I’m sometimes asked how waterproof my waxed canvas and leather bags are. I would say they are water resistant, but not waterproof. Even though these words are sometimes used interchangeably, I don’t want my answer to be misleading. Waterproof is when an item is submerged in water and it stays dry. However, water resistant is when water wicks away when it touches a surface.
When I was looking for material to make my bags, I was looking for something that would be water resistant. However, most water resistant materials on the market are plastic or chemically coated. It was pretty tough looking for something that was naturally treated. However, I did find it from a rare textile company that still exists from the 1830’s.
The lightly waxed canvas I use has a proprietary natural blend of waxes that coats the canvas. The canvas itself is pretty tough, but this extra treatment makes water just wick away. This makes for a textile that is truly special.
Over the last few months I’ve been trying to source a leather that is as beautiful as the bridle leather that I’ve been using this far. There’s a couple reasons why I’m doing this. First, bridle leather has become harder to source and when you do find it, it is very expensive. Secondly, I’m looking for a leather that is slightly more flexible. The bridle leather was great for tote straps, but it was a little too stiff for the crossbody strap, so I’ve been using a cowhide leather for that.
Fortunately, one of my leather suppliers has found this Italian vegetable tanned leather for me. It’s exactly what I’m looking for. It’s slightly less stiff than the bridle leather and is very good quality. It’s an expensive leather still (in the world of leathers), but the quality is worth it. Like I said before, as a micro-business I can’t really compete on price too much when it comes to my bags, but I believe my customers favour quality over quantity. I would like to think that my bags are reasonably priced for the quality you get.
I just got some custom stamps made recently for the bag hang tags. I really liked the way they turned out; clean and simple. The manila one is an information tag for how to care for your waxed canvas bag. The white one is a little Thank You card to my customers.
When I started Modern Coup, one of the things I wanted to do was to create something that will last. Making a quality product for my customers is important to me. It’s also good for the environment when people don’t have to keep on buying more things.
Having control from start to finish on how I make my bags allows me to reduce waste in my process. For a batch of totes, only a small sandwich bag full of waxed canvas fabric goes to waste. Please see my blog post about that. However, there are going to be scraps of fabric that I can’t do anything with and that’s where H& M comes in.
I’ve seen the ads from H&M where customers are able to bring back used clothing or home textiles to be recycled. To my knowledge this is the first of it’s kind in the fashion industry. I contacted their head office and asked if I can also recycle my fabric scraps and I was very happy to hear that they will accept it. Since I use all natural materials that can be recycled, this brings my business to almost zero waste and be truly sustainable.
I hope that other makers, producers and manufacturers will use this service. This is what H& M Garment Collecting does:
I’ve been working on designing a daypack backpack for the last 6 months. To be honest, I haven’t used a backpack since university and find myself needing one now. Oftentimes, I’m carrying my 1 year old little man around and need to carry all my stuff hands free. For me, it’s one part work bag and one part diaper bag.
I think there comes a point in our lives where we have to re-visit the backpack, whether you’re biking to work, using it because you’re a mom or dad, or you just like the freedom of using a backpack. My question is, how do I design a backpack that looks professional (not like you’re still in high school), is functional and gender neutral?
I came up with the initial design last October, so this is version #2. I want this bag to be really versatile, so other than a backpack it can be a briefcase and a shoulder bag. This would work with either an added shoulder strap or interchangeable straps.
I’m pretty happy with this design. I’m using it right now to test and overall I like it. The shoulder straps are comfortable and the front pockets are useful to put my scarf, umbrella and water bottle in. It carries all my belongings in 4 separated inside pockets, along with my 13″ MacBook Air laptop.
There are still a couple of minor adjustments to be made. I would like it to carry a 15″ MacBook Pro, so the size needs to be slightly bigger and perhaps the backpack straps can be detachable.
I used to use leather labels for the bags when I first started Modern Coup, about 2.5 years ago (see here). They were beautiful, but very difficult to attach onto the lining of the bag due to its thickness. After a while, I started using a fabric ink stamp.
Well, this year, I decided to bring leather labels back. What’s the difference now? I’m using a lighter weight or thinner vegetable tanned leather. What I used to use was too thick for the labels and so it was difficult to stitch through.
I had this solid brass stamp made for Modern Coup when I first started this micro-business.
For the last month or so I’ve been working on a unisex backpack. I came up with this initial design that is simple and sleek. I wanted to incorporate a full zipper top for the Daypack to keep belongings secure. I like the look of it, but not the function. It’s simply too tall. When I open this up, I have to look way down the bag to look for my belongings. I think it would be best to avoid the fold-over top all together.
This is a very preliminary design. I’ll keep on working at it, but I don’t think it will be ready until sometime next year. It takes a while to make something good enough to sell. The Field Bags took me about a year to get it to the point where I’m happy with it.
I don’t have a big selection of bags in the shop and there’s a reason why. I only put out designs that I’m proud of and that have been tested. The truth is, I could probably churn out a bunch of mediocre stuff faster and sell them. That’s not what I want though. We already have enough stuff that we can buy; more plentiful and cheaper. It’s the race to the bottom. Someone will always do it cheaper, but not better.
I think a good bag should focus on design, materials and craftsmanship. I hope you’ll agree that we don’t need more waste in the world, but better things.
This waxed canvas piece was cut from the pattern I made for it. Pattern drafting is probably the most technical skill there is in sewing. You have to do calculations, measure, fit the pattern to test and maybe do it all over again until you have as perfect a pattern as possible. I always remember my couture sewing class teacher say that when your pattern is good, your end product will be good (to sew up anyway). She used to be an engineer that calculated how much concrete a building project will take before becoming a fashion design teacher.
I made the Petite Purses available for sale this past summer. With an online business, taking nice photos of the bags are important. However, we always have to plan whatever we do around the kids. My husband and I usually take them wherever we go and that includes taking photos.
We decided that the Woodward’s Building would be a good place to go. First, it’s a nice location and more importantly, there’s something for the kids to do to keep them busy.
Here’s Christian taking some test shots, while Pax was playing with Nol.
My husband helps me take the professional shots of the bags usually. Our goal that day was just to get 1 good photo of the Brown Petite Purse on me to show the relative size of the bag. We’re always multi-tasking, so we’ve got our eyes on the boys while trying to get the shot. We got this one, so we did what we needed. Then it’s time to let the boys play.
The Woodward’s Building is a good place to have coffee and hang out. The bottom of the building is commercial and the floors on top are residential. There’s a mini-basketball court inside and a long winding staircase that goes up to a school and the residence. As you can see, the staircase can help burn off some energy.
Well, I’m now 39 weeks pregnant and baby doesn’t want to come out yet, so I thought I would update the blog. This past summer, other than making stock for Fall/Winter, I also got the Field Bags done…finally.
The Field Bags are now in the shop, but there is just a limited number in stock. It took me about a year to design this bag and get it to the point where I’m happy about the final product. Here’s the development of this bag in 3 phases.
I designed this bag initially upon the request of my husband. He’s an avid photographer and wanted me to make him a small to medium sized bag where he can put his camera, iPad and personal belongings into. I also felt that there is a limited choice out there for a masculine looking bag for men to put their effects. I see these small little cross-body bags that sometimes guys carry and they do not look masculine at all. My goal, though, was also to make it look unisex, so women can also wear it.
PHASE 1: The 1st prototype, as shown below, was made about a year ago. My husband put it through the test and did like it, but he found that it was too small and I wasn’t happy about the way the closure worked.
I’ve been working on creating stock recently. Right now I’m making 30 medium zipper totes. The totes have a full solid brass zipper at the top to keep everything secure. Many of my customers look for this feature, as many bags are just open or have a snap button.
Why don’t more bags have a full zipper then? The answer is that it takes time to put on a zipper.
Hi Everyone. I hope you had a nice weekend. It was raining with some sunny periods this weekend in Vancouver. My family and I mostly stayed indoors, so I don’t have any exciting places that we went to to share with you.
I got back into the studio this morning and what a happy Monday it is! (I bet you don’t hear that often). The European bridle leather I ordered was delivered to me this morning. I ordered it over a month ago and it’s finally here. I have tried other leathers, but I keep coming back to this one even though it is a much more expensive option to use for my bags.
I asked the supplier to cut up the leather into 2″ wide pieces, so it makes it easier to transport (see image 1 above). When I work with it, I hand-cut the leather to the required widths, depending on which bag it is going on. In image 4, you can see that I just went crazy and cut enough leather for 40 medium zipper totes.
To begin, I should discuss what bridle leather is and why I like to use it so much.
This past weekend, I spent both Saturday and Sunday mornings cutting out lightly waxed canvas fabric for my tote bags (my husband and parents took care of my little man, so I could do some work). I wanted to document how much waste is involved in my production method and share that with you.
I cut enough material for 6 medium size totes and 8 small size totes. I’m proud to say that VERY little is thrown away.
So for 14 bags, only a tiny pile of lightly waxed canvas fabric is garbage. It’s hard to tell from the picture on the left how much that really is, so I put it in a sandwich bag to show you the scale. I love this textile so much that I don’t want to waste any part of it, if I can, and it’s important that my business doesn’t impact the environment negatively.