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″

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stars, Stripes and Sailboats

Let me start by saying that it wasn’t my intention to spend my afternoon crafting, but sometimes impromptu crafting just happens and it is so much fun. And, believe you me, I ended up having more fun that one person should have on a rainy afternoon!

I was looking for some pictures on my computer when I ran across this picture:

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This was the window display of a paper store we walked by, and my heart skipped a beat or two when I saw this. I took this picture and then went into the shop to find out more about these absolutely adorable sailboats. I learned that all of these sailboats were made out of wrapping paper from a simple origami pattern. My favorite design was the polka dot paper at the bottom of the rows, so I ended up buying some of that paper, and left the shop thinking that the first thing I was going to do when I got home was look up how to make an origami sailboat.

Fast forward 2 years. I still have the wrapping paper, and I have bookmarked a pattern for a sailboat, but nothing more. Well…..I really can’t explain all that happened in the next 2 hours–all I know is that this picture sparked an idea, and the results of that idea were totally unexpected and totally awesome.

I began by making a sample sailboat from the pattern I had found. I started out with a 5″ square piece of wrapping paper, and ended up with a sailboat that was 3 1/2″ wide. I thought that was too small, so after some additional experimenting, I settled on a 7″ square piece of paper which gave me a sailboat that was 5″ wide. So it’s important to keep in mind that the end design will be smaller than the initial size paper square you start out with.

In what seemed like only a matter of minutes, I had four sailboats

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You could easily end up with a whole fleet of these babies in a matter of a few hours; it’s that quick and easy! I love the contrast of the white sails against the navy paper, and the pattern gives directions on how to accomplish this. The sailboats in the window display don’t have the contrast, so my best guess is that 2 squares of paper were adhered back to back before folding.

This is the point where things got interesting. I now have 4 sweet, navy and white polka dot sailboats; what am I going to do with them? The number 4 ended up being the key to the end result–I thought about all of the things I would need 4 of something for, and one of the first things that came to mind was table settings. And the rest goes something like this:

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I put one of the sailboats on a plate to check for size, and what hit me wasn’t anything to do with the size of the sailboat, but the fact that I had some major work to do to dress up this plate. Talk about boring! This was a situation! I definitely liked the size of the sailboat in comparison to the inner portion of the plate, but I needed to add something that added color and height, so that the sailboat would have some presence and take center stage.

One of the other pictures I ran across before all of this crafting began was of the rosettes I made to decorate the outside of my hand pie envelopes several years ago:

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I had a “eureka” moment, and decided to make some rosettes for the sailboats to sit on. I’ve never made large rosettes before, but I decided there was no time like the present and dove right in. The width of the inner portion of my plate is 7″, so I started with 7″ squares of paper. I cut 3 squares for each rosette. I accordion folded, or fan folded, each square in 1″ increments and then folded each strip in half and taped it together:

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From there I taped all three sections together, and when you attach the last two parts together, you get a rosette:

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I topped each rosette with a starburst circle to cover up the middle, and now was the moment of truth–were these rosettes going to transform the plates from “why bother” to “wow”?

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Oh I think so, hand’s down! At this point I am kind of in shock! Decorating my table for the Fourth of July was the furthest thing from my mind 2 hours ago, and yet now I am staring at the sweetest; most charming table decorations ever! These decorations combine both the nautical and patriotic themes in a way that I never would have imagined, and I couldn’t wait to see what the table looked like with all four places set!

And so, that is the tale of how I went from a picture of a window display

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to a table display

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all in 2 hours on a rainy afternoon. I was so excited with the end result that I couldn’t wait to show you. I did add some tiny star table scatter, which I know is impractical, but it looks good. Sometimes impractical is worth it!

Thank you for taking the time to stop by, 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 III

Today I will be focusing on creating a tag for the solid teal bag:

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and this tag is inspired by a trip my husband and I took to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park this past weekend. As you stand atop the summit of Cadillac Mountain, you have a panoramic view of Southwest Harbor and the Atlantic ocean. The boats in the harbor and out on the water look like small white specks from the mountain top. My pictures certainly don’t do the views justice, but you can at least get a sense of the scale of the harbor below:

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I love seeing the sailboats out on the water, so today’s tag will feature a sailboat and also a more neutral color scheme. The following pictures will show how this tag came together from start:

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to finish.

Since my other two tags have trended more to the feminine side, I wanted to mix things up and create something that is more masculine and versatile. The sailboat image; the stars; and the nautical color scheme all work together to accomplish this goal. The sailboat fits really well on the oval shape of this tag, but I needed to fill in a lot of white space around it. Splitting up the sentiment into separate words is a great technique to take up some of the extra white space.

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Looking at this picture, I am amazed at how this tag totally transforms the feel of this gift–the bag color by itself is definitely feminine, and yet when combined with the tag and plain tissue paper, it takes on a more neutral appearance which would be suitable for any recipient.

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I am 3/4ths of the way through this challenge–15 tags made; 5 tags to go. I am just “sailing right along” with these tags (I apologize–I couldn’t help myself!) and my basket is filling up nicely. I hope you’ll check back for the final part of this series, as, in my opinion, I have saved the best for last! Have a great week, and, as always, remember:

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

-C-