Introducing Pencil Cases!
You can find them in the zippered pouch section of my shop. They are sewn with a stabilizer to make them nice and sturdy, but still machine washable (press with an iron if the stabilizer wrinkles at all during washing). They also have a flat boxed bottom allowing them to stand up on easily on their own.
They are roomy while still being compact. Look at how many things one little bag can hold! The interior lining is a coordinating cotton, kind of like a cute little surprise each time you reach inside for a pen.
I had a lot of fun designing the first one for my 3rd grader (with a bit of her own embroidery), then a second by custom request (thank you Katie!), so the final design has been thoroughly road-tested by a range of students from kindergarten to college.
Some other ways you can use this handy-sized bag:
The possibilities are endless!
If you follow my page on Facebook (look for "DancingThreadsRI" and click "like!"), you may have seen a recent photo showing a new zipper technique I tried. This served double duty, as the bag in the photo was an end-of-year gift for a teacher. Two, in fact. My gift recipients are often guinea pigs for my expanding sewing skills, but thankfully, they don't seem to mind. (I tend to do this with dinner guests too, serving recipes I've never tasted before...)
This zippered tote design is on its way to becoming the ultimate handbag. The zipper installation needs some small adjustments, and I want to add several interior pockets to make the bag truly useful. Since this is the bag that I would most likely use every day, it will be on the larger side, not a small cross-body style. It won't be nearly as large as my beach/market tote, so somewhere in between. It slings over your shoulder easily. Would you like to see what I've designed so far?
Thank you teachers!!!! I hope your summer is off to a fantastic start!
Why do so many of my products use anchor-printed fabric? I'm so glad you asked!
With Father's Day this Sunday, I wanted to gift some wine, but not in a brown paper bag. Here is a navy blue lobster tote, that will do the job nicely.
We are planning to cook lobsters for dinner that day, so I think the bag will be a hit! There are a few listed in my Etsy shop that are a bit smaller than the one shown here. Happy Father's Day!
There's been a lot of behind-the-scenes planning around here. For a variety of reasons, I've made the decision to discontinue making children's toys. Whatever is still in my shop is the last: magnetic felt fishing games and the memory matching game. The baby shoes will be strictly word-of-mouth sales (I will create a custom Etsy listing by request, though it will not be a standard product anymore), and they will be available at the Ship's Bell at the Naval War College. They're just too cute not to make!
Why? The main 2 reasons are to give my shop/brand more cohesion, and to stay true to the reason I started my business in the first place: providing alternatives to plastic bags.
You may be asking, "What about crayon rolls?" Those I still plan to make and have with me at all of my markets and festivals. They were created to provide a more functional way for parents to carry crayons for their kids (instead of in Ziplock baggies). Knitting needle organizers? Still falls under "alternatives to plastic bags," because so many fiber artists store their needles in Ziplock baggies. Do you notice a trend?
Employment questionnaires, of all things, prompted me to more clearly define my work. I very happily now fill in "self-employed" under occupation. Then what do I say when the dentist asks, "What do you do?" It was difficult to describe. My elevator pitch was a rambling one. Now I confidently respond with, "I own a business designing reusable bags." Oh yes, much better!
You will see some changes to the blog soon as well. Products I no longer intend to sell may very well turn into free sewing tutorials. By being more streamlined and efficient in my production, I hope to have more time for personal projects which I intend to share here in this space (tutorials when I can manage them).
Balance and simplify have been guiding goals for me in 2014. The blog Becoming Minimalist has been a great inspiration. My business was in need of simplification, and narrowing the focus of my shop is the best way to accomplish this. What is my hope for this business? I want to make extremely happy customers who use fewer plastic bags in their everyday lives. There are a lot of great toy makers out there, and I will be more than happy to point you in their direction. Right now, I'm energized and inspired to bring you wonderful solutions to our world's disposable plastic bag problem. There are quite a few new ideas I hope to bring to fruition this year as well.
Scoop up the games while they last!
For those of you new to this space, welcome! Today I'm going to share with you all the ways you can purchase Dancing Threads RI goodies.
Etsy--my online shop is almost always open. I close it just before and during festivals and markets (I don't want to accidentally sell an item twice if there's only one in stock), but will list a predicted re-opening date in the shop announcement.
In person--There are several events that I attend throughout Rhode Island each year. Join my email newsletter to get the latest market dates (I send the newsletter about once a month). This year I will again attend the Aquidneck Growers Market in Middletown one Saturday per month.
RaNEW Salon and Spa in Newport--my waterproof-lined zippered pouches are available at this fabulous salon on lower Thames Street.
The Ship's Bell Store--This is a fun gift shop at the Naval War College in Newport. While you must have a military ID to access the shop (or tag along with someone who does), you can find nautical-themed items from Dancing Threads RI such as baby shoes, zippered pouches, grocery bags, totes, and even crayon rolls. They even have a fabric swatch book so that you can order certain items in your favorite fabric if it's not currently in stock. All proceeds from this shop go to charities such as scholarships for graduating high school seniors in military families. It is completely run by volunteers, stop by to say hello!
Clements Marketplace--a local family-owned grocery store in my hometown of Portsmouth, RI. At the customer service desk just to the left as you enter the front door, you can find my reusable snack bags, wet bags, and mesh produce bags. This store supports many local businesses, carries specialty food items you won't find at Stop n Shop, is a pillar in our community (they donate a portion of all receipts to local schools and offer scholarships to their teenage employees going off to college), and even sells fresh shaved steak so that I can make a proper Philly cheese steak at home! Good people.
Simmons Farm--Have you been to Simmons Farm in Middletown, RI? It is an organic farm here on Aquidneck Island that offers meat, eggs, vegetables, cow's milk, cow and goat milk cheeses, yoghurt, and the most recent addition: salted caramels made with their own goat's milk. Heaven, I tell you. These caramels are unbelievably good (and come in a coffee flavored variety as well). If you purchase the large bag of caramels in a fabric gift bag--the bag was handmade by me. Full disclosure: my family has been year-round CSA members for about 4 years. We adore this farm and all that they strive to do. It's a bonus that they support local artisans and chose me to make the goodie bags for their caramels. They have a petting zoo open on CSA days (please read and follow the posted rules), the farm stand is open most afternoons (check the times which vary by season), and they participate in several local farmer's markets.
By email--last-but-not-least, I am happy to take orders for items that may not be listed in my Etsy shop or on my table at a festival/market. Send me an email or Facebook message. I'm just a one-woman operation--it's impossible for me to have everything available in every fabric at all times (here's a post I wrote last year about wearing the many hats that is running an handmade business). I also may not have had a chance to photograph and list items that are in stock. Which is why I'm so happy to make you a produce bag in pink anchors, or a crayon roll with pirates instead of the ABC fabric that you see on Etsy right now. As long as the fabric is readily available and it's an item that I already have available in my product line, it's available to order. More on fabric and how it quickly goes out of print in another post.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!
You're using cloth shopping bags instead of plastic grocery bags. Check.
You're using reusable snack bags instead of Ziplock. Check.
What about plastic produce bags?
Mesh produce bags are perfect for the grocery store!
Apples, oranges, bell peppers, carrots, onions, potatoes, broccoli, asparagus, shallots, garlic, eggplant, squash--have you given a thought to how many plastic produce bags you bring home each week to be recycled?
Each bag is quite sturdy, constructed with French seams. This means no frayed edges shedding threads on your food. All seams are triply reinforced so that you can easily carry a half peck of apples (~ 12 medium apples) without risk of straining the bag.
My produce bags in action at the grocery store.
The all-cotton drawstring cord with which all bags are now constructed, is very sturdy and secure. You can either cinch and tie off the end, or leave it just cinched. The inherent friction of the cord in the channel will in most cases keep the bag shut.
The mesh panel has a dual purpose. First, it allows the PUL code on the produce sticker to be easily read at the checkout. If for some reason the number is tough for the cashier to read (some cashiers bristle at all reusable bags not matter what!), you can easily un-cinch the top to read the number.
Second, the mesh allows produce to breathe. If you are storing potatoes or onions and need them to stay in the bag a while, the mesh prevents rot from setting in earlier than necessary.
There are other uses for this bag as well! Many of my customers are using them at the beach for sand toys or shell collecting.
Visit my Etsy shop to purchase yours today!
Like my page on Facebook which is where I preview all new bags and designs. Sometimes a bag will be spoken for via Facebook before I even get a chance to list it on Etsy or bring it to a show!
The pretty and fun fabrics make it more interesting to go food shopping. I find that people are more likely to bring their bags to the store if they are made from beautiful fabrics. What will you put in your mesh bag??
The zippered pouches that I had so much fun making last month inspired me to try a tote bag in the same style.
The neutral background and colorful applique seems classic to me; an earthy frame for the fabric design. I tried something new and love it!
This design has a mix of applique and embroidery with the added level of complexity having the design spill over from the pocket onto the body of the bag.
The flower petals are made from the fabric that lines the front pocket.
With the rope fabric, I stuck with the nautical theme and lined the interior with navy blue anchors. It has a magnetic snap closure and is the same size as my beach/farmer's market totes.
In the coming weeks/months I plan to make several of the flower design with various colors. I would love to hear your feedback!
Knitters are the best! I knit badly, but I love to sew lovely bags to keep their projects, needles and hooks in order. I also teach sewing, and you can find many sewing resources here. Welcome to my blog Dancing Threads RI.