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Faux Bihn Bag

February 8th, 2021 2 comments

I made a bag (quite a while ago, actually):

It’s a copy of one I saw online. I didn’t buy the commercial one because, as designed, it didn’t have features I knew I’d want, but I loved the look of it, and, well, the adventure began.

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Categories: Adventure/Travel, Bags Tags:

Pocket for a Power Chair

January 18th, 2021 No comments

A dear relative uses a power chair (which she amusingly calls an “electric chair”, an accurate, if perhaps misleading, description) and, naturally, likes to have a “pocket” to hold small things when she ventures forth in her chariot.

A few years ago I made one for her, but over time it’s gotten a bit battered, so a new one was in order.

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Categories: 2021, Accessories, Bags Tags:

Retro-rific Craft Pouch

November 7th, 2020 No comments

So, while tooling around the Mennonite fabric stores of Lancaster County, PA back in the days when tooling around places was possible, we ran across this charming faux-retro fabric. I figured I’d use it for pocket linings, if nothing else.

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Categories: 2020, Bags, Covid Tags:

Dowager on a Converted Tote Bag

September 27th, 2020 2 comments

I spied an odd canvas tote at the Freer Gallery several years ago. It was just black canvas, but the (rather nicely done) print on the front was Philip Evergood’s Dowager in a Wheelchair. (Yes, the name’s not his original one.)  The painting is in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where I’m afraid I still haven’t seen it.

Although Evergood called his inspiration “tragic“, I loved the indomitably of his subject; the (intended) evocation of vulnerability in a privileged person, and the vibrancy of New York life (Evergood says it’s Madison Avenue, and it clearly is the Upper East Side, right?) crashing all around the dowager and her ghostly, younger, attendant.

I didn’t need a tote bag, so I converted it to a backpack so that I could easily transport my Cricket rigid heddle loom.

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Categories: Bags, Weaving Tags:

Scooter Handlebar Bag

September 21st, 2020 No comments

Sometimes — that is, some non-Covid time — when I’m in a city — looking at you, Washington, New York, and various other smaller, sidewalk-enhanced locations — I like to have a small (non-electric) scooter with me. This is especially nice in summer in Washington, where it’s often possible to work around pedestrian routes, and where the humidity and heat are only enhanced by zipping through summer on wheels.

But my little scooter needed a bag. Topo Designs makes a great bike bag, and I really, really wanted to buy theirs, but it’s way too big for my scooter, so I took inspiration from their slightly kooky triangle shape and made my own.

That strap is actually a bright bold red. Sadly, I’m someone who sews,
not someone who actually knows how to use a camera phone.

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Categories: 2020, Bags, Covid Tags:

Maywood Totepack

July 26th, 2020 No comments

It’s literally been years since I posted here, but now, in the middle of Pandemic 2020, there’s been time to clean things up and re-start. And what better post to begin anew with than Klum House‘s Maywood Totepack? It might be coffee time — this is a loooong post!

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Categories: 2020, Bags, Covid Tags:

Whimsical Purse Mod

April 13th, 2012 2 comments

I love Baggallini purses; there’s one for (almost) every occasion, and I own way too many as a result.  Usually I want a purse that can be used as a shopping bag as well as a handbag, and Baggallini has plenty of those, but sometimes I want the most minimal thing possible.  That would be Baggallini’s surprisingly well-thought-out Teenee Baggallini.

What I don’t like on this small bag, though, is that metal plate on the front.  It snags inside my purses when I use the Teenee as a wallet, and it adds an unwanted few ounces when I’m wearing it cross-body.  So I remove them.  This is tricky, but possible if you’re careful.

First I take a small, thin, screwdriver and carefully lift the plate from the front of the bag.  Then I cut a very, very small slit in the lining behind the nameplate and gently pull the logo support from the back, on the inside.

This leaves two holes in the front of the bag, and a small slit in the back.  I use a bit of clear repair tape over the slit in the back ( you can buy it at camping/recreational supply stores).  Because these bags are kicky and fun, I cover the two holes left in the front with an embroidered patch from Demeritwear.

Here is the cookies and milk  badge for my orange bag:

I choose this one for the color, of course, but I also for the whimsy of the motif.  The embroidery is bright and clear; the patches are meant to be ironed-on, but I hate ironing stuff, so I just stitch them in place.

If you don’t know Demeritwear, you should!  They make cheerful, kooky, silly and yes, even dippy, little “merit badge” patches for all occasions.  (Theoretically they are “demerit badges” — maybe because scouting has the originals all wrapped up? — and there’s a story, but it’s not necessary to go into that here.  Check out the website if you’re curious.)

These nicely made embroidered badges would be fun as faux buttons on tee shirt shoulders (or amusing faux epaulet-like decorations) , as identifiers on kids’ back packs or lunch bags, as logos on jackets, hoodies, or sweatshirts, or as a decorative touch on rear jeans pockets.  I use them on and in my packing system, too, so that I can tell what’s in my packing cubes.

Other ways I’ve used these badges:

Case Mod

Packing Cube ID

Disclosure:  Please read it a the bottom of the Case Mod post.

Categories: Accessories, Bags, DIY, Fun Tags:

LBD Jewelry Organizer

January 24th, 2012 13 comments

On a trip to New York this past fall, a sudden, violent, downpour hit, and I ducked into The Container Store to wait it out, knowing that I’d find lots to look at.  The Container Store seems like a strange idea to me, but in Manhattan it makes perfect sense:  It’s kind of a hardware store for urbanites who want something a little more interesting than cardboard boxes for storing goods.  I saw this, and was instantly inspired to make something like it as a gift for Noilette:

It’s so clever, isn’t it?  I’m not wild about keeping any kind of jewelery in plastic sleeves, though, and those open pockets strike me as a bad idea for a Manhattanite like Noilette, who moves house constantly.  I decided to make her version with net pockets and zipper closures . . . and to make the “dress” a little more like a real Little Black Dress.

That required finding black brocade fabric, which, needless to say, was not available at my local fabric store.  I bought polyester “brocade” curtains instead, and black sheers for the pockets.  I also picked up eight zippers and a faux-velvet clad hanger.

Then I sketched the outline of a sheath dress on shelf paper, cut it out, and used it as a pattern to make, first, the “material” for the lower front of the LBD:

I cut strips of the drapery sheers much longer than the width of the pattern I’d made, and attached the zippers by centering them in the middle of the strips.  Then I pinned the “fabric” I’d made to the pattern, and trimmed all around.

The very top of the front is a small bodice, sewn to the uppermost zipper.  Once that was attached, I laid the sheer front piece over a full-length front cut from the brocade, and stitched the strips to it appropriately to form long pockets with the zip openings.  I also interfaced the all-brocade front backing, to support the pockets well.  Here’s the two-layer front, pinned together with the interfacing beneath:

I stitched the pockets randomly, making them various sizes, with just two, extra-large ones, along the bottom edge.  My only requirement was that it should be possible to get two fingers into each easily, to make retrieval of small things, like earrings, possible without frustration.

Let me just say that I’d rather sew the flimsiest China silk than ever deal with this poly again. This stuff didn’t ravel; it shredded.  Is there such a thing as short-staple polyester?  If so, this is it. Also, I think my scissors got duller just by being in proximity to this stuff.

I assembled the whole thing by putting the back right side to the mesh front, sewing the shoulders and the sides, and turning.  The neck and armholes are finished with bias binding, turned inside and topstitched, and the LBD was finished by turning the “hem” in and edge-stitching it closed.  I inserted the hanger, and voilà:

Yes, it needs a final pressing. That’s a lopsided fold line just above the “hem”.  I’m terrified of my iron, and I took the photo before risking melting all that lovely poly.

The pockets look dark, don’t they?  I tested the sheer before using it, though, and it’s quite easy to see what’s behind it.  To wit:

See the brooch?  Here’s a close-up of it in the pocket:

I added a loop at the bottom, in the back, with a silver button:

The button is to keep the loop from showing on the front, thus retaining the illusion of an LBD, but the loop is so that the “dress” can be folded up, held in place with the hanger hook, for transportation, or to save space:

Naturally, I loved the idea of an organizer disguised like this, but it’s also a practical solution for keeping jewelry visible and accessible in a tiny apartment where one might not want to leave such things just lying around.  The zippers ensure that small pieces won’t get lost, and the sheer should be kind to whatever Noilettte puts into the organizer.

The “inspiration piece” has velcro loops for necklaces and the like on the back, but I decided against this feature, as I wanted to make something that would completely enclose the stored pieces.

Categories: Accessories, Bags Tags:

Tilton “Original”? Vogue 8761

July 17th, 2011 8 comments

Have you seen this new Marcy Tilton pattern, Vogue 8761?

Have you ever noticed the logo in the upper right corner?  It’s Marcy Tilton’s logo:

If you can’t read the small print under, it says “Vogue Patterns Designer Original”.  Vogue, and Marcy Tilton, want you to know that you’ve just paid for something special:  an original design by a “designer”.  This is (allegedly) something you can’t get anywhere else.

On the back of the pattern, you can see this:

It says:  “SOLD FOR INDIVIDUAL HOME USE ONLY AND NOT FOR COMMERCIAL OR MANUFACTURING PURPOSES ONLY.”  There’s a copyright notice above this line; that means that Marcy Tilton and Vogue own this design, and no one else can profit from it.

Well, that seems fair, doesn’t it?  Marcy Tilton (and Vogue) are selling you the right to make items from this pattern just for your own personal use.

They are reserving the right to make money off this design, because it’s their own, original design.  Marcy Tilton has put sweat, effort, and presumably, development expense, into designing this pattern so that she can sell it, first to Vogue, and then to you.

EXCEPT  .  .  .   EXCEPT that when I bought this pattern, I was wearing this bag, which a fantastic company named Baggallini has sold for years:

This is the Baggallini Uptown bag.  That shiny plate on the front says “Baggallini”.

And, at that moment, at home in my closet, was this bag:

(Yeah, all rumpled.  It didn’t know it was going to get its picture taken today.)

This one’s my favorite Baggallini bag of all time, the Milano, which Baggallini was selling a long time before this Tilton pattern became available this month.

Baggallini is an interesting company.  It was started by stewardesses who wanted better purses for travel.  You know, just people who had a good idea and thought they might grow a business from it.  Kind of like what a designer might do, too, when starting out — imagine things, create them, and grow a business.

At first, Baggallini  offered very utilitarian bags, but in recent years, they’ve gotten more adventuresome, and now offer new, more fashionable, lines.  The Milano, above, is from their trendiest, the “International Collection”.  Apparently, it’s catching quite a few eyes.

Here’s the line drawing for the Tilton pattern:

The differences between the Tilton “designs” and the Baggallini bags are inconsequential.  Vogue/Tilton have even used exactly the same, somewhat unusual, closure for the view B bag as the one that is sold on the Baggallini Milano.

These two bags in the Vogue pattern are not “original” in any sense of the word.  The “designs” were Baggalini before they were “Tilton”.

Although both Tilton and Vogue license this pattern under terms that do not allow you to profit from their work, they apparently, have no problem profiting from someone else’s labor and development, themselves.  They just don’t want to be the ones ripped-off.

Nothing in the pattern, on the Tilton site, or on Vogue’s site, indicates that this pattern is authorized, or licensed, by Baggallini.

This is a particularly interesting situation since it calls into question the value of the Marcy Tilton brand.  What kind of “designer” offers previously marketed work and repackages it as his or her own?

Any one of us might buy a Baggallini bag and copy it.  Home stitchers do this, or some variation of it, all the time.  BUT IF THEY ARE ETHICAL PEOPLE, THEY DO NOT SELL PRODUCTS MADE FROM OTHER’S DESIGNS. And this isn’t a case of someone making one of something for personal use; it’s a case of a “designer” selling something that looks virtually identical to something already on the market, made by another company entirely. And backed by a major publishing house.

This example is particularly interesting, too, because not one, but TWO, unoriginal designs are sold in this pattern envelope — both, seemingly, from the same source.

Marcy Tilton is not a home sewer; she is a person who has made her name, and her livelihood, on theoretically original designs that she creates.  When you buy a Tilton pattern, you are buying Marcy Tilton’s “vision”, her aesthetic:  Something, theoretically, you can’t find elsewhere.  Except, it seems, when you can.

It makes me wonder if somebody saw all those Etsy sellers getting ripped off, and decided that, really, it was OK to lift whatever would sell, because who, really, would notice?

I did.  I have a closet full of Baggalini bags, and I love them.  I buy them because they are clever, stylish, and easy to wear and use. Apart from ethical and legal considerations, Baggalini deserves more respect than this.

And there’s that other nagging question:  Why design at all if you can just take what others have already done and claim it as your own?

If there’s a good explanation for this I’d just love to hear it.

Update 7/18/2011:  A reader has written to let me know that there is a link to Baggallini on Tilton’s website.  Tilton recommends the Baggallini Rolling Tote on her “Life Tools” page.

This confirms that Tilton is familiar with Baggallini products.

The mystery regarding the release of two designs that so closely mirror Baggallini’s, under the Tilton name, without any mention of Baggallini, still baffles.  It’s odd that the designs are so obviously similar, yet no explanation is offered.  This seems a strange choice when the lack of an acknowledged link is virtually guaranteed to raise questions.

Categories: Bags, Misc Tags:

Felt Gift Bags

December 25th, 2010 14 comments

Just in time for Boxing Day — that is, if you’re doing nothing else today — are these felt bags, shamelessly copied from ones Starbucks sells every December.  (Or, at least, for the last few.)

The Starbucks bags are much smaller, made out of much denser felt, and have a slightly elasticized ribbon as the closure.  Apparently, it pays to have a factory at your disposal in China.  (The Starbucks bag, which I bought, sells for only $4.00, so I’m guessing they’re not made by union labor in Seattle.)  I had to make do with plastic bottle felt and OTC ribbons.

The overall design has a nice retro feeling, and the contrast is so much fun:

Fortunately, plastic bottle felt comes in a huge number of bright colors (that’s about all it has going for it!), and is very, very inexpensive (and 60 inches wide).  Each of these bags cost well under two dollars to make, and are a lot less offensive to the eye than the horrible (and pricey) paper holiday gift bags that are ubiquitous this time of year.

Here’s the pattern (yeah, I use the fancy “freezer paper” method):

Drafting this is incredibly easy:  Decide what size you want, draw the front, add quarter-inch seams, then draw the base to fit, and finally, the triangle for the sides.

Stitching is likewise fast and easy; I used the side panel color for thread, and made sure to stitch with the contrast color up so that the stitching line was as even as possible where it was going to be most obvious.

I made myself a little scheme so that I’d remember what buttons I’d planned to pair with what bags:

Do note that there are some more somber combinations here, including a rusty burgundy paired with black, and a dark green paired similarly.  Something for everyone!

These bags were a little too floppy, so next time I’ll double the fabric for the fronts and sides, and stitch around the tops and the handle openings for additional support.  Made more sturdily, these might get re-used, a thought that makes me happy!  Regardless, they’re a quick, simple, and very rewarding little project.

Categories: Bags, Fun Tags: