Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Twill Tape alternative: Rolled Hem serger stitch

I had been using twill tape on my wallets as you can see by my previous posts. I decided to experiment with the rolled hem setting on my serger to see if I could get a similar, finished-looking, effect. I can get it up to 1/4" wide. My sewing machine repair man advises against using the serger cutting blade on the vinyl, so I disconnected it.

I think it looks neater than twill tape and it would be robust if sewn in upholstery thread. I am looking forward to using this technique on my latest billboard vinyl handbag project.

Handbag Pattern Design

Just for fun I am copying my own handbag, drawing the pieces in Illustrator, and coming up with an Order of Operations, i.e. instructions. My goal is twofold: one is to have a pattern for making a purse design that will work in billboard vinyl, the other is to make a pattern that I can sell on Etsy. I see that some Etsy sellers make PDF patterns to sell. So far, so good. The pattern here isn't finished; I have to create pattern outlines for the end pieces and the inner bag lining. I'll post an update on this project after I make the handbag from my pattern.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Twill Tape Seam Binding Tools

I have been working with twill tape as my seam binding on my billboard vinyl wallets. I have used several different methods with varying degrees of success.

This is my best method so far: (1) Fold the twill tape down the centre and steam iron. (2) Figure out how much tape you will need for the seam, plus a length for folding the ends over. (3) Use low-tack painter's tape to hold the seam binding in place. This is especially useful for turning a corner, because you can shape and tape at the same time. (4) Sew in place using a home-made seam guide comprised of a picture-hanger hook, hot-glued to a fridge magnet. It stays in place nicely on the metal base of my Singer Sewing machine. Painter's tape can be used to hold the guide in place. (5) remove the painter's tape.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Dingbat font fun

In the past few days I've been exploring the design possibilities of dingbat or wingding fonts. A lot of the card makers are using them. I realized that using them can save a lot of time in drawing, but I sure have burned up a lot of time looking at fonts! Here I've imported some dingbats into Adobe Illustrator to illustrate a point made by John MacArthur in his lecture The Challenge of Science. The fonts I used are: Animals for the dog; JL Naturebats for the trees; Silhouettes03 for the people; and 60s Chic for the specialty stars. The background stars are from standard Illustrator 9.0 brush. Bible verse is from the NIV version. For more information on the different types of stars, Wikipedia has a good article. John MacArthur's lecture is available on Youtube.

I'm also thinking of cutting shapes out of billboard vinyl to increase the design possibilities of the material. (See my previous post). I want to get a cutter such as a cricut so I can try these things out. But of course I'd have to get Sure Cuts a Lot software to facillitate this.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Custom wallets on Etsy

I was thinking of offering custom wallets for sale on Etsy. Here's one of the popular names on Etsy according to the demographics, with a Mid Century Modern font and a nice graphic that celebrates the name. I could do this either by printing the design on fabric then waterproofing the fabric, or by using billboard vinyl and a stencil cutting technique.
Accordian player from Entertainment 1 font by Helen Duggan. Text font is Fontdinerdotcom Sparkly.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I got a new Fiskars cutter

This is a hail Mary play to find something that will capture the buyers on Etsy. I have been wanting a Cricut Expressions, but I found a Fiskars hand tool for much less that does a great job on cutting vinyl. I am blatantly going after an octopus trend that I see on Etsy, and the current trend in feature placement for the happy face. (The mouth line is nearly at the eye line). As you can see in the photograph I'm currently deciding what colour upholstery thread to use. I only have black twill tape for the binding though. Stay tuned for a new wallet on Etsy. This is sure good therapy for the holiday busyness!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Monarch Butterfly wallet

Here I am experimenting with pattern brushes that I created in Adobe Illustrator, with printing on fabric, and with rubberized coating of said fabric. I have some warping happening with the seam binding, so I'll have to redo it. I like the effect. I think I will do a peacock feather brush next, since that's a hot trend on Etsy right now. I don't know if people are buying that trend, but it's been identified as a trend.

I like the idea of creating my own fabrics to use in my crafts. The printing here was rather dull so I had to use dye pastels to brighten up the colors before spraying the fabric with PlastiDip.

Update #1: I've been using the wallet for several weeks now and it is performing well. The white background picks up some dirt, but becomes like new by using a Magic Eraser on it. As you can see by the photograph the laser-jet-printed wallet fabric had to have some piecing to make it long enough for the wallet's design. I'm concluding that coating laser printed fabric with Plasti-Dip is successful, and therefore I can offer this as a custom fabric option for wallets in my Etsy shop.
I am also using a system of removable card slots for all my cards. This system is also working well for me. All the card categories are available at a glance.

Update #2: I changed the design from these removable card slots to an accordion-style organizer. The new design holds 30+ cards in different categories. I think it's a good solution to the number of cards we carry these days. See here for the redesign:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I made my first sale on Etsy

I made a sale on Etsy! I am thrilled. It is neat to see how straightforward it is to work with Paypal and print out a shipping label at home.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mid Century Modern Motifs

Mid Century Modern has captivated my imagination these days, here's some motifs I'm creating on Adobe Illustrator. I would like to design my own fabric and print it out on the laserjet printer.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Giveaway for the EtsyTrashion show

This is the cardholder wallet I've made for a giveaway for the EtsyTrashion Street Team's trunk show on November 28, 19:00 EST in the virtual labs at It is the first time I have worked with twill tape as an edge binding. I notice that the ubiquitous Lululemon bags have twill tape edges.

Come to the trunk show for a chance to win this card wallet! It holds 6 credit cards or a bunch of business cards.

I am digging Mid Century Modern design these days, even though I lived through it the first time around. I made a stencil. Got to buy some stencil adhesive to get rid of the overspray problem. Or I could just call it intentional, I suppose.

Update: I don't think participating in giveaways is an effective use of my time. Giveaways to my suppliers and friends, maybe. But not as effective advertising.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Stencil test on billboard vinyl

I thought that a stencil with plastic paint would look good on a wallet or bag. Here's my first attempt. I really need to make sure the stencil is properly adhered to the vinyl first. I will test this out and see how the paint wears.
It doesn't chip off when on the flexible vinyl, but it does rub off with a fingernail. I am going to use this as a wallet for a while and see how it goes long-term.
I changed my mind, I put it through the washer. The paint stayed on, but the binding shrunk a bit. Or may I say that the paint stayed on, and some of the silver flecks redistributed. This is a bit more than what one would do with a regular wallet. So I vote the stencil treatment on vinyl a reasonable success.

I got a new billboard to experiment with

My latest acquisition is a 10X40' (!) used vinyl banner with a winter safety/snowplough message. It has a lot of white space on it, and lots of orange and black as well. I am looking forward to stencilling on it with Paint for Plastic. I am also thinking of a Cricut or equivalent machine to make vinyl appliques and stencils. I think the material would look nice stenciled.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My old handbag is now a pattern

I took it apart and I'm going to see if that style will work with my billboard vinyl. I'm using the blurry photograph of Banker's Hall for the fabric, and an old umbrella for the lining.

That was a good handbag. It went to Europe with me, but the vinyl is all shot now. I guess that's how our possessions are supposed to be. Used until they're worn out. I have another purse in storage that I can wear out. It matches the green of my eyes. All I had to do was fix the snap on it.

Update: well, so far so good, I've sewn the body of the bag and the lining. I'm not sure if it will be successful with the seams on the inside, since the billboard vinyl is so stiff.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Etsy Trashion Virtual Trunk Show

Friday, November 28th at 7 pm EST in the Etsy Virtual Labs 36 Etsy Trashion members will be showing their wares. Get your upcycled arts and crafts there!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

One reason I started this blog

The sense I get from my Etsy experience so far is that there's more to it than just setting up the shop and enjoying all the revenue. In addition to having things priced right, low shipping charges, products correctly and artfully photographed, well-designed shop banners and avatar, product items in proper sections, described right (not too short or too long), There's off-site promotion work to be done as well. In other words, its more than I thought it would be.

I've enjoyed the Etsy experience, but I did think it would be a lot easier. I thought that Etsy would be the window to the world and that all I would have to do was do my craft, post it, and voila, a buyer would be right there. So that illusion was dealt with I'd say! I honestly thought that my first shirt would sell right away. Now I'm 10 shirts in and 3 wallets, and only one convo about the fact that I didn't have sizing. (I'm addressing that). No sales yet. I have wanted to try making videos and blogging anyway, so this Etsy shop of mine was a catalyst to get these two things going. So for that goal, trying to sell on Etsy has been good to get me learning. I do feel like I'm making dinner for a toddler, though. Song and dance, and still, "nope". I feel like the video was the handstands part. I haven't yet reached the point where it's too hard or too time consuming. I don't know where that point is, yet.

Friday, November 7, 2008

She Caught On Quick - Vintage Singer Ad

This ad is the same year as my recently acquired Singer Sewing machine! I love how the man is just sitting there while the cat trashes the armrest!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Card slots for my wallets, design of

The feedback from the Etsy forums about my wallets so far is that people would like more card slots. I had an idea to create little window pockets for different card groups. Then you could grab a group of them when you need them. Modularized.The categories in my own wallet would be: frequently used, health, club cards, library cards, and certificates. That's 5 categories. My cards total one inch in thickness (2.4 cm). My current challenge to solve is how to sew the vinyl so as to make a dimensional pocket. Right now its looking a bit messy with the darts method. Perhaps the zipper foot. My walking foot doesn't fit onto the old Singer machine.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Here's a wallet for the abstract lovers, under construction. The original billboard is on my ping pong table, and the cut out pieces are on my workbench. I hope to have the finished wallet on my Etsy shop soon.

My 1948 Singer sewing machine

My repairman said that my domestic sewing machine was like trying to use a volkswagen to pull a trailer when it came to sewing billboard vinyl. He recommended an industrial machine. Then I noticed that some older sewing machines were being sold as "industrial strength" machines on Ebay. When one came up for sale on Kijiji for a very reasonable price, I decided to go for it. An elderly woman was wanting it taken to the dump! All it needed was a bit of oil, some cleaning and adjusting, and it's working just great. It was a bit of a trick to figure out the bullet-shaped bobbin case, but I found a tutorial online. Consider these older machines when you want to sew heavy materials like canvas, denim or leather.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bicycle Panniers from recycled billboards

Billboard vinyl is a hot new material due to its vibrant colors and material strength. These bicycle panniers are prototypes. They are designed to hold a large-sized grocery bag. There is a flap at the top to keep the baguettes dry. A panel at the back of the bag, closest to the bicycle keeps the bag from sagging. The panel is made from an old corrugated plastic campaign sign. Hooks and bungee cords at the back of the bag are for attaching to the bike rack and to keep the bag from bouncing around while cycling.
UPDATE: I showed these prototypes at the 1111 Independant Artist's Exhibition on Jan 11,2009. They got a good response. When I make some production ones to sell I think I will try seam piping for a professional-looking finish.

This is the same material I use to make wallets. There's several for sale on my Etsy shop.