Mood Board Bags

Hello dear readers! How are you today? I had quite a productive work day and look forward to bringing you the great 2011 calendar round-up here on decor8 tomorrow and Friday. It's going to be huge and amazing so stay tuned for that! But first, I want to show you a quick glimpse of the gifts that I help to design for students who attended the decor8 retreat week in Marrakesh (I blogged about it here). I designed 10 bags from scratch (well 11 since I kept one as a memory of our wonderful week) with my friend Ingrid and her sewer... and so I was sitting on my floor for HOURS, days even, cutting and pinning and tracing and measuring... it was a labor of love and I truly adored doing it for my students because I know they loved their bags and how much I loved giving them something from my heart.

My Bags...

I hand stamped the inside with white fabric paint using a stamp that I hand cut with my name on it. I also designed brooches for the bags that have gold pins on the back so they can move the brooches around on the bag, wear them on a jacket, pin them to something at home or even adorn their wall with a pretty brooch. The fabrics were taken from my stash -- I have so many gorgeous prints and patterns, it was fun to sit down and combine fabrics from America, Europe and Japan, some vintage and others brand new, to build a custom bag for each student. I tried to experiment with many colors and patterns and loved doing them patchwork-style. I wanted to give students something from my own studio -- that really mattered to me -- and not simply hand them something that I found in a store. Plus I wanted to inspire them to think about how to combine patterns and colors to create something unique and special. You can take do so much with a stack of fabrics from make a bag to design a pillow, some curtains, even a duvet.

My Bags...

My Bags...

My Bags...

My Bags...

My Bags...

My inspiration: I'm big on applique work and hand stitching, and I went with the idea of having the bag look like a mood board with a linen back and handles and then the patchwork style fabrics and appliques on the front. I don't share a lot of my crafty work on decor8, but so many of you emailed me asking about what it was that I made for my dear students so I am happy to share them since you asked so nicely. ;) I guess this is the side of me that I keep hidden because I always felt like if I posted the things that I make then what is my motive -- to seek praise? To stroke my ego? But then today I thought that when I look at the work of others I feel inspired and encouraged so why would you not feel inspired and encouraged by my work as well? These bags took me a lot of time and patience, why not share the fruits of my labor! I am very proud of how they turned out. I'm so happy I had my friend Ingrid available to help me and her sewer who did a beautiful job stitching them together.

My Bags...

Edie taking notes...

My Bags...

Unfortunately, my battery died in Morocco on the second day and I had no spare with me (I left it at home on my bed!) so I don't have any photos (that I took) of the bags or of the beautiful journals that I prepared for them which contained vellum envelopes filled with inspirational papers, trims, ribbons... and some rubber stamping that I did inside - simple touches but I think they were cute. :) Thankfully, photographer Tiffany Kirschner, who was on the trip with us, shot some nice photos of the bags close up so those are shown in this post above. If I find any more images of them where you can see entire bag views, I'll let you know but for now I only have these.

I hope my dear students will always think of me and our special week in Marrakesh whenever they use their bags -- I miss them all so much, I'm having withdrawal symptoms! I imagine if I had spent another week with them I would be in so much pain of heart right now. I loved getting to know these 10 women and connecting with them but also being a source of friendship, encouragement and inspiration to them but in return they gave wayyyyy more back to me than I even feel that I gave.

I took a long walk today and felt sad that I may never see them again as a group altogether. But then I thought of how we are all together online and then I smiled, like the internet made it all better again. :) I don't know if you've ever gone on a creative retreat but man, you really start to find yourself thinking in new ways when you are unplugged from the world but also immersed in a creative, inspiring environment around people who are so open, who have so much courage, rich life experiences and who just want to soak it all in and learn together without judgment or fear. I wish I could have spent more time with each lady, it is my only regret, but hopefully they can continue to tap into me through my blog and also via email over the years. I will always remember them and I know they will always remember me and together all we have to do is see something Moroccan and we'll forever be transported back to that very time and space. If you are ever in a position to go on a retreat, save the money and DO IT. Really. It's the best experience and worth every cent.

Now back to my bags... now I want to make patchwork pillows for my guest bedroom! :) I feel a future project coming on!

xo, Holly

(images: Tiffany Kirschner from The Fancy Farm Girl)