Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sandals from Recycled Billboards

These folks make minimalist sandals from recycled vinyl billboards. I don't really dig the style myself, but it shows that people are thinking of this material for shoes. They might be handy to have in one's gym bag.
They must be using Velcro for the closure.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Test Guestbook Done

Here's a prototype of the guestbook I designed earlier. I don't like snaps, they are hard to get right. I think I need a snap-setting tutorial.

Angled corners are also a challenge with mitered corners. My test binding didn't line up, so I glued a corner piece on to hide the misalignment. This project might be better bound with twill tape and rounder corners.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Modular wallet design, website progress thereof.

I'm not set up to produce volume at this point, so I figure what's the point in going for mass appeal? I can leave that up to Freitag. Instead, I can offer customers the custom features that they want in their wallets. I'm planning to have a form with all the types of design modules I can offer in a wallet; the potential customer fills out the form and I give them an estimate. When I'm producing the wallet I gather the various cut files needed to create the wallet, sew and ship.

This picture is to help the customer see what the various modules are so they can fill out the form to get a cost estimate. I need to add a sketch for adhesive custom decals, and include photo samples of the tarp colours I have in stock.

I sketched out the components using Sketchbook Pro.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

3D Scanners and Printers in Custom Shoemaking

I'm thinking about future possibilities right now.

Here in North America where all the shoe manufacturing is overseas, and elaborately-sewn shoes are inexpensive, how could someone like me possibly compete? I think one of the ways is individualization. Making something that is just for one person. It fits over that bump on their foot and has a heel that is like those fabulous kitten heels they remember from their graduation shoes.

One shoemaker scans their client's feet to make the mold, called a last. When I first looked into scanning, the price of a scanner was prohibitive. Now however, 3D scanners are now becoming affordable makes a 3D scanner (for the shoe last) and a 3D printer (for the custom heels). Look at these innovative shoe designs from Kobi Levi Footwear Design. I like the heel that looks like bubblegum pulling off the sidewalk. That type of heel could be manufactured on a Makerbot.

There are still places in North America to learn how to make shoes. And there are a few books: and

So maybe this is one way us small-scale, local folks could compete in shoe manufacturing, by supplying the customization and design that you can't find at your local big box store.

Man's single fold wallet in Recycled Vinyl Tarp completed

I completed the first prototype man's wallet. It turned out OK without major blunders, but as with any first attempt, one should not look too closely at it! My client wanted a single fold wallet with cascading card slots. He didn't want a coin compartment because he prefers to keep change in his pocket.

So, I'm thinking of offering wallets made-to-order. The client selects the modules he/she wants such as number and type of card slots, coin purse, window slots and tarp colours, and I make it just for them. Wallets are so personal and people want a system that works just for them. If some styles rise to the surface as popular then I could build inventory for those styles for shows and online inventory. Now my challenge is how to get that made-to-order page working on my website. For now, just email for a custom project.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Interpreting Criticism

Michael Iva's 100 Ways to Kill a Concept; Why Most Ideas get shot down has been a great inspiration to me. Also Seth Godin's Interpreting Criticism blog post. Even the gatekeepers and successful tastemakers don't always get what your product is about. As Seth points out, they may not understand the niche market that your product is for. In the case of Reader's Digest, the niche market had yet to be created, so the editor of the magazine could not see a chance of Reader's Digest being successful. Good thing they didn't listen to that critic!

Whenever I hear criticism about something like my Soap Tote, I reread these types of articles and remind myself of all the things my enthusiastic buyers have said about the product. And then I get another coffee and keep going. (Yes, it is a niche product, maybe even a "niche-niche" product.) Before, I gave my critics too much power. Now my opinion is just as important as the critics' in the evaluation process.

Update: here's another gem from Seth Godin: I need you to see things my way

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Man's card-slot wallet construction

I have figured out the mysteries of card slots in wallets! The higher-up slots have fabric "hammocks" to prevent the inserted card from going too far down the pocket and getting lost. The part of the slot that is seen is usually made from leather.
I am using a softer vinyl tarp for this project. The more layers of vinyl, the more the sewing machine tends to balk. At certain points it's two layers of nylon and two layers of vinyl to sew through. That also means that trying to encase a card slot module into a vinyl seam binding, fuggedaboutit! Too many layers. So I am using a glued-down strip of vinyl to hide the side seams.

Update: Tracy Murray gave me some valuable input on how to construct the slots to save some time. I don't have to have the nylon hammocks if I sew the slots down, starting from the back slot and working down to the front. Will try this technique on my next sample. Thanks, Tracy!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My New/Old Shop Dog

This is my new "shop dog", Bailey. (Hey, I'm a home-based business.) We adopted him from the Calgary Humane Society a couple of weeks ago. Here he is helping me pick out tarps for a guestbook that I am working on. Here he's saying, "Just try to take away my ball, sucka!"
Bailey is part miniature poodle and golden retriever. He follows me around wherever I go. He's 10 years old, but he still has lots of energy. Today he had fun slurping at the puddles as he trotted along in the rain. Our neighborhood is well-marked. He goes absolutely nuts when he sees squirrels or when the doorbell rings. He makes me laugh. I'm actually working on the doorbell training with my Ipad. I found a website with sound effects so I can ring that bell as many times as I need to. Now he doesn't bark when the Ipad doorbell rings, but it's another thing entirely that real doorbell! Funny thing about Bailey, he's not really a dog-person, but that's OK.
Maybe I should make him a raincoat from recycled vinyl so I could get some free advertising out of him while I'm out walking him.

Man's wallet in Recycled Vinyl Tarp

Well I've been procrastinating on making a man's wallet. Maybe for good reason. Look at all the pieces! That is a lot of sewing. I had some lightweight nylon on hand so I'm going to use that for the card pockets. Wish me luck. On the other hand, maybe a whole new market for men's wallets will open up!
I'm thinking that wallets, being highly personal, should be modular in construction. The client I'm designing this one for keeps his change in his pocket, and so does not require a coin compartment.
I think my website should have something like "For your wallet, pick modules (card slots, coin purse,cash/cheque slots), pick your colours, pick your decal colours, with a flat rate for additional design work. Made to order. Since the website is not yet, there you can request a custom product at

Tera Incognita booties

These are also from Anthropologie. I don't know if this would work rendered in recycled vinyl tarp but it is nice to imagine it.


I just love these leaftop booties from Anthropologie. I think this concept would also work with recycled vinyl tarp, if I may say so. It would be a separate pair of spats instead of making the whole boot. Another project for the to-do list!

I bet cyclists would like some protection for their shoe tops as they ride, so maybe ones with no cutouts would fit the bill.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Guest book designs

I'm working on designs for a guestbook for a client. The first two are for a standard jacket to cover a coil notebook, the third is for a snap-closure notebook cover.

I'm amazed at how things work when I keep Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity in mind as I design. Funny acronym, though!