We just received an order of thread – we’re adding red and yellow to our old standbys of black and grey. The first pieces will be in the shop soon. Here’s a sneak peek!
(Click on the photos for a larger view.)
This week’s post features a couple of duffle bags I made over the past few weeks.
The first was a modification of a custom bag I made a while back. Here’s the original version:
It’s difficult to tell from these photos, but the bag has a sort of teardrop cross-section. The bottom is rounded and the sides taper as they go up. The top of the bag folds down and clips to the sides to create a more typical duffle bag shape. This version had one external side pocket and one interior zipper pocket.
After several months of use, the owner asked for a wider mouth to make it easier to pack and unpack the bag. In order to make the mouth wider, I had to make a bunch of other changes as well. I ended up changing the profile completely. I replaced the sides and the lining, added a second zipper to the top of the bag and a second external pocket. Here are some photos of the modified bag:
I was pleased with how the bag turned out and wanted to make another one. Fortunately, my vacation trip to Kauai was rapidly approaching – the perfect excuse to try my hand at making a carry-on sized version. Here are a few photos:
This bag has a zippered pocket on each end and two interior zippered pockets in the lining. The outside is made of 1000D CORDURA® nylon and the lining is 4 oz. pack cloth.
I scavenged the shoulder strap from an old laptop bag – it’s way too long for me and needs to be replaced. I just haven’t had a chance to make a new one yet.
The bag performed well on its inaugural trip. It held all of my stuff with room to spare. It was comfortable to carry and fit easily in the overhead compartment. I used one of the outside pockets for a pair of water shoes and the other for snacks. The inside pockets worked well for small stuff like my camera battery charger and more snacks.
The new bag will get its second test this Sunday, hauling wallets to and from the 16th Annual Glen Park Festival in San Francisco. If you are in the area, stop by and see it (and us!) in person. Here are the details:
Date: Sunday, April 27, 2014
Time: 10am – 4:30pm
Location: Diamond St b/t Chenery and Bosworth; also extending down Wilder St
Note – Our booth will be on Wilder St.
Hope to see you there!
It’s been a while since our last roundup post and we’ve had a bunch of custom orders lately – everything from credit card wallets to messenger bags. Have a look:
|The simplest custom job we’ve had in the last few months was a custom color combination for our Classic Credit Card Wallet – black and foliage green.|
|Jim contacted us about making a variation of our slim mini credit wallet. You can see an example of our standard version here. He wanted an extra row of pockets and a strip of velcro running the full width of the wallet.|
|We posted photos of Jim’s wallet on our Facebook page and one of our customers saw it and wanted one for himself in red and black.|
We have had a couple of recent requests for variations on our ID wallet.
|Brett wanted an ID wallet in one of our favorite color combos – grey and foliage green. He also wanted an extra row of card pockets and an extra bill divider.|
|Matt wanted an ID wallet in custom colors – blues on the outside and purple on the inside. Colorful!|
|Donald wanted our standard billfold wallet with a twist – no velcro. All black, with just a hint of grey in the inside. Nice.|
|Here’s an orange and black coin pocket wallet in a non-standard height and width (smaller in both dimensions). We overlapped the webbing and trimmed off as much length as we could.|
|Mathilde wanted a coin pocket wallet with grommet hole in custom colors – blue and yellow.|
|Yes wanted a custom M-8 messenger bag in black with a red inside pocket and no velcro. We were happy to oblige.|
That’s it for now. Keep those custom orders coming!
Yesterday I finished up a small batch of nylon billfold wallets in black and red Cordura® nylon. Each wallet has four credit card slots and one pocket for bills.
Here are a few behind the scenes photos (click to enlarge):
And all finished…
Over the past 6 weeks or so we’ve had several custom orders come through. They’ve included custom color/fabric requests as well as tweaks to our standard designs. Here’s a recap (click on the photos to make them bigger):
At the SF Bazaar Holiday Show, we had a customer who was interested in one of our seatbelt messenger bags. He needed a larger size than we had with us at the show and had one more special request – no velcro! So we made him an M-8 messenger bag with an inside pocket and no closure for the flap. The flap is heavy enough to stay closed on its own and we were pretty happy with how the bag turned out.
We brought a wide selection of our Slim Mini Credit Card Holders to the Renegade Holiday show. Not quite wide enough, as it turns out. We had a special request for a credit card wallet in orange and silver seatbelt webbing with dark gray nylon card pockets.
This one was a special request for my good friend and awesome art teacher, Pam. A year or so ago, I gave her a toiletry case with a print I knew she would love. It turns out that her daughter also loves it and keeps trying to run off with it. So Pam ordered a second one for her daughter’s birthday. This one features a flashy red interior and zipper.
We have a longtime customer who has an unfortunate habit of losing smartphones (and their cases). So far he’s dropped one in the bay and left another on a plane. Last time he ordered from us, he got two custom phone cases, just to have a backup. They are still going strong and now that his partner needs a smartphone for her work, she’s come to us as well. She’s a stagehand and a ranch hand so she needed a case that will stand up to some rough treatment. She decided to get a pair of cases – one to attach to her toolbelt and another that can clip to her pocket.
What better way to work through some new bag ideas than to make bags for friends and family. Awesome holiday gifts? Check!
In our standard seatbelt messenger bag, the strap runs completely around the bag and forms the sides of the bag. Most of our bags have a single interior zippered pocket.
I wanted to see what would happen if I beefed up the design, so I made the bag deeper and added pockets to the inside and outside.
The experiment turned out pretty well and there is a good chance the new version will turn up in the shop in a few months.
Will likes a big bag. He uses his bag to haul around large amounts of library books, and random stuff he needs throughout the day. I made Will an M-9 (nine strips wide) in Fire aka black with oxblood and cranberry red stripes. It’s actually a little too big of a bag for the current .retool. sewing machines – there was much rolling and folding of the excess material. There may have also been some minor cursing at times.
The sides of the bag are two webbing strips wide (a little under 4 inches). I used a contrasting color for the side panels, red for Will’s bag. The shoulder strap wraps all the way around the bag and is stitched securely to the bottom of the bag. I really like the black strip of webbing against the flashier red webbing. And no matter how many heavy books he throws in there, I’m pretty confident that strap isn’t going anywhere!
Under the flap, I added two pockets for carrying smaller items because, really, it’s hard to have too many pockets. I wanted the pockets to be easy to access, yet still secure so I went with a flap closure without an additional fastener. The outside of the pockets is 1000D Cordura® nylon. The pockets are fully lined in contrasting burgundy pack cloth. One of the pockets is just about square, the other is rectangular.
Onto the interior. The inside of the bag has a zippered pocket in burgundy pack cloth. It also has 2 slip pocket dividers attached to the back of the bag – perfect for papers or gym clothes. You can’t see it in the photos, but the interior bottom of the bag is the same red webbing as the side panels (it’s one long continuous strip). The red makes it easier to see what’s in the bottom of the bag. Plus, it looks sharp.
I made Jamye a smaller bag, an M-7, which is still large enough to hold a 13″ MacBook. His bag is in our newest colorway, Venom. It’s black with foliage green and lime green. The side panel is in the foliage green webbing. I used a grayish-green pack cloth for the pocket lining and interior pockets. It’s a pleasingly close match to the foliage green webbing. Here are some photos of his bag:
Welcome to our blog. We write semi-regularly about new product announcements, projects in progress, vegan treats, and random San Francisco Bay Area topics.
We make vegan wallets, bags and other accessories. We sell our products online here. Here’s a small sample of our work:
Work is well under way on our latest prototype and we wanted to share our progress with you.
This one is for the folks who have a lot to carry and want to keep it all organized.
It’s relatively easy for us to design mini wallets, because that’s we tend to want to use. However, we fully realize that not everyone is looking to cut down on what they cart around every day and that’s just fine with us. The challenging part for us is to try to design a larger piece that fits within our aesthetic.
We’ve been working on a large wallet for ages, (an embarrassingly long time, in fact). Nothing we came up with felt quite right. Our test versions were either too bulky, didn’t seem to have a good mix of features, or the proportions just seemed off.
We think we finally have it figured out and our prototype is ready for field testing. We’re excited!
We recently had a request for a custom passport wallet – the customer wanted to add a zippered pocket. I played around for a bit and decided to form a pocket on the outside by folding the seat belt webbing and stitching up the sides (she loved the results, by the way – yay!). I liked the design, too and thought it would scale up nicely (our passport wallets aren’t quite long enough to hold paper money unfolded).
The next issue was the interior of the wallet. I’ve been experimenting with bag linings lately and that really came in handy. I decided to essentially line the wallet with a long strip of Cordura® nylon. Then I added a bunch of pockets and slots to the ‘lining’.
The current test version features one lined zippered pocket on the outside perfect for a smartphone, a bunch of change, small cables, some lipstick, or even some pens. There is a slot behind the pocket for tucking notes.
The interior has 6 card slots that will each hold around 3 cards, a lined zippered pocket with a slot behind it for paper money or receipts, and an additional long pocket for paper money, receipts, or even a checkbook.
Stay tuned – we hope to have it ready for production later this summer!
Whenever we do a show there are at least a few people who ask us for something we don’t currently make. From time to time these interactions lead to a custom order.
At their best, custom orders are pretty cool. They can provide an opportunity to experiment with new design elements, materials, or ‘interesting’ color combinations. We’ve been lucky to have some pretty awesome customers who are great to work with. We’ll highlight some of our favorite custom orders in a future blog post.
Custom orders can also be challenging. They are almost always more time-consuming than a standard order. There may be some product testing involved with a new design or you may need to source and acquire new materials. You also need to confirm with the customer that you’ve correctly interpreted their request. This can involve several rounds of communication.
On rare occasions, you may even need to politely turn down a custom request. We’ve learned that if the project isn’t a good fit – for whatever reason – it’s in everyone’s best interest to bow out gracefully.
So, with a slight bit of trepidation, we are planning an experiment for our booth with Bazaar Bizarre at Maker Faire on May 18-19: We’ll be offering folks the opportunity to design their own wallet based on our standard seatbelt wallet.
Customers will choose the webbing and interior pocket colors. They will also have the option to add a coin pocket, ID window, and/or chain attachment. We’ll be setting aside a special section of the booth with webbing and pocket samples for people to experiment with.
We’re hoping that limiting the ‘Design A Wallet’ options will simplify the customization process. We’re really curious about whether offering a custom version of our wallet will make people more (or less) likely to ask for other types of customization. We are still planning to take custom requests for other products. And if the display causes unnecessary confusion, we’re completely prepared to dismantle it on the spot. Gracefully, of course.
Here at .retool. headquarters, we occasionally talk about how ironic it is that we are working toward making a living selling things when we neither of us really likes to participate in consumer culture. We don’t like acquiring stuff just for the sake of having it.
We do, however, both greatly enjoy objects that are well-designed and well-made. We like simple things that work and that are pleasing to the eye (and hand). We keep these concerns in mind when we design our products.
We also happen to have soft spot for small things. So we have always liked having a line of credit card wallets in addition to our billfold wallets. Credit card wallets are great if you don’t (or don’t want to) carry a ton of stuff around.
We started with a couple of basic designs.
Then we came up with two other variations.
After those two additions to the fleet, we thought we were done with credit card wallets. Recently, however, we got a request to make an even smaller version. So we came up with a few ideas and started prototyping.
We had two clear winners .
So now we make 6 different credit card wallet models – a little something for everyone.
.retool. wallets are handcrafted in San Francisco. For you.