SFC Go to The Freitag Factory

The boys’ school has a really strong and active parent community. The Welcome Committee is constantly organizing trips for wine tasting, hiking, and area tours. This time Mark and I went on a tour of the Freitag bag factory in Zurich.

I’ve seen these Freitag bags on the trams in Basel. Often I see about 10 or so in my tram car. They are distinctive and have a certain edgy sportiness about them.

Freitag bags are 100% Swiss. Back in 1993, these two brothers, Markus and Daniel Freitag, were looking for a striking bag they could use to keep their graphic design work safe and dry as they biked to work.  They wanted to use recycled materials, too.  After a lot of trial and error they settled on a combination of truck tarps, bike tire inner tubes, and seat belt straps.

So, Mark and I were excited to visit the factory with other parents from school and “maybe” pick up a bag for myself.

We had a lovely tour guide who showed us around. Our first stop was to visit the acquisitions space.IMG_3191

The people that work here are constantly on the phone or computer calling trucking companies and trying to buy their old tarps. They have a design color board that lists the preferred and priority colors the company and designers want them to find.

IMG_3190 I took a looooong look at this board and was picking the color of bag I was hoping to find. I was especially looking at the greens and blues.  At this point I don’t think Mark suspected my long-term plan.

The people who worked in acquisitions were very successful.

IMG_3192This is just one shelf of about 10 or so. They are all heaped with truck tarps of different colors. Some have been “processed” and some are still waiting to be seen.

Two guys go through and process every single tarp in the entire warehouse.  They do a few pallets a day, all day long.

First they spread them out on this cutting table. They look for holes or worn spots.

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Then they pull off those straps that secure the tarps onto the trucks. IMG_3200Then these dirty and smelly tarps are folded up and stacked on pallets. When a pallet is full a forklift will come on by and take it downstairs to the largest washing machines ever created. It could do a week’s worth of laundry for a family of 8 in one load.

Thankfully they have electric lift and carry system. These wet tarps weight about 35 pounds each!

IMG_3202The colors get cataloged and then the tarps are rolled up to look like real and usable fabric!

IMG_3201Gigantic racks of these bolts go up to the cutting room floor. The bags are actually designed in the cutting room. The different designs on the tarps gives them the opportunity to make each bag look unique. They really pride themselves on the fact that none of their bags look the same.

They have a fabric cutting table so large and fabulous I wanted to cry and plastic, non-cut-up-able pattern templates for a few of their really popular bags. I am totally going to do that for at least 2 of my bag templates.

IMG_3204 And right as I was all impressed and planning out my work space they showed me their big toy.

Laser-sighted. Programmable. Cutter.

IMG_3206 If I had an extra $50K laying around I might be able to get a small one. But, holy cats, it might be worth is just so I don’t have to actually cut anything ever again. I could probably get 20 bags cut out in the time it takes me to cut out one!

Then all those lovely bag parts are neatly stacked and labeled and packed up to go the sewing facility in another town.

IMG_3208I can’t deny that I was disappointed that the bags weren’t sewn in the Zurich facility. I really, really, really wanted to see those sewing machines (or have Mark see and then buy me one).

However, they do fix the bags here. One of the awesome things about Freitag is that if your bag rips or has a construction issue of any kind they will fix it for you. You mail it to the factory, they patch it or whatever, and then its mailed back to you.

Using my best Spy vs. Spy maneuvers I snuck over to their fix-it department and took some pictures.  Christmas is coming, Mark…

IMG_3211 IMG_3212The sewn bags are then shipped back to the factory where they are photographed in pain-staking detail for the website and hung up in a way that would make anyone with OCD feel at home.

IMG_3209I got a close up (again being where I am not supposed to be) of some bags that were getting ready to be photographed. They all look so colorful!

IMG_3193They ship their bags all over the world!  Freitag stores or other boutiques place orders for different bag types and sizes and then the good people in Zurich go through the racks of bags and select a range of colors the customers will hopefully like.They also fulfill all their online orders from here. Check out their website!

I had to buy one. I found myself very, very fond of the green colors they had. Very fresh and joyful.  The shop had over 100 bags to chose from. There was a sense of urgency from my fellow tourists as we looked through the shelves of bags. It was like a very polite Black Friday.  No pushing or shoving, but a lot of hording of potential purchases.

IMG_3698This bag has now been to Seville, all over Basel, and to Stein-am-Rhein! (Story coming next week.) It’s light, durable, and comfortable.

Not bad for a couple of guys looking to keep their stuff dry while biking to work.

Can’t Get Away from Fabric

Or thread.

(This post is especially for my friends, Kate, Cate, Mary, and Debra)

Right next to my food market is a little shopped called “Woll Street.”   This is German for “Wool Street.”  It is a Mecca for knitters, crocheters, and embroiderers.   It is jammed with yarns and threads and necessaries.

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A whole wall of Mohair yarn. Look at all the colors!!! And it’s MOHAIR. Think of the sweaters!

 

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CASHMERE! I swear to God! It’s almost enough to make me want to really learn to knit!
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Loads of wool yarn. I wish Mark’s Grandmother Florence were still alive. I would have birthday and Christmas gift for years for her.
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Rosewood and bamboo knitting needles over some amazing multi-colored yarns. I have my eye on that green yarn … there might be a scarf in there.

As inspired as I was, I did not buy yarn.   I bought a whole mess of embroidery thread and a new pattern for what is classically called a Sampler.   The woman who owns the shop was delightful.  I knew just enough German and she knew just enough English to make the transaction work.   And she said she would order anything I needed that she didn’t usually carry!  Now that is some service!

My new sewing project.  I couldn't stay away from needles and thread for long.
My new sewing project. I couldn’t stay away from needles and thread for long.

Well, I held out for almost 4 weeks.  A think it’s a new record.  Knitting might be in my future.  Maybe.  I’ll need to learn better German or get a book with instructions in English.

Maybe.  But let’s not get crazy here.

(Good Luck. Heh.)

Trunk Show Wrap-up

Thank you, thank you to everyone who came to our Accessories Trunk Show.  It was so wonderful to see all of you and I am proud to have made things you wanted for yourself or for your loved ones.

As with any show I have some things left.  Look through the pictures below and if you see something you like let me know!  I will be in Minnesota and Iowa for 2 weeks over Christmas and can deliver a bag, which saves you the cost of shipping!

A spacious to-work bag. It can hold everything from your iPad to your gym shoes. Priced at $45.
A spacious to-work bag. It can hold everything from your iPad to your gym shoes. Priced at $45.
Two ab-fab hard-sided clutches, with a delicate silver chain as a strap. Priced at $35 each.
Two ab-fab hard-sided clutches, with a delicate silver chain as a strap. Priced at $35 each.
Ingrid!  Lined with a high quality cotton in olive green and trimmed out with a sweet and subtle butterfly fabric.  Priced at $75
Ingrid! Lined with a high quality cotton in olive green and trimmed out with a sweet and subtle butterfly fabric. Priced at $75
Ingrid on the inside.  Lots of pockets and a magnetic snap closure.
Ingrid on the inside. Lots of pockets and a magnetic snap closure.
Ingrid - a view of the pop-snap closure. There are pop-snaps on each end.
Ingrid – a view of the pop-snap closure. There are pop-snaps on each end.
A knitting roll. Hold EVERYTHING that a knitter needs. Room for a ruler, scissors and all your needles. It has a needle guard on the top and rolls up to keep everything in place. Priced at $30.
A knitting roll. Hold EVERYTHING that a knitter needs. Room for a ruler, scissors and all your needles. It has a needle guard on the top and rolls up to keep everything in place. Priced at $30.

The back of the knitting roll. A really nice canvas with a whimsical cotton stripe.

All rolled up.
All rolled up.
Baubles of Cheer! I have two of these ready for you. Both are made from a lux velvet imported from Germany. This is a *real* velvet.  The burnt orange velvet has a antiqued bronze bauble top. The plum velvet has a bright silver bauble top. Priced at $35 each.
Baubles of Cheer! I have two of these ready for you. Both are made from a lux velvet imported from Germany. This is a *real* velvet. The burnt orange velvet has a antiqued bronze bauble top. The plum velvet has a bright silver bauble top. Priced at $35 each.
Marilyn! A festive red velvet holiday wristlet. It dresses up your little black dress.  Priced at $35.
Marilyn! A festive red velvet holiday wristlet. It dresses up your little black dress. Priced at $35.
A circular zipped wristlet in pink and brown polka dots. Priced at $20.  Shown with a large box bag made with a tulip fabric and a pink zip. It can hold everything!  Priced at $14.
A circular zipped wristlet in pink and brown polka dots. Priced at $20. Shown with a large box bag made with a tulip fabric and a pink zip. It can hold everything! Priced at $14.
A zip-top twist on a Penelope silhouette. It has a long black leather strap making it a great shoulder or cross-body bag.  Priced at $50
A zip-top twist on a Penelope silhouette. It has a long black leather strap making it a great shoulder or cross-body bag. Priced at $50

A view of the zip on the Penelope silhouette. You can see the lovely blue cotton lining.

Penelope!  A beautiful linen and silk blend. It's lined with a sky blue cotton and trimmed with a blue satin ribbon detail. Magnetic snap closure. Priced at $45
Penelope! A beautiful linen and silk blend. It’s lined with a sky blue cotton and trimmed with a blue satin ribbon detail. Magnetic snap closure. Priced at $45

 

If you are interested in buying any of my bags please leave a comment below.   Happy Holidays!

Accessories Trunk Show 2013

Day one of the show is now over. It was so much fun! The Indy messenger bag was sold as was the Ellie Peekaboo bag. Various box bags have gone to loving homes and some festive wristlets will adorn lovely wrists this New Year’s, but I still have a few of each left.

I also have some Penelope pin-tuck bags, Baubles of Cheer clutches, and large totes. I also have a most amazing weekender bag that is for sale. I will post some pictures of her tomorrow.

Come on down! We have lots of wonderful gifts for you and yours! And food to munch and wine to sip while you shop!

Here are just a few  pieces I have left.

A peakaboo bag in gold silk.
A peakaboo bag in gold silk.
A Marilyn wristlet in a festive holiday red.
A Marilyn wristlet in a festive holiday red.
Two ab-fab hard-sided clutches, with a delicate silver chain as a strap.
Two ab-fab hard-sided clutches, with a delicate silver chain as a strap.
A spacious to-work bag. It can hold everything from your iPad to your gym shoes.
A spacious to-work bag. It can hold everything from your iPad to your gym shoes.
Only two of my Baubles off Cheer bags!  (The purple bag is still for sale and I have an orange velvet with bronze hardware.)
Only two of my Baubles off Cheer bags! (The purple bag is still for sale and I have an orange velvet with bronze hardware.)

O time! swift devourer of all created things!

I don’t know if Da Vinci felt like time was being eaten away or if he was being eaten by time when he said this in his  Thoughts on Art and Life, but I feel like time is eating me up.  Our Accessories Trunk Show is approaching at light speed!  December 14th and 15th from 2:30 until 6:00pm.   Jana, Cate, and I have been  finalizing the menu (food and drinks), finishing up projects, and gearing up to set the displays.

And speaking of displays, my lovely husband Mark has been building me a whole new display with hooks and a mirror and prettiness! I need to paint part of it today and then we’ll be stretching some fabric onto it and screwing in some hooks or drawer knobs.  I’m excited about it. A lot of my bags look better hanging up than sitting on a table.

Until I can post pictures of that I thought I’d show a few things available at the show.

A Marilyn wristlet in a festive holiday red.
A Marilyn wristlet in a festive holiday red.
A Classic Envelope Clutch.  Truly lovely.
A Classic Envelope Clutch. Truly lovely.
Indy. A rugged messenger bag.
Indy. A rugged messenger bag.

 

Another Marilyn in a lovely gold silk.
Another Marilyn in a lovely gold silk.
A spacious to-work bag. It can hold everything from your iPad to your gym shoes.
A spacious to-work bag. It can hold everything from your iPad to your gym shoes.
Two ab-fab hard-sided clutches, with a delicate silver chain as a strap.
Two ab-fab hard-sided clutches, with a delicate silver chain as a strap.
A peakaboo bag in gold silk.
A peakaboo bag in gold silk.
Only two of my Baubles off Cheer bags!
Only two of my Baubles off Cheer bags!

I have lots more to show you – including some really nice stocking stuffers – but you’ll have to come see them in person!  December 14th and 15th from 2:30 until 6pm.  3813 Woodridge Avenue.   I can’t wait to see you!

 

P.S. WordPress suggests tags from time to time. This time they are recommending “NASA,” “Niels Bohr Institute,” and “Fermi Gamm-ray Space Telescope.”   What is that all about?

 

The Seasons

The four seasons
The Four Seasons

About 2 years ago a friend of mine came to me with a request. A commission for an actual piece of art. By me. I was flattered and eager.  I took a long time sketching and finally grid-designing 4 individual wall hanging representing the four seasons.

Each piece is 32-inches wide by 60-inches tall. Each has colors that reflect the stark differences in the seasons, but that coordinate so the colors flow from one season to another.

Fall
Fall

The twisting spiral of Fall represents falling leaves. The brown earthy tones make a good neutral canvas for the flaming leaves. The white in the spiral also foretells the coming of Winter.

Summer
Summer

Here we have Summer.  When I think of summer I think of fields of peonies that were grown outside of the town I grew up in.  They were riotous cacophonies of color and I loved to stare at them.  This panel captures the joy and the rich and bountiful color of those peony fields at full summer.

Spring
Spring

To me spring is a season of hope and promise.  The fiddlehead of a fern breaks through the ground and starts unfurling toward the sky – the opposite movement of Fall.  Flowers are starting to bloom.  Not as many as we see in mid-summer and more delicate and gentle in their joy.  A quiet green starts to flood the meadows.

Winter
Winter

With winter comes the snow.   Snowflakes come swirling out of the dark night sky and the wind blows them across the yards, creating thick blankets of white crystals.  If you look carefully you can see the path of a single snowflake floating down out of the night sky.

The Four Seasons
The Four Seasons – Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall

And a few thank yous are in order. First, a thank you to Cate and John Neely who commissioned these pieces. This was a tremendous opportunity to stretch my artistic wings in a new direction. Second, a huge thank you to Michelle Ruzicka. She is not only a superb sister-in-law and awesome friend, she also helped to piece out and sew together Spring and Fall. I could never have accomplished this without her.  Third, a loving thank you to my husband, Mark Carlson, who supported me and kept the kids entertained and out of my hair while I worked.

We will be christening these pieces at our Accessories Trunk Show on December 14 and 15th. 2:30  until 6:00 pm both days.  Please come by and see them in person and raise a glass to my very first public art installation!

 

Meet Indy!

The first bag I ever made was a messenger bag for my BFF Shaun. It was Christmas and we had decided that we wouldn’t buy each other gifts. Whatever we gave to each other had to be handmade.

I got this.

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When I received it it was told that although it was, indeed, at trivet and that most trivets were, indeed, meant to hold hot things, I should *not* use it for hot things.  It still lives on my countertop. I have never put a hot pot, cup, or pan on it, but I do read the quote everyday.

I gave her a messenger bag.  It was out of some discount, end-of-the roll couch fabric from G Street. The lady who cut it for me said, “Oooo! You have good taste! This was orginally $68.00 per yard!”  I got it for $6 per yard.

I just visited her in Colorado back in September.  She still has it.  She says it’s one of her favorite bags and that she uses it to hold her gaming supplies.  And although it is her favorite she did have some comments about “bonuses” a new messenger bag could have.

So I made this one. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Meet Indy.  This bag is large enough to carry everything you need to adventure with your favorite archeologist or keep what you need to fight off a zombie apocalypse.  It’s a faux-leather material that can hold up to just about anything and had that comfortable well-loved look.  It’s got a long strap that fits comfortably across the body. It’s got *2* magnetic closures that keeps the flap from …er.. flapping.

2 snaps!
2 snaps!

 

The cavernous interior. You could hide the Ark of the Covenant in there.
The cavernous interior. You could hide the Ark of the Covenant in there.

I put 2 pockets inside to hold a phone and a wallet.  This bag is big enough to haul a laptop, an iPad, several books, and your lunch!

Ooooo! Shiny!
Ooooo! Shiny!

I also upgraded the handles. On the original bag I sewed the handles right to the bag, but this time I wanted it to have a certain look so I used some antiqued brass hardware to set it off. And those are rivets to hold the strap together!

Indy is a one-of-a kind bag! I don’t have enough of the fabric left to make another one just like her. Maybe a small one or some pouches, but this will be the only bag like this out there.

Indy will be for sale at our Annual Accessories Trunk Show December 14th and 15th. Doors open at 2:30 both days and we close up for the night at 6:00 pm.  Email me if you want more specifics about the show!

Cutest Little Box Bag Evah!!

I’ve been wanting to make one of these for years.  Ever since I got one from a student that I’d helped out at Berkeley. It’s held all those small things that have a tendency to drop into that black hole that all bags have.  That original bag is long since gone and I cannot tell you how many lipsticks, chapsticks, Lego minifigures, and sewing notions I have lost for MONTHS in my bags.

And finally, finally, I found a method and figured out a ratio for making these really awesome little box bags.  I had some time yesterday and spare zipper and some fabric leftovers that I’ve hanging onto for years because they are so cool I just can’t throw them away.  A tutorial will be coming when I have more time and I’m not getting ready for our annual Accessories Trunk Show. (December 14th and 15th!  2:30-6pm both days! Cate’s House! Bring your friends and your gift lists!!)

In the meantime,  CUTENESS!

Fits in the palm of the hand!
Fits in the palm of the hand!
Tiny Cuteness!
Tiny Cuteness!

 

Arctic Batman MiniFigure approves!
Arctic Batman MiniFigure approves!

 

A nice neat top zip that give plenty of room to put things in and get things out.
A nice neat top zip that give plenty of room to put things in and get things out.
Perfect little box for everything.
Perfect little box for everything.

 

And since I’ve figured out the magic ratio for the fabric sizes I can make them larger squares or longer rectangles.  And I *will* be making more to have at the Show.  I took this into H’s school today and the teachers kept petting it like it was a kitten.  Come early to the show because these are going to go fast!

 

 

 

 

 

OMG! The show is soon!

And again I am one third of the annual Accessories Trunk Show! The dates this year are December 14th and 15th. Doors open at 2:30pm and we are open until 6:00pm both days.

The show features knitted wonders by Jana Kirkman from Improbable Yarns and gorgeous jewelry by Cate Frazier-Neely from CAJA House Jewelry.

I will be showcasing some new handbags and some old favorites. Look for Ingrid, and Marilyn. Get ready to meet Penelope and Indy. And check back here for pictures of these girls.