

 

This time, there is just one compartment for coins and folded notes. But simple is good, according to your comments. Because school children only need to carry a bit of change.

Encouraged by the positive feedback I received, I made four more of these coin purses that very afternoon.

Liberty mini coin purses by Piggledee

I took their photos immediately afterwards, and by the evening, the coin purses were added to the auction album. These all feature laminated prints and nylon lining – all Liberty of London prints except the elephant one. Don’t they look so cute together?

Laminated Liberty mini coin purse by Piggledee

Green elephant mini coin purse by Piggledee

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(More photos)

Opening and closing a zipper can be fiddly for little ones. But with the key ring tab on one side of the zipper and my Piggledee tag on the other, it should be much easier. I attached a key ring and a swivel clip, so you can secure the coin purse to a handbag or a school bag. You can also attach it to your key chain, and that might be all you need for a quick trip to the shops.

I have five of these mini coin purses in the auction album. Please check it out if you are interested!

 

Rainy Day Shoulder Bags

I’ve been a little obsessed with laminated fabric lately. Particularly those matt ones that are more subtle looking. From a distance, you won’t know that these fabrics are vinyl-coated – they look like normal cotton fabric. Even up close, it’s hard to tell sometimes. My favorite is the Liberty of London laminated fabrics.

Liberty of London laminated fabric

These are the most beautiful laminated fabrics I have ever seen. In addition to the gorgeous Liberty prints to begin with, the laminated ones have great sturdiness, making it suitable for bags of all sorts. It feels amazing to touch – smooth and reassuringly solid, and it doesn’t have any icky synthetic feel. As a bonus, the material is waterproof and stain resistant.

The only drawback is that these Liberty fabrics are super pricey! This is why I had only made small things with it so far – like phone pouches with a wristlet, makeup pouches, and pencil cases. 

Liberty of London pouches by Piggledee

Top left: rainy day mini wristlet pouch / top right: triangle pencil cases / bottom left: flat makeup cases / bottom right: makeup pouches with a flat bottom.

But today, I made something a little bit bigger – cross-body shoulder bags! These bags are twice as large as my pencil cases, and has a simple zipper closure at the top. It’s a nice roomy size for a small wallet, phone, keys, makeup, and a few other essentials. 

Rainy Day Shoulder Bag by Piggledee

Rainy Day Shoulder Bag by Piggledee detail view

Isn’t this blueberry-like print gorgeous? The strap is long enough for a small to medium-sized woman to wear cross-bodied, or hang from one shoulder.

Liberty Rainy Day Shoulder Bag by Piggledee

 

 

You can remove the strap if you like, and use the bag as an organizer pouch instead. 

Liberty Capel Rainy Day Shoulder Bag by Piggledee

 

This print called “Capel” is one of my all-time Liberty favorites. And black goes with everything.

I used waterproof nylon taffeta for the lining. Having waterproof material for the outside and inside makes these bags pretty handy for rainy days. There is also a layer of quilt wadding inside for added cushiness and softness.

Rainy Day Shoulder Bag by Piggledee

Here’s another rainy day bag using laminated fabric – though not Liberty.

Rainy Day Shoulder Bag by Piggledee

I love this zebra-like bag.

Rainy Day Shoulder Bag by Piggledee detail view

There is a tiny gusset at the bottom – just to give some three-dimensional shape to the bag.

These rainy bags will be available at my Facebook auction, which is going on right now. Please come over and say hello

 

 

 

Snack Sleeve

I’ve been having so much fun making things for the Facebook auction market. There is something about creating for a specific audience – my lovely Facebook friends and supporters – that is particularly motivating and exciting. I love coming up with products I think they’d appreciate. Like these insulated snack sleeves.

Snack sleeve by Piggledee - green cats OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Several people in the past have suggested that I make either smaller insulated lunch bags, or insulated version of snack bags. So I made something that’s in between the two – it’s a very versatile size!

Piggledee snack sleeve inside view

These snack sleeves are a little bigger than a typical sandwich bag, and has a flat bottom. It’s a perfect size for a tab of yoghurt and a piece of fruit, OR a smallish container of lunch or snack. I recommend using a mini-sized reusable ice pack to keep the content nice and cool.

Piggledee snack sleeve inside view

This round container with a blue lid is from Ikea – the shallow one, not the deep one. I love these, and use them all the time for our kids’ school lunch box. The snack sleeve also fits other types of small containers. Fill it with cheese sticks, yoghurt, slices of cake, chocolate… or any other snacks that are best served cold. The ice pack and the insulation material should keep the content cool for a few hours.

I used a layer of Insul Bright inside for the insulation effect. The lining is PUL, using the non-coated side on the outside. I used PUL just because I was running out of coated nylon, but I do like the soft hand of PUL – with the non-coated side facing, it almost feels like normal cotton fabric, but with water-resistant effect. Even though the non-coated side is supposedly safer with food, as opposed to the coated side, I’d still avoid putting food directly in contact with the lining. It’s safer to use a container or a wrap around food, before storing it in the snack sleeve. 

Here are some of the cute fabrics I used for children.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Piggledee snack sleeves for children

And for grownups, or for older children, isn’t this mushroom fabric lovely? 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Piggledee snack sleeves with mushroom fabric

I hope to see you at the auction! You can visit my auction album here.

 

 

Apple Cozy

If you have followed me on Facebook, you know I have started this “Sunday Funday” thing. It’s a Sunday mini market, where I make something new and offer it for sale on Sundays, directly from my Facebook page. I love how it allows me to enjoy a couple of hours of creative freedom every week, even when I’m super busy sewing to orders. I had missed a few Sundays while getting my new online shop up and running, but I’m back on track this week.

Photo of an apple cozy by Piggledee

 

This week, I made apple cozies. I had so much fun making these! We went for a drive to Bilpin this weekend, where they grow lots of apples. We saw apples everywhere, even though the apple season has officially finished. There were little cafes and roadside stands selling bags of Pink Lady apples, home-made apple pies, and apple cider.

photo of Pink Lady apples

While driving, I thought it’d be neat to have a shopping bag with an apple print. Mark (aka Mr. Piggledee) thought it’d be neat to have an individual apple bag – just for fun. So when we came back home, I began to make one – using my favorite Japanese apple fabric of course.

Photo of an apple cozy by PiggledeePiggledee apple cozy in red Japanese apple print

It took a couple of tries to come up with “just” the right size for one large apple. It’s a drawstring bag with a large flat bottom – kind of like a fabric box with a drawstring top. How cute is it? I can’t decide which I like better – the green apple or the red apple print? 

Piggledee apple cozy in green and red Japanese apple printsPiggledee apple cozy in red and green Japanese apple print

These apple cozies may not be on everyone’s list of essentials – in fact it is slightly frivolous. But I love it. It’s a happy bag, and it makes me smile when I see it. And that’s in the perfect spirit of Sunday Fundays I think. 

photo fo a row of apples

New and improved sandwich bags

Sandwich bags are one of those seemingly simple products that are, in fact, troublesome to make. Well, technically it’s not difficult to make of course. It’s just difficult to come up with the perfect design – at least for me it was. In the past I have made a zippered version like this…

Zippered sandwich bag - pink elephant

and a simple velcro version with velcro tabs at the top of the bag (the one on the right)…

Velcro-top sandwich bag - Cats

and a flap version with a single fabric like this.

Flap sandwich bag - hippos

But none of them was truly satisfactory to me. Why? Well, here are my “pros and cons” comparison notes.

Zippered Version

Pros: Neat-looking design. Food bits don’t get stuck in the velcro. Easy to maintain and wash. Probably lasts longer than velcro ones. A versatile pouch, because it’s great as snack bags (muffins, crackers, etc). Also can be used as a small wet bag, for wipes, makeup, crayons, and so on.

Cons: Fiddly to get a sandwich in and out of the bag because the zipper doesn’t open to the full width of the bag. If the zipper width is wide enough, then it’s too wide inside the bag, and the sandwich swims in it. Zipper can be fiddly to use for toddlers.

Velcro-Top Version

Pros: Nice simple design. Easy for children to use. Sandwich fits in snugly and securely.

Cons: Food can get stuck in the velcro while putting a sandwich in and out. Fluff sticks to velcro in the wash. Stitch lines for sewing the velcro shows through – not a very elegant finish.

Velcro-on-Flap Version 1

Pros: Flaps are cute. Food doesn’t get caught in the velcro as much, because the sandwich doesn’t have to touch the velcro strips while packing and unpacking. Sandwich fits in snugly and securely. Velcro is easier for kids to use.

Cons: The one-fabric design only works with non-directional prints – meaning, fabrics that have no upside and downside. The flap section was small, and it took some force to rip the velcro open. The stitch marks around the velcro strips can be really noticeable. And then there is the issue of washing velcro, and a possibly short lifespan of velcro products.

New!! Velcro-on-Flap Version 2

Version 2 of flap-style sandwich bags

So this is my latest sandwich bag. Is this the “perfect” sandwich bag I was seeking? I think it’s very close. Here’s the “pros and cons” assessment:

Pros: I love that I can slide a sandwich in and out of the bag smoothly, without worrying about food getting caught in the zipper or velcro tab. The sandwich sits in the bag snugly and securely – not as snugly as with a sandwich wrap, but close.

I also love the two-fabric design. It allows me to use rather special fabrics for the small flap section, while keeping the cost down somewhat by using plain cotton linen canvas fabric. I can also use directional prints this way, because the print is used only for the flap bit.

The flap section is larger than the first flap version, which adds to the cuteness factor. More importantly, the large flap allows an extra-wide space between the edge of the flap and the velcro strips. You can grab onto this bit of fabric to open the velcro easily – very child friendly.

Version 2 of flap-style sandwich bags - view with the flap open

If I use busy prints for the flap section, the stitch lines for the velcro are not noticeable. Pretty elegant looking overall.

New sandwich bag - closeup of the flap

Cons: The only cons here are the inherent problems associated with velcro – tricky to keep clean and wash, and the lifespan may not be terribly long. Of course, if the velcro stops sticking after a couple of years, it’s easy to replace them – so I hope people will not throw these pretty bags away!

Version 2 of flap-style sandwich bags - Liberty Hello Kitty bags

How adorable are these Liberty Hello Kitty sandwich bags? They are so pretty, in fact, that you can use them for other things like pens and crayons (the waterproof nylon lining comes in handy here). If I attach a shoulder strap, it’ll be such a cute little girl’s bag, too, don’t you think?

These sandwich bags will be available at my upcoming Facebook market day, and will be listed on Etsy later on.

New sandwich bag lineup

 

Thoughts on markets

I have done a flurry of markets the last few months, mostly new ones I hadn’t done before, just to see what they are like.  It is quite exciting trying a new market, be it a crafty one, children’s market, or school markets.  What would the venue be like? Will the weather be all right? Would there be a big turnout, and how will people react to the things I make? Will there be someone selling good coffee?  A lot of the market thrill is in the anticipation of the unknown.

One thing I always enjoy about trying a new market is seeing what other stalls are selling, and how they are displaying the goods.  Usually, once I’m all set up with my stall, I walk around the room to check out other stalls, admire their handmade goodness, and have a pleasant chit-chat with the stall holders. There is a great sense of community among crafters at markets. And this is the reason why, even when the market turns out to be disappointing in terms of sales, I usually have a good day at a market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s my stall at a recent baby and kids’ market in Menai.  My stall always looks rather messy and crowded! I need to stop making so many different things.  Most other handmade stalls are much cleaner and streamlined.  They seem to make just one type of thing – be it girly hair accessories, bibs, girls’ dresses, or cupcakes.  I’ve got to admire these people.  They have the focus I don’t have, and their stalls look beautiful and organized.  The truth is I get so bored making just one thing, I keep expanding my sewing repartoire.  I don’t think I can ever be a handmade “specialist”….  but maybe I can bring fewer things to markets next time.

 

Market report

Oh no, has it really been over a month since I posted? Lazy, lazy me. And isn’t it shocking that it’s nearly November? It’s a busy season for markets now, gearing up for the holidays, so I want to write about my favourite new market today: the Bluebird Market in Leura, Blue Mountains.

I had the honor to participate in their launch market in October (the markets are on the first Saturday of each month). It was the first market, with only a handful of stalls, and the weather was not promising…. so I didn’t expect much from it. I went because I’d love any excuse to go to the Blue Mountains. And sure enough it was cold and rainy that day. Surprisingly though, it was so much fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was the view from my stall. Live music! And not the loud and hideous kind. There were children dancing in the morning, obivioius to occasional showers. Behind them, coal trains came and went all day long, which was cool. The grounds of Alexandra Hotel was beautiful, with lush greens and flowers. Most of all though, I sew a different kind of crowd up there in the Mountains – people who are a little more relaxed, a little more into enjoying the “now” and a little less on a strict schedule than in Sydney. Children were allowed to have fun where they found it, and grownups weren’t all staring into their phones every spare minute. Funny how it’s a very different place, even though it only took me a little more than an hour to drive up there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s my stall. The usual suspects, plus I had a new rack from Ikea to display baby blankets and such. The problem with my tendency to make one new thing after another, is it’s hard to find display space to house them all.

As ever, the best thing about doing markets is meeting new people and making new friends. And I met a few lovely crafty people that day. It was one of the most enjoyable markets I’ve ever done.

 

Mathilda’s Market

It’s been a week already since the Mathilda’s Market, and I should have written about it earlier. I’ve been quite busy last week – not so much crafting, but gardening. Gardening meaning, mostly pulling weeds out of our junglified yards. We’ve been totally neglecting the yards, especially the front one, that upon removing long weeds I have discovered – surprise! – proper plants underneath that the previous owner must have planted. Our neighbours must be sighing a collective sigh of relief now that our house is no longer looking like the black sheep of the street.

Anyway, there was a lot of anticipation about the Mathilda’s Market, because it is a big crafting market with a big stall fee. They have markets in Sydney only about three times a year, and unlike the general weekend markets like Orange Grove, only have stalls selling baby and kids’ items — not necessarily handmade, but there are a lot of handmade stalls. This time it was at Sydney Cricket Ground / Fox Studios, and there were over 120 stalls! It was overwhelmingly big.

I got lucky that I had a stall space near the entrance with good lighting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I went to Ikea the day before to get the white board and the coat stand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My usual suspects of bags and backpacks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Items I only sell at markets, like popcorn bags, toy magnets and keychains.

As expected, it was quite a different kind of market experience than the Orange Grove market. I had never seen so many pregnant women and mothers with strollers in one place. I had good sales, too, even considering the high stall fee. Plus, as ever, I got to meet a few other stallholders who were not only talented, but also mothers of small children who pursue their crafty passion with what little time they have left in their busy days. I very much enjoy that feeling of camaraderie at markets, as well as talking to my customers face to face.

Slack environmentalism

Recently I was invited to have a stall at an arts and craft fair called Creative Lane in Marrickville on July 31st (Sunday). The energetic organiser of the event, Suki, was preparing a brochure for the event featuring the stallholders, and she wanted each of us to contribute a full-page content for it. At first I thought I didn’t have time for it (really, how many weeks has it been since my last blog post?), but upon further encouragement from Suki, I decided to just do it. This is what I came up with:

I’m a slack sort of an environmentalist. I always have the best intention of doing my bit to save the earth, but when it comes to the grind of daily life with two little ones, the sad truth is my actions often don’t live up to my ideal. Often I don’t have the energy or patience to make sacrifices for a cause. Remember that Murphy Brown episode where a hungry and tired Murphy orders a delivery of takeaway, and it arrives in a Styrofoam container she’d vowed to boycott? She hesitates but sends it back in the end. If it were me, I would eat it in a heartbeat. I’m weak that way.

Take cloth nappies, for example. I used cloth nappies (and cloth wipes) for my first child. But when the second one arrived two years later, there was a lot of washing to be done with the two of them in nappies. And the “one size” cloth nappies I had bought didn’t fit my youngest well. There was a lot of leakage… and hence more washing. So I gave in and started using disposables.

But other “green” choices are easier for me to make, because they don’t require any sacrifice on my part – and offer only benefits. I buy used kids’ clothing because it’s cheap and wearable. I adore the feel of natural fabrics like cotton and linen, and use them whenever possible in lieu of synthetics. Organic food is not only earth-friendly but tastes better. And composting? I love how I don’t have to squeeze all the garbage into the bin every week to make it fit.

The handmade accessories I make reflect my penchant for no-sacrifice environmentalism. The fabric lunch bags are great alternatives to bulky plastic ones since they’re lightweight, easy to store, and machine washable (i.e. more hygienic). Same with my daycare bags, which are machine washable and for that reason alone  better than stain-prone plastic backpacks in the shops. And when wiping those grubby little faces, I much prefer using my organic cotton washers in lieu of disposable wipes or tissue – they’re prettier, feel better in your hands and on my kids’ delicate skin, and have no nasty chemicals. The things I make for my shop are things I love using every day – and as a bonus they happen to be earth-friendly.

Because, seriously, parenting is hard work. We all want to save the earth, but if we can do our bit without a big sacrifice… wouldn’t we all prefer a win-win situation?

Sounds good, doesn’t it? The thing is, upon writing this and sending it off to Suki, I suddenly began to feel guilty. Guilty about the disposable nappies I’m still using six months after Miss M was toilet trained. Guilty about still using my apartment-era clothes dryer sometimes, even though our new house came with the biggest Hills Hoist ever, just because I like my towels soft or because the weather is a bit chilly outside.

Driven by this wave of guilt, I remembered a book review a while ago, about a family in New York who, as an experiment, lived a whole year in a sustainable way — in an extremely sustainable way in fact: no driving cars or using public transport, using no disposable anything, including coffee cups and toilet paper, and not even using an elevator.  The book is called No Impact Man by Colin Beavan. I bought the Kindle version of the book and started reading it straight away.

Well I’m still reading it, but so far, No Impact Man is having a devastating impact on my conscience. All the more so because Beavan is such a fantastic writer and the book is an entertaining read – there is a lot of interesting family drama involved in his experiment (his experiment applied to the whole family – his fur-loving wife and their 18-month-old daughter). In particular, Beavan’s account of how he struggled to reduce – to zero – the vast amount of garbage the family had previously generated, including disposable nappies and take-away containers, is sending my level of guilt and shame to overdrive.

Forget that I compost, recycle, use “earth-friendly” cleaning products, or use cloth handkerchiefs — suddenly these things seem like trivial trickles in light of the ocean of transgressions I am making elsewhere. How could I have possibly thought it was okay to buy yoghurt in plastic squirt tubes just to placate my whiney kids while grocery shopping? How can I justify driving my gas-guzzling V6 car for 40 minutes each way to an organic market? Or anywhere for that matter? And all that fabric I buy from overseas… how much damage in carbon emission is that causing?

I am not a slack sort of an environmentalist. I am just slack.

Things will have to change. I can’t give up toilet paper or avoid driving altogether… but I cannot avoid making sacrifices anymore. I need to go beyond my yuppy comfort zone. I am hopeful though, that “sacrifices” may not feel like sacrifices anymore when you  begin to realize your wants and needs were unjustified to begin with. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate win-win situation?