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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Taking Advantage of a Sunny Day

Jeans drying on the line
Jeans drying on the line
Jeans drying on the line

The start of the bag making process is the jeans.  I get the majority of these from charity shops across Clare and Limerick, but over Easter my parents arrived with over 70 pairs of jeans they had gleaned from various jumble sales in their village.  That’s a lot of washing!  So when the sun came out, which had been a rarity in County Clare until the middle of March, I took advantage.  Load after load went through the washing machine, until the line was full and the denim was snapping happily in the breeze.

And of course, whilst the sun was out, it was a great chance to go for a walk at White Strand, near Miltown Malbay.  The dog loves the freedom to charge around and sniff, generally do dog stuff.  And walking along the headland is fantastic to clear the head.  I love taking pictures on these walks, and occasionally I manage to catch a shot of a wave breaking, so I’m sharing that here, totally self-indulgently.

Every breaking wave
Every breaking wave

So once the jeans are dried, they have to be processed.  They are split hem to hem, then split to remove the zip.  The colours are sorted – the range of shades of denim is a spectrum all on its own.  Forget 50 Shades of Grey.  I have a Hundred Shades of Indigo.  The denim is cut into the basic shapes needed for each type of bag, and all ironed.  When I have the outer fabrics cut, I go to the cut denim to choose the best matching denim for each bag.  It is an enjoyable task.

The bags then need to be made.  All activity takes place under the close supervision and scrutiny of my Quality Controller, Coco.  Those of you who know me or have read earlier blog posts will know that Coco is one of the two cats in our family.  She is a large, cocoa coloured, very fluffy, very bossy feline who spends a lot of time checking up on what I am doing.

Coco the Bag Cat
Coco the Bag Cat

In this picture you can see I managed to catch a snap of her sleeping on the job. She was flat out and didn’t move even while I was turning the bag the right way out and stitching on the straps, the final parts of the bag-making process. Fear not – she later inspected the bag and it was up to her high standards and was passed for sale.

Box Bags Wash Bags Make Up Bags Crochet work Bag
Box Bags

I managed to get a few extra box bags made too.  These bags are proving popular with people, and are being put to a myriad of uses.  The more traditional ones are as wash bags, for shaving kits or make up.  But they are also being used to keep sewing or crochet bits and pieces together.

As we get into the Summer, do remember if you own a Sallyann bag to try to take a picture of it out and about on your travels.  I love to  see where the bags get to, and the best pictures will be posted up on my gallery on this site.

Finally, in a bit of market news, I will be at Chapel Lane Market on 9th & 16th April, then I will be making a return to the Milk Market in Limerick on 23rd April, before heading back to Chapel Lane Market on 30th April.  Further ahead I will be at the Vandeleur Walled Gardens again on May 1st, and on May 22nd I shall be taking a road trip to Dun Laoghaire in Dublin, to a Craft Fair in the Marine Hotel.  It’ll be exciting to be out on the road with the bags!  Hopefully I will see some of you there.  If not, you can always get your bag fix by shopping online at this site, or at my Etsy shop.

Enjoy the sunshine while it’s there….

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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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It’s the First Day of Spring! Brrrr…….!

Morning Walk
Daffodils
Daffodils

Happy Bríd’s Day!  Today is the first day of Spring according to the Celtic calendar.  Given that Storm Henry is currently rattling the windows and shaking the roof, it feels a long way off Spring right now here at Bag Making HQ, but daffodils have bravely started to flower in the garden, so the Celts must know something. It’s definitely a day for the indoors.  As regular readers of this blog will know, any morning I can get out, I walk Daisy the dog before I settle to my sewing machine.  I love these walks – no walk is ever the same, and the scenery is always beautiful.  Today I was propelled by the force 9-10 gales as I walked up the road, then turning around I had to fight my way back as the wind kept buffeting me backwards.

Morning Walk
Morning Walk

I often take pictures on my walks, and post them on Twitter @sallyannsbags or my Instagram site, depending on how the mood takes me.  Today wasn’t as easy as normal because I got caught in a big squall of rain, and my phone does not like to get wet.  I chanced a couple of snaps before the rain really pelted down.

Doo Lough
Doo Lough

This second picture, of Doo Lough, is pretty much the view from my sewing room as I look South.  Normally it looks a lot more friendly, but you can see the squall approaching. In the foreground of the photo are huge mounds of logs from a recently cleared stand of forestry.  It’ll be interesting to see what plants emerge from the ground now there is light reaching the soil again.

Since my last blog post, my various orders for the bits of metalwork that I need for my new wristlet design and key holders have arrived, as has some new fabric. There’s even some printed ribbon.  This always results in me itching to get cutting and sewing, but I’ve had to wait until the very last order arrived so that I could have all the components in one place.  And patience isn’t my middle name, so my family will be pleased to know that I will finally stop complaining about slow postal systems around the world and get sewing.

New Fabric & Clips
New Fabric & Clips

Here’s a little teaser with two new fabrics and some of the clips I’ll be using in the bags.  You’ll just have a wait a little longer until I have some bags made up for pictures of all the new fabrics and new designs.  With luck, I shall have a good array of my new designs ready for the re-opening of Chapel Lane Market on 13th February at 10am.  All around County Clare there are crafters working away at their desks, getting ready for the market.  There will be old favourites and new ideas – Ennis Community Centre will be brim full of excitement and abuzz with enthusiastic people and their creations.  I can’t wait, not least because I haven’t seen some of my market friends since before Christmas.  It’s another sign that Spring is in the air.

One bonus for the household whilst I have been awaiting my parcels is that I managed to track down a supply of Seville oranges.  This may not seem a huge achievement to most people, but to me it was huge.

Marmalade oranges
Marmalade oranges

I love to make marmalade, and finally with 3kg of the gorgeous orange fruits, I was able to produce a load of jars of golden nectar.  When my father next visits he will no longer have to bring his own marmalade that my mother makes, because the second rate brew I had come up with using grapefruit, oranges and lemons was a pale substitute for the real thing. Whether it can compare to my mother’s marmalade, which reaches almost legendary levels of yumminess, has yet to be seen. But breakfast at Bag Making HQ is a darn sight more tasty now.

By the time I write my next blog, I will have been back at Chapel Lane Market for our first Saturday.  I shall report back on the all the comings, goings and new stallholders when I write my next post.  However, in case you are looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for someone close to you (or you need to hint heavily to someone close to you about a perfect bag-shaped Valentine’s Day gift), don’t forget that you can order online from this very website. I’ve uploaded a lot more photos of the various designs and fabrics to help you to choose the perfect bag.

Have a great Bríd’s day and here’s to the start of Spring!

 

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Hello & (Belated) Happy New 2016!

Special Clip

In fact, given that I am somewhat tardy in my good wishes, perhaps I should go for Gong Xi Fa Cai, or 恭禧發財, which is the Mandarin for Happy New Year.  Chinese New Year is fast approaching, and the new year is the Year of the Monkey.  I happen to have been born in the Year of the Monkey, so the coming year is supposed to be particularly exciting for me.

Chinese Zodiac
Chinese Zodiac

I can start this blog post with an important sighting of a Sallyann Bag, an Old Map Small Cross Body Bag to be precise, that was spotted with its owner in Central Park, New York City, over Christmas.  Lucky bag!  It looks to be having a good time, and was reported to have performed admirably whilst in the States.

Old Map Cross Body Bag spotted in Central Park, NYC
NYC!

Don’t forget, I love to see pictures of your Sallyann bags on their travels, so if you think of it next time you are out and about, take a quick snap of your bag and I will post it here on the blog.

January is a busy time for me here in Bag Making HQ.  Although I have no markets planned until mid-February (start dropping your hints soon for Valentine’s Day gift Sallyann bags, point your husbands, partners, beaus towards sallyannsbags.ie), it is a time when I can search out new fabrics and work on new design ideas.  As you can imagine, I get some great help from my trusty Bag Making HQ sidekick, Coco…

Coco the Design Assistant
Coco the Design Assistant

She would like to think that her paws are a great help in holding pieces in place, but actually they are so big and furry they simply obscure what I am trying to achieve.  She is great company though.

My plans for my new designs involve a revamped wristlet design, and a connector within the bags which will allow you to attach your keys, or the wristlet, inside your handbag. It has meant I have been sourcing all the new little bits and pieces needed. Trying to find out the names of the components, and then realising that they often have different names depending on the supplier, can mean many fruitless searches and blind alleys.  And then of course is the anticipation as I await the deliveries!  I’m also trialling some new fabrics, which come from an exclusive French supplier.  I have been desperately resurrecting my schoolgirl French in order to work my way through the web site terms and conditions.

Special Clip
Special Clip

I promise to post as soon as these components and fabrics arrive.  I can’t wait to get working on the new designs, now that they are firmly in my head.  In March I will receive a delivery of very special fabric.  It is from a former teacher of mine, and she has very kindly given me some of the fabrics her mother had in stock.  Her mother was a talented seamstress, and all the fabrics date from the 1940s, 50s and 60s, so I am very excited to see all of these.  They won’t be coated fabrics – they are mainly cottons – but I am sure they will encourage me to try out some new designs when I see them.  It’ll be a new departure for Sallyann’s Handmade Bags – using vintage fabrics that aren’t jeans!

Lots of purses
Lots of purses

Whilst I have been trying out the new ideas, I have also been replenishing my stocks after the Christmas rush.  As I mentioned above, I’m not due to take part in any markets until mid-February, but my bags are stocked in various shops around Ireland, and as a result I am re-stocking a number of these shops this month and next.  In particular demand this month are my purses, which are made using oilcloth and coated cottons and the zips that are cut out of the jeans I use to line the bags. They are the ultimate in upcycled chic, and the perfect little gift for yourself in January.  This Thursday, 21st January, I will be taking a supply to the Limerick Craft Hub.  Each month I do a day in the Craft Hub, and it is a fabulous excuse to be surrounded by lots of lovely crafted goodies.  I get to talk to the public and sell people’s crafts, which is a great experience. If you are in or around Limerick and haven’t yet visited the Limerick Craft Hub, next time you are in the city, call to their shop at 9, Lower Cecil Street (on the corner of Lower Cecil Street and Henry Street), and be prepared to be blown away by the quality of the crafts on sale there.

Frosty Morning Walk
Frosty Morning Walk

So you can see I am not hibernating up here in the wilds of West Clare.  When the weather isn’t inflicting incessant, relentless rain upon me, as it did for most of November, December and a fair chunk of January, each morning I try to get out and walk the dog.  Our dog is somewhat elderly so she often lags behind and I feel like I am taking her for a drag rather than a walk, but on Thursday last week, when I took this picture, I know why I love living here, and why I get out and walk.  I hope we all have many more sunny days in the coming months, and that you are have the best of fortune in 2016, and the Year of the Monkey.

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Wow! What a year 2015 has been!

Flowers
Flowers
Flowers

Every post should begin with a bright picture of gorgeous flowers!  I was presented with this beautiful bunch of flowers after I helped out at the last Local Enterprise Office Women in Business networking event last week, entitled “A Celebration of Success”, which was organised by the force of nature that is Theresa Mulvihill of Smart Marketing.  Along with Hannah Arnup from Ballymorris Pottery and Orla Meere from Meere’s Pork Products, I took part in a panel discussion about my eventful 2015, and my plans for 2016. How to sum up 2015 in the 5 minutes I was given? Crikey!

A plethora of purses
A plethora of purses

It has been a mad year, so exciting and busy, and as 2015 comes to a close, I am still scurrying around making bags and purses for my final market of 2015, Chapel Lane Market in Ennis, on Saturday 19th December, from 10am – 5pm. Chapel Lane is looking so gorgeous and festive, it’ll be lovely to have one last market before Christmas in the company of my stallholder pals and the friendly folk of Ennis and Clare who have been such great supporters of the market since we started in March this year. The starting up of Chapel Lane Market is definitely a highlight of 2015.

Another highlight has to have been taking my bags to GlenAran’s Duty Free shop at Shannon Airport over the Summer, and then in October they were formally stocked by GlenAran in that shop.  It’s so exciting when friends or family fly through the airport and tell me they have seen my bags in the shop.  It’s a huge vote of confidence in Sallyann’s Handmade Bags, and I’m so chuffed about it.

And then I won the Silver Award in the Bank of Ireland Start Up Awards! Wow! How did that happen?  And how did I manage to break my ankle just as I was about to go to the awards ceremony? Without my fellow finalist Shoeniversity live tweeting the event, I wouldn’t have known I’d won silver until the morning after. It was such fun to take part, and lovely to get the silver award.

Now it is time to get planning for 2016.

Coco helping with the sewing (not)
Coco helping with the sewing (not)

If I can get Coco to move out of the way and let me get sewing, there will be new bags in 2016.  January is a time for me to plan and experiment with new fabrics and new ideas.  I’ll still be making the large and small messenger bags, the large and small cross body bags and the perennial favourite, the zip top tote, but I love a challenge.  So I have a few things buzzing in my head that I need to get out of my head and onto the sewing machine.  One of these couldn’t wait until January – it was the box bag.  I wanted to see could I make a smallish make up/washbag that would suit both men and women.  It had to be lined with denim (of course).  And it had to look nice.  So I have made a few and trialled them at Chapel Lane and the Clare Crafts Association Xmas Fair, and they seem to be a popular addition to my range.  Here are a few of them stacked up at a market:

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

The box bags will soon be appearing alongside all of my bags in the online shop part of this website.  The shop is now fully operational.  Woo hoo! I can now take purchases online, payments securely through PayPal, and send out the bags anywhere in the world. Hooray!

I hope to secure some more outlets across Ireland in 2016, and maybe to branch out internationally as well.  I’ll still be a regular at Chapel Lane Market in 2016, and I would like to take the bags to other markets elsewhere in Ireland.  I reckon the odd festival could be fun – who’s up for Electric Picnic next September?

Daisy and Lucy on a cold, wet day
Daisy and Lucy looking cosy

So all that remains for me to say in this post is thank you to all of you who have supported me in 2015, by reading this blog, coming to the various markets I have attended, purchased from me or one of my retailers, bought online, or simply liked a picture on my Facebook page. Thank you.  I hope that your Christmas and New Year are as cosy as Lucy and Daisy in this photo, and that I see you or hear from you all early in 2016.

Happy Christmas!
Happy Christmas!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Sallyann’s Handmade Bags!

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Stepping into a Whirlwind, on Crutches

Large Messenger Bag - Grey Dandelion fabric
Bank of Ireland Start Up Awards 2015 Silver Award Winner
I’m a Bank of Ireland Start Up Awards 2015 Silver Award Winner!

Wow! It has been a while since I wrote a blog post, and a lot has happened in the interim.  At the time of writing my last blog, I had just found out I had been successfully shortlisted for the Bank of Ireland Start Up Awards 2015, in the Craft based industry category.  As a result of this I was invited to Dublin to have an interview with three of the judging panel, including Gavin Duffy, he of Dragon’s Den! It was a little intimidating talking to three men about my bags, but they must have been won over by my enthusiasm because I won a silver award on 12th November at the awards ceremony in Croke Park. However, I didn’t make it to the awards ceremony.  My posh frock remained in the wardrobe.  I broke my ankle and spent the day in the Fracture Clinic at Limerick Regional Hospital instead.

Thank you to all of you who have supported my fledgling business over the past year and a bit – this award is real boost, and encouragement to me to keep growing the business and getting Sallyann Bags into shops and markets across Ireland and even beyond.

So I’m now on crutches at least until the beginning of December.  This means that if you are coming to any craft fairs in the coming few days I’m easy to spot as I hobble and lurch around unsteadily. I’ve had to learn to sew with my left foot on the pedal, which has been interesting.  I can safely say that the message “Stop” does not travel to my left foot as quickly as it does to my right foot, so sewing is taking longer and at a more sedate pace.  The cats have moved out of the sewing room as I keep knocking over my crutches and the clattering noise disturbs their slumber.

Grey Dandelion bag family
Grey Dandelion bag family

I’m delighted that I’ve been able to make a few bags in spite of my best efforts.  I cut some of my favourite subtle fabrics recently, grey dandelion and grey star, and have created a few bags with each fabric. The grey dandelion fabric is so elegant, and goes with everything.  Each bag is different because it depends where in the fabric it is cut from.  They are unique pieces – you get to own a one off!

 Grey Star fabric with red straps
Grey Star fabric family with red straps

I love the chance to play with little bursts of colour, so the grey star bags have bright scarlet straps which just lifts the bag from ordinary to extraordinary.

And the whirlwind? Well, it shows no sign of abating.  I’m straight into the Christmas market season now, starting tonight at the Shannon Christmas Market at St Senan’s National School, on Corrib Drive in Shannon from 4.30pm.  If you’re looking for me over the coming weeks, here’s a list of the events I’ll be attending…

Thursday 26 November: Shannon Christmas Market, St Senan’s National School, Corrib Drive, Shannon from 4.30-9.30pm

Friday 27, Saturday 28 & Sunday 29 November: Chapel Lane Christmas Market, Ennis. Friday 5-9pm, Saturday 10-5, Sunday 11-4

Friday 4, Saturday 5 & Sunday 6 December: Chapel Lane Christmas Market, Ennis. Friday 5-9pm, Saturday 10-5, Sunday 11-4

Friday 11 December: Mullagh Christmas Market, Mullagh Community Centre, Co Clare 5-9pm

Saturday 12 December: Chapel Lane Market, Ennis, 10am – 5pm

Sunday 13 December: Clare Crafts Association Christmas Market, Old Ground Hotel, Ennis 11am – 5pm

Saturday 19 December: Chapel Lane Market, Ennis, 10am – 5pm

If you’re not able to get to a market, my bags are available at Kilbaha Gallery & Crafts who will be attending Doonbeg Christmas Market this coming weekend and are open every weekend at their gallery until Christmas.  They are available in Limerick Craft Hub which is in Lower Cecil Street and is open 7 days a week until Christmas, in Dublin from the Artists Gift Gallery in Dawson Street, in Charleville at the Design & Craft Studio, Irish Craft Outlet in Doolin and Poppies Gift Shop, The Hand, Miltown Malbay. And the Flower Shop in Kilrush! If you’re flying anywhere over the coming weeks, the bags are also available from GlenAran in Shannon Airport Duty Free.

You can also order using the online shop which is working if not perfect.  If you would like a specific bag that you have seen on my Facebook page or on this site and it doesn’t appear in the shop, let me know and I can let you know if it is available.

Enjoy the Christmas season whirlwind!

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Sewing Made Difficult – part 2

Coco

If you’ve had a look at previous posts, you’ll know that I share my sewing room with two cats.  One, Coco, is a large, very fluffy, dark brown cat, who tolerates my presence in her room.

I am expected to stop sewing on her entrance to the room, give her a therapeutic shoulder massage, fuss her fur, stroke her tail, and generally concentrate all my attention on her. She doesn’t appreciate having to share my attention with a sewing machine.

Sharing in any way doesn’t come naturally to cats, but Coco can be pretty outspoken on the subject.  Which is how I came to sew her tail to a bag.  Before you reach for the phone to call An Cat Dubh Sanctuary (our local AMAZING cat rescue charity), I did only sew through fur, not bone, and it only resulted in a loss of some of the beautiful plumy fur on Coco’s tail and some of her dignity as I had to hold her still while I cut her free from the bag.

I had made the mistake of making a big fuss of Coco as she sat next to me beside the sewing machine. Big mistake.

Coco
Coco attracting my attention away from the sewing machine

After I had paid her attention, what I thought was adequate clearly wasn’t enough, thus resulting in her getting grumpy.  So she swished her tail at precisely the moment that I sewed a seam, and there she was –   attached to the bag.

She swore, I swore, and the shears came out to free her.  I then had to unpick the seam to remove the fur, whilst she stalked off to soothe her dignity.

Cats HATE their dignity to be lost, and more than that, HATE to be laughed at. I did both, so for that day (or at least until I gave her some Dreamies), I was off her Favourite Human List.

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