Back to the Sewing Machine

The Handmade Fair site

Well! Wasn’t The Handmade Fair at Ragley Hall fun? Driving into such an amazing location was stunning.  Ragley Hall itself is gorgeous, standing on a hill overlooking glorious rolling parkland and a lake, beyond which was the marquee village that formed the Handmade Fair.

Ragley Hall
Ragley Hall
The Handmade Fair site
The Handmade Fair site

And then the set up. It was warm work, moving all my bits and pieces, including my prized bit of Handmade Fair kit, my power drill, into position.  I had a wonderful man appear out of nowhere who offered to bring all my heavy pieces.  Suddenly it became a two person job, and so much easier. Not forgetting Alice, from the event organisers’ team, who also lugged bags across the grassy sheep field towards the marquee.

I started with an empty shell, and ended up with a completed stall, five hours later.

Start of the Set Up
Start of the Set Up
Pretty much finished
Pretty much finished

So then to find my accommodation for the duration of the event – in the little village of Inkberrow. The perfect spot – I was staying above a pub that had real ale on tap, and walks down quiet country lanes on the doorstep – perfect for getting the blood pumping after a day standing at the stall.

Opening day brought the crowds and rain! How dare it rain on Kirstie? It was like September all over again – a steaming hot day to set up, then pouring rain on the first day.  It didn’t deter the visitors and the three days passed in a whirl of talking to really interesting people. So many groups of mums, daughters and granddaughters, and gaggles of friends all interested in crafts and exploring new skills, like upholstery, willow weaving and embroidery. Talking to people as they passed the stall was great fun, finding out what excited them about crafting.

The Handmade Fair site
The Handmade Fair site

The weather improved as the weekend went on, and by Sunday, it was warm and sunny all day.  All my practice at Chapel Lane Market in Ennis meant that my packing up was done with military precision. It may have taken me 5 hours to set up, but it took me 40 minutes to pack up! I was like a woman possessed.  I think knowing that I was driving back to my parents’ house for a lovely meal before the drive back home to Clare was what spurred me into super speedy mode. Monday morning saw me up and on the road early, leaving behind the gentle rolling landscapes of Middle England, and heading back to my wonderful wild West Clare. First thing Tuesday I had the dog out for a walk at White Strand near Miltown Malbay. It was the most fantastic restorative walk. there really is nothing like a walk by the sea to clear the head.

White Strand
White Strand

And now I’m back to sewing and preparing to head to Chapel Lane Market this weekend.  My sewing machine had a holiday at the sewing machine spa whilst I was away and has returned to me purring like a kitten.  It’s like having a new machine! Which is a good thing, as I had returned to few orders, and a few holes in my stock list that needed refilling.

Blue Paisley Carolina Bag
Blue Paisley Carolina Bag

I was delighted that one of the orders was for a Blue Paisley Carolina Bag – not a bag that I have made before in this fabric, and it looked so lovely, I rushed outside and took pictures of it to send to the person who had ordered it.  And now I’m showing off with a picture of it here too!

Yellow Daisy in action
Yellow Daisy in action

On the cutting table right now are several Yellow Daisy bags off to a couple of my stockists in Ireland – the perfect bags for the sunny days forecast to arrive here this week. See you at Chapel Lane Market on Saturday….and this week we’ve a special visitor who is going to show everyone how to braid fabric. It sounds like it’s going to be brilliant.  We open at 10am, and the braiding Workshop kicks off at 1pm.

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Poppy Appeal….

Vandeleur Walled Gardens

It’s rather grey and wet Bank Holiday Monday here at Bag Making HQ. I had the pleasure of being in Vandeleur Walled Gardens yesterday which was a riot of gorgeous colours. The picture above is of the garden furniture that I was longing to lounge on. Below is my stall, full of the colours being shipped off to Sweden….

Bags galore
Bags galore

It is all systems go as I start my packing for Sweden.

Urkult Poster
Urkult Poster

Last week saw three boxes containing my stock of bags and all the various bits and pieces needed for three days of markets  at a Swedish folk festival in the middle of the woods head off in a courier’s van.  I truly hope that we will be reunited at the hotel in Sweden where they are supposed to arrive on Wednesday. In a past life I spent a lot of time flying around Asia attending exhibitions, and hard won experience means that I have my emergency stock and market supplies travelling with me, just in case my freight goes astray.  I recall arriving very late at night in Calcutta, and my bags were in Buenos Aires.  It’s not a great feeling.

I have my 20 slides ready for my Pecha Kucha presentation.  No, I’d never heard of a Pecha Kucha either.  Apparently, it is a clever Japanese way of speeding up presentations.  You have 20 slides, and 20 seconds to speak about each slide. No more, no less. My presentation is going to be about making the bags from start to finish.  I confess to including some slides showing the sewing room cats hard at work, in the hope that will distract people from listening to my ramblings.

At some point in the Urkult Festival I am due to give a short workshop about recycling fabrics, trying to encourage people to upcycle, recycle and reuse instead of binning and sending them to landfill.  My bags are a clear example of what you can do with a pair of old jeans, but I made a little toy cat (what else?) this morning, to try to show that you don’t have to  make bags with old jeans.  In fact web sites such as Pinterest are chock full of ideas for old jeans, from plant pots to aprons to cocktail dresses. Here is Serge, my denim cat…..

Serge
Serge

I will endeavour to post at least a few pictures and comments on this blog from Urkult, to give you a flavour of the festival and what I am up to.  Do keep an eye on my Facebook and Instagram pages too, where I will be posting plenty of photographs (I hope – will there be wifi in the woods??).

So why did I call this post “Poppy Appeal”, when all I’ve written about is the Urkult Festival and a denim cat?? As any of you who happen to be regular readers of my blog will know, last month we lost our very much loved dog, Daisy.  She was a big German Shepherd-type dog, and my constant shadow in the sewing room, sleeping beside me as I sewed. She left a huge, dog shaped hole in the family.  And then last week there was a post on the Ennis Dog Pound Facebook page, showing two Springer x Pointer puppies, one of which was almost immediately snapped up by my fellow Chapel Lane Stallholder, Lorna (Wild Atlantic Silver – gorgeous). And we took the other one.  Far more rapidly than had been intended.  So, please meet Poppy.  She has arrived into Bag Making HQ like a small tornado, and is slowing down bag production something rotten.  But she is rather cute….

Poppy
Poppy

And please forgive me if my production totals are down on pre-Poppy weekly totals!

Have a good week, and I will be back to normal blogs following my return from the woods of northern Sweden, hopefully fully revved up for the All-Ireland Fleadh being held in Ennis from 14 – 22 August.

 

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Livet är Kort – Köp Väskan!

Life is Short - Buy the Bag

Well, I am up to my tonsils here in Bag Making HQ getting ready for my trip to the Urkult Festival in Sweden next month.  As you can see, I have started by getting some signs made – they were made by one of my fellow Chapel Lane Market stallholders, Colette of Colly’s Hobby House.  In case your Swedish is a little rusty, they say “Life is Short – Buy the Bag”.  I love them.

Life is Short - Buy the Bag
Life is Short – Buy the Bag

Fabrics orders have been made, straps and fasteners delivered, it is the final push to get bags made in time for shipping out to the festival site in Nämforsen.  The delivery drivers don’t even need to phone for directions anymore!

In the run up to Urkult I will still be doing a few local markets, if you want to get a bag for your holidays as a little treat for yourself.  I’ll be at Chapel Lane Market for the next 3 Saturdays, the 16, 23 and 30 July. On Sunday 24 July I will be at the Clare Crafts Association Summer Craft Fair at the Falls Hotel, Ennistymon, and on Bank Holiday Monday 1 August I will be at the Vandeleur Walled Gardens in Kilrush. For any of you who have not yet made it to Chapel Lane Market, take a look at this video of the market last Saturday to get a flavour of the variety of stalls that are at the market each Saturday.

Summer Bags
Summer Bags

I’m also getting ready for The Handmade Fair in London in September, and I was interviewed by a lovely lady by the name of Annie B for her blog, Mrs Crafty B’s Blog.  Take a look at the results here.

I normally regale you with tales of my daily morning walk in this blog.

Bumblebee in flight
Bumblebee in flight

The picture above is one I took this morning of a bumblebee just coming into land on a large thistle.  Unfortunately I haven’t been walking as much recently, due to the sad and untimely death of my walking companion, Daisy the Dog.  She was my constant companion in the sewing room and on my walk, and is much missed around Bag Making HQ.

Off now to make a start on the vast pile of bags in my “to sew” pile.  Lots and lots of bags to be ready very soon for shipping!  It’s all very exciting.

 

 

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A little bit of publicity!

Small Messenger Bag in Funky Slate & Funky Red

It’s been a very exciting few days! The bags have had their first taste of the national media, with an article in the Irish Examiner, which you can read here.

A friend of mine and fellow stallholder, Aine Purcell, of Green Little Fingers very kindly recorded the moment I was able to show some of the Chapel Lane Market Stallholders the article, and I think you can probably tell I am a little bit excited!

And just incase that isn’t exciting enough, I’ve revamped my Etsy shop, so for those of you who prefer to shop on Etsy, take a look just here!

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Love it or hate it…..

Bag buddy in Pink Leaf
Marmite Easter Egg
Marmite Easter Egg

Happy Easter everyone! I had to show you this Easter (or Yeaster, as the Marmite people would have it) Egg. I am a Marmite lover, but I am finding the idea of Marmite and chocolate a bit challenging.  Recent “innovations” by confectionary companies such as milk chocolate and cheese and onion Tayto crisps have left me feeling somewhat nauseated, and the Cadbury’s Caramel and Vegemite bar brought back from Australia by some friends was an an acquired taste I wasn’t rushing to acquire.

This is necessarily a short post, for which I apologise, although you may be relieved.  Bag Making HQ is very busy at the moment, preparing for 2 markets this week, Chapel Lane Market in Ennis on Saturday from 10-5, and the very gorgeous Vandeleur Walled Gardens Easter Egg Hunt, Craft and Plant Sale on Sunday from 12-5.  New bags are being sewn, especially box bags and bag buddies, both of which are proving popular amongst my lovely discerning customers.

Did you meet the box bags?

Box bags
Box bags

The box bags are made out of oilcloths and coated cottons, and lined with denim.  They are perfect for use as wash bags, for shaving gear or make up, but have also found use as a holder for yarn and crochet hooks, and in my particular case I use one for the yarn and small needles I am using to knit a tiger.  They came into existence when I decided that I wanted to see if I could sew a cuboid shape.  Having proved that I could, and that they looked rather handsome, the box bag was born.  They retail for €30 each, and come in most of the colours of the fabrics I use.

Boxbags - perfect for shaving stuff, wash bags, make up, you name it...
Boxbags – perfect for shaving stuff, wash bags, make up, you name it…

 

The bag buddies too are acquiring their fans. They are handy little fellows.  Small enough to be held in one hand or to hang off the wrist join its soft denim wrist strap, the bag buddy can act as wallet, handbag and travel bag all rolled into one.  Inside are card slots for credit/debit cards, and enough room for a phone, keys, cash and a passport.  At the end of the wrist strap is a clip, and this clip can be used to fasten the bag buddy inside any one of my bags which also have clips sewn into their side seams now.  If you’re on holidays and want a little extra security for your purse, these are your solution.  But equally if you’re going out in the evening and don’t want to carry a full handbag, they can step up and be your evening bag with aplomb!

Bag Buddy in Kingfisher
Bag Buddy in Kingfisher
Bag buddy in Pink Leaf
Bag buddy in Pink Leaf
Bag buddies
Bag buddies

All of these will be available at both markets I’ll be attending this weekend, along with some old favourites like the zip top totes, and even the odd reversible open top tote, making a trip back to the Vandeleur Walled Gardens where it made its first ever appearance on the public stage.

 

Have a very happy Easter to you all, happy Spring Break to those of you in the States, and I hope that I will get the chance to meet with many of you in the coming weeks.

 

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Bank Holiday Monday

Yum

A day off! Whoop whoop! After Miltown Malbay Farmers Market on Friday, Chapel Lane Market on Saturday and Bunratty Sunday Market yesterday I was ready for a day off. 

And what does a bag maker do on her day off? 

 
Bake bread! I’m working my way through Valerie O’Connor’s book “Bread on the Table” which I came across  during my monthly volunteer shift at the Limerick Craft Hub. 

I have tried to persuade my husband and son that we should eat the bread NOW! but they are unmoved. Breakfast will be yummy. 

 
And then I wanted cake, so I made a Norwegian kardamummerkaka (cardamom cake to you & I). The recipe is from The Hairy Bakers. It’s divine – according to Si & Dave it is the perfect cake to have with a coffee. 

So tomorrow when I’m back behind my sewing machine (making messenger bags in case you’re interested), I’ll be fuelled by my bread and looking forward to a mid morning coffee break spiced up with a dash of cardamom. 

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