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.
Here’s something super cute that I made for a customer today.
It’s a fabric storage box! How adorable is this polar bear fabric by Japanese designer Mico Ogura? She actually designed a similar polar bear fabric last year, which had sadly sold out quickly.
But miracles do happen, and this year she again came up with this equally-cute polar bear fabric. I love all the colors, but the grey one is particularly beautiful, don’t you think? Paired with natural, off-white lining, its cuteness is subtle enough for a grownup to use.
Fabric boxes are fantastic to organize things around your house. I’d think of diapers, baby clothing, kids’ toys, etc. But see, books might work well as well!
Cook books, kids’ books, that tend to scatter around the house can be neatly piled up in one of these boxes (not that they are neatly organized in my house, unfortunately…).
And if you are wondering if I am ever going to finish that sewing pattern for these boxes, I’m very sorry! Yes I am going to finish it as soon as I have some free time. Thanks for your patience, everyone.
If you are interested in purchasing one of these boxes, they are on my Etsy shop. The polar bear one is not listed, but if you send me a message, I’d be happy to custom make one for you, too (while the fabrics last, that is – the grey one is nearly sold out!).
It’s been a while since I added a new bag design to my shop. Not that I didn’t have any new ideas, but I’ve been so busy fulfilling orders, I had no time to play with new designs. This is the real shortcoming of having a do-everything-yourself business – that when your shop is busy, you just can’t get around to developing new products or write patterns… But I’m not complaining! There are many wonderful benefits to having a (mostly) one-person business as well, so really, I’m okay with it.
This week though, I’m happy to show you a new bag design finally! Well, it’s more like a “variation on the theme” of bucket bags that are already in my shops, rather than a radical new design. Still, I’m patting myself on shoulder for sewing up something different for a change.
It’s a nice size for a handbag, except it has an adjustable shoulder strap. It resembles my bucket diaper bags, but there are no outside pockets. It’s also longer in shape than it is wider. It looks more grownup that way. It’s for women of all ages – not just mothers of little ones.
And the fabric! It’s this fabric that inspired me to make this bag. It’s a new “Echino” line of designer fabric by Etsuko Furuya, called “Den.” How I love the tiny specks of silver triangles like sparkling snowflakes. And the shade of steel grey background and the large-scale dots. And of course those cheeky little foxes in silver. I have loved Echino fabrics for ages, but this one is one of my favorites.
This bag is now available in my Etsy shop. I can’t wait to make more stuff this gorgeous fabric!
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 linen. Cute prints are great, too, but sometimes, I love the simplicity and earthiness of plain linen. It just so happened that my mother, who recently visited Japan, bought me this gorgeous fox fabric in navy blue. It went beautifully with 100% linen canvas. Naturally I had to make something right away.
At first I thought I’d make an insulated lunch bag in a plain zippered sleeve style – no tote handles and no gusset. Many customers have been purchasing my lunch bags for themselves, rather than for their kids, so I thought another style of grownup lunch bag would be nice. Here it is.
I loved it! It fits a large lunch box with compartments perfectly, along with an ice block and utensils. It was a little too big for my kids’ stainless steel lunch boxes though.
While I was testing the pouch as a lunch sleeve, it occurred to me that this bag will also be great for an iPad – doesn’t it look quite stylish carried under your arm? It just so happened that I needed an iPad case.
So I made version 2. I adjusted the lunch bag size a little to fit my iPad. I used normal quilt wadding this time, instead of Insul-Bright. I kept the ripstop nylon lining to keep my iPad from getting accidentally wet from a leaky water bottle, etc. Then I thought how nice it would be to add a little pocket to the bag, to carry my stylus and other little accessories. So I made a “hidden” pocket with the foxy fabric, just on one side.
Perfect fit! The pouch is wide enough so the iPad goes in and out smoothly without getting caught in the zipper. Once inside, there is a little extra room for a small notebook, or notepad.
This little pocket is so handy. It’s not big, but all I need to fit in there is my stylus, and maybe another pen. Here are the two pouches – looking quite similar but serving different purposes.
This 100% linen canvas will go with a lot of different “accent” fabrics and colors. I can’t wait to make some more soon!
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!
I have made quite a few phone cases in the past, but I am quite excited about this one I just made.
The Liberty of London oilcloth is beautiful of course. But what I love is that this case is just the right size for my iPhone 5, and nothing else. It had to have a flap closure for the perfect sizing – a zippered pouch will always be a little too big, to compensate for the narrower zipper opening. This flap closes with a small magnetic button.
I developed this case for a customer actually. She wanted a phone case of this exact dimension, in a different Liberty fabric. So this blue case was one of the trial versions I made. But it so happened that I needed a new phone case for myself, too, so lucky me, I get to keep this trial version!
I added a simple strap for this case, so I can wear my phone case cross-bodied. Here’s a confession: I’m one of those sad people who are glued to their phones. I tend to misplace my phone all the time though, in my own house, especially when my clothes don’t have a pocket. With this phone case, I can wear the phone on me all the time.
Plus, because the oilcloth fabric is waterproof, I can now enjoy my daily walks even in the rain, knowing my phone will not get wet. Hooray!