A Maine Icon

I am having a hard time believing that this coming Monday is Memorial Day, and with it the unofficial start to the summer season. In a normal year, I wouldn’t need the calendar to remind me of the start of the season; I would be able to tell by the flurry of activity in my small coastal Maine town. As we all know, nothing is normal right now. This year is definitely different: the local beach finally opened up last week after being closed for 2 months, and there is a quiet sense of activity and anticipation as seasonal homes are being aired out, and local businesses and restaurants are preparing to, once again, open their doors. Soon.

I love the summer season. When you live on the coast, this is the season you dream about and endure long, harsh winters for. What’s not to love about spending warm sunny days near the ocean! And what could be more synonymous with a day at the beach than a “bean” bag–an L.L.Bean tote bag. The beach and their bags just go together–especially when you’re in Maine.

I have spent this past week working on creating my own paper version of the classic L.L.Bean tote bag, and I decided the best way to show you what I came up with was to create a step-by-step tutorial. I promise you there will be more pictures that yada-yada, so not to worry!

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I started by looking online at the traditional L.L.Bean tote bag, and making a list of what features make their bag so iconic. This is the list I came up with:

  1. Neutral bag color
  2. Solid contrasting bag base and all-in-one bag straps and handles
  3. Triangle-shaped contrast on sides of bag
  4. White stitching on bag base and side straps/handles
  5. Front pocket
  6. Logo label to right of pocket

The one and only L.L.Bean bag I have ever owned looks just like the one pictured above, with the addition of a front pocket and a logo label to the right of the pocket. I have added these two features to my list.

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This is one of their current bag choices, and it has the front pocket and logo label to give you a visual reference.

Keeping my list in mind, I started working on my bag. Luckily I didn’t have to start from scratch–I was given a tutorial for a L.L.Bean bag by a fellow Stampin’ Up! demonstrator, Mary Kate Scott, at a stamping event she hosted last Fall. She used her bag, which was her original design, to hold raffle tickets, and she graciously shared her pattern instructions with me after the event. I pulled out her instructions and took a closer look at her version. Mary Kate’s bag was designed to hold 3 1/2″ x 5″ notecards, so it was fairly tall. She used ribbon for the all-in-one bag straps and handles, and included a plain front pocket on which she stamped her initials.

Using her measurements and instructions, I made a prototype bag. After I was finished, I knew I wanted to make some changes to the design–namely, I wanted to shorten the overall height of the bag; I wanted to use cardstock for the side straps and handles; I wanted to use patterned paper for the front pocket; and I wanted to add a logo tag. What follows is the tutorial for my version of a L.L.Bean bag. NOTE:  Cutting instructions will be provided at the end of this post.

BAG FOUNDATION

The basic bag structure is made using a pattern that has been around for a long time called Box in a Bag. It involves making a simple box and then wrapping a strip of paper around the outside of the box to form the bag. This is what it looks like when it’s finished:IMG_7747

and this is what it looks like from the inside:

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I chose white as my neutral bag color, and navy for my solid contrasting color. Make sure that when you are making your box that you glue the box tabs to the outside of the box, so that you look at a seam-free box on the inside. I also started wrapping the white strip of paper in 11/16ths inch from the left side of one of the long sides of the box. This way the paper seam can be covered up by a side strap. (more info to follow on this)

FRONT POCKET

I made the pocket out of navy gingham paper and added a thin strip of red paper at the top. I centered it on the long side of the bag with the seam. I made marks at 7/8″ and 2 7/8″; measuring from the left side of the bag, and adhered the pocket between those two marks. Make these same measurement marks on the back side of the bag.

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BAG STRAPS & LOGO TAG

I cut 4 strips of navy paper for the bag straps that are the same height as the bag, and my logo tag was made out of a small square of red paper. I scored the tag so that I would have a tab to glue under the outside edge of the right side strap, and I added navy stars as my “logo”.

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I started adhering the side straps with the one to the right of the pocket. Before I stuck it down, I held it up to the bag and attached the logo tag at the height of the pocket.

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The other 3 straps were attached–the strap to the left of the pocket nicely covers up the seam, and the back 2 straps were attached to the outside of the measurement marks I made earlier. I purposely placed the seam in the front of the bag, so that when you look inside, the back of the bag is clean and seamless–its just more professional looking.

HANDLES

The handles were cut from navy paper and are the same width as the side straps. I measured down 1/2″ from the top of the bag and made 2 marks on the inside of the side straps. I curled each handle strip and attached each end on top of the side straps just shy of the 1/2″ marks. I followed the same steps for the back handle.

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COLOR BANDS

The final step is to wrap navy bands around the top and bottom of the bag. This not only helps to create the illusion of the contrasting bag base, but the bands also cover up the handle seams and unfinished edges.

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Tada–my L.L.Bean bag is finished and I”m so excited– it looks so authentic! I didn’t end up adding the white stitching or the triangle side pieces–this is a small bag and there isn’t room for the triangle pieces, and I thought the white stitching might detract from the clean look of the design.

Now that I had the design and measurements solidified, I made several more bags. I couldn’t help myself!

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I couldn’t have a navy bag without making a red one, and I’m glad I did. I love the red version, and I think it’s because the L.L.Bean bag I own is red and white.

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I also made a few in pastel colors, and I embossed the word “Enjoy” in white embossing powder for the logo tags on these bags.

That’s it my friends–we are at the end of my “bean” bag story. I so appreciate you stopping by today, and I hope you are all healthy and in good spirits as your part of the country begins to slowly open up. Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet; the sand be your seat; and your friends out-number the stars.”

-C-

CUTTING INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Box:  2 1/2″ x 4 3/4″; score each side at 1/2″
  2. Bag: 3 1/4″ x 11″
  3. Pocket: 2″ x 1 7/8″
  4. Pocket Accent: 1/8″ x 2″
  5. Side Straps x 4: 1/2″ x 3 1/4″
  6. Logo Tag: 5/8″ x 5/8″; score at 3/8″
  7. Handles x 2: 1/2″ x 7″
  8. Contrast Bands: 1/2″ x 11″

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Gift Tag Series–Part IV

I am down to designing the last 5 tags for this final bag style:

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The inspiration for this tag came from a Christmas ornament that I gave my husband several years ago. He has worked in corporate finance his entire career, and when I saw this ornament, I knew I had to get it for him. It is actually hanging above the towel hooks in our powder room, and, each time I look at it, I am reminded that I have always wanted to design a card or tag based on the concept:

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I think this is such a clever ornament, and I just love the play on words! I wanted each of my tags to feature an iconic, summer image, and surfboards definitely fit the bill.  The more I thought about the basic concept; the more I could picture the beginnings of a tag design in my mind. Since I have always wanted to re-create this idea, and since there is no time like the present, I decided to jump in and see what I could come up with. I can’t wait to show you how this tag turned out!

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I don’t own any surfboard stamps, so, just like with the flip flops, I found a template on line and reduced the scale to fit the tag base. The basic idea I had was to have 3 surfboards leaning up against a palm tree, so here is how I set the scene:

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The illusions of sand and water were created by sponging the inks directly onto the white background. The design was beginning to come together, but the pink board was too dark, and the surfboards look like fish. They needed definition and embellishment!

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Much better! Now all I needed was the lettering, and this is where I struggled. I had two options for the lettering stamps I chose to work with: I could either have white letters on ink squares

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or brown letters on colored card stock

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The original idea I had in my mind was to use the brown ink blocks with the white lettering, but when I laid it all out, I began to second guess myself. So I spent three days stamping all of the options pictured above, and, in the end, it came down to either the brown ink squares with the white lettering, or the brown letters on the pink card stock. I was really trying to stay away from using a lot of pink, so, after all of this time and effort, I circled back around to my initial choice.

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I glued the individual letter squares onto a card stock strip to keep them straight.

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And here it is; my finished tag. May I introduce you to my version of a summer “board meeting?! This tag took a lot of time, and trial and error, but I am really happy that I stuck with it. I love the final result, and I think this would be a fun tag to use for a summer company gathering. You’ll notice that I attached the tag with a mini clothespin rather than tying it on. After all of the time and effort I put in to this tag, I just couldn’t bare to punch a hole in it!

I’ve come to the end of my summer gift tag challenge, and I have designed and created 20 tags in a little over 2 weeks. Here’s a look at each individual tag:

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I set out to make bright, colorful tags featuring iconic summer images that coordinated with the 4 different bag styles that I found in my “stash”. I definitely think I accomplished my goal, and, as a result,  I have a basket full of fun tags to use throughout this season.

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Do you have a favorite? Each tag is so different from the others, and I did that on purpose–I wanted to end up with a fun assortment of choices that would work for a variety of recipients and gatherings.

I have mixed feelings about this challenge coming to an end–on the one hand, I have thoroughly enjoyed designing and creating these tags, but, on the other hand, I could use some time to restore a sense of order to my craft room. It’s a situation! Thank you for spending this time with me, and I hope we can continue to get together more often this summer. Until next time, take care, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet; the sand be your seat; and your friends out-number the stars.”

-C-

 

 

Summer Gift Tag Series–Part II

As a quick recap–I found some gift bags in my craft room two weeks ago, and I have challenged myself to make summer gift tags for each of the four different bag styles. In Part I of this series, I made a tag to go with the polka dot teal bag:

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and today, in Part II of this series, I will be designing a tag for the solid pink bag:

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I want this tag to be bright and fun, so that it stands out against the solid background of the bag. In thinking about that goal, colorful flip flops came to mind, so that became the starting point for this tag. I played around with the flip flop stamps that I have, but I just couldn’t come up with a pattern that I liked. So, I abandoned the stamps and found a flip flop template on line. As my Mom used to say: “Sometimes you don’t try harder; you try different”. I will now let my pictures tell the story of my design process from start:

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to finish.

Once I had the template enlarged to my satisfaction, I cut the flip flop bases out of three different patterned papers. The patterned paper isn’t as sturdy as regular card stock, so I backed each tag with white card stock for extra stability. When I looked at the tag bases together, the navy ones were too dark, so I made additional lime green and teal flip flops to bring the total back to 6. Once I added the flowers and the sentiment, these flip flops really came to life. These tags are bright; they are fun; and they are the perfect summer decoration for these pink gift bags! They are nothing like I had pictured, but exactly what I had wanted to accomplish!

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Fun tags can’t be attached to the bags just any ole’ way, so I used the dog tag chains instead of bakers twine or clothespins. I got the idea from a new pair of shoes I purchased this past weekend. There was a key chain attached to one of the shoes with this type of chain. Inspiration is everywhere!

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I am halfway through this challenge, and my basket is half full with these colorful, summer gift tags.  They just make me smile! Stay tuned for Part III, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet; the sand be your seat; and your friends out-number the stars.”

-C-