At BRIKA, we’re all about celebrating the talent, time and thought behind every well-crafted good. With this new weekly series, we’re taking a closer look at an individual piece in a Maker’s collection—often their personal favorite—from idea to implementation.
Seattle-based Maker Jess Marie craves color during the grey winter months. Her solution? Create a series of vibrant suede pouches to add light, cheer and a little bit of fun to the everyday. Here’s her eight-step process for crafting these ultra-covetable suede pouches.
Step 1: Have an Idea! Jess Marie believes in traveling lightly. She also finds it helpful to keep your essentials organized. Enter the pouch: It’s the perfect size to stow your phone, keys, and the like—and even doubles as a standalone clutch. It’s essentially the little sister to the Bright Ultramarine Suede Dot Tote, which is incredibly popular among her customers.
Step 2: Plan & Make a Pattern Once the idea is in place, Jess Marie creates a pattern! She makes a sketch, and then cuts cardstock paper. At this point, she also completes a sample or two to make sure the design is efficient for production.
For the pouches, she wanted to mirror the slight curve at the bottom of her totes. So she cut a square, played around with the curves, and made sure it was wide enough for a 7-inch zipper. Finally, she poked holes in the pattern to mark where she would need to punch the pouch, and create the perforated polka-dot look.
Step 3: Gather Materials In this case, Jess Marie creates her pouches using scrap materials from her totes. She also uses scrap vegetable tanned leather to make the leather zipper pull. “Thus, less waste!” she says.
Step 4: Make the First Cut She handpicks each scrap (it has to be nice enough for a pouch!), lays the pattern down, and cuts around it. She marks the dots with cornstarch, which is easy to brush on and off. “Basically, the cornstarch goes through the pattern holes to show where I need to punch the holes.”
Step 5: Stamp a Logo “Next, I stamp my logo with navy leather paint. I carved this stamp myself!”
Step 6: Hammer Time! This is when it gets intense! Jess Marie uses a hole-punch and a mallet to create her polka-dot effect. “I usually have to do this on the concrete floor in my basement,” she says, “otherwise, the shock of the hit can cause my workspace to shift.” She aims to make each hole with one hit—but thicker spots in the leather require a couple more.
Step 7: Add a Zipper & Sew the Seams! Now that each “face” of the pouch is ready, Jess Marie sews on the zipper. Then, she sews the pouch wrong side out, quickly presses the seams, and turns it right side out. For an added touch, she knots a small strip of vegetable-tanned leather through the zipper pull.
Step 8: Final Quality Check (& Sendoff!) Jess Marie does one final, thorough check to make sure there are no stains, and no mistakes were made during the production process. "I open and close the zipper a few times to make sure it's working smoothly," she says, "Then I send it off to its new home!"
Can you tell us more about your design inspiration? I am very much inspired by utilitarian repetitive patterns like pegboard and graph cutting mats. Both are at work in my studio. I also love the perforated and polka dot trends, and I thought this would be a great twist on it.
How do you get around creative blocks? I go for a hike or to the beach. Rain or shine, it gets my creative spirit talking. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I can always find a new forest I have never been to.
Any accessory trends we can expect in 2014? Less is more. Less hardware, more utilitarianism. Not sure if this is a trend, or more of a shift. I think people are buying fewer brands, and want more handmade or seek out independent designers. I can't seem to find anything I like to update my wardrobe unless I seek out these Makers.To learn more about Jess Marie, and shop her collection, head right over here. Did you like this story? You’ll probably like these as well!
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