I love when a customer likes my work so much that she orders gift for others! My super customer, Lisa, ordered these two "Ellen" handbags for a sister and friend. 
The photos above and right were taken in my basement sewing studio. The nice lighting was created by only a flourescent light on the ceiling and a fabulous BlueMax floor light. I didn't use my camera's flash.

I like having the dress form/mannequin to hold my purses! She gives good perspective for size and style. 

But I am always experimenting with my product photos, which sometimes could look more professional. Some articles I've been reading gave me the idea to try a new location today. So I headed up to my dining room, where a set of patio doors allows a lot of  light in. Today in Wisconsin, it's overcast and snowing, but the snow provided enough bright light for my photo shoot.

Here's my super-fancy (ha!) setup. Two white posterboards served as backdrops and reflectors. 

Look at all that light coming in!

I didn't turn on any other lights, and I used my Canon Rebel XT without the flash.

The results, which I edited with Photoshop Elements (to crop, brighten, add a bit of saturation where the light washed the colors out)...
Not bad, huh? I'm not sure I like the table showing on the first two shots. Like I said, I'm experimenting. Here are the inside pics, which I truly thought wouldn't turn out. It looked so dark in there when I was shooting!
Even with my big ol' hand holding it open, I think it's a decent shot, even sort of professional.  

I don't really mind where the light gets super-bright. It's kind of artsy.

The front of the bag is washed out, but that's OK, because it's not the focus of this picture.

I'm amazed that the pockets and business label are in focus.

Here's the other side of the interior, with the zippered pocket and key fob. 

Nice, natural light that shows the fabric's true colors. 

Here's the purse hanging from my chandelier with a posterboard behind it!
If this bird purse looks familiar, it's because the original "Ellen" handbag was made of the same fabric! See the original one at left, which I photographed in my basement studio.

It looks good, but I have many problems with shadows when shooting with a single lamp.

I had two natural-light lamps for a while, but one broke.

Thanks for reading and viewing! I appreciate any comments, questions or suggestions! -- Rene
Weekends are for enjoying, right? Well, when my kids are busy with Legos and video games, and my husband is catching up on TV, what do I choose to do? Sew, of course! During the week, I'm always working on customer orders, and I'm definitely not caught up. But on the weekends, I allow myself time to try new patterns or experiment with techniques. I consider myself to be in continuing education, so it's important!

When I saw the Emily Bag online, I fell in love with the shape and large size. I just had to buy the pattern (ithinksew.com) and make some! I've made totes and I've made purses, but this bag combines the two styles. 
The exterior is a heavyweight home decor fabric in aqua. It has a subtle tone-on-tone stripe. It's more green than blue. I think it's an outdoor fabric, meant for patio furniture cushions and such. It's very strong and durable. Here's an extreme closeup from my Flickr feed, but it looks a bit too green in that photo. The interior is a brown/aqua floral cotton that matches perfectly!
The Emily Bag can be used as a tote or huge purse. I wanted it to have the features of a Sew Much Cuteness purse, so I added a zip pocket and a darted phone pocket to the lining. 
It was hard to photograph the lining because it's such a huge bag. It doesn't stand on its own, so here's the best I could do.
The approx. dimensions:
18 inches wide
14.5 inches high
7 inches deep
7 inch strap height

Emily has a flat bottom and wide side gussets. Because of the "V" on each side, the top of the bag opens wide too. 

It closes with an antique bronze-colored magnetic snap. 

This bag can be carried on the shoulder, if you're petite or thin. It's a bit snug for me to carry it that way, so I plan to make the straps longer next time.

The strap length is perfect for carrying with your hand or on the crook of your arm. 

This bag is made with typical Sew Much Cuteness quality construction. I double- and triple-stitched all stress points. I also sewed the exterior seams down, so the bag can handle lots of weight.

The interior and bottom pieces are interfaced with my favorite Pellon Shape-Flex. The handles have two layers of that interfacing.

This is a great overnight bag, school bag, work bag, shopping bag, diaper bag, large purse, etc.! It's really quite feminine and elegant... totally modern and eye-catching!

I will be listing this bag on Etsy for $65. You can custom order one in your choice of fabrics too. 

Thanks for reading! I truly can't wait to show you things after I finish them!

-- Rene

Only through January, when you order an "Ellen" purse from me, the price is $37 instead of $45. Current turnaround time is 1-2 weeks. 

To catch the eyes of different people, I've created a few different Etsy listings for my January featured purse, the "Ellen!" They each have different sample photos of purses I've made for other customers. You and I will work together to pick your perfect fabrics from my stash! Or, purchase your own fabric and mail to me, and I will discount your price. 
Here's the original "Ellen" purse, as requested by my friend and customer (bet you can't guess her name!). 

Etsy listing is HERE

This one was made for my friend/customer, Lisa, who was IN LOVE with this bird fabric! I don't have anymore, unfortunately, and it was extremely difficult to find. But it's a gorgeous example of the "Ellen" purse! 

Etsy listing is HERE

This listing features Pam's bee-themed purse! I don't have any more of this adorable fabric either. But I have plenty of amazing fabrics -- some new, some vintage, some ready to be repurposed -- so that YOU can have a one-of-a-kind bag, too!

Etsy listing is HERE

I am planning on photographing my available fabrics soon, to make it easier for you to make your choices. Thank you and have a glorious Tuesday! -- Rene
I hope you're not getting tired of seeing "Ellen" purses in different fabrics! I've gotten quite a few orders for them since announcing the January special! I am definitely not getting tired of making them -- they are quite fun. Here's a bee-utiful purse for my customer, Pam! 
I really enjoy the lining of this purse, although it was a bit difficult to photograph. It's a rayon blend (I think) from my stash. It was stretchy and difficult to work with until I interfaced it with Pellon Shape-Flex. Gosh, I love that stuff! It gives such a wonderful feel to any fabric. It's woven so fabrics keep their natural draping and softness, but they become stronger and more structured. I use this interfacing in nearly every sewing project.

Another thing you DON'T see is my soft batting. I prefer Pellon Nature's Touch, which is natural cotton and very plush! The combination of the interfacing and batting give my purses the perfect amount of thickness and structure. They are simply wonderful to touch, too. I can't capture the tactile experience in photos, unfortunately!
Would you believe the purse's exterior is made from 2 new cotton napkins? I'm so glad I picked up that set of 4 napkins -- I also made an insulated lunch tote out of them. It's currently for sale in my Etsy shop, if you are interested. Here's a look:

Here are some more photos of the purse. Enjoy! If you want to order your custom "Ellen" purse while it's on special, please checkout with this link. Thank you!

SPECIAL! January's item of the month is the "Ellen" everyday casual purse. Instead of its regular $45 price, it will be only $37 this month! 

"Ellen" purse is shaped like a small tote bag with a flat bottom and lots of storage. Lovely interior has a deep, large zip pocket, 2 cell phone pockets and a pen pocket. There's also a lobster clasp key fob for your keys. Closes with a strong magnetic snap. You can choose exterior piping detail or criss-cross binding. 

Approx. measurements: 10" H / 13" W (top) / 11" W (bottom) / 5" bottom depth (flat bottom) / 13" strap drop length. 

TO ORDER: Send me a message through Facebook or this blog, and I will help you select your fabrics from my huge stash! 

Your own CUSTOM purse for only $37! Feel free to share this special. 

Press "Play" to see some previous custom Ellen purses:


    Rene Smits

    Welcome to my passion! 
    I specialize in creating high-quality custom purses and bags. Feel free to contact me with your custom requests. I also sell my ready-made pieces on Etsy: Sew Much Cuteness.

    Etsy shop

    Facebook page



    Flickr (fabric options):


    Cross Body
    Cross Body
    Custom Orders
    Ellen Purse
    Emily Bag
    Fabric Stores
    Jill Purse
    Lunch Tote
    Madeleine Bag
    Messenger Bag
    Sewing Studio
    Tote Bag
    Zigzag Bag


    April 2013
    February 2013
    January 2013