Friday, June 14, 2024
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Marketplace: A New Design

Patterned tote bags
Patterned tote bags

I’ve been preparing for spring and summer art & craft and vendor events, and working my way through new ideas and new materials and equipment.

I’ve long wanted to print some of my designs on fabric items and finally purchased a heat press to use with commercial quality fabric transfers, imprinting colorfast full-color images permanently onto fabric. I’ve been holding off on trying out my heat press until I’m ready because I know I’ll be overwhelmed by the ideas I’ll have and the number of things I’ve been dreaming about that I can now make. With this I can use commercial quality fabric transfers, otherwise known as iron-ons with the heat press being the iron, to “print” my designs on any amenable surface that can take the heat of the heat press. The largest transfer I can get is 11 x 17, but I can work with that. I’m envisioning placemats, napkins, dish towels, tablecloths, tees and other garments, pillows and other fabric housewares, apparel and accessories—and totes, as you see above, “Inscrutable Patterns” and “22 Cats”.

I played around with imprinting on canvas and making the tote bags you see above—they are not for sale yet, I need to streamline the printing and sewing first. I chose two designs that repeat well on products and are popular already. For now I’m working with 11 x 17 as my fabric size because I don’t want to use a partial transfer or waste any on scraps. From that size, I need to take at least an inch off of each dimension for the seams, and that leaves me with a bag that’s 10″W x 16″H, or 16″W x 10″H. The 16″ dimension is okay, but the 10″ dimension really doesn’t work to fit things we need in a tote. It might someday make a nice purse with a zip top or with a flap, but I decided to design with one of the popular styles I see pretty regularly, and saw sold by several vendors at the cat show, including a few inches of black fabric at the bottom of the bag to make it 12 or 13 inches tall. Likely with “Inscrutable Patterns” I would use various dark colors instead of black.

The drawback about this design is it takes a lot of sewing for a simple tote, and I like sewing, but it also means I need to charge more. And whatever I make in my feline lines of merchandise I’ll also be making for my nature & wildlife lines of merchandise so I need to plan carefully. I like to keep my basic gift items in the $15 to $20 range so they are affordable, and I still need to make a little money from each sale to feed the kitties. They deserve it for being such inspirations. And as a business owner I need to keep my income and expenses, including my time, in line. I hate having to tell myself “no” when I’m carried away by an idea, but someone has to do it.

I may simply start out by imprinting on pre-made totes, so we’ll see how it goes. I hope to have the first of these items ready for my first event this spring, Saturday, April 7, to benefit Pet Search Rescue. In the meantime, let me know your ideas on this. Is the bag above worth $20 or $25? Would a smaller bag without the black detailing be fine with you? I’d love to hear.


two black cats with sewing machineSewing is a family affair.

Take a look at other new merchandise and featured artwork.

Marketplace is a feature on The Creative Cat to share the latest coming out of my studio with my readers. Once a week on Thursday I feature something new in my “shop”.

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Find out more about creating custom items for your own home using the images you see here. Visit the “Ordering Custom Art” page to see samples and read bout how to order.

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Weekly schedule of features:

Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life

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Tuesday: Rescue Stories

Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork

Thursday: New Merchandise

Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy

Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats

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From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

7 thoughts on “Marketplace: A New Design

  • These are gorgeous! And I’ll be needing a tote soon. I think the cost is reasonable. I like the larger tote but I’ll go with whatever size works out best for you. The idea of a purse is intriguing for the future, too. I really like the design on the left with its brightness of color!

    • Thanks so much, Catwoods! I’ll probably go with the smaller tote for now and then branch out to the larger ones when I get my studio and upstairs organized so my sewing machine is handy. The purse is interesting for me to0, the larger piece of “fabric” would accommodate it.

      I think the pattern on the one on the left is a little too big, even on the bigger tote. I think the cats have to be a little smaller, like if there were one or two more cats horizontally. Still playing with that.

  • They are beautiful! You must be so excited! I like the bigger ones and (assuming I had more of an income) would happily pay $25. However, I have recently been enjoying the convenience of smaller bags, ones I can load a lot of stuff into but maybe not file folders or a lunch pail. Smaller bags are nice if they have a partition or a dividing pocket. Good luck!

    • Thanks so much, Mollie! I am totally excited to be able to successfully follow through with ideas I’ve had for a decade or more. I really appreciate you note about the smaller bag. For a small proprietor for me, a smaller investment is always safer, as is several smaller items sold at a lower price, and therefor more likely to sell, than one larger item that would sell at a higher price. Perhaps someday if I achieve the distinction of Laurel Burch, for instance (laughing at myself), I would then go with a larger bag.

  • walksoftlyand

    The totes are lovely! I don’t think you need to make yourself crazy with the separate black pieced section at the bottom, though. Keep it simple for yourself.

    • Thank you, Meg! If sewing was my main craft, as it is with the others I’d seen at the cat show, it would make more sense, but for now it’s probably too much trouble.


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