Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Loule Bag has been born!

When we got to Sweden after our trip to Portugal I was super inspired to use my cork fabric! I've been toying with the idea of zipper piping for a while and this finally seemed the time to do it. The edginess of the zipper playing so well with the classic and high end look of the cork fabric I think!

I'm "unable" to carry a big bag most of the time, as I will bring everything but the kitchen sink with me - and mess up my back. So small handbags are the way to go for me most of the time and this little jewel is just perfect, the interior is super organized!

It's ~11" long and ~6" high, so it will fit a standard ladies wallet easily, but it also provides 8 card pockets as well as a number of slip pockets for everything from cellphone to lip gloss.

The backside is simple, just a smooth backing so there's no risk of it getting caught in clothing. It's named after a little town in the south of Portugal, the Algarve region named Loulé. As the inspiration for it came from the beautiful cork fabric purchased in the vicinity.

I truly LOVED working with the cork, such a beautiful and easy material to work with! Can't wait to get to use it again! I'm hoping that the pattern will be released within a month and a half. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

All about cork! A tour of Novacortica Cork Factory!

We're currently travelling Portugal as we're planning to move here shortly. And Portugal as some of you know, has 50% of the worlds cork production, some 100,000 tons of cork is produced each year here!  Yesterday me and Erik visited Novacortica Cork Factory in S. Brás de Alportel and it was a truly enlightening experience! Read on if you wish to know learn more about cork and cork fabric!

Happy me learning about cork fabric production!

Novacortica means new cork and the factory with 60 employees principal activity is the manufacturing of natural cork discs that go to champagne cork stoppers and 1+1 stoppers.

Gowing Cork
When a cork tree first is planted, the tree has to reach 25 years before the first layer of bark can be stripped. The production of cork is heavily regulated by the government, and the tree also have to be at least 24 in (60 cm) in circumference. This first layer stripped after 25 years is called "virgem" or virgin, and is useless for the wine industry and fabric production. After 9 years the tree can be stripped again, and this second layer is also useless for quality wine production and fabric making! Only after the third stripping, so after 43 years can the cork produced by the trees be used for quality wine corks and cork fabric! So if you plan on planting some cork trees, know that it's your grandchildren that will be profiting from that investment. Luckily they live for 300+ years, so it's at least a really long term investment ;)

The stripping of the cork is done by manual labor, by highly skilled workers whom with a specialized axe strips the cork tree of its bark during the summer months. This is when the bark naturally separates from the trunk and can be harvested without harming the tree. If the worker isn't skilled, the underlying layer of cambium (which is responsible for the regrowth of the cork bark) can be harmed and the tree can be damaged, or potentially die from infections or fungus.

Raw Cork "planks" outside the factory.

Cork Production
When the raw cork planks arrive at the factory, they're carefully sorted by hand by very skilled men (it's a tough job, requiring quite a bit of strength to cut clean the edges of the planks to determine quality), whom determine the initial quality of the cork, and the cork is sorted. The thicker the cork bark is, the lower the quality is, as it gets more porous with thickness. In the photo below you can see the clean cut sides towards us, and the raw sides to the left.

The pile to the right have all been sorted as they're the same thickness. Only the piece in the middle of the three she's holding, will be used for champagne corks and quality cork fabric production, the the other, thicker ones are too porous. 

In the photo above, the bottom piece she's holding a thick piece which will be sold off to another factory that make whole piece wine corks for medium quality wines, that will be stored for about 5-8 years. The vast majority of the cork production is aimed towards the wine industry (and I'm a wine enthusiast as well as a fabric enthusiast ;) ), hence a little wine information too. Since this cork is rather porous, if used as is for wine corks, the wine would get too much air, and possibly even run straight out through the holes! So the corks once cut out, will be rolled in a fine cork dust mixed with natural, tasteless glue to create a barrier for the wine and air.

The left is the cork cut out raw (and has quite a few holes as you can see), the right cork has been rolled in the cork dust and "sealed" and is ready to be used.

Once the finest, densest cork has been selected, the planks are packed in big piles and lowered into 100°C boiling water for an hour, to kill any bacteria and possible pests in the cork, as well as make it soft and pliable. It's then pressed to make the planks flat for production.

Boiled, pressed and ready for production!

These are two totally different qualities of cork planks, both boiled and pressed and ready for production.

The planks are then separated to three sections, the bottom layer, middle layer and top layer, in that order in the photo below. Only light coloured middle layer is used for champagne corks and fabric production.

Left to right, bottom, middle and top layer. You can see the different colors.

The top and bottom is torn up and made into granules, which then is used to make everything from low quality wine corks (of course!) cork soles for shoes, coasters, floors, insulation (for space shuttles even!), and a bunch of other uses. The leftovers from the champagne cork and fabric production is also made into high quality, light granules.

Left to right: Top, middle and bottom layer granules in different sizes for different applications.

The three different layers have different colors and VERY different density! The top layer being the densest, least pliable and darkest, the bottom second densest and darkest, while the middle one is lightest in color, weight and is very pliable and squeezable. Those fantastically light and easily worn cork soled shoes you have, are made from the bottom and middle layer granules, those cheap and inexplicably heavy cork soled shoes, are made from the top layer.

Separating and sorting the three layers of the cork planks on the factory floor.

I won't go any deeper into the production of wine corks and champagne corks here, as I'm guessing you're reading for the FABRIC!! ;D

Cork Fabric Production
The middle layer planks of the cork are then glued together into big blocks, and from these blocks thin, thin slices of cork, 0.2-0.3mm (0.00789 inches) thick are sliced. These super thin slices are then glued to a fabric of ones choice to create different cork fabrics for different application.

It's difficult to show how extremely thin this layer of cork is! Like one ply toilet paper maybe?

Different uses for the fabric will get different fabric backings, and the top cork layer get different treatments. All to be able to make them withstand cleaning and the different applications they're meant for. There's cork fabric for uses for everything from upholstery to umbrellas!

Cork fabric chair in the lobby of the factory, isn't is gorgeous!? 

Depending on which side of the blocks one is slicing off the fabric pieces, the pattern of the fabric and the utility strength will be different. The chair and the little pieces I hold in the two photos above are the highest quality fabrics, and also the most durable. If you cut the blocks from "the side", you will end up with this cork fabric pattern which most of you also will recognize. It's however due to it's less dense structure with many more holes, less durable. However, it's very beautiful!

Cork fabric cut on the other direction, here you can maybe get a better idea of how thin it is before being glued to the fabric?

There's also cork fabrics which utilizes scrap pieces of cork (the left and right ones in the photo below) which gives irregular, beautiful patterns, however, the utility strength is really nowhere near as good as the other versions, and should therefore not be used for high stress applications.

Beautiful cork fabrics! 

The metallic flecked cork is glued on a thin layer of metallic fabric before being glued on it's backing fabric, causing the holes in the cork fabric to glitter beautifully!

A couple of the beautiful cork fabric bags for sale at the factory. I bought a yard of the beautiful, blue cork fabric in the lower bag <3

I naturally had to buy some beautiful cork fabric! A full meter (1.09 yards) of this beautiful, purse making grade, treated cork fabric was $40! <3

Me outside the fabric with my shopping.

I can hear you asking, why on earth did she buy so little?! Since we will be moving here soon, I will soon be able to buy much more, without having to fly it all back and forth ;)

Hope you've enjoyed this "virtual cork tour", if you did, please let me know in the comments. And if you have any questions, please ask them below and I'll try to answer to the best of my ability. Make sure you're not a "no-reply comment blogger" by adding a public email to your blogger account before asking questions =)

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Daytona Bag, 20% followers DISCOUNT!

My most used handbags to date is still my Daytona Bags, thanks to their perfect size and very clever interior with many pockets they're just perfect for travel. While this pattern is more advanced, it's so very rewarding! So I'm having a two day discount for YOU, my lovely followers! It doesn't matter if you're following on the blog here, Instagram or Facebook, just use the code PINKFOLLOWER at checkout when purchasing from my store to get 20% off on the Daytona Bag Pattern for next 48 hours!

And travel they have, all around the world with me. Our passports and boarding cards are always safe and unfolded in the interior divider pocket. Cellphone, hand disinfectant and other essentials are easily accessible in the many slip pockets. Keys are safe in the small interior zip pocket and doesn't scratch our passports in the big slip pocket.

It's such a lovely bag, make sure you get the pattern at a discount now! <3

Sunday, January 7, 2018

A new jacket for Jackie!

If you have an identic memory, you might recall me sewing a little jacket for Jackie some two years ago. Jackie is Eriks mothers lovely little Jack Russel Terrier we get to borrow when we're in Sweden. However, after being spayed this year she has gained a little around the belly region (don't tell her I repeated this, her mom told me in confidence) and it has gotten too small. So this year we bought proper, waterproof wind jacket fabric (vindpoplin in Swedish, don't know the English name) and some seriously cozy teddy fabric and got to work!

It resulted in this awesome, (super professional looking ;) ) little jacket! It's much lighter than the old one, and warmer too. She was super excited over it! It's adorable how happy she gets when she gets her jacket on, the little tail works like a fan!

We went with a contrasting, neon yellow band this year, and also neon yellow seams, it looks really cool!

Luckily it worked great for playing in!

And of course most adorable Nisse came to join us when he heard we were out playing.

The constructions is pretty much the same as the old one, basically a rectangle that I've added a bit of a rounded section over the tush, and a hollow out section which will allow for a slight overlap around the neck for closure. Sorry for the poor quality of this photo, didn't think to take one before I gifted it.

This time I attached the "belt" section in the seams like so, for a nicer look.

It's so much fun to sew clothes for Jackie, she's so very grateful not having to be as cold, and she loves when we take it out for her to put on.

Old jacket for comparison.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Button Up Boxes - Pattern Release!

I'm super excited to announce the release of the first pattern of 2018! The Button Up Boxes!

These little storage miracles are fully lined, machine sewn, stores FLAT when not in use, stacks when buttoned up, and can be washed! They come in three sizes but includes instructions to be adapted to any size you wish! And it's the perfect reason to use some of those adorable buttons we all have lying around!

This pattern comes with both inch and centimeter measurements and is available in both English and Swedish here!

These are so much fun and super quick to make, takes less than an hour! The perfect little gift box!

The pattern came to be I was making christmas gifts and I really wanted to make some pretty boxes. So I actually went looking for a ready made pattern for one (cue gasp!), as I didn't really have time to make my own. I wanted a lined box, machine sewn, without any raw edges and with the possibility to wash it and store it flat when not in use... I found no such patterns! By then the wheels had already started turning in my head and late that night, the Button Up Box was born!

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My amazing pattern testers were awesome as ever and tested the pattern between Christmas and new year now, and just look at all the amazing little boxes that were born! A sincere thank you goes out to each and everyone one of you for helping me make this into my best pattern yet! I'm so very grateful for all your help and hard work!

Cheryl Wright Simmerman - of Adarra Handmade made this lovely, classically romantic set of boxes, so beautiful! 

Casey of JC'Mila Designs - whom can be found here on Instagram and here on Facebook made these gorgeous Tula Pink ones! Such beautiful color combinations!

Ann-Kristin Kristoffersen - of Kinnas Lappteknik made these adorable froggy ones! Look at those beautiful wooden butterfly buttons!

Laura Downs - of funwithtotes whom can be found here on Instagram made this crisp and classy looking polkadot version, and look at that matching button!

Barbara Dörig - Whom can be found here on instagram made this beautiful set of Tula Pink ones! Such a lovely tower!

Christine Davis - of Bags by Bags of Style whom can be found here on Facebook and here on Instagram made this stunning set of faux leather boxes with a beautiful weaved pattern and super cool metal closures! Awesome! 

Gillian Woronko - Made this beautiful flowery box, and brilliantly chose to use old clip earrings instead of a button to close the box. She used it to house a flower, such a great way to spice up a potted plant for gifting! 

Kristin - whom can be found here on Instagram made this beautiful, ombre lineup! Such a great way to use different shades of the same fabrics!

Michelle of MEW Designs Australia - whom can be found here on Instagram and  here on Facebook made this beautiful set! Love the colors!

Nicole of DDsBagsAndMore  who has a great store here DDsBagsAndMore Etsy Store made this fun versions with snap buttons too so you can choose if you want them fully buttoned up or only half, very clever!

Noor Rats - Whom can be found here on instagram made these lovely boxes to store her sewing supplies, I love how she opens the one for wonder clips for easier access when working. 

Pia Jestin -  Who can be found here on Instagram made this adorable lineup! Love the color coded linings and buttons and just look at that adorably tiny 2" one!

Sue Reed - of Dreamscape Studio made this stunning lineup of faux leather and embroidered boxes That white contrasts so beautifully against the colorful linings and embroidery! 

Tania Chanroux - of Smart Made Designs on Instagram made this super cool combo! Those buttons where just made for that fabric! Love the edginess!

Anna Van Berlo - Whom you can find here on Instagram made this pretty flowery version with the most adorable little hedgehog button!

Terry Druga - whom can be found on Instagram here made this lovely sketch book version! The simplicity makes it beautifully  classic!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Paris Purse Pattern Release!!

This is the statement purse every woman deserves! This lovely little bag is sure to turn some heads when you walk into a room, and with it's small size and fancy design it's perfect for that special event or wedding!

The construction is surprisingly fun and once you've made one, you'll surely want to make another! It has 3 interior slip pockets and is fully lined without any visible seam allowances. It's named after one of our fashion capitals due to its to me chic and fashion forward look, and from looking a little like the eiffel tower from the side. ;)

This pattern comes with both inch and centimeter measurements and is available in both English and Swedish here. If you have trouble finding the frames, I have a list of retailers by country here.

This little purse was in the works for over 6 months, some of you with better memory than I might remember the first sneak peeks on Instagram back in June but now she's finally here! I've worn my Paris Purses sooo many times and I always, always get comments and compliments.

The interior is very simple, but there's a few slip pockets for cellphone and cash so it's absolutely enough.

Both of them are equally pretty I think, but the Tula Pink Tabby Road version in the front is the one most popular and turns more heads when I'm out.

But the more classic silver and black all cotton version is generally more easy to wear.

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I could easily spam you with a million more photos of my Paris Purses (and I might still do that at a later stage *lol*), but now, let's take a look at the BEAUTIFUL creations my pattern testers have made! A sincere thank you goes out to each and everyone one of you for helping me make this into my best pattern yet! I'm so very grateful for all your help and hard work! 

Casey of JC'Mila Designs - whom can be found here on Instagram and here on Facebook made this absolutely drop dead gorgeous version in Tula Pink Elisabeth combined with her Spirit Animal fabrics! Such a stunning bag!

Tania Chanroux - of Smart Made Designs on Instagram made this gorgous Tula Pink Eden version. She combined it with the most striking pink cork fabric which she also used to replace the lining top fabric - which was a stroke of pure genious if you ask me, so pretty!

Terry Druga - whom can be found on Instagram here made this beauitful, so striking version in Mod Corsage by Anna Maria Horner, the hardware used is gunmetal color. 

Nicole of DDsBagsAndMore who's great store DDsBagsAndMore Etsy Store carries the frames for the Paris Purse, can be found here on Instagram and here on Facebook made not one but TWO beauitful versions! One soft and angelic and one happy and full of sunshine! Lovely both! 

Katrien - The talent of whom can be found on Instagram here and Facebook here made this breathtaking, soft gray version. She did her sides a little differently as you can see in the details and only zick-zacked the raw seams instead of encasing them, made for a very pretty alternative look. 

Kristin - whom can be found here on Instagram made this very lovely, classic looking version that hides an adorable secret! Namely the super cute Tula Pink fox fabric hidden in it's lining! Just look at that cute little fox! 

Nicole Williams - Made this amazingly cool version! Such an super cool, edgy look with those fabric choices, love, just pure love!

Pia Jestin - can be found here on Instagram and she not only made this beauitful flowery version, she's also the inventor of the Pia's Soft Paris Purse Handles, they give a softer grip for your Paris Purse! Make sure you check out the tutorial!  

Lori Peoples - whom can be found here on Instagram made this beautiful butterfly version in muted, foresty color tones wich goes so perfectly with her brass hardware! So pretty! 

Michelle of MEW Designs Australia - whom can be found here on Instagram and  here on Facebook made this super cool, edgy version. Love how she chose red for the sides, to give it an even bolder look! Such an epic bag!