Saturday, October 31, 2009

My pearls are featured on a super blog!

SD of Etsy shop "Looks Good", has recently blogged about my Peach Sorbet pearl necklace and earring set! Thanks so much, SD - you're a doll!!!

Please stop by her lovely blog to view the other wonderful items she's featured:

Also, please stop by her awesome shop, "Looks Good", to see her full line of statement hair accessories consisting of unique Birdcage Veils, Fancy Hair Fascinators & Couture Designs!

I'm crazy mad in love with this one!!!

To see more of my biwa pearls click here:
Visit my shops at:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How to buy a fabric purse on line - Buying wisely. Guidelines for purchasing a fabric purse or handbag on line. Part 6 - last in a series.

The workmanship does't end with a purse's pretty trims, embellishments and extras - they count too...

A lot of people, (including myself), love the extra "pretties" that give handmade purses their charm and character. I use pretty hardware when I can and when it's appropriate, but I also love to use various kinds of trims in some of my bags, such as piping, metallic trims, and my fabric flowers.

While pretty, it's  important that these trims and little extras are securely attached. With the exception of my romantic dress purses, most of my cotton purses are made for every day wear, and the trims are attached in such a way to assure they'll last for the life of the bag.
Many of you have seen my winter purses with the ribbons and vintage brooches. Not only are the ribbons tack stitched, (by hand), to the yarns, the brooches are tightly sewn by hand in several places, securing them to the yarns. They are going nowhere!! If, for any reason, an emellishment should come loose, all I ask is that you return the bag to me, and I'll reattach it - it's part of my guarantee!

With my crocheted purses, all I ask is that you treat the purses with care to safeguard the anitquity of the vintage brooches. By doing so, when the purse has finally seen its better days, you can clip the tacking threads and enjoy the brooch for years to come as an adornment for your clothing!!

My fabric flowers are machine stitched to the purse as well as multiple catches with needle and thread to secure the decorative button in place. All cording and piping trims are tightly bound, and my trims are securely attached with machine stitching. Care has also been taken to attach any trims as "seamlessly" as possible, encasing the ends, (where they meet), in the side seams as unobtrusively as possible.
Notice how the gold trim in this purse meets in the side seam in a way that's not obvious that it's a seam.

And, another of my signature themes is my inside pockets. Being a very frugal person, I love to fashion fun pockets made from the trimmed scraps of material from the purse exterior and lining fabrics.

You'lll see a variety of pocket treatments in my purses, ranging from decorative bands to geometric patchwork designs, including a sunburst pattern in one.

I often like to decorate pockets with decorative machine stitching in a theme that matches the overall mood of the purse.

All this piecing and sewing takes time, however fun it may be, and each pocket is truly one-of-a-kind, as are all my purses. No matter how pretty the outside of my purses may be, I want the inside to be a "silver lining" or "secret garden", so to speak, as an indulgence for the user of the purse!

One of my most popular purses, (and one with the most hearts), is my ribbon embroidered silk purse with beaded accents. The ribbon and beads have painstakingly all been sewn onto the purse by hand, and while this particular purse is not made to endure heavy duty wear and tear, with care, it certainly will maintain its grace and integrity for a lifetime of romantic evenings and outings, and then some!

One last signature items that I seem to be using in more and more of my purses are my tied shoulder straps. I find it terribly annoying to constantly wrestle trying to keep two shoulder straps in place - one is always fallling off, and I find it a terrible nuisance. While across the body wearing solves that problem, for some, it's not always practical. I found a solution that's not only practical, but stylish, and that's the knotted strap!! I haven't seen this treatment anywhere, and hope that the buyers of my purses finds this to be a handy solution to the falling strap problem! You'll notice that the purse in the very first photo illustrates my signature knotted strap technique.

Well, that's it for now. I hope you enjoyed my series, and that buying your next fabric purse on line will occur with the help of these posts, no matter where you make your purchase. Thanks for visiting my blog - please ll return soon for more news and eye candy!

Take care, everyone!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Buying wisely - guidelines for purchasing a fabric purse or handbag on line.Part 5 - more on workmanship.

Continued from  part 4 - workmanship.

Above I wrote about reinforcing my purse bottoms with plastic mesh instead of cardboard. I would like to add that I take one more step to stabilize my bag bottoms, and that's wrapping the plastic mesh in a separate envelope of fabric and hand HAND stitching it to the bottom of the bag. The hand stitching assures that the plastic will not shift, and the fabric envelope cushions and protects the outer fabric. Even though I leave no sharp edges on the plastic, it's stiffer than the outer cotton fabric, and over time, the rubbing of the plastic against the cotton can weaken can and possibly wear a hole in the exterior fabric. I use upcycled synthetic fabric because the synthetic material is more resistant to wear than cotton, and also because it utilizes pre-used fabric. It's awkward to stitch that plastic "envelope" into the bag, but it assures that the reinforcement stays put!

*Lining: Is the lining interfaced, and does it fit closely against the bag like a "second skin"? Interfacing the lining gives it body and stability as well as keeping it in place - inside the bag, where it's supposed to be. I've seen a lot of linings that appear not to be interfaced, fit poorly, and are spilling out over the top of the bag. It's annoying to have the a flimsy and ill fitting lining come out every time you reach in for something. For me, it wouldn't take long get sick of and abandon such a purse.

Look closely and you'll see the row of topstitching along the top edge of the lining.

Also, does the lining appear to be stitched into place with topstitching around the top to hold the lining in place? Sometimes I finish the lining so that it's encased completely inside the bag and other times I bring the edge up and create a contrasting band around the top exterior. It all depends on what kind of a finished look I want. Either way, the lining is *always* secured to the bag exterior with a band of top stitching.

And, no matter what technique the seamstress has used, please check to be sure the side seams of the lining and outer bag are lined up. If the side seams of the lining and purse exterior do not line up fairly closely, you have a bag in which the lining is going one way and the outer fabric is going another. Again, this makes for a distorted purse. If the lining and outer materials are cut and sewn with precision, the seams should match fairly closely.

See how the seams of the outer bag and lining match exactly?

*Magnetic snap installation: This is a real bugaboo with me, and something that may seem incidental, but that I consider extremely important!!! I rarely if ever, see a magnetic snaps stitch reinforced on a handmade fabric bag sold on line - even the most expensive ones, and I'm sorry to say that it's a disappointment! On all my bags, you will see little squares of stitching around my snaps. This stitching is the last of 4 crucial steps in a well done magnetic snap installation, and this little square is proof and insurance that the snap is secured tightly to an extra piece of heavy duty interfacing behind the lining in such a way that it won't weaken or tear the lining fabric.

I sweat those snaps because they are tedious and time consuming, and one mistake and the lining is damaged or ruined. But, I assure you, my snaps are in there for the life of the bag and won't tear loose or strain the fabrics. When you don't see this type of installation on a fabric purse, you can be sure that the maker has cut corners for the sake of time. If you love your cloth purse and want to keep it for a long time, but don't see snaps installed with the reinforcing stitching, you run the risk that the stress on the snap will tear and strain the fabric, and eventually pull through the lining material, (even if interfaced).

Note the stitching around the snap as well as top stitching around the top edge of the lining.

Tomorrow - embellishments and all the pretty little extras!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Buying wisely - guidelines for purchasing a fabric purse or handbag on line. Part 4 - Workmanship!

*Workmanship: To me, this is the most important thing in a quality bag, and frankly, I don't see enough of it on line. Check out the stitching in the seams inside and out, pockets, handles, closures, panel "intersections", topstitching, and so forth. Is there double stitching in the stress points, in the handles and a row of stitching around the top of the bag? Are the pockets "tacked" at the top as I've illustrated here?

Some purse makers like to sew two seams on their pockets, and that is also a good sign that extra care has been taken in pocket installation. Pockets get a lot of wear and tear, and they need reinforcement at the pocket top to hold up against all that's going to go in and out of them. Whether or not they are double seamed or tacked is a matter of prsonal preference. For now, I like tacking, but have to admit that double stitching might be in my future.

Here are two examples of tacked pockets. The first is a single pocket in which the side seams are tacked at the top. Notice how the stitching at the top of the pocket forms a little triangle.

The second illustrates a divided pocket, (one wider piece of fabric, with a sewn divider to make two pockets from one piece of material.) Notice how the top is tacked in the shape of a triangle.

Seam intersections, especially in purses with quilted effects, should meet at perfect 90 degree angles. When you see this, it's not only a sign that the seamstress has taken extra care in piecing and sewing, but that the bag is shaped evenly.

Also, on purses with boxed bottoms, the intersection angles should be fairly close to 90 degrees, and as perfectly matched as possible. If they're not, you're going to have a bag that's distorted in shape. Notice how the side seam, (with the two rows of top stitching), matches up to the bottom seam of this purse.)

Tomorrow - more workmanship...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Buying wisely - guidelines for purchasing a fabric purse or handbag on line. Part 3 - Other materials and hardware.

More about what to look for in a fabric bag when buying on line. Part 3 - other materials and  hardware.

*Other materials used in the bag: Look for quality and sturdy zippers, snaps, clips, closures and hardware.

When reading the description of a fabric purse, also check to see what materials are used in the product. It's important to check out the other materials used in a bag that aren't visible but will tell the consumer about how the bag has been constructed. I use fleece to face the outer material, and I face the lining fabric with interfacing. Not only does the fleece provide softness, it also stabilizes the bag and gives it body. The same is true of the lining. My bags, while soft to the touch, will stand on their own, and aren't flimsy. In my opinion, it's well worth the extra time and money to purchase, cut and apply interfacing and fleece, because you have a more substantial bag in the end.

Also, some purse makers use cardboard to reinforce their bag bottoms. Not only does cardboard loose it's shape quickly, (once it's bent, it stays that way). And, it's not good once water hits it. No matter how washable a fabric is, I wouldn't recommend washing a purse that has a cardboard bottom because the cardboard just will not hold up. I use plastic mesh for my bag bottoms - sag resistant, perfectly washable and practically indestructible.

And, I take one more step to stabilize my bag bottom, and that's means wrapping the plastic mesh in a separate envelope of fabric and hand HAND stitching it to the bottom of the bag. The hand stitching assures that the plastic will not shift, and the fabric envelope cushions and protects the outer fabric. Even though I cut the plastic to have no sharp edges, the plastic is more stiff than the bag fabric, and over time, the rubbing of the 2 surfaces will weaken can and possibly poke hole in the exterior fabric. I use upcycled synthetic fabric because it is more resistant to wear than cotton, and also because it utilizes pre-used fabric. It's awkward to stitch that plastic "envelope" into the bag, but it assures that the reinforcement stays put!

Tomorrow - "Workmanship, workmanship, workmanship!"

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Buying wisely - guidelines for purchasing a fabric purse or handbag on line. Part 2 - Materials.

Continued - what to look for when buying a fabric purse on line. Part 2 - Materials.

*Fabric/Material: Check to be sure that the fabric has an attractive design that is woven and printed well on the fabric. Is it aligned well and printed evenly accross and up and down, and is the pattern centered well on the bag to make the most of the design? On large scale prints, there will be more fabric wasted in getting a good "cut", so take that into consideration before making judgements about the final price.

If you are selecting a purse that will get a lot of day-to-day wear, it's better to choose one made with a tightly woven fabric that's strong and sturdy. A good example would be cotton batiks. I love batiks because of their designs, but they also have a high thread count and are very tightly woven, and that makes them more durable. Cotton, and cotton batiks are also easier to clean. While synthetics can be more durable, sometimes they tend to "pill" and hold stains, so this is also a consideration.

Also, check to see if the maker of cotton bag states swhether or not the fabric has been pre-washed? There are a couple of reasons for pre-washing fabric, the first being allergies. Most modern fabrics are treated with chemincal preservatives to protect them from insect and mold damage while in the warehouse and in transit. More and more people, (including myself), are developing nasty allergies to these chemicals, the effects of which can be minimized or eliminated by washing.

Secondly not only is cotton is washable, it's also "shrinkable" and sometimes the dyes are not color fast. I pre-wash all my fabrics, so if they are going to shrink, bleed colors, or change shape, they will have done so by the time the consumer needs to clean them. Most of my cotton purses are hand washable, and come with care instructions.

Tomorrow - "More about materials and Workmanship"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Buying wisely - guidelines for purchasing a fabric purse or handbag on line. 1st in a series...

I've hinted at a special feature, and am pleased to present the first post in a series on how to select a well made handmade purse when making the purchase on line. Hopefully you'll not only enjoy this series, but will also come away a more educated buyer. The very best for happy shopping experiences!
It's been said that you get what you pay for. I've been told by some that I charge too much for my purses - others find them competitively priced. Admittedly making a purchase on line carries a certain risk because there isn't the option of touching and holding the merchandise. With a few good photos and descriptions, and with a bit of knowledge, making on-line purchases can carry much less risk, surprise, and dissapointment.

The ordinary person understandably doesn't always know what to look for when buying a purse. While often pretty, unfortunately some purses just aren't made well enough to last for the long haul. Admittingly, my work is evolving, and my purses are better now than they were a year or two ago. And, while I can't compete with the gifted artisans who produce elegant tooled leather products, I do know a bit about what goes into a basic fabric handbag.

With designer handbags, there are things to look for when the price is too good to be true, (a great topic for another blog post about fraudulent designer copies), and the same holds true for handmade fabric bags. There are just some basic construction techniques that hold true, no matter who's made the product. Below is what to look for when buying a purse anywhere. I'm going to limit the examples to fabric purses, because what I know the most about and because you find a lot of fabric purses in electronic venues.

Tomorrow - "Fabrics, materials, and care considerations"

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A treasury!

I want to thank Mulberrymoose for including my silk and ribbon embroidery bag in her lovely treasury!!

"You are invited" treasury:

Silk and ribbon embroidery purse:

She is planning on rotating the photos, so my purse may not be there throughout the duration. Nevertheless, I want to extend my sincere appreciation for her consideration and increased traffic that has come to my shop as a result!! Thank you, Mulberrymoose!

Please stop by Mulberrymoose's shop to take a look at her cute creations. She has an abundance of cute little dolls - here's one of them, her Rockin' mini Celeste! Isn't she cute?!

Rockin' mini-Celeste:

Mulberrymoose Etsy shop:

Visit my shops at:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

New purse - Tribal batik with fabric flower.

I've had this purse listed for a while, but have gotten behind taking care of some health issues.

Here is one of my fall purses made from the remaining batik from another purse that sold long ago. I love the fabric flower, and had a ball making it! I seem to love outdoing myself making these flowers, but need to take care not to get carried away with myself and spill over into the gaudy!

I've been using my recovery time to work on a series that I think you'll find interesting, and something I know a bit about - "What to look for and how to buy a well made fabric purse on line". I hope to have the series up and running early next week, so please stay tuned!

Tribal batik purse with flower:

To see more of this and my other creations, please visit my shops:

Take care everyone, and thanks for stopping by!