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!