Cross-Body Bags: Prototypes and Two OOAKs

Colors, Design & Designers, Geek out!, Leveling Up

My book bag project inspired me to try sewing cross-body bags. As usual, the first step is making prototypes to try out different fabrics and proportions. It only took two tries – the photo below shows my second attempt – to find something both pleasing and functional.

It must mean I’ve gained more experience points. Lovely!

I also made two one-of-a-kinds to sell. They’re both made with lightweight cotton duck (canvas) off the bolt and have accents pieced together from various quilting cottons; inside there’s a pocket.

 

I’m quite pleased with how they turned out. Perfect for rainbow lovers, from the reading kind to the parade kind and everything inbetween. 🙂

The wide accent stripes in a rainbow of colors were inspired by how a spectrograph disperses white light into color spectra (and originally made waaay back). The burgundy red bag has 18 colors, the navy 17 in the accent stripe. As usual, there’s more photos on Flickr.

Behind the Scenes: Some Small Photo Props

Arts & Crafts, Behind the Scenes, Fabrics & Materials, My Spaces

I’m prepping to list another bunch of products in my Etsy store. My office / workroom looks like some kind of weird small item bomb went off, leaving photo prop shrapnel behind. My favorite is perhaps the toothbrush in the middle of the table.Small Photo Props

Also, as you can see on the left side – the sun is shining! Yay! I’ve felt so sun-deprived this winter, it’s a relief that spring is finally here.

Colors: The Story of the PGH Logo

Behind the Scenes, Colors, Design & Designers

I was asked what the Playfully Grownup logo is and where it comes from. I’ll give you two answers: a short and a long one.

Short answer:

I created it on the basis of a piece of historical embroidery from Finland. It’s meant to evoke a window or a house and to appear in multiples with a rainbow-like effect rippling through the squares. The different colors refer to inclusiveness and human diversity, both physically, mentally and culturally.

Long answer:

I created the logo on the basis of a piece of historical embroidery from Finland. When I was brainstorming the logo, I looked at everything I could think of. For a while, I was working on a pattern I got from photographing a print fabric, cropping a section and re-coloring it in various ways. In the end I wasn’t very taken with it, so out it went. Not to mention the potential copyright issues – this fabric was still in production a year or two ago, and even if my usage might be considered de minimis *and* transformational, it was a can of worms I didn’t want to open.

I was also inspired to look at my old textile history files. I got into textile history originally through the Society of Creative Anachronism (SCA) and live action role-play (LARPing), but I also chose topics related to textile history in my formal studies. One of my minors at the university was Finnish and comparative ethnology. In addition to barn type distributions, oven types vis-a-vis food traditions, wooing customs, informant interview techniques and whatnot, I read on Finnish folk costumes and traditional Finnish hand sewing techniques and materials. (Come to think of it, so much of my textile history reading was outside school. I really should have been smarter and found a way to get credit for it!)

There was a pattern book I was particularly interested in and used a lot. I *think* it’s Theodor Schvindt’s book Ompelu- ja nauhakoristeita (publ. Helsinki SKS, 1992). Unfortunately, my notes and the copies I made from the book got separated, so I can’t be sure anymore. In any case, I copied a few of the patterns into .bmp files. (Quaint, eh? 🙂 ) Here’s one of the images I painstakingly created:

Kuvio2 w Arrow

Some Finnish folk embroidery patterns. The red arrow points to the section I used as the basis for my business logo.

The image has several snippets of embroidery patterns. I believe most came from apron hems or hand towel endblocks or similar flat textiles. I mostly copied just enough to see how the pattern elements repeat; the full patterns / textiles were quite magnificent. In this image, the pattern on upper left caught my eye, especially the center of the rightmost motif. (I’ve blown it up and circled the motif center in the image.) I grabbed that section only…

SquarePNG…and started playing around with it. Here’s a collage of just some of the intermediate stages in the development process:

Logo Development Collage

1. Turning the original design 45 degrees and multiplying a small section. 2. Copying the original design as a tile. 3. Making a panel with two rows of the original design and experimenting with different colors.

Turning the original design 45 degrees and multiplying a small section didn’t pan out – see (1) in the image above. Copying the original design as a tile (2) looked more promising. Nothing really grabbed me, however, until I made a panel with two rows of the original design (3). That created a whole new focal point, the “window”, and I decided to use that as the basic building block for my logo. Then it was just a matter of experimenting with different colors and repeats. At one point I even played around with adding a “roof”, but that idea didn’t live long.

For my business card, I made a few rows of blocks for the top and bottom:

Business Cards 1st BatchI initially had the same design on this website, but I found it visually too heavy. Only one row of blocks looks much better.

The logo block is also less effective singly than as a panel. I think it still works just fine because two colors are more interesting than one. Below is the banner for my Etsy store’s front page:

PGH Etsy Banner 100x760

I picked the blue block as the default stand-alone doohickey, since greyish blue is my favorite color. I’ve also started to use the stand-alone block for reserving my Etsy items when I get a request:

Reserved Listing Purple

The logo is really meant to appear in multiples, however, with a rainbow effect rippling through the squares:

Thin Banner 1102x350I chose the rainbow-like effect because I like having color around. For me, colors are an aspect of happiness, and increasing my happiness was one reason for starting this business. I was also thinking of inclusiveness. It’s staggering how diverse both physically, mentally and culturally humans are. While I’m not interested in everything we humans do, I find such variety amazing. Finally, it’s also a subtle nod towards the gay pride rainbow flag. (I am not gay, but I am an ally. As a geek who has received her fair share of prejudice and dismissal for my “weird” interests, I will not intentionally inflict the same kind of pain on others.)

I also quite like how the different colors change from one block to another roughly through the color spectrum with the possibility of endless repeat. No individual block is monotone, just like people are rarely reducible into one stereotype.

The “window” logo fit my business idea (home textiles) particularly well, I thought. However, I was a little concerned over potential Microsoft Windows logo infringement accusations. (If you look at my initial color experiments in the development image, the resemblance is stronger.) It was definitely a consideration in creating the final form of the logo and why in the end I chose two-colored logo blocks for single appearances and the rainbow-like effect for multiples.

Many of the choices I’ve made are highly personal preferences. I’m under no delusion that my creation holds universal appeal. The logo works hand-in-hand with my business idea and visual taste, however, and that is quite enough for the moment. Also, it’s the first time I’ve designed a logo. It was a fascinating process, and almost as satisfying as creating something tangible. 🙂

Making Progress: Ready for the World!

Behind the Scenes, DIY, Leveling Up

Getting your products out into the world involves quite a few tasks. Making and photographing your items – apart from the initial plan and design – are just the first steps in the process. Packaging is an important step that ties in with regulations, branding and customer service. It took me several days of research, thinking and experimenting to come up with a solution that I’m happy with.

As per the federal Textile and Wool acts, I had to include fiber content, manufacturer and country of origin information. I also wanted to include care information. I wanted something that both takes my branding (logo / font) into account and is pleasing to the eye. Finally, I absolutely wanted my textiles to be protected from the elements during shipping. And I wanted simple packaging. Quite a few requirements, don’t you think?

Here is my solution:

Prisms Ready to SendThe photo above shows the first batch of my Prism pillow covers, ready to be sent out into the world. I quite like how the 18x18 size folds so that you are able to see all three colors of the pillow front. I wish I could say that was premeditated, but it was, in fact, a very happy accident I’m shamelessly taking advantage of. 😉

Achievement Unlocked: 10 Followers

Behind the Scenes, Leveling Up, Thumbs Down

This blog already has 10 followers, to my surprise:

10 Followers on PGH

Exciting, right? Unfortunately, I seem to have been hit with “follower spam” already: most of these people are advertizing something. You could almost make their “pitches” into a pseudo-conversation:

“How to Make Money Blogging!”
“Join the Excitement by Following Our Fantabulous Reality TV Series That Has Absolutely Nothing to Do with Your Life or Interests!”
“Not Sure? Then Make Money Blogging about Our Fantabulous Reality TV Series!”
“No, Really, Join The Excitement Now. It’s really Exciting!”

It’s a little demoralizing – I am writing with an actual person in mind, not a sales drone who’s fishing for clicks or followers. We already have the Do Not Call list to block unsolicited sales calls and spam filters to block unsolicited marketing e-mails. I wonder when the blogging industry will catch up.

For the real people who follow: Thank you. I have no doubt you’ll get company in time.