Can’t see the wood for the box. Or thinking outside the trees. Something like that.

I’ve been creating baby wearing bags with wrap cloth for a good few years now, and have worked with such a wide variety of designs. It’s great when you get the perfect placement for the bag panels, especially when the pocket lines up perfectly. It gives me a good buzz. Like when you make chicken stock from the leftovers and actually use it, rather than flushing it down the toilet a week later.

Abstract designs lend themselves well to bag making, as it doesn’t really matter about matching up the designs – it just works. But when it is a picture cloth, like Firespiral Slings’ Birch Trees, it does look better when the branches meet and it still looks like the image is supposed to on the front of the bag.

So, Glasto Harvest. I have had a piece of the cloth, big enough for a bag, sitting in my workshop for ages now. I kept getting it out and looking at it, thinking it might make a lovely big cushion. There were three big Harvest trees across the piece, and as the images makes up the entire width of the wrap, I just couldn’t picture it being a bag – surely it would look odd, and you wouldn’t be able to see what the picture was supposed to be.

Ha, wrong! After chatting with a lovely customer about the designs and colours she would like for her bag, I pulled out the Glasto Harvest again. It was only when I placed the pattern on top of the cloth that I could see that actually, the design lends itself well to an Absolute Bobbins bag. The trunks have become the strap, with the little squirrels running along one edge. The main body of the trees, remember there were three, will become the front, back and pocket, and match up really well.

So, in future, I’m going to put initial fears to back of my mind and just give it a go. Some things work, some things don’t but when you hit on an unexpected success, it feels very exciting. Like chicken stock.


16833372_970172849749951_1953449230_o

A few weeks ago, in a galaxy far, far away…..

As a follower on Facebook, I have seen a great deal of the work done by Lindsay at All the Small Things. Her creative designs, especially the rainbows, show what a skilled artist she is. But it was after seeing her wax resist designs that I hit on an idea. The combination of this technique and black and primary colour dyes gave an amazing space effect – like a shot from the Hubble Telescope.

I wanted to make baby wearing bags with cloth that looked like THAT! Imagine having the milky way floating over your shoulder, not just Milky Way stuck to your shoulder! So I contacted the lovely, approachable Lindsay and put this commission to her. And she jumped at the chance to collaborate.

After virtual high fiving for ages about the idea, we set to work discussing fabric types and colours. And once Lindsay had everything down, she set to work, sending me pics along the way of the process. It was very exciting to see the dyeing in action. But when she sent pictures of the finished cloth I was blown away. They truly were like space – the colours swirling around in the infinite abyss with wax resist stars cascading across the cloth.

When they arrived, it almost felt a shame to start chopping, but I laid out the pieces to decide on which side would make the bag panels and which side would be best for the bag panels. I wanted to get the best from the cloth, and use the best of the design in the more appropriate places.

The bags have been paired with black and white star lining, black rings and black zips. And left over cloth has been made into coin purses, with added plum leather detail.

I’ll carry on updating this blog post throughout the sewing process, but for now it’s time to decide on lining, ring and zip colours. These bags will be up for sale on this website when they are completed. Watch out for more news on the Facebook page!

These items were added to the shop on this website for sale, on March 7, 2017.

 

Check out Lindsay’s Facebook page at allthesmallthings.lovelystuff

 


16176212_10154631551146195_525872215_n

The first incarnation of Murmuration

The Firespiral Slings group exclusive, Murmuration, in all its guises, has to be one of the most stunning wraps. The teal green Glasto is beautifully shiny and works well with all the wefts, and has been a really popular wrap with Firespiral fans.

But way back, before the design, weft and warp were finalised, a prototype cloth was woven to see how it could potentially look. And I am lucky enough to have it to make a bag from.

So, this Murmuration is woven from cotton and uses cirrus and cobalt. You don’t get the same shimmer, but the image is really clear and bold.

I have combined the beautiful babywearing cloth with a purple lining, blue rings and a blue zip. And this will be up for sale very soon. Check out the Facebook page for more details.


So. How’ve you been?

Now Christmas and the festive period are a distant memory, my floors are again clogging up with thread and my family are accidentally treading on more sewing needles than pine needles.

The machines are back in action with various projects, orders and collections for the website. This week I have been working with a beautiful Oscha Roses ring sling, creating a tote bag, a cushion and little coin purses from the beautiful purple and grey cloth.

One other job I have had is to create a baby wearing bag from Spindrift Twilight Seafoam cloth from Firespiral Slings.

I have lots of other bits and pieces in the pipeline and am still taking orders – up to March 2017 now – so if there is anything you fancy having made, converted or even if you have the cloth to spare on no idea yet, get in touch. I love finalising projects with customers and working out the perfect product.

In the meantime, I’ll post some pics on the Facebook page of completed items, and hopefully get some stock on here soon too!

 

 


Bathing your bags

I get asked a lot about how to go about keeping the Absolute Bobbins bags clean. It’s not like they are kept for best, or in a cupboard. These are bags that are intended to get a lot of hammer, be squished with banana and blueberry, and collect breakfast cereal in the pockets. They are not going to stay clean.

This applies to the baby-wearing bags, rather than messenger bags or handbags, which I would definitely just spot clean with a cloth.

As wrap cloth fibres vary, from one wrap to the next, and need different care, it’s obvious that the bags are going to need treating in a similar way.

So here’s a few tips on keep the bags as bag-like as possible for the long haul.

If the bag is made of non-woollen cloth you are ok to machine wash. But do so at low temp on a short cycle (maybe a 30 degree quick wash). Just be aware, the rings in the drum will make a noise akin to the soundtrack of a low budget horror film. You could choose to put the bag inside a pillowcase, but it isn’t essential.

It’s best to get to stains as quick as you can to stop them from setting in. So if it something that is likely to create a lasting mark (anything tomatoey for example) soak that area of the bag. Once washed, you may need to reshape the bag with your hands, before drying in a warm place like near a radiator or on the line.

Bags made from wool have had the cloth washed before being made, to ensure that it is to size before being cut out. I would be reluctant to advise machine washing wool bags. I would only advise spot cleaning with a cloth and a wool-specific liquid detergent.

The cloth is no longer intended to be used for baby wearing, but don’t scrub the cloth as it may shift threads or break them. Gently rub the marks with the liquid detergent on a soft cloth. Dry in a warm place or on the line.


img_0254

Transformers – hand bags in disguise!

I love getting my hands on a project with a few more twists and turns than usual. Don’t get me wrong, I love making bags with ‘virgin’ fabric – straight edges, no frays and one continuous piece.

But every so often I get given cloth already in the shape of another object, or offcuts from a freshly made item, and asked if there is anything that can be done.

And it usually means an amount of unpicking of hems, chopping and lining up to make an Absolute Bobbins bag from something else. But that is the fun bit. When you see something new materialise from another object.

So I am going to tackle a bag which will be made from the fabric from a carrier, which was made from a baby wrap. I love the fact that something so useful will be given a new life two times over.

I will add to this blog as I go along and post pics of the work in progress. If you have something like this that you would love to be transformed into an Absolute Bobbins bag, you know what to do!

The carrier before its transformation

**The carrier is here!**

I have spent an evening looking over and unpicking the seams and hems of the Kokadi Lara im Wunderland carrier I am going to be transforming into a bag. This is a beautiful wrap and much loved before being turned into a carrier. And it’s fab that it will have its life extended by becoming something new once again.

The carrier was wonderfully made and had really used the best of the design for the panels. That being said, once you start unpicking and salvaging the cloth for a new project, stitching holes and frays can limit what you have to work with. But after overlocking the cloth around the edges, and a wash and iron, the fibres in the cloth moved around enough to hide the holes from previous stitching.

The ties from the carrier are long enough to be re-utilised as well. One of the ties will become the strap for the baby-wearing bag, and the other will be cut up to make the sides of the bag, the zip panels and the pockets. The grey ties will be dyed black to match the black of the wrap and the hood panel, which is a little smaller, will become a pocket on the back.

**Dying to get to work**

After overlocking around the outside of each of the pieces cut from the carrier, we dyed the grey pieces black in the washing machine with Dylon. The straps and off cuts came out a lovely dark black colour (I know black is a dark colour, but let’s say, not wishy washy) which the customer was very happy with. The grey bits now match the black bits from the Lara wrap.

There was enough of a panel to make the front or back of the bag with the image of the tree and animals in the centre. There was also a smaller piece with some of the image in that it was decided would become the pocket. The customer chose to have the pocket from the Absolute Bobbins bag on the back of the bag as she wanted a full panel of the image on the front.

But with a bit of tweaking and stitching of off cuts, a new pocket panel was created with the vibrant purple of the wrap down each side, over a black panel. The customer still chose to have this pocket panel on the back to show off the beautiful purple tree fully on the front. Good choice.

The cloth is lovely to work with – it sews together nicely and lines up well. The unpicked hem lines are hidden by the restitching and the dyed grey cloth parts – now black – match the black of the original wrap cloth.

The lining of the bag matches the purple of the Lara wrap really well and compliments the overall look – it’s a kind of Cadbury purple.

Inside there is a clip to keep your keys safe and a strap handle attached to the bag with small, black rings. the bag is finished off with a purple zip to match the purple of the Lara.

I do love a job that isn’t completely snip and sew. I like having to be optimistic about a project, that it will work and become something. And if it doesn’t the first time, thinking your way around it. I like when customers put their faith in me, and I am able to create what I have imagined in my mind. You might not be able to pull it off, exactly, every time, but it feels great when you can!


Co-ordinating zips

Busy as a bee with cloth from the Honeycomb Loom

Making bags from wrap cloth means that each commission is very different from the last. The blends of fibres used to make the weft and the warp of the cloth, produce many different textures, colours and even smells. Some are quite difficult to work with in terms of bag making. As wraps, the blends are often what makes the cloth as amazing as it is to use while baby-wearing. But even sewing straight hems on some can be a task and a half when working with the more robust blends.

Fear not with the Honeycomb Loom cloth. This wonderful 100% cotton material is sold by the metre for wrap making, accessory making – the uses are endless. The cloth is a collaboration between Firespiral Slings and Baie Slings, and from the perspective of bag making, this is a dream cloth to work with.

From the moment I started cutting out the pattern, it was obvious that this cloth was going to behave itself. I’ve worked with Firespiral Slings’ cloth for a long time and occasionally find the looser weave materials don’t lend themselves well to bag making as they start to fray before you can get the edges overlocked. I used the Honeycomb Loom Sea cloth. I overlocked each piece of the pattern to a reinforcing fabric to stabilise the bag once the parts are all sewn together. Sometimes the cloth can stretch a little, especially while overlocking around curves. But the Honeycomb stayed put – keeping its shape. Hemming the strap was easy as the cloth simply rolled and flattened as I ran it through the sewing machine. The cloth has a shimmery sheen despite being a flat colour, and when paired with different coloured linings, zips and rings, shows off beautiful hues.

The Honeycomb Loom will shortly be launching their website shop where people will be able to order. Until then, I am able to source the cloth for bag making direct from them.

Colours available are the wonderfully-named Love, Sea, Coal, Kiss, Leaf, Juice and Stone.

This bag, in any of the colours, can be ordered by messaging Absolute Bobbins through the site here or via the Facebook page.


Working with super charity Carriers For Kos

There are times when Facebook drives me potty with its teethwhitening, leggings-touting adverts. But then there’s that one time when a post makes so much sense and alters your path a little.

Months ago I spotted a post by charity Carriers for Kos. They are a group of parents in the north west of England collecting used baby carriers to send to help refugee families fleeing war torn parts of the world.

I know the benefit of carrying my kids. As well as soothing my incredibly colicky eldest, it helped me with the school run when I had my second baby. I could still hold hands with my now non-colicky preschooler as we chatted on the way home. The journey was just short of a mile and it was a nice time to talk about his day while his sister slept in the sling.

So if that neat collection of fabric and buckles can help me with a straight forward job like the school run, imagine how useful it would be aiding families to get away from the shit that is war. Collecting just the belongings you can carry, coordinating your family to get everybody to a safer place.

It sounds incredibly naive comparing these two jobs. They are nothing alike. But the carrier is beneficial in either scenario.

Carriers For Kos soon realised that for these people, time is of the essence, and families can be shown how to use carriers safely and relatively quickly. Children are up off the ground, close to their carer, who now has their hands free.

Some lovely people also donated woven wraps and ring slings which have been auctioned off or ‘dipped’ to raise money for the charity. The charity felt that the time it would take to ensure families were wrapping safely might impede their journeys so decided against sending the wraps.

So this is how Absolute Bobbins ended up converting a wrap to bags for the charity to dip. I contacted Rebekah from the charity through the Facebook page Carriers For Kos and asked if there was a spare wrap that they planned on dipping. A dip allows, for example, 50 people to pay £2 each for an imaginary raffle ticket. A number is then drawn at random and that number wins the wrap. Easy.

Rebekah said she had a few spares and would send me one to convert for the charity. I was sent a lovely Polish Little Frog wrap in beautiful greens and blues. I happily chopped and stitched and sent two of my baby wearing bags back to Rebekah to dip. There’s also a nameless Girasol bag on the way to them soon.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the dipped bags do and what they raise to support refugees in the future. To get involved and find out more about what they do, check out:

http://www.carriersforkos.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/878450718889374/?fref=ts


Turquoise bag

Who will buy…my bags!?

Sunday, June 12th, sees the launch of the Absolute Bobbins shop here on the site. A very small run of just five ready-made Firespiral Slings’ babywearing bags will be on sale from 3pm, with the option of payment via PayPal and cards.

This is a small release to ensure that the process and system runs smoothly. It is the first time the bags have been sold via this site, as previously they have been for sale through the Firespiral Slings website.

It’s an exciting and scary time, as this is the next step for Absolute Bobbins as a business. Hopefully everything will run like clockwork.

I will be adding to the shop as often as possible and will announce any new stock via my Facebook page also. The order book is still running, so custom sewing slots are always on offer – just get in touch via the Absolute Bobbins Facebook page.