Tuesday, September 29, 2009

roxton mini - surplus wool blanket and duffle: $125

roxton mini - red/brown leather and surplus wool blanket: $135

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

bellwood bags (big and small)

bellwood (big): $195, available with canvas or wool body

bellwood (small): $185, available with canvas or wool body

Monday, September 21, 2009

Oh, hello there!

How was your summer? Since it's officially fall (yesss!), it's definitely time for an update.

Two new styles, to start:

jarvis tote: $255 (CAD), also available in grey/blue canvas.

roxton: $240 (CAD), also available with in brown leather.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

I was never good at keeping up journals...

Taking a bit of a summer vacation, but be back soon!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Making things is an unavoidably wasteful business; we inevitably end up with piles of fabric scraps, no matter how carefully we plan our cutting. But we do try to save some of our scraps for future use so they don't all go into the landfill.
(This is especially important now that the garbage strike in Toronto is in full swing - ugh!)

(Here's Mhairi printing)

One thing we use our tent scraps for is to make our 'jack&marjorie' labels for inside of the bag. To do this, we use this great little machine: the print gocco. It is basically a mini screen printing machine that is super-easy, fast and tidy to use.
There are a few different machine sizes available; this one prints postcard size, which works pretty perfectly with our smaller scraps.

The machines are from Japan (can't you tell by how cute it is?!), which is where I bought mine.
Unfortunately Riso, the company that makes it, decided not to produce the machines and supplies anymore, despite outcries from the online crafting community. But there are still places online the components can still be found.

Happy Canada Day, Canadians!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

millicent and kang (cecil)

These are my great grandparents on my father's side, Millicent and Kang. This photo is something I really treasure: I've amassed a good photographic history of my ancestors on my mother's side of my family, but on my dad's side this is all I have.

Aside from that, how rare is it to see an inter-racial couple in a photograph of this age?

edit: my dad told me that my great-grandfather actually went by the name Cecil. He also said this photo is likely over 100 years old, since my 95 year old granny believes it was taken before she was born.

Monday, June 08, 2009

I was given my grandmother Marjorie's sewing box (yes, that Marjorie) a few months ago -
It's pretty cute, with lots of vintage-y looking sewing stuff inside to look at, but there are a few things that especially stand out for me:

My grandfather Jack (yeah, that Jack) worked for a moving company, and it seems that these were business cards he gave out to the 'lady of the house'. It's a sewing kit! (With a 'so/sew' pun no less, which I normally hate, but I guess since it's so old it's okay).

I'm not entirely sure what this is - a long thimble? Whatever it is, it was given out by the Bell Telephone company (where my grandmother did actually work for a time). On the other side is says: "Tell your friends about good job openings at the Bell".

Imagine getting something like this nowadays; at best it would be strange, at worst, offensive (a major corporation distributing sewing notions with ads looking for 'girls!'). But that's what makes all this stuff so charming, I guess.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

neko bag

This is a somewhat updated version of an old style, the neko bag. This particular bag is made from one of those WWII tents (from around 1950), that I mentioned before. And it looks old too; the fabric is faded with some small holes, but the bag look all the better for it, I'd say...
I'm going to be putting this one in the etsy shop soon, once I get it all set up. (and I'm hoping having written it here will be the impetus I need to just get it done!)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

crown jars

Like many others, I love using vintage canning jars to display my various collections. This one is my favourite; it was bought as-is, with the old spools of thread already inside. It came from my beloved -yet now sadly departed! -
Antique Warehouse in St. Jacobs. (although there is another one in Stratford, Ontario). The wooden spools are so much lovelier than the plastic ones we get nowadays...

I used to use skeleton keys on some of the bags. Now they're just decoration:

All my jars have the Crown emblem, which apparently means they were made in Canada. They all cost less than $3, though they can be sold for much more, depending on age and condition.

And in other news:
A few of our spring bags are included in this feature on Canoe.

Monday, May 25, 2009

my ontario:

Look - the blue clementine clutch is featured in the new Ontario tourism brochure!
See it here.

(thanks for letting me know, Stephanie!)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

barb hunt

I discovered the work of Canadian artist Barb Hunt some time ago, but was reminded of it again by a post on Arounna's site.

The pieces in the camouflage series use fabric from used military uniforms and camouflage patterns to create something that is at once rugged and beautiful:

And the antipersonnel series features replicas of antipersonnel land mines knitted with pink wool:

If you are in the Toronto area, there is a great looking show on now until June 21st at the Harbourfront Centre - Lookit,Lookit,Lookit - featuring Barb Hunt and 7 other Canadian artists.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Tokyo-based mintdesigns are among my most-loved Japanese designers.

They're best known for their gorgeous, vibrant prints. These images are from one of my favourite collections: Spring/Summer 2008.

Love love the hot air balloons! You can see more current work on their website and webshop. (Unfortunately, you must live in Japan to order from the online shop).

Thursday, May 14, 2009


I've always loved vintage ticking fabric, but haven't used it on a bag until now.

Ticking was originally used to cover matresses and feather pillows. The heavy, closely woven fabric was used to prevent feathers, hay (or whatever else) from poking out between the threads.

Ticking is easily recognizable by its stripe print, most commonly a blue stripe on a white backing. It's a great material for lightweight summer bags.

This is the 'adelaide' bag:

and the 'clementine' clutch (with brown/red leather)

See more on the main site, and in our online shop!

Monday, May 11, 2009


There are so many things I miss about living in Tokyo, but Muji is definitely near the top of the list. Muji is ubiquitous in Tokyo, with shops near, or even inside most major train stations.

Muji (which translates to No Brand in Japanese), sells everything from furniture to stationary to clothing. But my favourite thing about it is the design aesthetic, which is simple and unadorned, with most items in neutral colours. The products are both inexpensive and well-made.

In MUJI's own words:

"Our goal of offering products that excel in quality at lower prices has been achieved by avoiding the waste typical of much product-manufacturing and distribution - in the form of unnecessary functionality, an excess of decoration, and needless packaging".

Great, right?!

I love a good pen:

This notebook is amazing; perfect for those of us who aren't really into using day planners, but kind of need one:

Read more about it here.

There are now a number of Muji stores around the world, but none in Canada as of yet. Canadians can, however, purchase online from this site, although the selection is very limited compared to the Japanese site.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

original recycled military surplus

I had seen this Jens Risom chair before, but didn't know much about it until I happened upon an article about the most influential mid-century modern designers.

What's amazing about this chair is that it was constructed with surplus military webbing! Because it was produced under wartime materials mandates during WWII (aforementioned webbing and birch wood were among the few materials available), it was one of the only pieces of modern furniture available at that time.

Although the chair is no longer available with the surplus webbing (a pair of the originals was recently auctioned off in NY for more than $5000), a modern version is available with updated materials.

Love this photo:

George Nelson, Edward Wormley, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, Charles Eames and Jens Risom Playboy Magazine, July 1961.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

shelter half tents

One of the military surplus materials we use most is the shelter half tent (also known as a pup tent). These tents have been used by the U.S. army as shelter in the field since the Civil War.

We love using them because:
- they have built-in design details like seams and snaps. We try to include these elements in the bags as much as possible, not only because it saves us work, but because they look so much more interesting than anything we could come up with.
-each tent is similar, but most have small variations, which in the end makes each bag unique.

They are called shelter halves because two 'halves' are snapped together to make up one tent. We use the sections of tents with these snaps as bag closures: look for them on the madeline, augusta, and ossington bags on our site.

A great caption accompanied this photo:
"With the grace and dexterity of a master dressmaker, this attractive young woman fabricates "pup" tents for the expanding war army at the Langdon Tent & Awning Company."

A similar caption could be written for this pic:

(The lovely Ching-Mei working for the cause)

The majority of tents we use are from around the Vietnam Era, but occasionally we get an older one, from WWII. These ones are my favourites; they are a lighter sage green colour with white stitching, and buttons instead of snaps. We recently made a one-off bag from one of these tents, which we'll be putting in the shop soon.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


ossington bag with elephant leather.

We took several of the new bag names from Toronto streets and neighbourhoods. Ossington is where all the cool kids are. Especially here.

Monday, May 04, 2009


augusta bag with black leather