Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Upper Limit of our Treadle Machine

Today we finished the largest bag we've ever made--  a 14" x 19" x 3" laptop case, fully padded, with extra compartments for papers and cables and phones and pens.  Our customer wanted oranges and reds and a bird theme, which, as you can see,  was a great choice of materials.  The bag was a challenge, mainly because our little sewing machine is not an industrial model and has limited space for material to pass underneath the machine head.  It was sort of like sewing a pup tent.  But we really like designing on this scale, and we think a bag this size would be fun for many purposes-- carry-on, messenger bag, briefcase-like bag, as well as laptop and notebook bag.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What Ever Happened to those New Bigger Bags?

A few months ago we posted about a new bigger bag that we were experimenting with that we now call our Not-So-Small bag.  At that time we expected to test them for a month or two and then put them on this blog so you could have one of your own.  Our five testers gave us very helpful feedback after using theirs for a month, and suddenly we found ourselves making lots of these bags before we ever had a chance to put them into our catalog.  Most of our orders since then have come from people who see us or our customers wearing these bags and who then ask us about getting one for themselves.  

And then one day someone asked us if we could make a case for her extra- large iPad.   We really liked the way the iPad bag came out, so we made a couple to donate to silent auctions associated with a couple of craft fairs that we were a part of.  The first picture above shows the front  of a regular iPad bag.

The picture above shows the back of the small iPad bag with its phone pocket.

We still don't have a catalog entry for these bigger bags because the bulk of our orders are custom orders.  We really love custom work, but it's hard to put a custom item in a catalog.  So here's what you should do if you want to order one of our Not-So-Small bags or a bigger bag:  Email us directly at or at and tell us what length, width, and depth you want the bag to be;  tell us the colors and materials that you like;  tell us if you want any pockets (and tell us the length, width and thickness of your phone if you want a phone pocket) and where you want it or them placed.  All of our straps are adjustable and come with a no-slip piece of material that rests on the wearer's shoulder.  You can send the payment by Paypal or pay us by check.

We'll write back with confirmation of our understanding of your order and with any questions we still have.  We will write back and forth until we understand each other.  Our prices range from $25 (plus $4 for shipping and handling) for the Not-So-Small cross-body bags to $35 for most iPad bags (plus $5 for shipping and handling) to $50 for laptop bags (plus $8 for shipping and handling).  All iPad and laptop bags are fully padded between the double layers of material.  All of these bags have a main compartment as well as a full-width and height front pocket and back pocket.  The back pocket is unflapped for easy access while the front and middle compartments are covered by a velcro-closing flap.

We are happy to design unusual bags for you and will work out a price based on the size and amount of work involved.  Below are some examples of our Not-So-Small bags and iPad bags.  The standard size of a Not-So-Small bag is 8" high x 6" wide x 2" deep.  Below is a scan of my own NSS bag that is stuffed with two calendars, two sketchbooks, a small Shara wallet (also overstuffed), a checkbook,
several pens, my keys, and my phone plus several random pieces of paper-- receipts, etc.  This is the best bag I've ever owned.  I like the size (not too big, and the material itself is very light, so there's no extra weight from heavy leather or canvas) and its seemingly endless ability to hold more and more.  I often clip small foldup grocery bags to one of the D rings.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Commuter's Wallet

My son and his family are in town this week.  They recently moved from Brooklyn to Maplewood, New Jersey; so my son has now become a person who needs to flash various passes as he drives through checkpoints on the freeway.  He showed me his pathetic wallet (dull brown leather, falling apart, ripped seams, but still featuring the scuffed- but- clear plastic window compartment for his pass-- the reason he has not traded in his wallet).  He asked me if we could design a wallet for him to replace his old faithful wallet.

I based the design on our current slimmed-down standard-- no flap, no button, one credit card case;  and I added the clear plastic window for the pass.  He also wanted to be able to access his bills from the TOP of the wallet instead of the bottom;  but he was doubtful that his extra credit cards would stay in the bottom compartments.  I therefore reversed the placement of the billfold, putting it so that it opens from the top, and I put velcro closings on both bottom-opening compartments for extra security.

Here it is from the inside:

Very handy, very sleek (more rectangular than square), and it can be yours for the same price as a standard wallet.  Under special instructions, simply ask for a commuter's wallet.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Maya's Sketchbook Part Two

If you want to order a sketchbook for yourself, email us at and tell the dimensions, material, colors, kind of paper, etc.  Sketchbooks cost between $18 and $22 depending on size and kind of paper.

my scetchbook is the best thing ive ever had it makes me feel like ill never lose my memories from the beach and maybe other places ive never seen enything better and im happier then you will ever be
                                                                  Maya Diehn

A Beach Sketchbook, Posted by Maya Diehn

 hi I am Maya me my mom and brother are going to the beach. I asked my grandmother if she could make me a book to put all the things i saw and did in at the beach and she said yes. I love my new book and i will make sure it stays safe. So if you want a book to care for then order it right here right now and I am telling you you will love it. I am sure because i know I do and so don't thank me just for telling you thank my grandmother.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Sneak Preview: A Bigger Small Bag

We love our tiny small bags, but sometimes we need a slightly larger bag, something big enough to carry a standard size (or larger) wallet, a smart phone, clunky keys, a sketchbook or notebook, a few pens, a calendar, a checkbook, a folded-up reusable grocery bag, a pack of gum, a few makeup items, a passport, and a small book, and a small set of watercolors.  Well.  Clearly a larger bag was needed!  So we've made a couple of prototypes.  This one measures 6 1/2" wide,  8 1/2" tall, 2" deep, and has a sturdy shoulder strap that works either cross-body or on one shoulder. 

I've been using this bag for a couple of weeks now, and have noted the following modifications that need to be made:  the small pocket on the front needs to be about an inch wider so that it's easier to retrieve the phone that slips in there;  the elastic band that closes the three layers of the bag needs to be of the heavier variety (the small one is stretching out very quickly as I am usually filling my bag to capacity and the opening is sometimes 3" wide) or perhaps longer.  Another possibility is to use a Velcro closing on the back inside pocket and use the elastic band and button to close off only the wide middle pocket and thin front inside pocket.

Fran has been carrying hers for a little longer, and she's noticed that the bottom part of the strap needs to be double (as it is on mine) for strength and security.  We've both gotten favorable comments on our bags, but we want to make sure they work well and last well before we put them on the market.

That said, if you would like to bespeak one to try out, email us at and tell us what materials and colors you would like and any special features you think might be good to have (the outside pocket on the back?  a second outside pocket on the back? bigger? smaller?).  We will probably sell these for $25 when we get the bugs out, but for now, if you want to be on the design team, we'll make yours for you for $18, and after you've tried it out for a month, we'll either make any changes you (or we) have deemed necessary, and send you the new (or revised) bag for free.

Act fast, though!  We can only offer a position on the design team to FIVE people, and it's on a first-come basis.  (We are also working on a carry bag for iPads as a separate R and D project.  We don't have a prototype for that yet, but when we get one, we'll let you know.)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Bright Wallet for a Dark Bag

A friend recently gave me some zingy yellow, green, red, and black Chock Full 'o' Nuts coffee bags and asked us to make a Shara-style wallet-with-notebook for her out of them.  Happily, a few were left over, because the next day one of my favorite cousins asked me to make her a bright-colored wallet because she carries a "deep, dark purse" and wanted something that would be easy to find in the dark basement of the bag.

 This material is one of my favorites now!  We still have enough to make two wallets, so act fast if you want one!  If you order one, write in the comments section of the order page "Chock Full o' Nuts", or send us an email and order it that way.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Secret Compartment!

We've been quiet on this blog for a while now, but we've been busy in our studio.  We've had an unusually high number of orders for the past three months, which is fine with us; and we've also been working on some new modifications of our most popular designs.  One of these modifications happened by accident while we were working to find a better way to make flaps for coin purses.  We had been bothered by the tendency of clear plastic flaps to begin over time to tear in the right angle that formed at the junction of the flap and the back of the coin purse.

I had been carrying a Teeny Weeny Shara for a couple of months, and I had noticed the slight tear in my coin purse flap.  So we took the wallet apart and tried out different ways of doing the flap. It occurred to us that the tear seemed to happen only when the coin purse was made of clear plastic, never when it was made of woven plastic.  After testing various materials, pulling them and twisting them and trying to rip them apart, we had a bolt-of-lightning insight:  the real problem was the right angle!  And we could easily get rid of that devilish angle by making the flap separate from the body of the coin purse. 

In figuring out how to sew the body of the coin purse on beneath the flap, we saw that if we sewed the bottom of the coin purse as well as the bottom edge of the flap to the body of the wallet, we would no longer have the nice little extra pocket at either the top or bottom of the coin purse.  We decided we could live without that little extra slip-in pocket in the interest of having a flap that was secure and not prone to tearing.  Then we noticed that when we sewed the bottom as well as the bottom of the flap down, a second, secret compartment was formed inside the coin purse!

The drawing above as well as the photo show the existence of the two pockets.  My grandson Jacob suggested we make the flap on his wallet solid so that no one could see that there was a second compartment under there.  We liked that idea for his wallet, which had a solid red coin purse.  But for wallets like the chicken one above that have designs on the front of the coin purse, we need clear flaps to avoid cutting off the chicken's head with the solid flap.  But here's a solution:  we will put a Velcro strip inside the top of the secret compartment so that it stays closed until the owner pulls it open. 

One more thing--  if you are the owner of a Shara that develops problems in the coin purse flap after a few months, send the wallet back to us and we will fix it.  Email us for return shipping details.  Satisfaction guaranteed!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sweet Sweet Potato Wallet

A customer dropped off a couple of sweet potato chip bags and asked us if we could use them to make her a standard wallet.  The material was not one of our usual ones, so we pieced it in with some proven materials, and here it is! 
And when you open it out, there's a whole sweet potato from a different bag.  We added a reinforcement patch at the vulnerable double fold spot, and it looks like one of the chips.

We welcome bags from you as well as ideas for what you want us to make for you out of the bags.  As we've said before, we love a challenge, and new designs are our favorites.  (When we're working with new, untried materials, we will replace your wallet for free if it develops problems within a few months of purchase.  We do our best to reinforce and strengthen the materials, but we can't predict how materials will wear.  Hence our Free Replacement policy for experimental wallets.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Where Our Buttons Come From

Today was a dark and gloomy winter day.  We were working hard to fill some recent big orders.  At one point we spread out all our button baskets on the kitchen counter so we could scrabble through them more easily as we searched for the perfect button for each wallet.  When we spread out the baskets it was as if the sun had come out.  The rich colors of the buttons reminded us of spices in a marketplace; so we took this picture to show you some of our button collection as it lit up the studio on this cloudy day. 

We get these buttons from all over.   Many of them are donated to us by friends who have old button collections.  We find others in flea markets and antique stores.  Most fun of all is finding old pins and bits of jewelry and other odd things in among the old buttons.  One of my favorite finds was a set of old shorthand and typing speed contest pins.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sketchbook Wallets are Here!

For several months now we've been playing around with making sketchbook or journal wallets out of our recycled materials.  We've sold a few to friends.  Yesterday I made a new one for myself, and it's posted here.  The journal behind the new one is an opened-out old one from several months ago.  If you want to talk with us about designing one for you, email us at  We can make them any size and shape you want, with or without pockets, coin purses, or other options.  They are most similar to our Shara wallets, and they cost between $19 and $25, depending on whether you want us to sew in the paper or just make a cover into which you can slip your own paper.