Thursday, April 29, 2010

Houndstooth Crossbody Bag

It rained horribly today so I had to take my photos indoor. This is my houndstooth crossbody bag. Or rather I should call it the I Wanted To See For Myself Bag.

You see, I wanted to make a bag using my houndstooth fabric. And I could have made it in a dozen other designs. But I wanted it to be a crossbody bag design. Not a small one. But a mother earth shattering one. Okay, I exaggerate. It's not that huge but this fabric is not thick enough to support such a structure. I knew that but I Wanted To See For Myself.

When I was little but old enough for primary school, my socks were wet and I knew I cannot iron socks but I Wanted To See For Myself. Guess who spent the whole day scraping burnt fiber from a blackened iron?

As you can see, I haven't changed much since primary school. Geez. I was a really dumb kid.

So, the bag is made and yes, I saw for myself the houndstooth tweed is indeed not suitable for such a bag. Well, good. Now I know. The handle is wrong too. I had gone out looking for a wider nylon handle last week but it seems I could not find any. This one's only 1".
Still I don't think the result is that bad. I mean it looks pretty decent.
 There might be some floppiness but some people go for that.
The two black patches are velcro.

This is only the 5th bag out of 6 I said I'll make for this weekend's MAAD. I can't believe I didn't meet my target again.

I'm looking forward to this weekend's MAAD. I shall keep the faith. See you Monday.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

May MAAD 2010 This Weekend

1 & 2 May (Sat & Sun)
red dot design museum
28, Maxwell Rd
(MRT: Tanjong Pagar station)
tel:6534 7209

If you are in Singapore this weekend, please come to red dot design museum and check out my bags.

Here are some of the events happening...

Make a bouquet of rosettes with paper, fabric or pandan leaves for your mum at this MAAD. You may get your hands on zip craft too.
Workshop conducted by jessie + cat representing Simei Care Centre. Free flow of flower making & materials for all you who willing to put extra effort at $8 per pax.
date: 2 may (Sun, 2-5pm)

TenBuckTherapy- paint a brolly
Shield yourself from the scorching hot sun with the only brolly you have painted.
Buzz up the street with your masterpiece!
date: 3 & 4 Apr (Sat&Sun, 12-6pm)

OIC Portrait Day
Spend an afternoon filled with laughter and joy with illustrators from this sunny island.
You can get your portrait drawn in their individual style.
Every piece is unique! Sit and pose for 20 minutes, choose and purchase pick your portraits at $10 each.
date: 1 May (Sat, 2-7pm)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Redwork Eagle Bag

Somehow I did it. Despite a severe shortage of similar outer fabirc, I managed to complete this Eagle Bag. I'll be honest. I really, really wanted to junk it many times. But I had spent a fair amount of time working on the Redwork embroidery and it seemed such a waste. If you don't already know, redwork refers to a form of embroidery where red embroidery floss is used to sew an outline stitch, traditionally stem stich to depict a line drawing. Only one colour is used thru'out the embroidery. I've liked redwork for many years now, long before I started making bags. You can of course use a different colour, say blue and you will call it bluework. I used backstitch for my eagle.

Today I am the model. I dressed up for it. Yes, a clean Tee and jeans is how I dress up. Otherwise it'll be the Tee I slept in and pink shorts. I am of course very regretful I could not do piping for this bag due to lack of appropriate fabric. Piping needs to be cut on the bias and as such, an insane amount of fabric is required. Now that piping is one of the Must-Have for my bags, I really need to get fabric in a variety of colours solely for piping. Does anyone do piping?
The Boss pose.
Freaking hot day.
The inside. Might make a similar bag next month but with the inside on the outside. Hope I can find an appropriate green fabric for the piping.

Countdown to May MAAD (this weekend!). This is the 4th bag out of 6 bags I said I would make. 2 more bags to go in 2 days.

Let the eagle in you soar. See ya.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Don't Stop Believin'

 First off, no bags to show. This is what I've been working on and it's killing me. A serious shortage of fabric, colour matching issue has come up and I see no solution. Might have to abandon this baby and call it a UFO. (unfinished object?)

Next, I've been contemplating my future.

The handmade market in Singapore is tiny. Tiny is better than non-existing. Since April 2009, I've suddenly found myself in the company of a previously unknown species (to me) called Handmade People. To survive in the handmade market takes a lot of perserverance and belief in your products. I too have asked myself many times if I could go on. Other than the red dot design museum's MAAD, there aren't any places in Singapore known to me which supports authentic handmade products. Most baazars, flea markets allow 2nd hand goods (just label it Vintage, eh?)  and horrors - imported goods. This is why I no longer sell at such places. How do I compete with a reseller on price? Besides, whatever little money I make will only go to line the landlord's pocket.

I don't know any handmade people who has made it to the big league. Then again, I don't know that many people in the first place. I'm putting my money on Mandy. (no pressure!) I know I will never make it big. Oh, don't go feeling sorry. I'm a realistic person. Sure, I have my fans. (thank you, you and you and you) But it's a teensy number. I'm not giving up. I'm still loving making my bags. The future is uncertain so I'm just going to enjoy the ride every step of the way.

With this frame of mind, I decided I would put everything in perspective in a SONG. :)

I've been messing with Journey's Don't Stop Believin'. This song came back to my life fulltime when Glee started messing with it and my children couldn't stop playing it on youtube. I get Glee's version but I'm a die-hard Steve Perry fan so I'm sticking with the original. I've modified the lyrics and it will either make you cringe or laugh. I'll take it either way. (You need to sing it, not read it) To 99% of my readers who probably don't care for this song, please bear with me.

***Dedicated to Handmade People Everywhere***
with apologies to Journey
Don't Stop Believin'

Just a bag-loving girl
Livin' in a lonely world
She took the *MRT goin' anywhere

Just a handmade girl
Born and raised in Singapore
She took the *MRT goin' anywhere

(here pretend you are Neil and play the guitar really well)

A seller in a baazar
A smell of thread and cheap fabric
For a few dollars they can strike a sale
It goes on and on and on and on

Strangers shopping
Up and down every aisle
Their eyes searching for a good buy
Handmade people
Living just to find the right crowd
Sewing, beading somewhere in the night

Working hard to build up stock
Everybody wants to thrill
Payin' anything to sell just one more time

Some will win, some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues
Oh, the hope never ends
It goes on and on and on and on

C'mon readers

Strangers shopping
Up and down every aisle
Their eyes searching for a good buy
Handmade people
Living just to find the right crowd
Sewing, beading somewhere in the night

Don't stop believin'
Hold on to that feelin'
Handmade people


*MRT - in Singapore we refer to our trains as MRT.
Thanks for the indulgence.

Jane P out.
Don't stop believin'.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Blue, White And Blue-Grey Duffle Bag

Lately I've been thinking about how time is passing so quickly that if I'm not careful, I may lose many moments in my kids' lives. My boy is 13 and my girl 11 this year. It wasn't that long ago when they were just little kids running around. Now I hardly see my son who stays in school until evening. I see my girl more but she has her own thing going on - music, books and facebooking.

Recently my son asked me to read this book, The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. This is an unusual request. In the past it was I who would recommend books to him. Naturally I was a little suspicious. Might it be required reading from school which he wanted me to read so I could help with his homework? Well, as it turned out, it was required reading but he thought I would enjoy the book. So, I'm going to read it so we can share. And I'm delighted that my son thought of me.

One of the "casualties" of my son growing up is us not enjoying the same music anymore. When he was little, I introduced country music to him. My husband introduced country music to me and I became hooked. Now, this may seem normal to some of you readers but understand that I live in Singapore. If I tell anyone here I like country music they'll go "Whaaaat?" and laugh so hard they pee in their pants. So naturally I was so happy that my son enjoyed country music and in iTunes, his playlist was similar to mom's playlist. So cute, right? We liked Brooks And Dunn, Garth Brooks, George Strait, Tim McGraw, Trisha Yearwood and Tracy Lawrence. Those magic days are over. Now my boy is just like any regular kid who listens to pop. In a way it's good he's over country because I don't want him to be treated different in school. Probably get beaten up! Now he introduces pop songs to me.

My girl and I shared Barbies and TV shows. Sadly, she's over Barbies. Why do kids grow up so fast??

In a desperate bid to hold on to more moments of my kids' lives, I started Movie Night. I copied this idea from Dad who would get the kids in my bed and they would watch something together. So when Dad's at work, and everyone's free, we watch a movie together at home. My son gets to choose the movie because he is super fussy about what to watch. The first movie we watched was Slumdog Millionaire. It was entertaining. The second movie was Bolt. It's an old movie about a dog-actor which believed it had super powers and got lost and had to travel across the country to save its co-star. It is the funniest movie I've ever watched. I'm someone who doesn't laugh easily when it comes to humour unless Steve Martin is in it.. I've often wondered why everyone's laughing at the cinema and I'm not. You should watch it if you haven't already. Laughed till I cried. Just imagine: Super Bark!

Back to my bags. Are you drooling over my latest bag? Because I am.  My husband calls this a duffle bag. I don't think it's a true duffle bag but I'll call it a duffle bag anyway. This bag is constructed the same way as The Money Bag. From a sewing point of view, it is an extremely difficult bag to construct mainly because the seams on the lining are hidden. But the result is well worth it. I included 2 front pockets and piping!
I'm sorry my husband had to pose for me again. Next time I'll dress up and be the model. In case you're interested to know how my husband's green jeans (see pic) helped save the Singapore economy, go here.

Can you see my husband in the background leaving for work? Okay, back to the bag. The pockets are binded for a sleek look to go with the piping.

See how hot it is over here?
The inner pockets match the outside. For the lining, handles, piping and binding, I used an odd blue-grey twill. Loving this bag. Might make another one!

Countdown to May MAAD. (1st to 2nd May) 3 out of 6 bags I said I would make for sale. 3 more to go in 6 days. See ya next post.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Skulls And Bones Messenger Bag

 I had been slaving over this messenger bag over the last few days. Ordinarily, a messenger bag would not be too hard to construct. But I wanted to try out a technique I hadn't tried before. I used binding to hide the raw edges (and I mean every raw edge) instead of my usual "escape thru' a gap" method which I'm sure many of you are familiar with. And that's mainly why it took me longer than usual. I can cross binding off my "To Try" list and I must say, not liking it. Too long, too tedious, not worth the effort.
 Today my husband is my model. He too has a freakishly long torso - perfect for modelling this bag.
My girl is frolicking in the background.
I asked for "The Boss" pose.
Someone is stressed. "You keep saying 'last pose'!"
If you find the skulls and bones fabric familiar, it is. I've used it to construct a few bags in the past. See the metal thingy hooked to the D-ring? It's my latest toy. I quilted the flap. Do you notice I'm on a quilted look roll?
I binded the top edge of the bag with the skulls and bones fabric.
The 2 pockets are also constructed using the skulls and bones fabric. Guess what? I still have a small amount of the darn fabric left!

This is only bag No. 2 out of 6 bags I said I would make for May MAAD. I have to make 4 more bags in 7 days!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Camera Bag For Viv

So I've handed over the camera bag to Viv and now I can show you pics. Yippee. This is my first camera bag. Of course you know that when you ask me to make a camera bag, you run the chance of me making something completely not like the camera bags sold at stores!

The camera bag is really a drawstring canvas bag with a rectangular bottom. It is interfaced with medium weight batting and I wanted to take care of Viv's expensive camera, so I added an extra cushion of seriously thick batting for the base. Do you recognise the fabric? Mandy gave it to me last September.
The camera bag matches the boots!

I made this bag a cross body bag because when Viv goes photo shooting, it won't hamper her. You get what I mean. Also, this girl is very tall. 1.75m. Way taller than me. So I wasn't worried about using my freakishly long torso as a guide to construct the handle.
Last detail. I used red Sashiko thread to sew little crosses on each "target".  I'm currently working on black bag. It has skulls and bones. Sounds familiar? See you in my next post.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Quilted Canvas Bag

Wow. So I frittered away another week of my life with nothing much to show.  So lets see. What did I not do?

I did not make the bag for my mom's friend. I did not get started on the secret baby bootie project. Oops!  I did not get started on my granny bags. But I did complete the camera bag. Can't show you any pics yet tho'.

I did get my washers for my magnetic snaps. Long story. I had bought magnetic snaps size 14mm from a shop which is 1.5hr away from my home. They came in packets of 2 sets of snaps. But the number of washers included was only 2 which means I'm short of 5 X 2 = 10 washers. Getting the washers took so long I could have made 1 bag. Apparently the girls manning the shop had no idea that you need 2 washers for each set of magnetic snaps. They inspected all the ready packed magnetic snaps for sale and would you believe it? All were short! And they thought I was trying to be funny. It took a very long time but I finally convinced them to telephone their big boss who of course told them to give me my 10 washers and to unpack all the magnetic snaps. The girls didn't look very happy with me.

I did get around to completing one bag for my next MAAD. I had a tiny amount of canvas leftover and what I did was I made a bag shaped by the amount of fabric I had. It's really not the best way to make a bag I can assure you. Your options are so limited. But I think I managed to get a decent size bag out of the leftover! I quilted stitches all over the fabric and the crinkles give it a nice effect. I used seriously thick batting and I can assure you my machine wasn't very happy at all. Luckily I have a walking foot. Of course I had to use magnetic snaps for closure....
Guess who said she liked this bag? My M-I-L!!

I said I would make 6 new bags for May MAAD. This is 1 out of 6. I realise that if I don't do some kind of countdown, I'm just going to fritter away my next 2 weeks. So I have to make 5 more bags within the next 2 weeks. Btw, please excuse me if I don't sound too enthusiastic about my next MAAD. After all, traffic has been falling and May MAAD falls on a long weekend. I'm braving myself for the worst.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Handmade For Profit

If you have sold anything you've made I'm pretty sure you're hooked for life. It's such a great feeling. After you have made 1 sale, you'll start asking yourself, How do I sell more?

Selling is a difficult thing. Making stuff for sale - that's easy. Making something that sells is very hard. There's no magic formula and even when something sells, there's no guarantee it'll continue to sell.
That's why I was really happy when my friend, Mandy passed me this book Handmade For Profit. I'm still at Chapter One. I've discovered that I'm really ignorant when it comes to selling for profit. Mandy must have learnt from this book because she's very successful at what she does. Anyhoo, I'm going to study this book and see if I could benefit from it.
These are 2 fabric passport covers I made today. I'm personally very happy with the choice of fabric. The black and white fabric was illustrated by Junichi Nakahara, a well-known Japanese artist. The second fabric is a French theme cross-stitchish print from Live Life Collection. Both fabric are printed by Yuwa.

I've listed both passport covers at zibbet, artfire and etsy. Please have a look.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I Smock

Yesterday I took a break. I had the flat to myself for several hours which is quite rare. I often craved "alone time" and thought of a dozen things I could do at home which I would enjoy. Instead, I ended up doing serious housework. The funny thing is serious housework is something I can do only when there's no one else around.

So I blew my morning and I found that I didn't really need a break so I started on my second attempt at smocking. More on that later.
This piece of ready pleated green fabric with lace trim was given to me by Dee, my smocking mate. It is so nice of her! I have no access to a pleating machine and have a vague idea about hand pleating so I use this green fabric for reference. Dee has a blog Make Mine Silk. Check her out.

To do my pleating I use water soluble ink to mark dots on the linen. Then I used a basting needle to insert running stitches on the dots. I noticed on Dee's gift-fabric, the stitches on one side (lets call it the right side) are longer than the stitches on the wrong side. I could not achieve that with manual marking as it would be too tedious so all my stitches are even.
My pleats look pretty even.

My desire to learn smocking started many years ago when my girl was still little. Her paternal aunt, let's call her "Ah Mai" gave her a lot of gorgeous handmade dresses and many of these dresses had smocked details. Apart from my primary school teachers, Ah Mai is the only other fabric handmade person I know. She is old school. She does crochet, embroidery and dresses. Could I learn from her? I doubt it. The language barrier is too huge to overcome. My girl has outgrown dresses. She's into Tees and white shorts now. I had kept Ah Mai's dresses in storage imagining one day in the future, I could give them to my grand daughters. Hehe. (Hope my girl doesn't read this. She'll scream!) Unfortunately a couple of years ago, Ah Mai insisted I return the dresses to her. She wanted to keep them for someone else's grand daughters. So I had part with the dresses. But I kept two. Shhh. Don't tell her. I hope she didn't keep track.
Check out the smocked details. Did you see the lovely bullion roses?
I hope that in the future, I could make a smocked dress for you know who!

And this is what I sewed last night. I used diamond stitch which was very hard to understand but after a while, I got the hang of it. The most important part was where to place the loose thread before you sew! I think this is a major improvement from my first smocked effort.

For my next MAAD, my target is 6 new bags. It should be easy to achieve. This week I'm working on a camera bag. It's my first camera bag so it may take a while. Last night, my mom ordered a bag to give to a friend! No, of course I'm not charging her. My mom is one of my surprise supporter of my handmade bags. "Surprise" seeing how she was so resistant to my using a sewing machine. (She's a hand sewer) She owns 3 of my bags one of which is a bag similar in design to the Recessed Zipper Shoulder Bag for which I wrote a tutorial a while back. Her brief is simple: Must fit a foldable umbrella and have 2 inside pockets. 

I'll see you guys in my next post.

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Sunday, April 4, 2010

April MAAD 2010 Post-Mortem

I sold a total of 6 bags. These are the bags I sold.
My tweed bag went to Mandy. She wanted it when she saw it on my blog post. Wow, the power of blogging! She bought it when she arrived at red dot design museum. This girl ah! She has spent a fortune on my bags. Thanks Mandy.
Second bag sold. This time around, I was too shy to ask my customers to pose for photos. A lady who's the mom of one of the jewellery seller liked this bag and urged me to make more. I kinda like granny bags myself and I will make a few more. They are a challenge to make though.
Kim came round to pick up her black and white beauty. Isn't she cute? (her outfit matches the bag) She even bought me a drink! I don't deserve her. Thanks Kim.
This top favourite went to a lady with very good taste! No, I dared not ask for a photo. What happened to my guts?
My surprise buyer - Shannon, the MAAD mamasan. She says who's in and who's out at MAAD. Ooh, she likes stripes and I have a couple more striped fabric. Me thinks I should make a few more and entice her....Thanks Shannon. You made my morning. I told everyone I knew you bought a bag.
This retro flower power went to a nice lady who told me her daughter's name is Jane too. She likes this bag because it's cheerful. Is this what Spring feels like? Can anyone tell me?

Traffic was really slow on Sunday. Let's hope it gets better next month! Next month's MAAD will fall on a public holiday. Good or bad,  I don't know.

I had a number of "encounters" this weekend at MAAD. First, I ran into an old colleague, Sean who used to work at the software sweathouse with me. He's the  second person from that sweathouse I had run into at MAAD. The first was Alice whom I wrote about in Six Degress of Moi. If you count Jon and Weng, my two Hunks, that makes five of us from that sweathouse here at red dot. I won't be surprised if I run into more... (It was a really big sweathouse)
That's Sean. Hands up everyone who thinks he works in IT. Then there's me. As you can see, I've lost the IT look.

I was close to dozing off in the afternoon when I had a dream. A very, very tall American man was looking at me about 50m away. I know this man. He looks very familiar. Hmm, I know he did not work at the sweathouse. Yes! I was at his wedding. I was his witness!  I remember thinking I must not use the same signature I use to sign my cheques.

Then this giggling girl emerged from behind him. That girl! I know her. She's my long lost friend. It's impossible but it's real. They live in the US! What on earth are they doing at red dot?? You know, one of these days I'm going to get a heart attack when people show up unannounced especially when I'm dozing off.

Mr and Mrs H. Thanks for visiting me.

This girl always makes me laugh until I cry. After they left, I had to apply eye drops to lubricate my eye glands.
On Sunday, I was dozing off again when this lady came by my table to check out my bags. She kept looking at me and I thought she looked familiar. Hmmm, another person from the sweathouse? I was going to get up and hardsell her some bags when I saw one of my hunks, Jon. I waved him over and this guy went and stood beside the lady above. Then, they just smiled at me.  Hey, wait a minute! It turned out Jon had sent his sister, whom I'd never met to get funny with me. But she was too kind to do that.
They looked so alike I knew something was up.
I'm just pretending to smile. Inside I'm plotting revenge. Be very afraid, Jon.
I gave Jon an iphone pouch which fit! Look how excited he is. Oops, I should have offered his sis one of my pouches but I forgot. You see, I was still in shock.

A very good MAAD indeed. I had so much fun.
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