Prototype shopping bag Style# 4214

Continuing my series in experimental production (pt.1, pt.2), I’m working on a new bag, Style #4214 which is made of black rayon velvet -again, hardly a grocery bag. It has a different style number for several reasons. One, it’s a different shell and interfacing pattern. Oh wait, the lining is different too. 4213 has an inside patch pocket. My rant about patch pockets is below but suffice to say the construction of this one, based on the application of doo-dahs is completely different. The costs are different and it requires completely different machines.

4214_nailheads1 At right is a photo of the bag, partially constructed. You have to apply the nail heads before sewing it together (or at least I do, it annoys me when those are applied last). When finished, the design configuration of the nailheads will form the same pattern as the black velvet blouse I posted on Friday. Hopefully this one will be more popular than the leather bag which only one person seemed to like. This velvet bag isn’t even done and I may have already sold it.

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate making patch pockets? Probably not, I rarely do them so it’s easy to forget. It’s usually fabrication that is the killer and the lining of the lamb bag (#4213) was beyond obnoxious. It did not want to hold a pressed crease. Now I remember why I prefer to do welt pockets over patch pockets any day. Time wise, I think it’s a draw but I get more predicable results with the reece (welt) pockets. Plus they just look better.

It took awhile applying all of the nail heads by hand but I’m nearly done and expect to finish sewing this one today. It would probably (or maybe not) surprise you to know this one is heavier than the leather bag (#4213).

Testing of #4213
I tested the leather bag all weekend. First I took it to the farmer’s market where all the people I buy from every week said it was great. Truly, what else would they say? I was happy to try it on one vendor who was 5’2″; her height was important. The bag can be carried in three positions. Slung over the shoulder, held in the crook of one’s arm and with one’s arm fully extended along their side. Anyway, on her I could see I could still add another inch or so to the strap length without the bag hitting the ground. I also asked other bag makers what they thought of it. I was surprised that this banter was not welcome. I found that odd if not unprofessional. Or maybe I’m just weird. I have no problem dispassionately discussing products that are in the same genre as my own. It’s not as though mine would compete with theirs based on price points alone.

Next time I’ll mention the considerable machine and shop constraints I had when sewing these bags. There’s a big difference between sewing one-offs and preparing for a potential run of them. At some point I should also give you a run down on the sewing differences which also bears on the costs. It is entirely conceivable that although you use the “same” pattern, the sewing will be different based on the design constraints of the product. Yet another reason to issue different style numbers. I’ll bet you get tired of me saying that.

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  1. dosfashionistas says:

    Kathleen, I hope this will come out right and not sound as though I am belittling your project. But it is good to see you playing and enjoying yourself. And I hope you sell these and make a little too.

  2. Faye says:

    I come here as a sponge, taking it all in and being a student in/of this industry. Buying and reading your book has made me realize how much I don’t know and what I need to improve. I don’t know of other professionals with websites who would blog this process. People hold their trademarks and IP so close to their vest (I’m not judging that, it’s their right). So this helps me. It’s great that you’ve gotten interest in this bag=sell first.

  3. ken simmons says:

    When it’s sold before it’s finished you know you have the right components that instantly strike a cord with people. The contrast of shiny cold metal nailheads with warm mysterious black velvet, which as most will agree shows jewerly off better than any other surface and nailheads are jewlry-like, is both ultra modern and simutaiously vintage in feel. It’s punk possibilities or rockabilly or goth overtones make it instanly appealing to almost everyone. I can see Elvis ordering one as he leaves the building.
    I am sure this will continue to get great response as people see it. Visually it t has the “Gotcha” factor.

  4. Milena says:

    “Hopefully this one will be more popular than the leather bag which only one person seemed to like. ”

    Didn’t several people leave positive comments about the leather bag?? I think it’s awesome. Is it possible to put those nail heads on the leather bag?? Don’t give up on the leather bag!!

  5. Donna S says:

    I think the leather bag has more potential than you realize. As a traveler the fold up aspect really appeals to me. Giving it a little carrying case when folded would be a nice touch. Different sizes also – regular and jumbo. Light weight would be a real plus for travel. What about microfiber to keep cost down. I don’t know about LC but here in SC I have found when trying out or talking about ideas people just don’t get it so look to a wider audience. Hey, give me a prototype and I’ll field test it when I go to South Africa next month. Hee, hee! I can see it as a knitting bag also. At least it isn’t the usual box and a drawstring or box tote.

  6. Donna S says:

    Thought of something else. I am short also and when traveling I often want a bag I can wear crossed over my body. what about some D rings and a detachable strap for that purpose or a way to extend/adjust the straps. Not sure what my being short has to do with the comment!

  7. I love the blue bag; not nuts about velvet generally.

    RE the shopping bag pattern: Shopping bag plastic is thin, so the handles wrinkle up into something that can be easily gripped in a small hand. Do small-handed shoppers run into any issues holding the thicker handles of this model?

  8. Claire M says:

    I also love the leather bag. Although I think a neutral colour would be more versatile – black, cream or tan would work with more of my clothes.

  9. Kathleen says:

    I hope I didn’t come off as testy! It wouldn’t bother me if everyone hated the leather or velvet bag. Seriously. The sum of who/what I am is not measured by something so inconsequential. All of your comments pro and con are extremely useful to me. Mostly they’re stuck in my hopper rolling around with no order yet established. I worry most I’ll lose sight of the most salient opinions buried amongst the commentary.

    I like the idea of applying nail heads to leather but I don’t have the machine for it. If sales on the velvet bag come through, I’ll probably buy one. Oh heck, what am I saying? I’ll buy one anyway, I’ve been meaning to for years.

    Re: leather colors. I agree neutrals are more versatile but I didn’t have enough leather in all one color to make a solid bag except for the blue lamb and some deerskin that I love so much. A deerskin bag would be very expensive but more importantly, I’d have to source a consistent supply at a “reasonable” price before cutting into what I have. I also need another machine. My Adler doesn’t seem to like leather so much, my Mitsubishi takes it better but I’ve become sadly addicted to the servo and thread trimmer gadgets on the Adler and don’t want to sew on the Mitsubishi anymore. All that said, I do have plans for multi-colored leather bags. I need to visit my supplier in Albuquerque.

    As far as positive praise is concerned, I’m equally if not more dubious. I learned one thing long ago I can’t ever forget. A bunch of us were in a hotel room and starting to do some product reviews in a casual atmosphere. The first person explained their concept, showed the garments etc. I was the first critique. I said the seams were too thick (they were) and there was a better way to get the same effect etc etc. Well, I had barely finished speaking when everyone else (all DEs) chimed in saying “I’d buy that” and the designer being critiqued, thus placated by the support of the bevy of her peers, took that as an invitation to discuss her inspiration blah blah blah. Forever lost was the opportunity to apply some sorely needed product improvements. Based on that experience, I don’t permit anyone to ever say “I’d buy that” during a product review. Actually, I announce beforehand that if someone says that, I’ll hand them a purchase order. Funny how no one says that if they’re required to place an order immediately.

    It doesn’t matter how great everybody says something is. It only matters what they will pay for and how much they’re willing to allocate to the purchase. It was Ford who said that if he’d asked his customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.

    Alison: The handles on the leather bag are very thin. This bag would be a poor choice if someone wanted a heavy duty bag.

  10. Marie-Christine says:

    OK, I really like the leather bag and I’d be willing to send a check right away :-). Although perhaps something to reinforce the handles? Any bag of mine is liable to end up full of books, you see, so I’d need say 20lb carrying capacity. I love how it folds up, and it looks really yummy from over here. But.. it’d have to be black.
    As to this one, it’s beautiful, truly. But velvet is so utterly impractical I’m not sure I could bring myself to it. However the blouse is to die for…
    And if you’re willing to sell a pdf pattern, I’m willing to try my hand at leather. I know you’re right, you usually are :-).

  11. Well, how much are you selling the blue bag for? I probably wouldn’t buy it, because my beloved needs very expensive dental work, but I didn’t say I’d buy it – just that I loved it.

  12. Donna S says:

    I read with interest your reaction to other people’s reaction. I learned long ago that I need to evaluate who is giving the feedback before I decide if I want the advice. i.e. I never ask a meat and potato person to recommend a restaurant for me. I guess what I am saying is the opinions experssed are just that and I am sure by now you have learned who understands the concept and who doesn’t. Personally I also back way off if I think a person has too much ego involved in a project to really take suggestions that might benefit in the long run.

    Several years ago I came up with an idea for the perfect travel back pack that would deter pick pockets. It had a network of steel cables inside the lining and the closure was against the back. I even went so far as to check out patents and meet with a patent attorney but as usual I just let the idea drop inspite of a tremendous amount of positive feed back. The point of this story is that I correctly predicted that my idea would be seen in the market place within a year and it was; so I think you are rather brave to expose the bag to the public.

  13. Jonquil says:

    Interesting. My immediate, gut reaction to the blouse-with-nailheads was WANT! The bag grabs me the same way, even though I remind myself that the velvet will crush very, very quickly. Both those two just hit me viscerally, while the blue one I admired but did not desire.

  14. Renee says:

    Hearing someone say “I’d buy that” makes one feel good, but it isn’t really market research. Much better to start with a pushcart and learn from paying customers what other needs people have for your product. I’ve been so happy several times that my inventory is in uncut fabrics, not finished goods, so if I need to react to the feedback as it comes in, I do so.

  15. kpotenti says:

    I am loving this series, thanks so much for posting! I’m really looking forward to your run down on the sewing differences between making a prototype and production. I’m making my first prototypes now and do not have a ton of construction exerience. I’m sure there are better methods to achieve the same results. Thanks again!

  16. Ann V says:

    Not just empty praise – I would gladly buy the leather prototype. Seriously. ( Send me an email.)

    I wouldn’t buy a bag of velvet, because I don’t think it would last long without looking ratty. Folding and refolding will leave marks – setting it down on the ground beside your chair in a restaurant will be using it as a Swiffer over the floor. My daughter bought a Juicy Couture bag and it looked like H#$% in a very short time. I told her if she’s going to spend that kind of money, ONLY buy leather. It lasts.

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