A New Fabric Design in the Making
After the success of my Meadow Collection of fabrics, I felt that I should try to develop another fabric print that is exclusive to Sallyann’s Handmade Bags. This process has its origins in the walk I take almost every morning with Poppy, our Springer/Pointer dog. Each morning I tend to photograph something I see on the walk, be it a flower, a view or the weather.
The hedgerows surrounding Bag Making HQ are wonderful, and they abound with wild flowers that grow in profusion. Along the road are a couple stretches that I’ve come to know as Fuchsia Alley, where the fuchsia plants grow tall on either side, and in the Summer when the plants are in full flower, the whole section of the road pulsates to the buzzing of the bees and wasps feasting on the nectar rich fuchsia flowers.
I’m so fond of the fuchsia plants that when I have found broken off branches, I tend to bring them home and stick them into the ground around the house. Fuchsias are very obliging plants, and in the mild, wet climate of West Clare, I have an almost 100% success rate in rooting these cuttings. Seeking some variation in the red fuchsias, I discovered that there was a type of white one with faint lilac inside petals that grew further up the road. I planted cuttings from those, and within a couple years I had a hedge made up of white and red fuchsias.
And the joy of fuchsias is that they attract bees and other pollinating insects. If you’ve read any of my blogs before you’ll know that I’m very fond of bumblebees, and in fact each month during “bumblebee season” (March to October, in case you’re interested) I carry out a set walk and count the different species of bumblebee that I see on that walk, as part of a national research project being carried out by the National Biodiversity Data Centre.
So you can see where I’m going with this. I have a lot of photographs of flowers and wildlife that I see close to the studio where Sallyann’s Handmade Bags take shape. But I haven’t a clue how to take the germ of an idea and some random photos of a hedgerow to create a fabric. So, I then enlist the help of the very clever people at Piirre Collective, most notably Merita and Heidi, and they translate my rough ideas and plans and turned them into a fabric design. I have worked with Pierre Collective since I was put in touch with them through the fantastic My Creative Edge network in 2016.
The New Fabric Design, Fuchsia
The new fabric goes through umpteen different versions before I am happy with its design, and then the background colour and the colours of each component have to be selected and trialled. I have a small, select band of previous customers whom I can rely upon for their honesty and patience, and once I have a design I am relatively happy with, I start to show it to these people to see if I am heading in the right direction. I have to envisage the design as a handbag, and more than that, a range of handbags in different styles and sizes. Further tweaks and changes are inevitable, but finally, the moment comes when I push the button and finalise the design.
And that’s when a new fabric is created. I specify a very particular fabric for the rainproof outer fabric of my bags. It is 100% water repellant polyester, and is designed to cope with Irish weather and the life that a Sallyann Bag will lead. It has to cope with a bit of abuse, being dropped on the floor, the occasional mud splatter or coffee spillage.
The Joy of Bag Making
Once the roll of fabric arrives, there is the thrill of unrolling it and seeing the new fabric in all its colourful glory on my cutting table.
But what to make first?
I couldn’t decide, so I made two – a Fiona and a Tara. And then I took the Green Fuchsia Tara Handbag on a trip for Christmas, and showed it to as many people as I could without getting myself arrested for pestering complete strangers. Feedback was all positive, so at that stage it was time to make a full range of Sallyann Bags: Small Cross Body Zip Top, Fely Medium Cross Body Zip Top, Tara Large Cross Body Zip Top, Fiona Small Messenger and a Large Messenger in preparation for Showcase Ireland.
New Fabric for Showcase Ireland
Showcase Ireland is the largest trade show for creative industries in Ireland, and it is the place where retail buyers from across the country (and indeed internationally) descend in January to make buying decisions for the coming year for their stores. It’s HUGE. It is held in the RDS in the centre of Dublin, and for someone like me who lives in the back end of nowhere, five days up in Dublin is very intense and exciting.
So on Saturday I’m heading up to Dublin for my second ever Showcase Ireland. I’m supported by the Clare Local Enterprise Office, and I’ll be on the Balcony at stall F40. If you’re coming to Showcase Ireland, come along to my stall and say hello. It’s an amazingly busy, exciting event to attend. So many people, so much to see, so many talented people all in one place.
Back to Chapel Lane Market?
And if I’ve got you interested in my new Fuchsia fabric, then you can come along to Chapel Lane Market in Ennis to see it in the flesh! Chapel Lane stallholders take a break in January and will return to re-open County Clare’s favourite local craft market in mid-February. I’ll let you know the exact date as soon as I have it! Meanwhile, if you cannot wait until then, you can always order your own Fuchsia bag at my Sallyann’s Handmade Bags online shop on this site.