Tag Archives: Weddings

6 hours is it enough??

24 Feb

Me & my girls

I really believed that as my girls got older that I would have more time to focus on my shop & really build a business. This couldn’t have been further from the truth. I know it will come but what I don’t want to do is wish these years away. I just don’t want to. I have no regrets for what I’ve accomplished in the past but one thing is clear, the Summer months are the most stressful for a home based business. I came to this full realization this during February break and series of winter snow storms. I really tried the best that I could to balance it all & it was manageable most days. We had some fun days skiing, going to a children’s museum and painting pottery. Mixed in we had some days at home when the girls played & I worked.

I’ve discovered recently that I really have a lot of interests. This is good in many ways but also makes life a bit more challenging.

My main interests are my family, my shop, my dachshunds, cooking, running/yoga and gardening. I love them all. I think it makes me a well rounded person. When I focus on cooking then the cleaning slacks off. When I focus on my shop my running slacks off. There is just not enough time to get it all done.

My family by far takes up the majority of my time. My littlest daughter has life threatening food allergies so some of the “prepared” foods are quite dangerous for us. So cooking becomes integral part of our health and not something I can shortcut.

My littlest said to me the other day after I complained about not having enough time during the day to get everything done “but mom you have 6 hours while I am at school to get it all done.” I almost fell on the floor. One night, I was complaining to SSJ about only having 6 hours and what the little one had said. I am not sure either of us understood exactly. Where does that time go?

So I set out to document one day 6 hour day and it might look like this:

  • Coffee
  • Let the dogs out
  • Make Breakfast for the kids
  • Clean up dishes
  • Feed the dogs / Kids off to school
  • Tidy up the house / Laundry / Shoveling
  • Work in my shop for 1 hour
  • Workout 1-2 hours (dressing, shower after)
  • Lunch / Make Dinner
  • Clean dishes
  • Work in my shop 2 hours
  • Prepare After School Snack
  • Take kids to activities

Then of course the evening is just all about them with homework and our bedtime routine. If I have a few errands to do or groceries or shoveling. I can scrap 2 hours somewhere in there.

This summer I will not have my summer helper/sitter/intern this year. We are working on staying on a budget and spending money on help is just not in the cards for us this year. We have some home projects we are trying to save for.  I am grateful for the summer help we’ve had but my oldest is going into middle school. I want to make sure she is ready & that we have a fun / learning summer.

I’ve decided to “soft” close my shop on 6/30/14 when school ends. I will leave my shop open for ready to ship items. I will not be taking custom orders or bridal orders. So please get your orders in to me by 6/15/14.

My girls are going to do a 1/2 day camp in the morning. It is summer school so they will be focused on reading & music. This is just a 2 month camp. During this time I will be training to run my fastest 5k in 20 years. I am hoping to run faster than when I was 20. I have to look up the exact time but it will be under 19 minutes. This is hardly world record pace but when you are turning 40. It is good to know that it is just a number.

The month of August they will be home full time. Making the days much more of a challenge to even squeeze in a run. I will probably run intervals in my front lawn & make use of my treadmill. Not horrible given it is the hottest month of the year.

I respect so many of you who have already made this decision for your families & you’ve given me the strength, love & support to make this decision. I have no doubt I’ll still want to make or create. These items you’ll see listed in my shop. I have no problem packing up an item for the post office but I don’t want the pressure of custom or made to order items during the summer months. It causes an enormous amount of stress. I found this out with the 15 snow days we had this winter which made it very hard to complete orders as fast as I am use to getting them out.

This does’t change my end goal but maybe this cottage business takes a little bit longer than 5 years to grow. Gardening also takes patience. You need love, water & sunshine. I think my girls and I need a little bit of this too!

Thanks for all your love & support.

xoxo, Jen

Who would buy an itty bitty bag?

20 May MiniToteOfferings

 

 

The smallest bag I make is just 8″ across the top, 4.5 tall by 3″ deep. These can come in a variety of closure options such as a zipper, snap or open top. Who would need such a small bag?

MiniToteOfferings

How many times have you run into a store with just your phone & wallet. Then you quickly realize that you have too much for your hands? Perhaps you have an event to go to and you look over at your every day handbag and you think…I don’t want to lug that big bag around but I want my phone handy enough to snap a photo.

This is why I created my smallest bag. For the days that you only need or want the bare necessities. I have a friend who leaves her itty bitty bag in her car just for this reason.

Itty bitty bags make wonderful gifts because most women forget this most important accessory. While my design is not complicated & if you are a skilled sewer you could probably make one yourself. Consider this…I’ve made thousands of them. I have worked out all the rough patches of this bag. I have it down to a science. If you need more reasons…keep on reading. You’ll learn even more about why you’ll love my shop & my itty bitty bags.

Customer at a Show

I’ve seen a lot of talk lately about who is your buyer? Who is listening to you? Are you talking to the right crowd?

I believe my buyer…

1) Likes unique offerings

I purchase my fabrics in 1 yard increments. I am not here to just relist my items. I allow for customization on each of my designs.

2) Loves handmade

I believe customers like knowing where their item was made, who made it and feel connected with the production of their item. We love to buy items that have a story.

3) Supports women in business

I believe women like to support other women. It is widely known that many of the top retail companies are run by men. There are very few women CEO’s. The glass ceiling still exists.

4) Ethical & humane

I only use cotton, wool or burlap materials. I don’t use leather or suede unless it is synthetic.

5) Eco-minded

I have very little waste in my studio. Scraps of fabric are used for smaller accessories. Even smaller scraps are made into scrap bags that I sell or give to children to find their craftiness.

6) Loves brightly colored, whimsical accessories

It is true that color makes us happy. I typically wear solid colors but I love bright accessories. My favorite color combination is navy blue and pink.

7) Made in the USA

Whether or not you live in the USA or in another country finding an item that was made in the USA is not very easy. Western style is popular worldwide and it feels more genuine when it is made here.

Do you have any other ideas on who my buyer is or who I should be targeting to be a buyer?

Thanks for your help!!

xoxo, Jen

Handmade Shows Events (7)

Another customer at one of my shows…very much like me. Likes to wear neutral colors for clothing and checking out some fun bright accessories.

Wedding Favor for Guests – behind the scenes

20 Jun Nautical Burlap Wine Bag

Recently, I received a request for 125 Nautical Burlap Wine Bags. They would be used as gifts for the attendees of a wedding. The wedding is taking place on the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts.

I’ve made this bag for a couple of different weddings now but only in quantities of 10 or so. The bride saw this bag in my Etsy shop & contacted me about her order.

Making 125 of anything is a lot of work. Ordering the supplies in bulk takes time. Some suppliers only have a small quantity on hand & in stores…even smaller.

The materials include: soft cotton woven rope, grosgrain ribbon, designer burlap & a good quality thread.

Ordering the burlap wasn’t a problem as the supplier was fully stocked for the summer. There have been periods of time when it has been back ordered for months. Finding the striped wide grosgrain ribbon took a little bit of time to find the right supplier but worked out perfectly. Matching the thread to the burlap & ordering in bulk will make all future projects a dream. The last piece & finishing touch the braided rope. As the saying goes…never let them see you sweat.

Finding the rope!! Arg!! Doesn’t begin to describe this piece of the puzzle. I ordered the rope from a supplier. Fantastic until it arrived. It arrived in a natural color not white. Cream is not white. So I have 400 yards of rope that I do not need. The hunt goes on…and I finally break down & contact a local fabric shop. They say not a problem & will deliver on time. The date quickly approaching & several calls & appearances & excuses later…the rope is back ordered at the manufacturer. This is information that was known by them & not shared with me. I had to make some quick decisions. I could have just adjusted my whole order had they just told me. I had 110 yards as each bag requires 1 yard of rope. I needed 15 yards of rope. Several visits to other stores produced zero yards. I am always outside the box thinker…what about a different size rope, certainly something must be close in size?? Oh why yes…there is not much difference between 1/2 inch and 5/8th inch, the untrained eye can not distinguish. Oy vey!!

So the shop that failed me, orders the remaining yardage 2 days before due date. I don’t trust them so I go online when I get home & order a back up supply and pay up the wazoo for next day air.

The bride & groom arrive on Friday. The order complete & utterly perfect. The grooms remarks on seeing 125 of them was “oh wow you’ve been busy.” Yes, 125 wine bags looks a lot different than 125 pennies.

To the bride & groom, thank you for your trust. I hope your guests love them. It was a challenge physically & emotionally and so worth it. I would do it again.

This production would not have been possible without the help of my husband who designed my labels and pinned ribbon on bags; mom who came for a visit & hemmed bags; my friend/household assistant Nancy who cut rope & turned bags & pinned; my 4 yo who ran under the desk to pull out the printed copies of my labels while I used my industrial paper cutter just 2 hours before delivery. My whole family who tolerated my endless hours of production. You are all so amazing. We’ll look back when I am almost famous and laugh.

No project this large is complete without a photo journey.

Here are some of the bags on my table getting ready to be serged. All woven fabrics should be finished properly or it will unravel & have holes.

After the serging…then each bag must be turned right side out. Burlap fibers go everywhere.

The next step is pinning the top hem so that the edging of the burlap is underneath & does not come unraveled. Takes a very steady hand to make sure the stitching is even. Also, the opening is so small, it does not fit on a free arm.

This was just about 2/3 of the bags when they were pinned & ready for their final hem. Sorry that I didn’t take pictures of the next step which was packing them in the box for delivery. I was so focused & close to my deadline.

The final step of this sewing project was cutting the 125 yards of rope used to tie a bow or nautical tie around the top of each wine bottle.

Thanks for taking the time to read about what it is really like being a designer & not having the resources of a manufacturing facility or other seamstresses helping me sew. I learn so much about my strength & determination with each turn that this business has taken.

xo, Jen

Slowly but Shirley…Surely

8 Mar

Hard to believe that I’ve been back for a little bit more than a month. Lets clean out the tumble weeds and get back to business.

It is almost Spring and this is my shops busiest time of year. The largest component of my Spring business is Bridal party orders. Brides are searching for unique gifts specific to each bridesmaids personality and hoping to find something they can use long after the wedding. It is also the time of year that we like to ditch our heavy leather bags and find something bright and cute! Something that says I am headed to the beach. I’ll be sharing my Spring themes with you in my next post.

Here are a few of the items I’ve been working on: Taxes – yep…someone has to pay the bills. Organizing my shop. Looking for ways to get help with my business that doesn’t involve me giving up the creative aspect or spend less time with my girls. Wishful thinking right? I’ll share these details soon too.

Here are some of my most recent custom orders until I have a few minutes to get to the writing.

Black Ruffle Skirt

Handmade Black Ruffle Skirt by Itty Bitty Bag

Handmade Black Ruffle skirt. I still have enough for one skirt to make, contact me if you are interested.

Chevron Stripe Handbag

Chevron Stripe Handbag

Our most fashionable pattern this spring….Chevron Stripe. So bold!! I have enough fabric for one more bag.

Bamboo Handle Bag

Bamboo Handle Bag

Nothing says spring more than this mustard/neonish flower power bamboo handle bag. It is thick, stands on its own but is light weight. A fabulous one of a kind bag.

Zipper Clutch in Linen

Zipper Clutch in Linen

Love love hand embroidery. Lavender is one of my favorite colors and flowers.

iPhone Wristlet Zipper Pouch by Itty Bitty Bag

iPhone Wristlet Zipper Pouch by Itty Bitty Bag

And everyone is still excited about the one of a kind iPhone wristlets that actually fit your phone, credit cards, lip balm & cash. Completely hands free.

And I’ve been spending some time with my girls on the slopes. And this is what it is supposed to be. Dad is here…he is our anchor on the mountain & the best photographer. We have some great memories captured.

More to come this week.

xoxo, Jen

Vintage Upcycled Bridesmaids Wedding Clutch

11 Jan

What an amazing project that all came about by chance! A friend contacted me and said she saw a Craigslist Ad looking for a seamstress to make purses for bridesmaids and that she had the fabric already. My friend thought I should contact her to get more details. I thanked her and this is the story.

When I contacted Emily about my being interested to hear her project, I had no idea that it would be an upcycled project. If you’ve been following me for a while you know that I love this!! I am such a eco/green girl. I love taking something old and giving it new life. I was so excited about the project.

Emily and I met and she revealed that the fabric was not just fabric but it was her mother’s bridesmaids dress and that her Aunt had worn the dress in her mom’s wedding in the 70′s. I don’t have a great picture of that day but lets just say…Emily and I had a good chuckle. Her Aunt was very happy to see the dress go. I am not sure any of us imagined how wonderful the result would be.

The Dress Before

Another Full Length Photo

 

Emily gave me a lot of time to work on this project and I can’t thank her enough for being the bride extraordinaire. Ordering the right frames takes almost 4 weeks, the glue is hard to come by and I have to say the most stressful part which I did not anticipate was cutting up this dress. Once you cut you can’t go back. The fabric was exquisite. So even for the 70′s this dress was the bomb…well the material was the bomb. A very nice linen fabric which is not great to cut as it moves around quite a bit but the texture is amazing.

Fits in your hand, under your arm….works great for formal events….will compliment the aluminum dresses that the girls were wearing in Emily’s wedding…and…the best part…looks hot with Jeans!!

I complimented the exterior with aluminum silk dupioni on the interior. It is so chic. I loved the result.

5 Upcycled Vintage Fabric framed clutches for Emily’s wedding. Her wedding was on New Years Eve in New York City.

Emily…it was so amazing working with you. I wish you the best in the next chapter of your life. I hope your bridesmaids enjoy their clutches for many years to come.

My best, Jen xoxo

Burlap Wristlet with a Vintage Monogram

23 Aug

I love how one great idea rolls into another fabulous creation.

Katie contacted me about making wristlets for her wedding bridal party. I became super excited when she told me that she is having a farm themed wedding and that she loved my burlap designs.

We talked about how we could incorporate the burlap, still selecting colors to match each girls personality and include the vintage monogram to personalize each bag.

 

 

We selected the corn colored burlap. Above you can see that adding the bias tape is the first step.

 

The next step was sewing all the pieces to the zipper.

After that was complete, I hand embroidered the vintage monograms. Each monogram one takes me close to one hour to complete.

The final step is sewing the monogram to the bag and making the bag & wristlet straps.

 

I love the color combinations and thank Katie and Todd for allowing me to be a part of their special day.

My best, Jen xoxo

 

Bridal Totes for Two Very Sweet Tween Girls

15 Jun



Turquoise and Red – such a great combination

This bridal order is very special. The bride ordered these for her tween girls. She is getting married and wanted to have a very sophisticated look for her two beautiful girls on her wedding day. One of the girls favorite colors is turquoise and the other is red. I think these two colors look amazing together. So each bag is distinct for both girls personalities but combined in such a way to show the amazing sisterly bond they share.

Thanks Kristin!!

Week (end) in review @ Itty Bitty Bag Co.

31 May

Memorial Day Weekend – I can’t thank our soldiers enough both present and past for all they do. It is also great to have some extra time with the family and some bonus hours in my shop, having hubs home is so helpful.

My ready to ship items are sparse, so before I complete any more custom orders, I need to rectify this problem. So I cleaned out my bin of small fabric. I run an eco-friendly business and have very little fabric waste. I use my small pieces of fabric to make accessories and embellishments. This weekend, I cut out several zipper pouches, makeup bags, clutches and fobs. They are all in production this week. I am hoping to get some work done even though the 3 year-old is home with me this week. Camp starts next week. After all this cutting, I still have a bin full of fabric. So if you are a button maker, quilter, scrapbooker, yo yo maker or just looking for some fun small pieces of fabric to add embellishments to your existing designs, please contact me as I have a bin full and it is time to part with it. Some are bigger pieces and some are more scrappy. It is not about how much money I collect but the fabric does weigh quite a bit so I don’t want to give out the fabric and pay for the shipping too, taking a total loss. So if you are interested in the fabric, let me know, happy to work something out.

I finished about 20 key fobs, so if you don’t see one in my shop that you like or you would like to buy more than one, please send me an email and I’ll take a picture of what I have and create a custom listing for you.

Two new clutches were just completed and added to my shop. I used a designer weight fabric, very heavy quilted and woven. So lovely. I added some embellishments so that it could be used for a variety of clients. It would be great for a wedding or just a fun light weight summer clutch. Great for the poolside or date night. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did making them. I really have a love affair with embroidery, so be on the lookout for much more of this to come. I love comments and feedback so if you have time, please let me know what you think.

And a little twitter bird clutch…

I also began another little bag that uses an olive branch fabric. It reminds me of Tuscany. I’ve decided to continue with the trend, and I am embellishing the fabric with some embroidery designs. I am using a technique called chicken feet. Too funny. You can almost smell the olive oil and little hens running around on a Tuscany farm…a perfect marriage.

I also did a little bit of fabric shopping at two local stores. One is a Provencal store in town, she imports everything from France. She has fabulous fabric. I can’t wait to make this tote. Stopping by her shop may have opened up an opportunity for me in her store. She mentioned her handbag maker was charging her way too much and she had to stop carrying them. I told her I’d show her my bag when it is complete. She also mentioned how much she loves bamboo handles. The second store I stopped at was Good Goods in Darien because they had some serious eye candy in the window, I got a raspberry colored floral fabric with embroidered chain stitch in the center of the flower. Both fabrics were quite lovely, luxurious, expensive but oh so much fun!

Just wanted to keep you up to date on the happenings at Itty Bitty Bag Company. Sometimes I get quiet but it is only because I am busy busy.

I still have 8 custom orders to complete and will get to them on time.

Flower Girl Baskets

20 May

Last month I completed this custom order for two lovely Flower Girl Baskets. It was right after my Easter Baskets and life was a bit busy so I never got to blog about this order. It was fantastic timing because I had just created the new design which was essential in crafting these little totes. The handle I used a very sturdy interfacing so that they resembled a basket handle. The Yoyo’s on the front were so much fun and adding all the extra ribbon just topped it off. The great part is that these girls will be able to use these baksets for their own hair bows and what nots long after the wedding is over. Melissa was so wonderful to work with and we’ve become quite good friends over the past few months. I can’t wait to see the pictures from her wedding. Congratulations Melissa, I can’t wait to see all the lovely designs from your handmade wedding.

Scope of the Project

Two light-weight baskets, using sapphire silk dupioni fabric, with contrasting silver, very pretty and lots of embellishments.

Bridal Set – 8 Make-up Bags

18 May

Scope of the Project

8 Make-up Bags, each unique and monogrammed. I gave Erin full run of this project and directed her to several resources that have fabric samples such as my Flickr account, my sold items on Etsy, as well as my current shop inventory for ideas. She mentioned that they were all lovely and would have a hard time choosing especially since not all my fabrics are listed. She wondered if I could help her decide. So Erin had the idea of giving me a color and a few words about each girls personality. This approach was spot on!

Jennie “J” Favorite color: Pink; Personality: Stylish, trendy, girly but still sophisticated
Jen “J” Favorite color: light blues; Personality: Super preppy, stylish
Barbara “B” Favorite color: Peacock shades (teal, yellow, purple) Personality: Vintage, old soul
Katy “K” ” Favorite color: Purple Personality: Bold patterns, chic and fashionable
Ashley “A” Favorite color: Red; Personality: Outgoing, trendy, vibrant. Lives in San Francisco
Katie “K” Favorite color: Green; Personality: Simple elegance, not trendy
Leslie “L” Favorite color: Green; Personality: Vintage, obsessed, literally, with the color green. Definitely green patterns inside and out
Katie “K” Favorite color: Pink; Personality: Super, super girly, fun, young. Think bubble gum pink

So I went back with this:

1) Jennie – Pink & Trendy – fuchsia pink, mod design

2) Jen – light blue & preppy – sateen plaid

3) Barbara – Peacock Vintage – peacock pattern in a 1950′s fabric

4) Katy – purple & bold – lavender mod design

5) Ashley – red & trendy – red damask

6) Katie – green elegant – soft green and yellow charming floral

7) Leslie – green & vintage – green on green floral very retro design

8. Katie – pink bubblegum fun – the whales! I’ll focus on the pink portion but so fun!!

I sent her a pic of the fabrics and we only changed the first because of a recent conversation she had with Jennie. We changed it to Champagne! Perhaps this is toast to the next chapter in her life.

Final Result

Here are the pictures of the makeup bags. I hope you enjoy the vibrant colors! It is so fantastic to have so many lovely friends all with unique personalities, who are all bridesmaids in this wedding, and all have Erin in their lives.  Thank you Erin for allowing The Itty Bitty Bag Company to be a part of your special day.

My best, Jen

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