Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Loule Bag Pattern Release!

I'm super excited to be able to release the Loule Bag pattern today! The Loule Bag is the perfect little shoulder or crossbody bag for every occasion! With the beautiful and classic, while still a little edgy look thanks to the zipper piping, it's sure to find a place in every woman's handbag collection!

The pattern is available in both English and Swedish and has both inch and centimeter measurements, you can find it HERE.

It's a super fun and quick bag to sew, you'll for sure like me and many of my pattern testers, not only want to make one!  

Thanks to the small but convenient size of ~11” (28cm) long, ~6” (15cm) high and ~1” (2.5cm) wide/deep at the base it allows you to bring a standard size wallet. But should you wish not to do so, it also offers 8 card slots for the occasions you wish to leave your wallet at home. There's naturally slip pockets for your cellphone and a few other necessities.

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My amazing pattern testers has sewn a number of beautiful Loule Bags naturally and here they all are! Thanks a million each end every one of you, I couldn't do this without you! <3

Noor Rats - Whom can be found here on instagram made this absolutely beautiful pink version! The lovely flower cotton fabric is perfectly paired with the pink vinyl. She chose to use regular piping instead of the zipper piping. And look at that lovely, two sided strap and those details of the many rivets, gorgeous! 

Katrien - The talent of whom can be found on Instagram here and Facebook here made this absolutely stunning faux leather version! Such a classic and classy looking bag! Absolutely stunning! 

Cheryl Wright Simmerman - of Adarra Handmade made FIVE (I told you they're addictive, she's not the only one making more than one ;) ), absolutely gorgeous Loule Bags!! She made one to match her stunning, yellow Fresno, aren't they just the perfect pair? And that shiny blue vinyl version makes me think of mermaids, it's just so alluring! Beautiful! And those THREE, amazing nail polish ones are just OUTSTANDING! So delish!

Dee Brasher - of Paisley Cherry Mercantile made this romantic, drop dead gorgeous light pink and version! The postage stamp cotton fabric combined with those gold details are just perfection! So beautiful and right up my alley in those soft pinks!

Alison Heath - of Bobbin Girl (she has fantastic bag making supplies, check them out!) made two beautiful Loule Bags! One tweed version that is just to die for, so classy! And one in a beautiful, gold faux leather and batik fabric. Stunning both of them!

Pia Jestin -  Who can be found here on Instagram made this stunning cork version! Love the tweed top and those details, like the embroidery and that two sided strap, just absolutely gorgeous! She chose to replace the card pockets with a zipper pocket. 

Tania Chanroux - of Smart Made Designs on Instagram made two beautiful versions. One lovely dark denim one combined with a summer meadow cotton fabric, and one black and red with perfect gold details!

Barbara Dörig - Whom can be found here on instagram made this beautiful cork and Tula PInk version! Such a beautiful combination with the brass coloured hardware, just lovely!

Annette - Made this absolutely lovely gold flecked cork and rainbow one! The dark blue piping just shines and the gold hardware is just the crowning jewel! Such a happy, yet classy bag! 

Thanks again everyone! 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Fresno Foldover Bag - Pattern Release!!

I'm so happy to release the Fresno Foldover Bag pattern! It actually came to be on a request from my mother, isn't she the best? <3

This fashionable, but super practical foldover bag quickly became a favourite with my testers and myself. The back has zipper pocket for convenient access to the essentials, while the interior has a number of slip pockets and of course another zipper pocket.

Pattern is available in both English and Swedish, with both inch and centimeter measurements  HERE.

The construction is surprisingly quick and will teach you two separate ways to sew zipper pockets (one for turning your bag through in a very handy way) and two separate ways to sew darts in a bag.

Back zipper pocket for easy access to the essentials. 

Interior zipper pocket and many slip pockets, it will fit a laptop, and has much room without becoming bulky.

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My fantastic pattern testers has sewn a number of gorgeous Fresno Foldover Bags naturally and here they all are! Thanks a million everyone, I couldn't do this without you all! <3

Annette - Made this absolutely stunning faux leather version, contrasting so perfectly with the beautiful red! I love her alternative closure solution with the two swivel snap hooks and isn't her horse just adorable!?

Anja - whom you can find on instagram here made this awesome retro version made from a repurposed curtain! Isn't that just brilliant?  The colors are so lovely and those dots! Beautiful! 

Cheryl Wright Simmerman - of Adarra Handmade didn't make one, she didn't make two, she made THREE gorgeous Fresno Bags!! They really show the versatility of this pattern and it truly can be made to fit any taste! Everything from romantic flowers, to cool cork and all the way to the super edgy and yellow and black! I can't help but love them all!

Eva Halvarsson - of Borlänge Sycentrum  and also my fantastic mother, (from whom the idea for this awesome bag originates) made a classic black and white version, super classy and easily worn, love the contrast stitching!

Casey of JC'Mila Designs - whom can be found here on Instagram and here on Facebook made this super cool, version of upholstery weight fabric! Look at those chains and rivets combined with the flowery strap! Such an awesome combination!

Kristin - whom can be found here on Instagram made this super cool cotton and faux leather version. The awesome airplane sketch fabric contrasts so beautifully to the brown leather! Stunning!

Margareth Tai - Bags by Mags can be found here on Instagram, made this stunning striped one! Those aquas and browns are just so classic and makes for such a beautiful bag! Love how slouchy it is too! 

Sheri Ferrano - of Munkee Made made this epic cork version! The simplicity of the cork and the soimple straps makes it timeless and just so gorgeous! As you might know what a cork kick I've been on lately, this bag went straight into my heart! 

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 =)