Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy weekend!

This weekend is big!

And it is one those, I look forward to the most throughout the year - a Holiday Weekend...

So, what I will be doing this weekend is - being entertained; having spiced drinks, aromatic wine, tea and treats, steamed veggies and gravy; opening and passing gifts, phoning my overseas family; wearing wool socks and sleeping in...

I love this time of year for so many reasons, and have over time developed a few tested tricks, that keep Holidays fresh and fun for me, every year:

I finish my big shows before December, so I have no huge last minute projects on top of everything else - it feels so great, to know, big set-ups and tear-downs are over;

I decorate my studio in a different way each year, but with just basics, such a the tree and some lights, so there is not much to put away after it is all over;

I don't wait till last minute to gift shop, so I can enjoy it;

I set aside the work I have been really looking forward to doing, because it makes me forget how exhausted I can be from all the shows, events and run-around, - and reminds me exactly, what I love about my biz;

I go to see a non-Holiday film, so I don't get overloaded;

I do not entertain at home, rather meet friends in a restaurant I really like, which reduces work immensely;

...and I start cocktail hour early....

What's everyone doing; and how do you survive the Holiday rush?...

X-mas at our studio, picture taken last year

Happy Weekend, everyone, and - Happy Holidays!

Posted by Jolanta

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tasmain: New Materials, New Skills (to learn)...

One of the perks in my line of work is contacts with the savvy Fashion Students. They have a great network and information resources through their schools, and they do not mind sharing it with us, self trained folk...  During the launch party of my line at Blushing Boutique last year, one very savvy young lady tipped me off, that a fur coat business in my neighbourhood is closing down – and they are selling off their supplies... I knew that they would be a great source for beautiful, well kept, soft garment weight leather, just waiting to get rescued amidst their mayhem of pre-closure down-sizing. 

The next day, I paid the Fur Place a visit.

What I discovered was a happy ending of a long career of a fourth generation fur traders and crafters. Since early 19th century this family have been working with growers, hunters and trappers, they sourced fur and produced high end clothing, and now, decided to retire. For me, what they had in store, was lambskin in three lovely colours! None of my usual suppliers carried lambskin, so this was a great opportunity for me to try working with something different, and rescued! (of course, needless to say, I loved their huge work-space and tall cutting tables, mannequins, sergers, machines - I wanted to get my hands on everything!)

I immediately loved working with lambskin. Not only is it soft, and perfectly pliable, but also, very resilient, which is extraordinary for a 1.8 oz weight. I first dug into the small pre-cut pieces, to try and build a new, evening bag design with pleated detail, I had sketched a few weeks prior.

Tasmain prototype, still with rivets...

Tasmain – a compact and elegant shoulder bag, with pleated front pockets was designed for lightweight leather, such as Lambskin. It proved to be the perfect experiment and a challenge. I re-inforced the body, pocket bases, connectors and the straps with stabilizer, I picked up at the same place. Then spent the evening pleating the pockets with glue, folding them in narrow strips and attaching them to the base for a structured finish. 
Tasmain was my first Western Rounded Sack design, to have the strap base connectors sewn onto the shell, as opposed to riveted, which I used to do in the past (for Kerry or Sarah bags).  I cut down on using metal even further, replacing  hardware, that attached my straps to their bases before, with re-inforced leather ties. Tasmain has made me more confident about my sewing skills....

Tasmain, Pistachio  - showing off my strap ties!

The final result was a sculpted evening bag; a design that plays up the elegance of Lambskin, it’s pliability and natural beauty. It holds it’s shape naturally without being a hard-shell purse. Darted bottom, just like the Sarah bag, closes with a non-flashy zipper and has two pleated front pockets. Strap can be adjusted by changing the length of base ties.

Tasmain bag comes in Black, Cocoa and Pistachio.

Fall/ Winter 2011 Cebrellex collection.
Posted by Jolanta

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Update on Cigar...

When designing a new item, I really do not know, how it will be met by my shoppers. Same goes for leather I source, there is always some faith - or crap-shoot - involved. I have been mostly right with some intuitive purchases of materials, but I also have had several surprises - good and bad.

During one of my most successful leather hunts, I have brought back about eight amazing hides I had rescued. One of them, was a deep brown, waxy finished 3 oz'er, called Echo Cigar...

Here it is, at my studio, third from left. When I sourced it, my current Collection was not even really in the works. I was suffering a burn-out from a busy Holiday season of the previous year, combined with full time day-job and the unrewarding situation that was part of it. I just knew, I loved what I found, and hoped I can come up with a design, suitable for this leather, later on.

And, it appears, that I did. Echo Cigar, a.k.a. Cigar became the opening colour of the Khela bag.

Since the time, the prototype was made, nearly all 64 beautiful square feet of this amazing leather has been used - and sold as my new, labour intense and graceful country tote. I was able to build five out of six intended Khela bags in Cigar. Four of those have fled the nest already - and I only have enough leather for one final Khela....

So, I would be thrilled that my final, sixth Khela in Cigar went to someone, who would really appreciate it. Simply, because to find another Orphaned hide as beautiful, as that one was, would be far too unlikely.

Khela Cigar No 6 will appear at the Webshop shortly.

Posted by Jolanta

Friday, November 25, 2011

Shut out!

Dear friends -

I have been very passive on my own blog, as well as the ones I have been enjoying reading over time. Now, there is an unfortunate reason for it - and this post is to let you know, that I will be returning -- and reading, commenting, etc, like before...

I recently switched to using a personal e-mail account with google, and for now, it does not permit me to blog from my old user account...

Even though I have re-followed all of you from my new account, it is still facing lots of technical difficulties, and my reading list does not work 70 % of the time... So, I do not always timely see your posts, or able to comment on them.

Some days, when it works fine, I read them, with lots of enjoyment, and keep meaning to return later and respond... and then cannot access them... for days on..

So, please, do not think, I have forgotten you! - I will get these inconsistencies fixed and be able to tune into your posts again. (or, go to a different browser and use my good ol' account I had before the switch- over..)

I miss your posts - and you!

Posted by Jolanta

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bloom Market - our first event of the Holiday season

Tomorrow, bright and early, we will be heading out to Bloom Market...

Last Bloom before the year is over, will feature great X-mas gifts from 40 artisans, incl. yours truly... Use the link above for deets, directions and vendor listings...

Posted by Jolanta

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Vancouver Sun does an article on Make It Vancouver - feat. us!

Above is a photo of the Vancouver Sun article, covering art shows to take place through the month of November.

Make It Vancouver has always been my go-to show, and I am happy to be taking part in it again. The atricle features our Dovana Bow bag amongst other designer items to be found at Make It.

Read the full article here.

Posted by Jolanta

Friday, October 28, 2011

My funny and early real life Halloween...

The following is a sequential description of Thursday, Oct 27...

The "day" started with a scheduled building-wide black-out, when lights went off at Midnight, sharp, leaving entire building in darkness... Maintenance, was the reason for it, they said... Notice was given a few days in advance, assuring the power will be back by 6 am... During the black-out, the building must have looked like a dark tower...

We unplugged all our electronics carefully, set the alarm on the phone, and got the flashlights ready too, thinking the light will not be back in time... I got abruptly awakened by a strange noise, which frightened me quite a bit at that moment - I forced my eyes open, and found myself sitting on a bed in a room, lit with ghostly white light, with the radio on in the middle of the night.... The power came back three hours earlier, than scheduled, and, even though we unplugged the electronics, we forgot to flick off light the switches and the radio... I waddled round the home, flicking off lights, then waddled back to bed...

My morning appointment with a client got postponed - of which I was quite happy, as it allowed me to have, all day to myself, working on my stock bags....

I was making good headway on two bags I was sewing on Thursday, till it was time to swap a dull needle for a new one. It was a long serving needle, I used it ever since I got the new machine. I got a screw driver, hoping it will help me loosen up a screw, which I thought was holding the needle in.

I should have stopped trying to work that screw, when none of my screw drivers really fit it... With a tiny screw driver I finally forced it to loosen, and it fell onto my lap - along with a small thread guide part, while the needle remained unmoved. It was not the screw for needle replacement. I investigated the needle holder, and located a tiny pentagon shaped slot, which MUST have been the one to loosen the needle arm... But first, I must put the thread guide I just mistakenly removed, back into place...

My tiny screw driver did not fit the thread guide screw, and eventually the screw went flying off out of my sight, and the thread guide part fell onto the work table. I did not hear the screw land on the table, or the floor, so I started looking for it... I looked... and looked... Soon, I was clearing everything off the table, combing through it all with my fingers, with no tiny screw in sight, I moved onto the floor, crawling on my knees under the furniture of my studio, looking under the heaters, countless wires, moving the couch, under the shelves - no screw in sight.

Some dust flew off the floor, and it caused me to sneeze -- which shook my upper body, and... pulled out my back... Here I was, on my fours, on the studio floor, looking for a 3 mm screw, sneezing and now with sore back... I was getting increasingly frustrated, and decided, in order to feel like I have achieved something that day, I will give this place a scrub it deserves...

... which is not the best decision, with a sore back... Nonetheless, I started fiercely vacuuming every nook, every corner, still having my eyes peeled for my missing screw. I shoved the couch across the living room, and moved onto window panes, radiators, under the plant pots - and everywhere, where I have not vacuumed in weeks - sucking up real, and imaginary dust, desperately seeking more of it. On my frantic way, I sucked up a replacement battery of our remote control to the TV...

.. and a wheel of one my storage bins, I removed for cleaning the day before... Needless to say, that forcing an industrial vacuum cleaner to open with a freshly injured back, in order to get my accidentally sucked up valuables out, is a tougher job, than usual. I got nowhere with my attempts to open it, till I finally gave up.

I finished vacuuming the studio, and decided to get back to sewing before supper time. I no longer had the thread guide, to angle the thread perfectly into the needle eye. I did replace the dull needle though... But sewing did not go well either. Even though the thread guide, which was now missing, was not that important for sewing forward, it was absolutely necessary for reversing. Now, the thread was entering the needle eye from the wrong angle, and the moment I attempted to reverse, it got sliced part way by the needle.... I got my new machine because I needed a more consistent one, than the one I had before, and I could not bear the thought of going back to the kind of by-the-chance sewing and countless trouble shooting, like on the old machine. Very slowly I finished both bags I set out to complete that day.

But, so far, I had lost an important part of my sewing machine, vacuumed up a remote control battery, another part of my storage bin, and painfully pulled out my back. I decided that was enough trouble for one day, and instead of starting another project, I would read a good Halloween appropriate story -- Clarimonde, to be exact.

Peter came home in the evening - and I had to fess up to all my misadventures of that day. He offered to help looking for the thread guide screw, even though I had given up on finding it. We checked the table and the floor again, but no luck. By then, my back was getting quite bad, and I retreated onto a chair, while he opened a side plate of my sewing machine, to rule out the possibility of it falling inside.

And there it was - my screw, fallen into the open feed-dogs, and stuck there, quietly, waiting to be found. That explains why it disappeared from my sight so swiftly, and why I did not hear it land on the table, or the floor; and why I did not see it while I vacuumed the place down. Then it was TV remote battery and my bin wheel's turn to get rescued from inside the vacuum cleaner. Then he poured me a glass of red wine.

I started to feel better about the strange day, and I really enjoyed "Clarimonde". I was glued to the screen reading it, with a cushion tucked behind my back, a blanket over, sipping wine - and then my hand missed the glass and knocked it over, breaking it and spilling the wine onto counter... Apparently, the day was not over for me. It had one more hour of mischief to go...

That's when I decided to end it, by heading to bed....

Below are my achievements -- Tack, Brief Duffle bags in Birch and Oak:

Posted by Jolanta

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Introducing - Telia. A clutch from all recycled materials.

One type of raw-materials I have always been on the fence about, is fur. And, even now, having used it, I still am. I find vintage fur coats very wearable, and believe that continuing to wear them, is the best way of appreciating such a garment. Many of those coats from the 50's and 60's are classically cut and made in North America - or other country, where they were sewn and sold. They are also very well made, and if cared for, would be able to serve several generations of wearers.
I could not justify cutting up a perfectly good, unique vintage coat, not even for the sake of re-using it.

I also do not work with unused pelts, regardless if they are manufacturers "dead stock". So, for a while, fur was not a material of choice for me.

The coat I recycled recently, had a few tears in the right sleeve and joint, rubbed-off sleeve tips and disintegrating lining. The condition showed me, that it may have, in fact, been worn by several generations already, before it got donated to charity. It was petite in size, it actually appeared too small for today's fits. I spent perhaps twenty minutes inspecting it, and was pretty much certain, it would be a hard sell, as a complete garment.
I purchased it, in hopes on making good use for it. So, just like with my leather, I cut out the worn out and damaged bits, used all the wonderfully preserved pieces of fur, also the cheese-cloth supporting them from the inside. Unfortunately, I was not able to save the embroidered lining, as it appeared too fragile for my use.

And this is the result - Telia, limited edition clutch made of recycled Fox fur and remnants of my production leathers. With a zipper closure and wrist loop, it is a distant relative of the Butterfly Clutch.

Telia is already available at some of my lovely retailers, and will make an appearance at the Web-shop and all my Holiday Season events. There will not be many of them, as I am only recycling this one coat. The fur will be consistent through all the clutches, but the frame leather will change - besides, Brown, shown here, I have made them in Burgundy, Chestnut and hoping to squeeze in a few other leather colours.

Telia, Brown

Telia, Brown

Telia, Brown
 My beautiful vintage Fox coat lives on in a form of clutches, that will serve several generations of their wearers'...

Posted by Jolanta

Friday, October 21, 2011

On the runway at the Vancouver Eco Fashion Week

I wanted to do something special to celebrate the launch of Cebrellex, my third collection. I did feel like it was the strongest one so far, and I was finally ready for people to see it and be acknowledged of my work... . Even though, I had two collections in the past, I never felt quite as ready for media, launch events or reviews. This year, for the first time, I felt, like I was improving significantly, growing and heading to the direction I had hoped.

So, the invite to show at the Vancouver Eco Fashion Week came at the perfect time.
Vancouver Eco Fashion week (EFW) is a fashion event, happening twice a year and focusing exclusively on ecological labels: recycled, organic, all natural, locally made and vintage. Our salvaged leather handbags fit right in withe the rest of the bunch of eco-friendly designers.

I was able to show my full Collection to the public for the first time, do a collaborative runway show with Sofia clothing, a great match for me, and my first choice of an apparel designer. It was a great effort, and so far the biggest project I took part in, but it also was a great experience.

Here are the runway looks and other snapshots:

Patrice Has Options - in black re-claimed lambskin; worn as a wristlet..

Tasmain - also black lambskin, worn backwards.. Oh well!

Khela - Syrah, repurposed cowhide

Butterfly Clutch - black lambskin

Dovana Bow - Nude, repurposed upholstery cowhide

Closing walk-out:

 Everybody "must" have their picture taken at the media wall - with some help from Pinot Grigio, we did it.
 Eco Fashion World interview - I am yet to hear/ see...
My set-up for the tradeshow.... (Ask me about my neighbours next door...)

So, it was whirlwind of fun - glad I was a part of it; and glad it is finished... 

Posted by Jolanta

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fall/ Winter 2011 Cebrellex, our new collection of handbags...

The kitty is out of the bag now - a few days ago I posted the styles of our new Collection, F/W 2011 Cebrellex , on our FB Fan Page.

This is what we have been making since late Spring...

Alex Petit (Oak)

Butterfly Clutch

Dovana, Sans Bow (Aqua)

Dovana, Bow (Nude)

Tasmain (Cocoa)

Reach (Taupe)

Khela (Cigar)

Patrice Has Options (Purple Jacket)

Tack, Brief Duffle (Oak)

Tosca (Cognac)

... and tow carry over styles: Renata
Renata (Poppy)

 and Limited Finish Sarah

Sarah, Light Grey

We will also have a new belt coming soon...

So, there is it - still country, but some new shapes and techniques introduced...

Posted by Jolanta

JK Affairs article about us

JK Affairs, a progressive blog about Fashion, etc. is covering the Vancouver Eco fashion Week.

Jola V. Designs is part of the EFW this year, and we are stoked to get such a great write-up not just about us, but about the entire event, and other fellow eco-brands, that are slowly but surely, educating the industry...

Read the article here.

Posted by Jolanta

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

So, I may have leaked something...

Kitty peeking, source: Electrical Audio

... Those of you popping over to read my blog posts, may have noticed the slide-show at the top of the page... Currently, the slide-show is featuring my actual LookBook of the new Fall/Winter 2011 Cebrellex Collection of Handbags... The new designs will make it to the Web-site immediately after the official launch.. of which I will post soon.

The LookBook is here. Peek away.

Posted by Jolanta

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Still on the Summer rhythm

Not a bad thing to be on, I guess - waking up to hot and hazy September days, fanning myself with newsprint and downing buckets of green ice-tea.

The issue is - well, who would ever want to work in this weather. All I am thinking is how great it would be to swim in the ocean, but there are some deadlines that are now creeping up quite fast, despite the holiday weather. The Fall shows will start as early as next week, fashion shows - for Spring (!) will hit Vancouver in about a month, then trade shows, public sales and then - Winter Holidays.

This weather is not the only thing slowing me down.

I am still stumbling around in my newly re-arranged work space, trying to get used to the new sewing machine, which arrived some days ago. For now I cannot seem to find my tools and supplies in their usual places, my cutting space has been reduced, because of the additional table - and.... the dealer, who sold me this lovely machine, failed to include it's oil, bobbins and, eventually one-sided feet into the shipment.

So, as a result, I cannot work, even if it was pouring and thundering outside. BUT - the little that I could do, before the oil got too low to run it, took my breath away. This new machine is incredibly smooth, slow and precisely timed. When, after a few days of break I sat back to the old one, I could not take how rough it was. Oh, and the tangles.... My designs are too sensitive to these inconsistencies, and I no longer can afford wasting time fixing them - especially, when the perfect beach weather is outside... So, I decided to put my worries to rest - and will pick up work again, when the new oil arrives.

And lately, I have been busy promoting my Handbag Sale on various eco-fashion web-sites. Thanks for first great week!

Time to shut down and go get some sun!

Posted by Jolanta

Monday, September 5, 2011

Orange be the colour...

Orange is a great colour - a Fall one, or not. Looks like this year, it got finally noticed by the mainstream fashion, after over a year of brightening up the indie world. This week alone, I read at least three articles, depicting Orange, as THE colour for this Fall, and I am sure there's more to come.

And, it is everywhere - on sweaters, jackets, overalls, - socks -  and, of course, accessories. I am also glad to see it liberated from the "Resort" context, where it used to appear in the years prior, in forms of messy patterned caftans or itsy-bitsy clutches and bracelets, to go with someone's fuchsia hued track-suit.

Great to see it in the Fall season, where it belongs. Also, there is a beautiful range of Orange shades in mainstream - from burning Red-Orange, to True Rust.

Nature wears Fall Oranges well..

 So, wear it if you love Orange - regardless of what they tell you to wear. Nature has an amazing variety of Orange tones, that Fashion has made it's best attempt yet, to adopt.

Red Orange

From Yellow to Red

Sarah, Orange