Thursday, March 31, 2011

Zippered Bags and my Etsy Store

After reading yesterday's post about cakes, one of my loyal followers (okay--it was Susan--) suggested I look at the extremely funny "Cake Wrecks" blog ( ), and I would like to pass the suggestion along to you!  The theme of the site is "When professional cakes go horribly, hilariously wrong" and it is REALLY funny.  One cake in particular had me laughing so hard and long that I was crying and my cat was looking at me weirdly.  I won't post a picture of that one because it involved childbirth and might not be appropriate for all audiences, but here is another cake from that site which everyone can enjoy:

Today I am finally getting around to what I am best known for locally:  my zippered handbags!  Yeah!!  It all started about 7 years ago after a friend gave me some drapery fabric sample books (thanks, Elsa!).  The first bags I made were cute, but lacking in many I was motivated to keep working to make them better.  I added interfacings, pockets and a zipper, and they evolved into the popular bags I make and sell today.  Unfortunately I don't have a picture of that first bag, but I have plenty of more recent ones--take a look:

     That's my daughter modelling the cat bag; she insisted her face not be shown!

     I number each bag as I make it, and I just finished number 2111--!!  That's a lot of bags!  I've found the most popular bags to be those featuring cats or dogs; also popular are "classic" patterns like the red toile, above.  You can see what's currently for sale at my Etsy shop ( ) or, if you are in Williamsburg, Virgina, stop by Country Treasures to see a larger selection!  (I will post pictures of Country Treasures some day soon.)

I just want to mention that Etsy is a really fantastic website, where all kinds of people sell all kinds of handmade really should take a look if you have never been there before.  You can also find craft supplies and vintage items.  One of the greatest things about it is that each shop is run by an individual, so you almost always get great service and fast shipping.  Yesterday, for example, I needed a particular fabric, and I found it at Family Fabrics ( ).  I placed the order, and in less than an hour, I received an e-mail saying the package was in the mail!  Wow!  You won't get fast shipping like that from any of the big stores.

Thanks for reading.  Be happy!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cake Decorating

Cake Angelcake 11x17 Print
Today I'm veering off in another direction:  CAKE DECORATING!  I have decorated many cakes in my day, and I want to share that part of my life with you.  The picture above is a print by the artist Nancy Thomas.  She is local to my area (Williamsburg, Virginia--she lives nearby in Yorktown, and has a store in both Yorktown and Williamsburg), and you can see all her offerings at .  In 2005 she had a party to celebrate a big anniversary for her stores (20 years, I think) and her staff secretly commissioned me to replicate the cake in this print for the party.  Here it is:

The cake was HUGE, about 3 feet tall, not counting the flowers on top!  It took me four days in which I freaked out the entire time--I've never been so nervous in my life!!
      Day one:  I made the flowers, leaves and angel decorations out of fondant.  They needed to dry before I added them to the cake.  There were a lot, and I had to make extra to allow for breakage, and it took all day. 
     Day two:  I started baking.  It was four separate 16" cakes stacked on top of each other, and it was all from scratch, and it took a lot of batter to make all that cake!! I also make the buttercream icing that day.
     Day three:  I finished baking, and got down to the business of frosting all that cake.  The buttercream I use is very sensitive to heat, so every cake layer had to be refrigerated when it wasn't being worked on--my whole fridge was full of cake and icing!  I started decorating with colored icing, leaving the fondant decorations for the final day. 
     Day four:  I finished the cake for transport in two pieces:  the bottom three layers all stacked, frosted and decorated, and the top layer, with all the flowers on top, was separate.  I drove to the Yorktown store where the party was to be held and finished the assembly there, which included adding all the fondant angels at the seam where the top and bottom sections came together.

I've mentioned that the cake was a surprise--and Nancy Thomas LOVED it!  I wasn't at the party to see her reaction, but a few days later I received a gift from her:  a copy of the cake print that her cake was based on, with a message for me on the back:

Can you read the message?  It says:  Dear Leslie, The cake was magnificent and was the STAR of the most wonderful evening of my life!  You are truly an artist, with all my heart, thank you!  Fondly, Nancy   Nov. 2005"      Hey, if an artist says I'm an artist, I guess I'm an artist!

     I got into cake decorating after I graduated from cooking school, back in the 80's.  After I married my wonderful husband Bill, and before the sweet babies Wade and Jenna were born, we were stationed in Germany with the Army, and I started making decorated cakes for the other military people there.  The German cakes are different than ours--not as sweet, for one thing--so the Americans flocked to me and I was often overwhelmed with orders, which I baked in our tiny apartment kitchen.  Later, when we moved to Japan and the children were small, I baked for the military people again.  Here are a few of them:

I thought I was going to talk about my bags today--well, maybe tomorrow!  Thanks for reading this!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


     I'm really more of a bag and quilt maker than a monster maker--but the cute little monster who kicked off this blog had just taken shape in my sewing room the day before, so I wanted to show him off!  Today I want to talk about my quilts:  I taught myself to quilt at age 14, and until about 7 years ago that was my predominant creative outlet.  The pictures above are examples of my style.  The top quilt is a wall-hanging, about 24" x 36".  I made it about 10 years ago, when "country" colors were very popular (of course, they still are with a lot of people!).  The "Welcome" quilt is a very small wall-hanging, about 12" x 14"; I've made and sold a lot of these, and I frequently finish it as a pillow.  The lower picture is a baby quilt I made for my cousin's first baby who was born in 2009.  I love hearts and incorporate them into most of the things I make, and the bright colors of this quilt really make me happy.  I designed these quilts myself (I hate to have to follow a pattern!!). 
     Tomorrow I will show you pictures of my current obsession:  bags!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Welcome To My Blog!

Let's get this blog rolling with a project I just completed!  The cute little monster above is Zipper-Face.  I made him from a piece of beautiful purple velvet that I didn't even know I had until I went digging through a box of  fabric!  He is about 11" tall and is stuffed with fiberfill.  Open his mouth, and you find his equally-cute little friend, Herb (below).  Herb is made of wool felt, is about 3" long, and has a pin on the back for wearing.  These two are part of a package I just  put together for a swap on Craftster.

If you haven't been to Craftster before, what are you waiting for?  Go to  to experience every kind of crafty fun--and I do mean everything.  You can see what other people have made, and post pictures of your own projects.  If you sign up as a member, you will have your choice of dozens of fun swaps to participate in.  I can't believe I didn't know about it until 3 months ago. But thanks to my friend Susan who told me about it, I'm there every day now; I can't get enough!  If you like crafts, you will love it too.  (Hi Susan!)