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Gift Idea #1, Teacher or Teen

4 Dec

Looking for a great Teacher gift idea? How about a reusable bag stuffed with a few of your favorite books. This mustache bag is so cute and folds really small to fit in your regular bag and it is washable. :) The bag is just $5 shipped. The books are totally up to you!! Only two left and they are ready to ship!!

What about the Teen who is an avid book reader? This would make a wonderful gift. Kids use reusable bags all the time. So often their backpacks are overfilled & they could use an extra bag. Maybe they’ll take their gym clothes home to be washed. Probably not. ;)



Happy Holiday Shopping!!

xoxo, Jen

Fashion Camp Part Deux

29 Jun

My 8 year-old spent the week at Fashion camp. This weeks theme was upcycle/green concept. She arrived on Monday with 3 of her dads shirts & a few of her own tops. At the end of the week, she is feeling confident using a sewing machine & made friends with so many girls. This morning she was up at 6:30am cutting out the pieces to sew a bag. The camp may have woken a sleeping giant. lol.

Here is her finished piece.

Finding My Style

18 Oct

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the question “What is my style?”

There are some other handbag designers on Etsy that when you see a photo of one of their bags you instantly know who’s it is before you see the sellers name. I want that same brand recognition.

Finding your style is the fun part of the journey. I’ve been crafting my bags for 2.5 years and I’ve explored many styles of bags in the ultimate pursuit of finding my style.

The past can sometimes provide guidance for the future

Recently, I returned to a journal entry that I wrote over a year ago. I was given the opportunity to have a meeting in my studio with Liz Conover. Read her Linked-in profile and you will see why this was an amazing opportunity for me. The best part of that meeting had nothing to do with business. I was able to see just how sweet and utterly sensational she is. I’ve seen her at a few other events since this meeting and she has such a warm personable charisma (as does her husband Udi) that you just can’t help but want to be around them.

I digress but was necessary to explain the next part. She is a consultant for the highest end market of handbags and fashion. That said, she is a supporter of grass-roots efforts, Eco-friendly ideas and being yourself without compromise. Having a full on vision of where you want to be in five and even ten years. Is your life about bags or being the caretaker of your family. That is to say do I want sitters, long hours, vacations, and time with family.

You can’t honestly give it all, to all facets at the same level, I have to share my time with my business, my family, and me. In other words finding my ratio. All of these need to be considerations for growing your business. Whether or not you hire help or outsource any responsibilities is another consideration. Also, is this a business that I’d want to sell in 1o years.

Another important part of our conversation was more about the type of bags that I create. As I said, I’ve tried many designs in part to see what I like and in other to see what my fans/customers like. So when Liz and I spoke a year ago she said to me you are not preppy, preppy is plain and boring. You are unique and whimsical. That my items are not mass-produced and that I put detail in every stitch. The colors and color combination are outstanding and that I combine colors that your mom said you shouldn’t. That I am totally a spin-off from the 1950′s.

So needless to say I was floating after this conversation and sort of put aside the most important part. She told me to be me always me and that I should never compromise who I am or change for another person. Bag lesson and life lesson. As I said, she is sensational.

My personal style

My clothing style is a clash of preppy boring and sustainable. I only wear solids but especially when I get dressed up, I am all 1950′s and vintage (but mostly solids). Generally I seek out cottons, a whimsical feel (but not print) with ballet style tops but sometimes you’ll see me in a blue polo sweater and pink shorts but not everyday. I do like to accessorize with something fun like a bold belt, pink shoes (atypical), scarves, pearls, bracelets and fun handbags.

Designing risks

I know that when I design I take a risk that I will lose fans & customers but that happens from time to time even with big store chains. I take a look at their color palate for the season and sometimes I swoon and other times I run for the hills.

I like that I change and evolve with new ideas that meet my lifestyle as many others share the same style. I don’t just make one thing and stick with it, I always keep trying new things. Sometimes they work and other times they do not.

A recent design element that I want you to weigh in on

I believe that I have found my style and what I love most. I love embroidered elements. The time and skill that it takes to complete such intricate designs all by hand. I am not hip with the machine embroidered design. They are fine but not for me. You can tell the difference and I like that someone toiled endlessly to draw and then stitch by hand the fine little details that make an item certainly unique. As my daughter said when she was 6, it is the love that you put in it that makes it special.

Unfortunately my other half dislikes embroidery. His preference is my burlap designs with fabric band across the front, sometimes a grosgrain ribbon but usually that is too much for him.

I trust his judgement as we’ve done a lot of design work together. We argue quite a bit about design and we do disagree from time to time but most often we see eye to eye and our combined style is pretty nice I think. If you’ve been to my house, it is not just my thumbprint but a collective of both of our ideas on design, decorating, and photography.

I’ve not abandoned my burlap design and it is still one of my favorites. So he need not worry. I still want to make them but sometimes a girl needs options.

Enter…my new designs for the winter with the following features:

1. Wool, Tweed, Corduroy (we both like these fabrics)

2. Brightly colored whimsical interiors (same, we both like them)

3. The loop and button (me)

4. The embroidery (my favorite element and his least favorite)

Of course, I still do custom work so if you liked an idea of wool without an embroidery feature or you wanted a different color fabric that is always an option unless it is one of my OOAK designs and I have no more of that particular fabric.

What other elements of my designs that are my favorite

1. Burlap designs

2. Winter designs that are neutral with a pop of color

3. Winter colors that are bold, bright and whimsical like the purple flower tote

4. Spring designs with a whole lot of color

5. Short handles as I am not a shoulder bag girl

6. Small totes and honestly even my large totes are pretty small but no more weekenders or full on mom diaper bags

7. Wood handles may come back in the Spring

Thanks for taking the time to read but here is what I need from you.

What are your likes and dislikes about the colors, embellishments, size, shape, anything really?

I need your feedback to help me stay on track. Yes a large part of the design process is what do I like to make but if I am the only one that likes them, then my sales will reflect that and certainly that is not the road I want to travel.

peace, love and happiness,

Jen xoxo

Here are a few of the designs I mentioned

Winter Collection 2011

Burlap Collection

Whimsical Fabrics

October is a busy month!

15 Oct

October is a very busy time in our house.

We have two daughters that had the same due date four years apart. One arrived late the other early.

This month I’ve been busy with my fall handbag line, stocking up for the holidays, custom orders and birthday planning.

I want to start this recap or week in review with a short story. As often as I can, I try to teach my daughters how wonderful it is to give than to receive. That we are so blessed and that it is important that we help others because we can. So this year both of my daughters have decided to forgo their birthday presents from friends and instead raise money for Shriner’s Hospitals for Children.

Before the day arrived we talked enough about it that the 4-year old didn’t even notice. She was not bombarded with presents from her family either. We’ll sit down tomorrow when we write a note to the hospital and at home we will share the story of the family who inspired us to select this charity. A family who is always doing for others and has had their fair share of trials and tribulations. You can read about how amazing they are on Lisa’s blog.

As a special thank you to her friends, along with the thank you notes (only because I ran out of time before the party) I made snack bags for all her friends. And love the idea of giving a handmade eco-friendly gift to say thank you for helping us raise money for children.

In addition to the snack bags as a custom listing in my shop, I’ve also been very busy with my Fall 2011 Handbag Line. I have already added several brightly colored handbags, wool and tweeds! So be sure to check them out in my Etsy shop!

I haven’t spoken much about them but I’ve also been working on several great custom orders.

This order came in for two burlap mini totes with a monogram. I wasn’t sure how I was going to monogram burlap but I love the mono on the button. I think it is super sweet and has a cute southern feel.

Monogrammed Burlap Mini Tote

This order came from my 7-year-old daughter from her friend. It was her friends birthday and she requested a handbag. The order arrived to me on a scrap of paper left on my studio desk. It was the sweetest thing ever.

Monogrammed Original Tote

I’ve made great progress on my inventory for the holidays. I’ve added many zipper pouches in sets of 3 at a reduced price. Instead of $8 plus shipping, all three are $20 and you only pay for shipping for one. These are great to keep on hand for gifts, gift cards, thank you gifts or to organize your handbag instead of using plastic baggies for all your small items that fall to the bottom of your handbag.

I’ve also added some wine gift bags, more custom mom planners in some fabulous colors and oh so much more! As I mentioned it has been busy, so I am sorry I haven’t been keeping up with my blogging. I’ve been so excited to get working after a long summer of construction on our home, both girls running around my studio even with the help of a sitter…lol. All I can say is I don’t know how I do it. :)

Hopefully I will stay on top of my blogging and try to get another article written for my Etsy Team blog too.

Until then…peace, love and happiness, Jen xoxo

Vegan Suede Messenger Bag

31 Aug

This vegan suede material is luxurious! It feels like suede but is synthetic or a man-made polyester, making this fabric eco-friendly and animal friendly.

It has machine embroidered butterflies throughout. It is very silky soft to the hand, as my 3 yo said, “mom, I’d like a pillow made out of that fabric.”

The dimensions of this messenger bag are: 12″ tall x 4″ deep and 15″ across.

The material is a brushed polyester exterior (vegan faux suede)

The inside has 4 interior pockets on one side and one iPad or Notebook computer padded sleeve on the other side.

It has D rings and a very long strap that can be tied to shorten.

It has a velcro closure as the material is so light weight that even a magnetic snap would be too much.

This was a custom order for Donna. I hope she loves it. It took me about 3 working mom days to complete this project, in between Tropical Storm (Hurricane Irene) clean-up and having school cancelled 3 days this week.

These items are only available by custom order. So contact me through my Etsy shop if you are interested.

Here are some additional pictures including closeups of the bag.

A Love Affair With Burlap

1 Jun

It is no secret that I am having a love affair with burlap. It is summer time, the air is warmer, clothes are lighter, more daylight hours, flowers blooming, and love is all around. It is nothing short of a harlequin romance with its simple organic material, clean lines, and a vintage look.

I’ve made many styles of burlap designs, all unique, none of them from a pattern. In my burlap series: Itty Bitty Totes, Small Beach Bags, Cross-Body Bags, Small Totes, Wine bags, and now…a Clutch.

I am always nervous with folding burlap as it can be brittle. The fabric that I use is a designer weight, not like a potato sack and is often used for upholstery projects because of how well it is woven. It worked perfectly for this design. I love creating a new handbag for each event that I attend. There is no better marketing than wearing what you do. I wanted to change it up from my last clutch and do something different, a bit longish and flat.

It is all about the icing design on the cake right? So what do you get when you start off with a one piece flat burlap clutch and add a knife pleat cotton ribbon that gives it a “candy ribbon” effect down the front and add a few pearl buttons? You get, what I think is my best design yet. A fresh new design using vintage techniques with all new materials to make it beautiful. This design has a soft zipper top, a matching fuschia kiss lock lining, and an iPhone pocket. The full dimensions are 10″ across x 5.5″ tall.

This is a one of a kind item (OOAK) that I made for myself to wear to an upcoming Fundraiser Lobster Bake. I needed a clutch to match my new dress from ModCloth (Cake Artist), with my fuschia pink gauze pashmina wrap (bought locally at Good Goods in Darien) and my denim blue espadrilles (from Piperlime that happen to be the coziest heels I’ve ever owned). I would be happy to make one of these lovely clutches for you in another fabric. The retail price on this item is $30.

**Copyright 2011, The Itty Bitty Bag Company. This is my original design and it is not permissable to copy in any form.

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Upcycled Plaid Shorts Project

24 May

Kindle Cover From Upcycled Plaid Shorts

Men are funny, why do they become so obsessed with one particular article of clothing? They like what they like and will wear it until their kind wives say no more!! Lol.

The summertime is worse, 2 pairs of shorts, one for Saturday and one for Sunday. They wear it and wear it and then after a year or two it becomes a bit tattered and frayed. It is too bad we can’t do this upcycle project with the barcalounger.

Here is a fabulous upcycled project for my dear friend Diane. She contacted me about 2 kindle covers one for her and one for her husband. I don’t have a lot of masculine fabrics on hand but I am always happy to get them for these types of projects.

I reminded her that I have done several upcycled projects and I would be happy to do one for him as well. It didn’t take long before she volunteered these shorts.

The shorts were in great condition with the exception of a few small tears that were easy to work around. It is such a great way to give your favorite plaid shorts a second life. It is eco-friendly and I am sure brings back a flood of memories rather than sitting in the back of the closet.

Thanks Diane for allowing me to cut up Shawn’s shorts and make a fabulous Kindle cover. Here are a couple more pictures, I even kept the label from the shorts and attached it to the inside since it was purchased at a specialty shop.

Recent Trunk Show Custom Orders

12 May

Custom orders are so much fun. I love when a customers idea poses a new challenge or presents a color combination that I hadn’t thought of. Custom orders are fun to do but certainly take time and patience especially when each bag is a different style, size and fabric lot. It is not the same as 10 wristlets all of different fabrics. Sometimes my original design needs to be adjusted to accommodate a special request.

Current Production Time

I’ve been working hard since Christmas, I haven’t taken any time off and I am sure I have had at least 10 custom orders consistently waiting to be created as I am still on that number today. My next “one” order is for 8 monogrammed makeup bags so I am not counting that as 8 (I’ll blog about this project when it is complete).

My Trunk Show in April

It is 4 weeks after my Trunk Show in April and as of this morning all of the custom bags are being delivered, they are on time as promised but I am still finding it hard to believe that 4 weeks have passed. It has been non-stop production but not just on this Trunk Show order. Rather than 2 separate posts, I wanted to highlight the last 2 bags I created.

The “Mom Bag” in Black Cotton Duck / Poly Blend and a Very Retro Orange Dot

**This mom saw my previous mom bag and wanted one as well. As most custom orders go, she had some very specific requests. Very large as the number of boys in her home out-number her by 4. They play sports and their team colors are black and orange. So you want to show your school spirit and you want something with style. As I’ve told you all before, I love the 1950′s and this orange dot just pops! It is fun, classic and retro! This bag has it all. Long Straps, 22″ across and almost that tall, 7.5″ deep, 7 interior pockets, 1 exterior cell pocket, 1 exterior padded iPad sleeve, a zipper top, cardboard bottom that is removable, and a lobster claw to attach your keys. This bag took me 4-5 “mom work” days to complete (many hours). I was so happy with the design and the color palate.

Medium Sacoche in Black Cream Floral with an Aqua lining

This is a cross body bag. It is soft but has one layer of interfacing to hold its shape. It has soft pleats on both interior and exterior of the bag, it has 2 large interior pockets, a 42″ strap handle that can be tied to shorten and a magnetic snap. I love this color combination. I hadn’t thought of aqua but it really brings out the Springtime and has an ocean quality, so I am in love.

I hope you enjoy my recap of these wonderful handmade bags. If you have interest in a particular style or fabric, let me know. I’d be happy to customize your perfect bag too!

My best, Jen

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Quick how to…Jammies, Dads Work Shirt – Upcycled Birthday Pillow

4 Apr

My friend wanted to preserve the Jammies that all three of her boys had worn and adored. The jammies were torn where it was appliqued. She wanted to make it into a pillow. When I think of pillows, I think of making it into a pillow cover, especially with kids. So I got the idea of asking her for one of dad’s worn out work shirts to use as the backing of the pillow. She loved the idea. While I was cutting it out, I thought wouldn’t the patch be so cute as a pocket. They could put little notes inside, birthday cards or even as he gets older a remote.

So here is what you will need for the project.

  • Jammie top
  • Dad’s work shirt
  • Interfacing
  • thread
  • sewing machine
  • scissors
  • pillow form

And here are the steps:

  • cut jammie top into a square both front and back together (knits are thin – this one had some tears too).
  • measure dads shirt with pillow form inside his shirt and mark with chalk, remove pillow and cut into square outside the pins, leaving at least 1/8″ around the outside of pillow for stitching
  • sew jammie top into a pocket using both sides of jammies as one piece, a piece of interfacing, and a piece of dads shirt for the back side.
  • attach pocket to dads shirt not button side
  • sew shirt all the way around, you will be able to open and turn inside out with the buttons.
  • turn inside out
  • insert pillow form
  • Done!

Time to complete, about 2 hours.

Crafty Girl Valentines

10 Jan

Have Extra Fabric in your shop?

You’ve made all the yo yo’s you can, but the small pieces of fabric just accumulate. They are perfectly fine but like me, your addicted and more fabric comes in before it goes out. And lets face it, our customers want to see something new. So what do you do with all the little pieces of fabric? You can hold onto it taking up valuable space in your shop or you can do a yo yo/fabric square listing. I’ve wanted to do a listing like this for some time now. I thought Valentines day was the perfect holiday to do it. If you have a crafty girl in your home or you yourself are a crafty girl, these fabric squares are fantastic. They are also perfect for making cards, scrapbooking, bookmarks, beginner quilting, applique and oh so much more! I used all the left over fabric from my designer collection. All of these fabrics have been used in making my bags. If you use fabric in your Etsy shop, this is a great way of being green and not just throwing away scraps of fabric. I also have some other fabric that is not as big as a square that is available for purchase if you do collages, prints or other type of fabric art. I have a geat you tube video on how to make yo yo’s but I think all the other ideas are pretty self explanatory. My 3 and 7 year olds love using my small pieces of fabric. Fabric is fun to hold and playwith.

Heart Fabric Yo Yo Box
Heart Fabric Yo Yo Box

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