Tag Archives: design


craftsy stocking

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving surrounded by family and friends, the countdown has begun for the biggest holiday shopping weekend of the year. Why not give the gift of making?

We, as designers, each have unique skills and talents. Offering someone your time and expertise can be a truly thoughtful gift to give or receive, as much as it is to create something uniquely yours. At this time of year, everyone is flocking to shopping malls and madly scrambling to get everyone on their ¨naughty-or-nice¨ list something… anything. Material items often breakdown or requires batteries, or soon become outdated or forgotten and collecting dust, but the memories of sharing an experience or learning something new can last a lifetime. So may I suggest to all of you who may have a budding sewer, knitter, quilter, crocheter, photographer, gardener, baker, artist, jewellery-maker, cake decorator, cook, embroiderer, wood-worker, weaver, scrapbooker, or perhaps even treat yourself, on your gift list to present them with the gift of creating and making. I’ll be offering special gift subscriptions to my Craftsy class, MAKING LEATHER BAGS with Don Morin, or you may wish to peruse the many hundreds of crafts and disciplines offered by Craftsy and their expert instructors from around the world. Each one makes a great stocking-stuffer and a thoughtful gift.

When planning your gift-giving, think about who the recipient is and what he or she values. Recall what they may be passionate about or what makes them happy and joyful. Use this to inspire heartfelt, personalized, and thoughtful gifts from you that will be remembered and appreciated.

Think about a skill or craft that you can share by subscribing to instructional lessons for a loved one or learn a craft yourself and design your own. It’s a wholesome way to spend time with a special person and share your passions. All Craftsy classes are available 24/7, anytime you want, whenever you want, and all have a 100% money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied. Most of all, many have big savings for the holidays just for you, beginning with Black Friday and Cyber Monday through to the Twelve Days of Craftsy.

The 12 Days of Craftsy… mark your calendars and get ready for the holidays with a new amazing deal each day from Craftsy. Yes… a new offer each day with big savings! Offers go up daily at 12:01AM and taken down at 11:59PM daily (Mountain Time) beginning December 1. 

Click here for today’s offer and use the daily promo code.

Select gifts that let your loved ones know you see their true selves or applaud their inner creativity. This year, change your holiday shopping routine to bring ease instead of stress and give the gift of making. Embrace the spirit of the season and take the time to put thought and care into each and every selection you give and encourage their sense of learning and adventure. It’s the best way to create the joy and anticipation of giving and receiving this holiday season and throughout the year.

Save 50% off the regular price of my online design class, MAKING LEATHER BAGS with Don Morin by clicking on this link below:




Filed under Bag'n-telle, craftsy, holiday gift-giving


Three. The popular number has made its way into every aspect of the world’s creative cultures, from artists to photographers, playwrights to authors, inventors to designers; — all use the Rule of Three. When thinking of concepts for new bag styles, the solution can often lie in the simple adherence to this rule and shifting things around accordingly.

The basic idea of the rule is details and objects that appear in odd numbers are more appealing, memorable, and effective than even-numbered pairings. While it is easier to create symmetry by balancing elements in twos, this design trinity helps shape more interesting concepts, creates better visual appeal, enhances user-functionality and establishes a smarter balance. When we view our surroundings, we do so with two eyes. The brain automatically views things in pairs whenever symmetry is presented. By using an odd number, like three, it forces us to go back and have a longer, second look and as designers that is what we want to create — a memorable, effective, appealing fashion image.

Remember that accessory designers have elements of design like line, texture, colour, pattern, silhouette and space to aid them in creating new ideas. The design principles are the rules behind the way these elements are arranged in a given space. Call it spatial arrangement. In handbag design, placement and space management is the difference between the best and the rest.

Four cardinal areas of spatial arrangement implore the rule of three:

  • Silhouette – whole or paneled: For maximum impact, your vertical panels should not exceed three. The greater the number of panels, the more crowded, the less visual appeal and the greater the degree of achieving harmony within the style.
  • Colour – Do not use more than three hues in your bag design. Try groups of three in various colour schemes and palettes. Only very few fashion designers can handle high degrees of colour contrasts. Usually, you should maintain consistency with one dominant colour, with tones or varieties of that hue, and a splash of an accent colour. Use your colour wheel as a guide. This is where the knowledge of colour contrast and harmony comes in handy. You must know about complimentary and contiguous colour schemes. Colour principle is necessary if you do not want your design to look like child’s play (children’s coloring book) instead of a professional fashion idea.
  • Patterns – Here, you should not use more than three pattern styles or types on the same design. The designer-friendly combos are to use a print, with a stripe or checks, along with a solid.  Ideally, all the colours should be selected from those found in the print. Using multiple prints does not show consistency in design. Also do not use a variety of contrasting stitching on surfaces; keep it consistent throughout the design.
  • Space – Don’t confuse space with shapes. Some designers may call this negative shape. Here, there should be three spatial arrangements or less: The first area is called the foundation, the second area is the “carrying” mechanism, and the final area is the focal point (sometimes introduced into fashion design as emphasis).

In design, the rule serves as a tool for building drama and harmony in a style. The principle must remain at the back of your mind whenever you arrange shapes, colours, patterns, and space in your bag design project. These elements must work in synergy to create a stylish and professional look that portrays well. Your handbag design will always be above-average if you use the principle of “The Rule of Three” as a guide.


Filed under Design Insight


Photo Credit: Sourcing at MAGIC

As you might imagine the design considerations for making a tote bag out of stiff heavy canvas to carry groceries are quite different than those for a dainty evening bag made of soft velveteen fabric with a lot of beaded trim. Sometimes we have to skive, cement, fold, split and bind. There are zippers as well as fasteners to install. Several layers of fabric in one place have to smoothly flow into one layer without producing unsightly lumps that jam under presser feet when sewn. The parts must be capable of being assembled in such a way that the operations can be done easily and accurately time after time.

Besides the design considerations that pertain to the actual making of the product, there are other factors to consider. The product must be designed to meet the needs of the maker. In other words, the bag design needs to be functional and not only pretty. What is it going to carry? Is it for daily use or only for special occasions? Does it have one purpose or multi-faceted? It helps to know how you intend to use it.  What is important to you about a handbag –  light-weight, security, organization, etc? Make a wishlist about what you want this handbag to do for you. These requirements need not limit the degree of sophistication of the finished product nor the quality of the components.  You can work to produce the best-looking fashion accessory for your own needs, within the given constraints.

I often make bags from cotton duck or canvas accented with leather, but there are many other possibilities for handbag fabrication. With my exposure to high fashion materials as a designer, I became convinced that other fabrics could make a superior product when combined with leather than simply cotton duck or canvas. Most of the equipment and supplies used for do-it-yourself projects and general sewing can be used to sew handbags.  Some extra tools are needed, but none are expensive and the use of them will ensure the success of your project and simplify each step of the process. It may not be quite Louis Vuitton or Hermes but the finished details look very professional and attractive. You can do the same.

There is a practical aspect to all this. You get one-of-a-kind styling with all the key features and details you desire; in the fabric, texture, and colour to compliment your wardrobe and lifestyle.

Other limitations that may occur is the availability of supplies. Fashion designers have the benefit of access to trade-only suppliers and often years in advance, before these raw materials become common in the marketplace. So, you will have to work with whatever is available through your favourite retailers. Having said that, the availability of supplies is growing. In larger cities you may find specialty retailers that carry many of the items you will need, while in smaller towns you may have to depend upon catalog mail-order. Many suppliers can be found on-line offering variety and quality, allowing you to eliminate the “middle man” by buying direct from the source.

I can tell you that before a single sketch is drawn or any pattern drafted, fashion designers source out and pre-purchase materials and supplies to sample at tradeshows. Here is where they find their creative inspiration from the abundance offered in colour, texture, and pattern. It simplifies the design process. Your fabric selection will dictate the shape and function of your design. It is ideally more practical and time/labour saving to work with the resources available to you, rather than design a product, then go search for its parts and components. For instance, say you wish to have a buckle on your shoulder strap. If the only buckle available to you has a 2-inch inner diameter, then you draft a 2-inch wide strap pattern to ensure the proper fit in assembly.

Do as the experts do, search and acquire your materials and supplies before beginning to design and  simplify the process.

The design and formation of any designer bag is based upon simple body shapes when laid flat, fit into a square or rectangle, of which the size depends on the final shape and parameters of the pattern. Here are some basic considerations to keep in mind in planning your bag design and supply sourcing:

  • every bag has some kind of focal point: often it is the top or the ‘opening’ that adds this interest; it can be a flap, a frame, a zipper, or a draw-cord detail.
  • the ‘body’ will have 5 planes: front, back, bottom, and 2 ends.
  • begin by drafting the pattern (square or rectangle) into a grid and plan out the body of the design.
  • the next step is to create a top finishing for the design and to allow seam allowance for its attachment (this may be incorporated as a single unit onto the body or its parts).
  • also consider the type of closure and hardware desired and its best application, and the type of seaming techniques that are appropriate for the design.
  • a lining, either drop-in or fixed, can be added to the interior of the bag for support and appearance.
  • pick a strap style: will it be a fixed or adjustable length? will it be attached to front and back or from side gussets? will it fit in the hand or over the shoulder?

You are well on your way to designing and creating your own fashion bag.

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Filed under Design Insight