Lina and Vi: June 2015

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Weekend in Philly with the Newark Cross body Tote

lina and vi - plymouth mi - burlap tote bag

This past weekend, my husband and I took a short trip to visit the beautiful city of Philadelphia, PA! We had such a great time, and I'm slowly catching up on things around here. I wanted to stop in to share a few photos of the cross body burlap bag I sewed quickly for our trip as the trusty cross body bag I typically use on trips has worn out clasps that are ready to snap, and I needed something reliable to walk around for a few days. I unfortunately don't have many up close photos at this point to share, but I didn't want to wait to share what I did have from the trip.

lina and vi - plymouth mi - burlap tote bag

When I originally came up with the idea of sewing up a handmade burlap bag for our trip, I knew the bag would need to be large. When I travel, I use one bag for my usual purse items on top of extras that include maps, books/magazines, travel guides, plane reservations, umbrellas, etc. You get the point - it needs to be large because I'm throwing everything in it as I try to navigate airports, rail lines, and museums.  The bottom is about 1.5 inches wide so that it could expand to fit all of the contents inside. The inner fabric is a solid black cotton lining with a zipper pocket and two slide pockets. The outside flap fabric is an off-white canvas fabric with an appliqued tag from the original burlap sack in the front center. The bag secures shut with a wooden button. I re-purposed the leather straps from another (store-bought) bag as I didn't have time to sew a strap. The strap clasps to the two loops I sewed into the side seams of the bag using folded belting, so that it would be durable and strong enough to hold weight.

My absolute fabric design element of this bag is the trim around the edge of the exterior flap. I cut this braiding strip from the seam of the burlap coffee bean bag. It finishes the bag so well, giving it a crisp feel while the body of the bag is less structured. Sewing this trim to the edge of the flap was much easier than I anticipated. I loved that I used a new part of the burlap sack that I've never used in any of my previous bag designs, and I am so happy with the outcome.

This bag worked out so well in Philly. We walked for miles around the city each day from Rittenhouse Square to Old City to South Philly to see the shops on Passyunk and the Italian market. I carried everything from a camera to multiple maps of the city to an umbrella and a full water bottle.  Having a crossbody bag with me allowed me to keep my hands free and the weight distributed across my body since we were on our feet all day and we all know how heavy even a small amount can feel after carrying it for hours.

At this time, I don't have a bag similar to this in the Lina and Vi Etsy shop. Would you be interested in seeing this type of design there? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think! I'd love to hear feedback.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Ride4Refugees Lending a Helping Mitten Partnership Update

You may recall that earlier this year, I announced a partnership with an old of mine who was going to participate in a summer trip to ride his bicycle across the continental United States in order to raise funds and awareness for the less fortunate.  He reached out to me asking if Lina and Vi would be able to support his cause, and as a result, we donated a portion of Michigan burlap pillow sales to his effort.

Although our partnership has now ended, I wanted to share an update that Jeff has started his trip across America this month. If you're interested in checking out where he currently is located, you can find his riding logs on his website here and follow his progress.

What a great adventure he is on, and it's all for a meaningful cause to help those that need it the most. If you purchased a Michigan burlap pillow during the months of January through April, thank you. You helped to support his effort towards this cause.

Best of luck to Jeff and a big thank you to everyone who supported Lina and Vi and this valuable cause.


Monday, June 15, 2015

New Bag! Bold Gold Burlap Tote

Bold Gold Polka Dot burlap tote bag - top view -  lina and vi plymouth mi

Happy Monday! If you follow Lina and Vi on Facebook, you may have noticed that I posted new photos of a brand new tote bag late last week - the Bold Gold polka dot burlap tote. In our earlier post, I shared a few details on the progress of this bag as it was coming together. I'm super excited to say that it's one of my new favorites in the Grounds Collection. This isn't the first bag with polka dot lining, but it's the first to use metallic printed fabric and I'm in love with how that balances with the distressed, repurposed burlap fabric. It was an unexpected combination that turned out as a fun design.

As much as I love how it turned out, I loved sewing it. It measures what I consider is a medium/large tote at about 12.5 inches tall and 19 inches across. With a 3 inch depth, there's plenty of space to store anything from laptops and tablets to swimsuits and sunscreen. The interior features one zipper pocket to keep those personal items secure, while 2 slide pockets store easy to reach items when you're on the go and need to grab your keys/cell/lipgloss without digging through the contents of your bag (been there, done that). To add that pop of color and fun, the bottom of the bag features the same metallic gold polka dot cotton fabric. The exterior burlap is the same print on both the front and back. You probably recognize it from the Clean Sound and New bag and the set of four bridesmaids totes that I've previously sewn. I have a stack of these burlap coffee bean sacks, so they are making several debuts using different bag designs and a unique lining fabric.

Bold Gold Polka Dot burlap tote bag - interior view -  lina and vi plymouth mi

Bold Gold Polka Dot burlap tote bag - interior view -  lina and vi plymouth mi

Bold Gold Polka Dot burlap tote bag - lina and vi plymouth mi

I adore it.  As I sit at my desk typing this up, I have a strip of extra metallic gold polka dot fabric that is next to my keyboard, waiting for that bit of inspiration and motivation to transform it into a headband, keychain strap, or whatever else I can make out of this tiny strip.

Although this bag is near to my heart, I have decided to make it available for purchase in the shop. I decided that I want to share it with someone else who will love it as much as I do, and I'm excited for who that person will be. You can find photos, details, and purchase information when you follow the link here.

I'll be back later this week with a few more sewing and non-sewing related updates! Have a great week!


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Running an Etsy Shop

Lina and Vi
Over the course of the last year or so, I've learned a lot about running a handmade sewing business. I'm certainly not an expert, but it's an area that I am continually interested in learning more about so I can evolve Lina and Vi.

Before I started Lina and Vi, I spent a lot of time reading blogs after work and on my weekends. Most of them at the beginning were lifestyle blogs and then I began branching out to sewing and crafting blogs where the writer was also the creator of an online business to sell their handmade goods. I loved and still love reading about how these businesses started and what they have learned along the way. I think there is something humbling when visiting blogs associated to online handmade businesses because the path where they started is typically still there for all to see. There's no hiding the bad photos, makeshift tags, typos, and mismatched color schemes. That's what I love about it - that we all start at the beginning in the same way and it's up to our determination to see it through to success or to take a pass and move on.

Running an online business was something that I never originally intended to do, but it has been a great experience. I've been able to connect with people around the country that I would have never otherwise been able to interact with or who could have seen what I have made. Before starting this business, I prepped, studied, and researched as much as I could either through reading business posts on crafting blogs as I mentioned, to listening to design related pod casts, to reading books like The Handmade Marketplace by Kari Chapin. I knew I wanted to do something, but I was hesitant and certainly didn't think selling online was the way I wanted to go. To this day, I still research businesses selling on Etsy and see if they have tips to share along with joining Etsy teams to learn more about SEO, pricing, and more. It's a constant process, and one that doesn't have a single answer. That's what makes it so intriguing.

I recently started thinking about all of the time I put into running Lina and Vi after having an email conversation on a related small business topic with my husband a few weeks ago. Until that day when I actually considered all of the steps that I take to run my shop, I didn't honestly realize how much time and effort goes into creating and selling my products. The process typically goes something like this: think of a product, source the materials, design and manufacture the product, take product photos, write blog content, prepare product description, list on Etsy, review stats and adjust SEO as needed, sell it, package it, ship it, update the order status in Etsy. There's even more that goes unmentioned with communicating to customers, responding to inquiries and custom quotes, and following up if a product needs repair. I realized that on a typical night after coming home from work that I am doing something that contributes to Lina and Vi.

My point in saying all of this is that there is so much behind the scenes than what we all realize. There is much that goes unsaid in the stories we read about relating to small handmade businesses on blogs. It's incredibly exciting if you are up for the challenge and commitment. None of us has all of the answers, and the process can be frustrating for us. In the end, it may seem like you end up with a handmade product that you ordered but only at the surface - underneath it all is the planning, attention to detail, craftsmanship, decisions, worry, and a few mistakes along the way.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Gold Polka Dots and Burlap

lina and vi - plymouth mi - burlap bags

Over the past weekend, I spent some time replenishing our Michigan burlap state pillows after a few sales left us nearly out of stock. I love making these pillows because it involves a different type of process than the bags or pouches, since those don't involve stenciling with fabric paint. Sewing pillows never gets old for me; they are typically one of those 'instant-gratification' projects since it's very minimal cutting, measuring, and sewing to make them. Most of the time is spent placing the stencil and painting multiple coats onto the fabric.

With pillows stocked up, I'm focusing back on sewing a new bag this week around a gold polka dot fabric that I picked up as a remnant recently in a shopping trip. This fabric stuck with me since it has a bit of shimmer with the gold dots and a very muted, off white background. The fabric is light cotton, and it's perfect for the spring/summer months. I decided to make a medium sized shoulder bag in my familiar rectangle shape. I finished inserting a metal zipper for the interior pocket. I haven't decided what else will be in the interior of the bag just yet. I really am loving how the gold polka dots match with the tan burlap. It's a very casual bag design, and one that I might end up stealing for myself ;-)! I've gotten most of the basic sewing done today, and once I get more heavy interfacing, I'll be wrapping this new girl up by the weekend.

Have a great week!