Mission: 30 Custom Tote bags by Saturday!

It seems like forever ago, but 2 and a half weeks ago, a woman who is involved in the charity I did a boutique for back in February approached me about making 30 Going Green Tote Bags. Her favorite colors are brown and green, which is one of the reasons my work resonates with her – as I love those too! We talked a bit about the design – she showed me a business card with the seal on it: Although the globe and caduceus would not have translated well in the size I would have, as well as my particular sketchy style of free motion quilting, I was intrigued by the 2 little leaves at the bottom, and suggested I focus on that part. My client (whose name is Merle) and I both liked that it was part of the seal, but not a copy of the whole thing, plus it emphasizes the natural motif for the bags that fits with the intent. Merle loves hearts and asked if I could include one, so I sketched (VERY roughly) the two leaves with a heart at the intersections of their stems. She then asked if I could included the date, which I added to the sketch, showing her how it would look in cursive, and she really liked the idea:

I told you I can’t draw! Any old who, she needs them by this coming weekend, and I told her I could “Git ‘er done”, so I thought I’d show you how I’ve meen fitting this commission in between the cracks of everything else I’m trying to get done:

1) Prewash the bags

  • I did this last week amongst the other loads of laundry.

2) Decide and test the color recipes

  • I have a tried and true recipe for 2 browns and 2 greens, but I wanted 3 shades of each, so did a bit of research in my notebook and came up with a 3rd possibility for each color. I worked out the recipe sometime Friday night.
  • When I came home from the show on Saturday (at 4 PM) I got one bag for each of the 6 colors in the dyebath.
  • Late that night I started the rinsing process (the 1st cold soak).
  • Before I left for the show on Sunday morning, I put them in for a hot soak, and was able to have them washed out and dried by Sunday night:

Phew, I got the colors right!

3) Dye 30 more!

  • Sunday night I sat down and calculated a dye plan for dyeing 5 bags and 1/2 yard fabric for each of these 6 colors.
  • I mixed up several gallons of soda ash and put the bags to soak over night.
  • I came home from school, got the supplies out, the dye studio set up and put the bags in the washing machine to spin out the soda ash
  • After running one child to ‘cello lessons and picking the other one up, I got the dyes mixed up (no small feat, we’re talking quarts of dye here) and the bags in the solution.
  • I microwaved the tubs with the bags and then left them in the sun for the rest of the afternoon.
  • After celebrating Logan’s 10th birthday I started the rinsing out.
  • Rinsing and washing continued today and I now have 30 bags dyed:

4) Stitch out a prototype:

  • After dinner I sat down with the sketch and some fabric and stitched up what I had sketched with Merle.
  • I then took some pix and sent them off to her for approval:

And now I’m writing this blog post! I’ve got to work on the RAA newsletter now, so I’m signing off. I’ll keep you updated on what’s gonna consume me for the next couple of days (well, on top of the teaching, and the major amount of running around I’ve gotta do for Liam – he’s got lots of gigs, some of them not local…)

p.s. In case any of you are wondering…yes, I am tired! 😉

I’m sharing this with Kim and friends here:

11 Responses

  1. whew!! You go girl. I am amazed, and a little in awe of your work in between the cracks kind of method! Good for you!

  2. When I read how much you accomplish in your *crazy* life, I never feel inadequate, I just feel motivated. Thanks Candy!

  3. It’s neat to hear about the process you use to make these pretty bags. I love the colors! I’m sure you’re worn out, but I know you’ll breathe a sigh of relief when it’s all over. And you’ll be proud of your great bags!

    Thanks for taking the time to share a bit with us! 🙂