I might have said this before, but I love customer feedback. Feedback is invaluable in improving my designs and coming up with new ones. Honest feedbacks are the most helpful, and the most honest customer I have in that department – is my mother.
My mother – who has always been an amazing supporter of my little business, always tells me exactly what she wants. And when she’s not happy with a particular product, I do hear from her!
So when I showed her my small Echino bucket bag to see if she’d like one of these for her birthday this month, she said she loved the Echino fabric, but she wasn’t sold on the bag design. She wished there were outside pockets – like some of the previous bags I made for her. She finds the pockets really useful, and an entire bag with just one fabric showing is a bit boring, she said. See, she’s honest.
I felt deflated for a minute (because I loved the original bag), but then I recovered and started cutting for another bag.
Here’s the bag I made for her – small bucket shoulder bag with outside pockets…
… and two inside pockets as well – four pockets in total. It does take a fair bit longer to make this bag, but the added feature of large outside pockets does make the stunning Echino fabric stand out more. I still like the original, all-over design, too though… which one do you like better? Here’s the two of them together. Meanwhile, Happy birthday, Midori!
It’s getting cold in the Blue Mountains. I love all the seasons here, but autumn is particularly lovely. Here’s a view from my studio right now. What a glorious day!
In Japan, we think of autumn as a season of creativity and reading – a time to resurrect your brain after a mind-numbingly hot and sweaty summer. And even though the summer in the mountains is mild, I feel a surge of fresh creative energy these days!
So, here’s another Echino bag in the same smaller bucket bag design I showed you last time (that bag, by the way, has sold already and is on its way to a new home in the US as we speak – woohoo!).
How cute are these budgies? Well, they are more realistic-looking rather than “cute,” but I love them anyways. Budgies were my childhood pets growing up in a small apartment in Japan.
Etsuko Furuya’s designs are often large-scale, so they shine in larger items like this.
The natural colour of linen will go with a lot of different outfits, but I also have this print in hot pink and black.
It’s available in my Etsy shop now.
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.
Insulated lunch bags and matching insulated snack sleeves. Can lunch time get any happier with these fabrics?
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.
Here are mini activity tote bags that children can decorate themselves.
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.
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.
Today I continued to play with the black “boy” fabric. I really love this fabric. First I made an insulated lunch bag.
I realize this lunch bag may not look too manly…. A while back, I asked my Facebook friends if their husbands and boyfriends might go for a tote-style lunch bag if the fabric was sufficiently manly. And their answer was largely – um, no. Men don’t care about a nice lunch bag, and they can’t be trusted to bring it back home safely anyway, they told me. Or men would be too embarrassed to carry a handbag-style lunch bag. Fair enough, I thought. But here I am making a handbag lunch bag anyway! Maybe I am hopelessly optimistic that there are some men (or older boys) out there, who are comfortable wearing this adorable bag to work or school. Or there are women who would like to carry this cool lunch bag. We shall wait and see what the global Etsy community will say about this bag.
In that same Facebook conversation, some people suggested that toiletry bags might be the thing to make for men – assuming the fabric is right. So just to be on the safe side, I also made a large wet bag pouch in the same fabric. This would make a nice toiletry bag with the waterproof lining and all.
Speaking of black fabric, I sewed with a few other black (or black and white) fabrics today – quite by coincidence.
This is an extra-large insulated lunch bag in black and white stripe – this fabric is popular. I’ve sold a lot of lunch bags in this zebra-chic fabric.
Here is a medium wet bag in a black and white checkered cat fabric. I also have this fabric in pink, green, and blue, but this black and white version is my favorite.
This one is a simple drawstring backpack lunch bag. It’s the same “Cocoland” series of cat fabrics as the checkered one.
The drawstring bag has such a cute shape, don’t you think? I have a tutorial here if you’d like to make one yourself. It would make a great craft project bag, too! Here is the bag with my current craft project inside. It’s going to be a scarf for Mr. Piggledee (because it’s really cold in the Blue Mountains). My knitting needles don’t quite fit in this bag, but if you use circular needles it will fit with no problem.
Most of these items are now available at my shop.
Here is a simple tote bag I made this week, using a stunning “Echino” line of fabric designed by Etsuko Furuya.
I love this large-scale faux patchwork print. It’s very colorful and the mix of different patterns could have looked busy, but it doesn’t. The earthy tones of the colors make everything look cohesive instead of chaotic. It’s joyful and delightful.
I designed the bag a while ago actually, and made these for a couple of customers. The first one was a very large one – great size as a diaper bag.
The second one was a little smaller. This week was the second time I made this smaller bag.
When the fabric is this special, simple designs are the best. There is an exposed zipper pocket and a large patch pocket inside. The handles are padded for comfort. There is also a key-holder tab. But that’s about it for features.
After sewing the bag, I was left with a bit of scrap fabric. Normally it would go into this big box of scrap fabrics for use “one day.” But this time I felt too sad to toss this perfectly gorgeous bit of Echino fabric in there. So I made this little… pouch thingy at the end. What is it? Hmm. I’m not sure. It’s too narrow to be a tissue holder and too short to be a pencil case.
Could it be a coin purse? Why, yes, it could! I hope my customer will enjoy this little impromptu gift of a coin purse, along with the bag.
There is just enough of this Echino fabric left for one more bag – and then sadly, that’s it!
It feels good to make a new product for my shop. Yes I know I have so. many. products. already, but there’s always something new brewing in my head. I just can’t help myself. This particular library bag had been brewing in my head for so long, sewing it up was the easiest part.
The bag is a flat tote bag in the “portrait” orientation, that is just large enough for a few books, and other A4-sized documents and folders. It’s lightly padded and I used heavy-duty cotton for the lining, so it is sturdy enough to carry not only heavy books, but your iPad or even a laptop computer. My 13″ MacBook fits in there perfectly.
This one is in the dark blue cat fabric, which I love. It’s not too childish, and a grownup cat-lover would (I hope) carry this to the office as a casual document bag. I know I would totally carry this “briefcase” to court hearings if I were still practicing law. That would make me giggle inside, feeling like a small-time rebel in a world of all-black-and-all-serious environment. Actually the clean lines and sharpness of the bag make it more grown-up friendly, allowing some wiggle room for a playful print.
The tote bag is available now at my shop. I have this gorgeous print in black and red as well, but if you’d like a different fabric, please feel free to request a custom order.
Oh, did you notice the cute felt cat mascot hanging from the bag? That was made by Ina Sudjana, who made a bunch of felt bag tags in collaboration for my popular prints, including the strawberry print. She can even stitch an initial to the back of the charm, which is a great way to personalize your bag. It’s totally adorable.
Here are more bag charms by Ina, and they are available to purchase from my shop, as well as from Ina’s Etsy shop.
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I love the new polar bear fabric by Mico Ogura. The bears in pants and scarves are super adorable, and the print comes in beautiful shades of blue, pink, and yellow. Aren’t they great? These are insulated snack sleeves, by the way.
But my favorite color is grey. So when a client asked me to make not one but two tote bags in this grey polar bear fabric, I knew they would turn out pretty special.
This is tote bag number one: It is a simple gusseted tote bag, but very large in size.
The bag has a recessed zipper closure at the top. There are two inside pockets: an exposed zipper pocket, and a patch pocket. I love how the bear heads are lining up at the zipper side and on the handles!
Here’s what the gusseted bottom looks like.
And here’s tote bag number two!
It’s smaller than the first one, and great for everyday use as a handbag.
It has an oval bottom like my bucket diaper bags.
There are two patch pockets inside, and a carabiner tab on the side.
I hope these polar bears will bring my client lots of smiles!
Ever since I started making insulated lunch bags, customers have been requesting that I make them in a larger size. I honestly don’t know why it took me nearly two years, but I finally made one today. Just in time for another hot Australian summer!
I love this big size. It’s only two inches wider and two inches taller, but the difference in capacity is pretty significant. Just look at this comparison photo.
The bag looks so roomy inside, I can fit lunch for my whole family in it. If you are using the bag just for yourself, there is enough room for your morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, a water bottle – plus a couple of ice blocks to keep everything cool for a few hours.
Even at this large size, doesn’t the bag still look cute? I love this black and white stripe fabric.
This extra-large lunch bag is available now in my shop. There’ll be more fabric choices in the future, but if you contact me, I’d be happy to make a custom lunch bag in your choice of fabric.
I have been meaning to make serviettes for my shop for the longest time. We use cloth napkins at nearly every mealtime, and they are incredibly versatile. The only reason I waited this long to make them for my shop was that they are boring to make. I mean, they are just… square cloths. And folding the four sides with a hot iron (before sewing them) isn’t the most fun job.
But last night I had a sudden inspiration. I can skip the ironing part! Instead of ironing all the folded edges first, I gently rolled the hems with my fingertips as I sewed them. This technique took a bit to get used to, but once I got the hang of it I was thrilled with the result. The hems are narrow, clean, reasonably straight, and best of all I didn’t have to burn my fingers with a hot iron.
As a bonus, I found this napkin-making process relaxing. The simple motions were therapeutic instead of boring, and I loved that I could sew while listening to my favorite podcasts (This American Life and The Longest Shortest Time). It was a little addictive actually.
These napkins are about 7″ square (18cm). Great for entertaining, everyday mealtime, or for packing in the kids’ lunch boxes. They also double as a reusable wipe for cleaning your little ones’ faces. You can also use them as mini placemats to brighten up a snack time.
Isn’t this tree fabric adorable? It’s 100% organic cotton. But my favorite might be the stripy one – the cotton linen fabric has a nice linen feel, and the yarn-dyed stripe pattern means you can see the stripe just as clearly on the back side as well. Then again I love these tulip organic cotton ones, too… Just adorable! All these cocktail napkins are now available at my shop.
I have recently launched my new product range – EpiPen cases for children and grownups. Over the years, people have asked me to make EpiPen cases, because they couldn’t find any commercial ones that are pretty. It took a while for me to come up with them, but here they are!
These are the ones for children. Aren’t the mini elephants adorable? I love this sturdy, laminated cotton from Japan that is waterproof and stain-resistant. The matt finish of the vinyl coating is gorgeous. The material feels solid and smooth in your hands.
I used ripstop nylon for the bag lining. The pouch is not machine washable, but it’s easy to wipe it clean, inside or out, with a soapy damp cloth. The pouch has a layer of padding inside to protect the EpiPens – it feels nice and cushy.
Each pouch comes with a special medical ID card. Amy from Gloriousmess!, who is an amazing designer and a medical doctor, custom designed these for me. I particularly love the “Dr. Piggy” version for children – so cute! For grownups, Amy designed one with a red cross. The cards are printed on thick, high-quality paper to keep inside the pouch with your medical devices.
The pouch comes with a D ring tab on each side, and one carabiner tab. With a carabiner, you can attach the pouch securely to a handbag or school bag, so you can easily find it in case of an emergency.
I also made an optional, adjustable strap for wearing cross-bodied – in case of school outings, for example. You can remove the strap and keep it inside the pouch when not wearing it.
Here are my little models testing the pouches with the shoulder straps.
I couldn’t have designed these pouches without the help of kind friends who tested them and gave me feedback. I don’t own any Epipens myself (except for the smaller, trainer ones I use for taking photos) or have any experience with anaphylaxis, so their feedback was crucial. So thank you, Tanya and Sam! Based on their recommendations, I made the pouches large enough for two EpiPens and a small bottle of antihistamine.
For older children and grownups who might find the elephants too childish, I love these classic stripes and polka dots.
And for the ultimate in prettiness, I made these Liberty of London pouches with their laminated cotton fabrics.
These pouches are great for lots of other uses as well. I’ve been using mine to carry blood glucose testing devices, and a set of medication tablets. It happens to be just the right size for it, and I love that I can keep it in my handbag without getting it all dirty.
These medical pouches are all handmade with love from start to finish. They are now available at my shop.