The Process of Custom Orders

I haven’t taken the process pledge because I don’t think I am good at documenting or explaining my process. I thought it might be fun to try it out with a custom order I received recently.

I am always thrilled to receive custom orders for my shop, especially when they come from friends of mine. I want my finished products to exceed the customer’s expectations. But it can be a little nerve-wracking when the item I’m making is actually a prototype.

I was excited and nervous when my good friend Paula recently asked me if I could make her a laptop bag. She gave me a couple specifications and preferences, and let me loose!

Thrilled, yes, but I was feeling the pressure. Picking out the fabrics was definitely not a problem. I had a vision of what I wanted this bag to look like. That vision is exactly what you see in these photos!

I did a little research on different laptop bag styles I could try, and I sketched out ideas in my sketchbook, based on the dimensions of Paula’s laptop. I taped a couple pieces of 11″ x 14″ paper together to have one sheet big enough to sketch out a pattern to fit a laptop measuring 17 inches wide by 12 deep, and another sheet big enough to draw a pattern the flap. I made lots of notes to remind myself as I proceeded through each step of assembly, things like room for ease and seam allowances. (I forgot to incorporate those things in my first clutch experiment, which is why they ended up smaller than I wanted. Duh!)

Joanna recently asked me if I would make her a red and pink version of my patchwork handbags from my recent experiment.

Lucky for me, I had already made two of these, so my process was already worked out.

I’m a small shop just finding my way, so having custom orders are great design practice for me. I don’t have many customers (yet), so my focus has been on product design and production. I always end up tearing out a seam or two, tweaking the fit, and making modifications as I proceed. I try really hard to think of everything ahead of time, but I still end up getting to the middle and having a new idea. I learn something new every time. And I quickly get over those anxious feelings because I get so wrapped up in the process!

19 thoughts on “The Process of Custom Orders

  1. Love it. Love the colors, the flap is really neat. I’ve made 1 for a lap top for my daughter years ago, now I see yours and boy alot I could have done when I made mine. Keep going you are on a roll of wonderful bags. They just keep getting better.

  2. i LOVE it!!! the design, the fabrics, the quilting… everything!!! you should believe in yourself more. I suffer from the same “disease” 🙂

  3. It’s nice that your customers trust your vision. You do such beautiful work that I can bet they are thrilled when they receive their bags. They show so much attention to detail that you don’t get in mass-produced items.

  4. Hello Terri,special colours for special people. The bags are beautiful. I hope you get swamped with orders now. Happy sewing.

  5. It is really cute! I bet your friend loves it!!! I can totally relate to the nerves you get when making a custom order. I get the same way when I quilt quilts for my mom or sister! Even though I know what I’m doing, I’m always paranoid I’ll mess up! You did a beautiful job. Thanks for explaining more about the process!!

  6. I really like this! Great colors and design and you added piping!

    I wonder how many of us have forgotten to add in the seam allowance:)

  7. You did a wonderful job! I always feel the same pressure too. I think that we all do. After all, your reputation is on the line!

    You have nothing to worry about!

    Thanks for sharing, it makes all of us feel a little more normal!
    Take care, I hope your family reunion this weekend is all you hope for!


  8. Dearest terri, i too am one of those that adore custom orders! Your bags are really gorgeous and the fabrics are soo lovely! Thanks so much for sharing. Have a lovely merry happy weekend and love to you!

  9. Awesome! Thanks for sharing…I have my reservations about sharing my process because I’m all over the place! Your bags are gorgeous!

  10. Wow, very cool bags! I am always amazed by folks who sew and can create such wonderful things with pieces of fabric. I am just learning how to use the darn machine and sew paper more than fabric!

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