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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
The Wild Atlantic Way is a route that you can take from the North to the South of Ireland (or the South to the North), all along the Western seaboard. It is an amazing route, taking in the fabulous scenery of the West of Ireland. I’m very fortunate to live on the Wild Atlantic Way in West Clare, and almost every morning I take a walk up the road with the dog to stretch my legs before I settle down in front of the sewing machine or computer. The picture above was taken as I made my way home. It is a typical West Clare weather picture – bright sunshine, a dark shower cloud looming, and a beautiful rainbow. It lasted a fleeting moment before the shower hit me.
In my garden the flowers are beginning to emerge, and I caught a picture of these primroses nervously poking their heads above the soil today. Next we’ll see a few bumblebees emerge from hibernation. Last year I saw my first bumblebee on 15th March, so not long to wait now.
I’ve been sewing away like mad recently, having taken delivery of a huge roll of zips which make my life a lot more efficient. Having mastered the tricky art of joining the slider to the zip, I am about to start making a few zip top tote bags. It is a one of my original bag designs, and always a favourite amongst those who love a shoulder bag with plenty of room, and a zip top. From now on they will also have a clip inside for keys, as with all my bags now.
And I’ve made a lot of Bag Buddies, my new wristlet design. These work as a standalone bag, with card slots inside, and room for change, keys and a phone. They have a denim wrist strap with a clip at the end. The clever thing with a Bag Buddy is you can use it to keep your bag essentials in, and then move it from handbag to handbag. It means you’ll never find that you left home without your favourite lip gloss again (I know, a first world problem). The clip on the wrist strap means you can clip the Bag Buddy into your Sallyann Bag, for added security.
Finally, I cannot post without mentioning last Saturday’s Chapel Lane Market. It was the market’s 1st birthday, and to celebrate we had lots of cake, music, balloons, and three amazing stallholders shaved their heads to raise money for Shave or Dye – the campaign to raise money for Slainte an Chlair, a local cancer support group, and the Irish Cancer Society.
They were so brave to do this – losing your hair during cancer treatment is traumatic for most people, and to do it voluntarily meant there was barely a dry eye in the hall. We’re all so proud of Clare Nihill, Colette Dinan and Sharon Peters Ball. To date they have raised almost €3500, which is a phenomenal result. Well done ladies. Hats off to you (or on, as it’s quite chilly).
We’ll all be back at Chapel Lane Market on Saturday from 10am – 5pm – don’t forget to call in and see the amazing range of talent on display. We have new and familiar stall holders – something for everyone.
Yes, I’m showing my age. I’m quoting from Soul II Soul’s song, but it seems entirely appropriate this week.
Chapel Lane Market in Ennis has opened it’s doors for the 2016 season! Whoop Whoop! The Community Hall was alive with chatter and buzz as people arrived with their carriers full to the brim with new designs, ideas, fabrics, beads, glass and yarns. And in spite of the rain, people came in to see us all, and many commented on how pleased they were to see Chapel Lane Market was back. It is great to know that we are beginning to make a name for ourselves in Ennis and County Clare, and that people appreciate having a source of locally made crafts and baking in the town.
After a wobbly start to the week, involving the rather urgent repair of one sewing machine and the purchase of a back up machine from the genius that is John O’Donnell of Sewing Machines Ireland, I was straight onto the task in hand – working on a new design and some new fabrics.
First off the sewing machine were the bags made out of fabrics I’ve sourced from France. They are gorgeous, elegant, high quality coated fabrics produces in the Vosges mountains in France. I have called them the Vosges Collection after the source of the fabrics. I have to say, I am delighted with the way they have turned out. Always you think you can see how a fabric will translate into a bag, but until you actually have the bag in front of you, there is a lingering doubt.As well as the Vosges fabrics, I have managed to source a favourite fabric, Funky Red, in another colourway, which I call Funky Slate.
As soon as I saw the Funky Slate, I knew I had to make small messenger bags straightaway, because the flaps look so brilliant in this fabric. There was a whole lot of admiration for this fabric on Saturday, which was great.
Once I’d done playing with my new fabrics, I had my new design to work on. I’ve called it the Bag Buddy. As I have mentioned in a previous blog, I have taken delivery of some clips. I’m sewing these into all new bags, so that you can clip your keys or purse to the inside of your bag, for security (and ease of finding them in the bag). The Bag Buddy is a small wristlet design which has credit card slots and enough room to take a set of keys, a phone and some change. It will work as an evening clutch bag, and it has a useful wrist strap. At the end of the wrist strap is a clip, so you can fasten this into your Sallyann Bag. The Bag Buddy means that you can have the essential bits you need in one small bag, which can then be moved seamlessly from handbag to handbag, for those of you with more than one handbag (I know you’re out there).
Feedback on Saturday was very positive about both clips and the Bag Buddy, so my task this week is to make a few more in a greater range of fabric designs, so people can choose to have either matching or contrasting fabrics if they buy a bag and bag buddy together. I also need to upload the pictures and details to the online shop part of this site so those of you who prefer to shop online, or who aren’t near Ennis, can purchase these little beauties.
And whilst we’re on the subject of online shopping, don’t forget that it is Mother’s Day on March 6th, so if you have a certain someone who you’d like to treat with a bag, let me know and I can send it out. I will wrap the bag and can include a personalised message if you include that in the instructions. I’m back to Chapel Lane Market on Saturday 20th – see you there if not online!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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…
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.
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!
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.
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.