Monday, July 27, 2009
contest is that i get such a kick out of seeing what people are doing with my patterns. It just makes my day to hear some of the stories behind the bags, like this cool Odyssey Backpack that Christine Gannage of Los Osos, CA. made to take to Hawaii with her.
The voting has been particularly tight this month. Check 'em out and you'll see why.
Like this gorgeous pin-weaved Vervalise created by Roxanne Murray of Carmel, IN.
Or this wonderful Boho Baguette made by Mandy Hall of Great Britain. Mandy was a busy girl this month, she also sent in two other entries.
a beautiful pair of Kizmet Klutches,
and a versatile PortaPockets Insert.
Jenny Durey of Sydney, Australia took the time to pipe ALL the exterior seams of her Trifecta.
Judy Dove of Great Britain created this exquisite Boho Baguette.
And finally, my faithful tester, Peg Rice of Westport Island, ME sent in this seaworthy Gadabout with matching PortaPocket Insert.
The voting for this month's contest will be over on Friday night, but believe it or not, there's only ONE vote seperating the three leaders at this point! If you'd like to vote just click here, or better still, leave a fun comment here for the creator of your favorite. You'd put a smile on her face for sure!
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Recognize this fabric? It's the great safari print I found at MaryJo's last week.
But look at the right edge, it's completely different, but there's an easy way around this, and when we're done, it will barely be detectable.
Fold the right edge of the pattern piece back exposing the fabric underneath. Next, cut the whole bag front out, just up to the folded section on top & bottom.
Then, since we want to get rid of the black patterned section of this fabric, cut along the single black line, which is conveniently about 1/2" away from the fold.
Next, cut out a section of the brown that's at least as wide as the folded area . Lay it alongside the larger piece to check it for size. If you're satisfied, place it right sides together with the main piece and stitch ~1/2" from the raw edges. After pressing the seam open, place the folded area of the pattern piece over it, and finished cutting out the bag front.
Here's the way the final cut piece looks. The zebra is centered & placed just where I want it, with equal amounts of brown on either side of it. Now for the Yoke area. Let's go back and get that cook black patterned section of the fabric and use that!
The entire Yoke area is visible on the front of the bag, I just folded the pattern piece in half to determine its center, and then place the center fold on the "eye" in this design.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Many of you know that I have a long-standing working relationship with Susa Glenn of Susa Glenn Designs. Susa is an independent embroidery designer and I think her work is some of the best currently available. Once I was satisfied that the exterior of this new design wasn't going to change anymore, I contacted Susa to see if she was interested in collaborating once again, and I was thrilled to find out that she was.
Here's the interesting part. I usually give Susa very little lead info going into the project. I generally send her one picture to just give her some semblance of the sillohouette. I like for her to go into the project with pretty much a blank slate, choosing her own color palette, and the embroidery she feels best fits the bag. So it's always a complete surprise when the embroidered fabric arrives in the mail. This may in fact be my favorite aspect of this partnership, the fact that the exterior choices for this bag is totally out of my hands.
It's become fairly obvious over the course of making several hundred handbags in the past few years, that I naturally gravitate toward certain colors & patterns. I have found it very difficult to "go against the grain" and choose something out of this comfort zone. It's no wonder then, that when I open this package from Susa, and get my first look at her creation, that my first reaction is always delighted surprise.
It's also no surprise that the bags I've created for the Trifecta & the Boho Baguette, (pictured below), using the exteriors that Susa has chosen & designed have produced some of my most successful advertising campaigns to date. I think this Lollapalooza bag will be no exception because the embroidered exterior gives the Lollapalooza a whole different feel than the pieced exteriors I've made so far. It seem to have a more sophisticated look, which may appeal to an entirely different type of customer.
I've still got a few more bags I want to make, using the wonderful fabrics I found this week at Mary Jo's. Then comes the hard part- choosing ONE of these bags to display on the cover of the pattern, which could be difficult this time. If you had to choose between the bags you've seen so far, which one wouold YOU choose?
Thursday, July 16, 2009
So if you've got all your supplies, let's get started embellishing this bag! The Lollapalooza pattern piece we'll be working with is ~13" tall, so let's make all of our strips at least 14.5" long, and since we want them to be 3" wide at the widest part (at the bottom), use your roller blade to cut at least 14 strips (in various colors) that are 14.5" X 3".
1) Align the bottom edge of your 1st strip with the ruled line on your cutting mat. Since we're going to shave a "graduated 3/4" off of each side, line the bottom right corner up on a 3/4" grid line. (in this case, 19 3/4", see photo at right.)
3) Now shift your fabric strip so that the left bottom corner is aligned at the 17 1/4" mark. (see photo at right)
4) As was done in step 2, place your ruler diagonally across your fabric so that the edge is even with the bottom left corner, AND crosses the top edge of your fabric 3/4" from the left edge (on the 18" line). Hold your ruler done firmly and cut this wedge of fabric away. (see photo at left)
6) Once you've got your pieces all cut, you can begin sewing them together along the side edges with a 1/4" seam. I press all seams open and I also regularly check my work with the pattern piece. You can always make little adjustments in how you sew the pieces together, if you have too much or too little fabric visible above or below the pattern piece.
For other projects- It's easy to change your measurements and make wedges that are wider or skinnier, or with a more or less pronounced angle, for a totally different look. That's what I did to achieve the various exteriors I've created so far for the Lollapalooza Bag!
I hope you all have fun with this method. I'll probably be uploading a more detailed "Kat Trick" on my website later on, but hopefully this will make enough sense so you can get started creating a cool bag exterior of your own, right away!
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I don't know how things are in your hometown, but we just don't have a really good all-around sewing store here in Winston-Salem, and it's just a shame. Sure we have a couple of terrific quilting stores and thank goodness for that, but if you're looking for something other than quilting cottons, good luck. JoAnn's and Hancock's just do not compare to a store like Mary Jo's. Before the letters of protest start coming in, I know there are some really nice JoAnn's stores in this country. My sister-in-law took me to an outstanding one in Rochester, NY. But our local JoAnn's is a mess. It's under-stocked and what's worse, the sales help is generally surly. To me, Mary Jo's is the DisneyWorld of sewing stores. I can literally spend hours just walking the aisles! Just look at this wonderful print I found within minutes of arriving!! The size of this panel is just about perfect for a Lollapalooza sample and the zebra print fabric will look so cool as the lining. I know just the way I want to cut the exterior to make the best use of this print! I'll take a few pictures in case y ou want to do likewise!
THEN, as if that wasn't enough, I heard THIS beautiful piece calling to me from under a display! Again, I think the Lollapalooza exterior is the perfect pallet for showcasing a breathtaking design such as this. I picked up this gold fabric for the lining. I'm not thrilled with it, but it will do, unless I come up with something better.
I'm so excited about these finds that I can hardly wait to get up to the studio to get started! Nothing like a fun day bumming around a terrific store with a terrific daughter to re-energize you, right?
So why not take a little trip to YOUR favorite sewing store, or maybe just check out Mary Jo's on the web? You never know what you'll be inspired to create!
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Here's the latest Lollapalooza sample I worked up, featuring the corded handles I made with the Cord Diva. I've had lots of requests for information concerning the pieced exteriors I've made for these bags.
So far, each bag has been a variation of the same technique. I actually considered including a description of the technique as part of the pattern itself, but decided against it. It would take too much space on the instruction sheets & since everyone wouldn't be interested in this technique, I decided against that plan. Instead, I'll upload a detailed "Kat Trick" pdf after the pattern is released, but in the meantime, here's the low-down.
1) You're going to need a gridded cutting mat, a rolling fabric cutter, and a LONG ruler.
2) Next, you'll need to choose your fabrics, the red sample shown above, showcases 4 contrasting fabrics, whereas the mudcloth sample shown to the right makes use of only 3, and the country paisley sample below utilized 7 pieces that I already had in my stash!
Of course if you want to, you can accomplished the pieced look of this bag exterior, by making a wedge-shaped template, and then cutting each piece out individually, but as many of you know, I HATE fussy, time-consuming embellishments. I can accomplish the same look and have fun in the process, so go get your fabrics together and let's hook back up in a day or two and we'll cut it all out! And don't worry about the fact that this new pattern hasn't released yet, because you can try this technique out on the Bellagio Bag, the Mezza Luna, the AbracaNiche or many other handbag, tote or apparel patterns that you already have in your closet right now!
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
The holiday's over, the company's gone, I've had a nice respite, but it's time to get back to work on my new pattern. But before I can do that, I have a few magazine deadlines looming and I needed to get a few new ads finished this morning before heading to the studio. Here's the ad I'll be sending to "Threads Magazine" for their Oct/Nov 09 issue. It features our new pattern, "The Lollapalooza" which will be available by then.
But along these lines, maybe you didn't know that I design all of my own ads now? To me, one of the best things about running my own business, is the opportunity to take an active role in ALL aspects of the business! (Some might call it being a "control-freak"... I prefer to say that I love the diversity!) Truth be know, I would probably be bored to death if all I did was the pattern designing part of the business. I can't stand that hemmed in feeling of doing the same thing over and over and over again.
People perpetually ask me, what made you think you could do this? Start your own business... learn HTML... code your own website... market & photograph your own patterns... and now, design your own ads, and the truth is, I guess I'm just one of those people that truly believes that I can do anything I put my mind to. I don't mean that in a conceited, Super-Woman kind of way. It's just that my folks raised me to believe that I could do anything I wanted. Excel at anything I tried, if I was willing to work hard & long. For a high-school educated, stay-at-home housewife, my Mom was pretty progressive. She supported me in any hair-brained scheme I dreamed up, and believe me, I was a dreamer. My folks didn't discourage me from doing things just because I was a girl, but instead impressed upon me that even though boys were operating at a distinct advantage in many areas, that the great equalizer was education and hard work. They didn't pave the way and make it easy for me either. Dad said if I wanted it bad enough, I'd be willing to work for it myself, and I did. Even today, my family & closest friends, are my most loyal cheerleaders. For this reason, I avoid negative people with their depressing, doomsday outlook. Ok, so the economy's down. That's just a convenient time to get a foothold in a new area. While other businesses are down-sizing, maintaining the status quo, and "waiting it out", we're actually extending our reach, by increasing our booth size at Market, & our advertising presence both in print and on the Internet. I didn't invent this strategy, in fact, Sam Walton (who knows a thing or two about effective marketing), says that the best time to increase your advertising footprint, is when others are reducing theirs. He maintains that's the time that you get the best bang for your buck. And you know what? The old man is right. Our business has continued to grow, even in the past few challenging months.
I say all this to get around to the point that now is the time to dig in, learn something new, re-invent yourself, encourage your friends & family, and above all, dare to dream BIG! I like to tell everone that I have the best job in the whole wide world, and its thanks to the support of many of you!
Till next time...(Tomorrow it's back to the studio to work on a new sample bag to go with that cool cord handle!)
Friday, July 3, 2009
I mailed the first draft off to my five wonderful testers this morning, and with that, phase one of Purse Evolution comes to a close. When I resume activity next week, my focus will be on making a few more bags and identifying the most "cover-worthy' one. But for now, I'd like to take a moment and talk a bit about testing.
Testing is a VERY important component of the process. Regardless of how careful I have been to word each step explicitly, and to illustrate it perfectly, it's never perfect for every person who buys the pattern and tries to make the bag. What's clear to me, can be vague to someone else with a diffferent perspective. That's why I depend so heavily on these five special ladies to test the pattern for me. They make the bag from scratch, testing out the supplies list, the cutting instructions and of course the directions. If they run into problems, then its a safe bet, many of you will as well, so I'll try to re-write or re-illustrate that step to make it clearer. Sometimes they have really great suggestions for an easier way to accomplish the same step. I've learned a lot from these gals and they really make the end result easier for YOU to understand. The draft set of instructions is rough in form. This is not an easy job, believe me, and while I tell them all the time how much I appreciate them, I really don't think they have a clue how much. In truth, my patterns are much more complete now, then my first few were, before I had the benefit of testing. (Regrettably, some of you may know this first hand.)
At any rate, I'd like to mention them all individually, (in the order of how long they have been working with me) to express my public thanks for a job well done! (Alongside their name is a pictures of my favorite bag they have created while testing!)
Joyce Atkinson- Oak Harbor, WA-( inactive right now)- The Cirque Sac pattern
Peg Rice- Westport Island, ME (The Gadabout/ PortaPockets Insert)
Judi Graf- Tyler, TX (The Boho Baguette)
Arlene Stream- Loveland, CO (The Boho Baguette)
Lori Gates- West Henrietta, NY (Boho Baguette/PortaPockets)
Kathy Ball- Leesburg, FL (regrettably, I dont have a picture on file of a bag Kathy created, probably because she hasnt entered one in a contest. So sorry!)
I'll be hitting it hard again on Monday, but in the meantime, let's enjoy this nice holiday weekend!
All the best to you and yours! Stay safe!