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Adventures in Bag Making: The Commission

Hello everyone, hope your December is going well. After I write this post I have to go catch up on all my blogging buddies’ posts as I was away from Blogtopia for a while.

A week ago I finished the Tula Pink fabric Range Backpack commission. I briefly talked about it in this post – Another Bag Making Class and Another Project.

Someone had reached out to me via the Inquiries page on my website in November and asked if I knew anyone who was selling a Tula Pink fabric quilt. They wanted to do a special Christmas gift for their sister who loves Tula Pink fabric. I reached out to a couple quilter connections who’ve also love Tula Pink fabric and have made Tula Pink fabric quilts, but none of them had a quilt to sell or time to take on a commission so close to Christmas.

I did suggest Etsy but the only nice (in my opinion) Tula Pink quilt I saw for sale was like $1000. I am not surprised as it was gorgeous and several of you in the past have shared posts about how much time and money it takes to make a quilt (and have it professionally long arm quilted); and I’ve had the same experience of course.

So (perhaps like an idiot), I offered an alternative – I could make the sister a Range Backpack out of my Tula Pink fabric scraps…how hard could that be I (foolishly) thought?

I was quite ambitious in my design at first trying to use as many small scraps as possible and here is a photo of my design wall that I shared in that previous post I linked above, showing the piecing for the backpack:

Quickly (but not quickly enough), I discovered that if I was to make the backpack this way, I would not have it finished until January.


Because the backpack was designed to be made with canvas, waxed canvas, canvas-linen blend, etc. fabric. If you want to use quilter cotton weight fabric (which my Tula Pink scraps were) then you had to QUILT with batting and canvas backing the fabric,


Why didn’t I read that part of the pattern before I offered to make the backpack?!?!?

Ahhh sarcasm. Sweet sweet sarcasm. What would we do without you funny memes  of the day Noelito Flow www.f… | Stupid people funny, Witty memes, Funny  memes sarcastic

So piecing the fabric and then quilting it, was going to take forever. Plus is was getting into December and I was facing of course a challenging anniversary, as well as my own last minute projects for December (and holiday shopping, etc.). Also I was in the process of opening my Textiles & Smiles Etsy shop (and will update you on that in a future post).

So I decided I was going to have to break into my Tula Pink yardage (frown) instead of just using scraps. So with that move the backpack became more expensive to make. Then with all the time I spent quilting each section (I still made it scrappy as the person requested that I use a lot of Tula Pink fabrics in the quilt) I am pretty sure if you minus the cost of supplies from what I charged for the commission, I made about 75 cents to 1 dollar an hour for my time – ha!

But it was a lesson and I will rethink commissions in the future. I did finally decide to look at it more as a “labor of love” and feel gratitude that I get to be part of a special gift for a special person. (And I got reimbursed for the cost of the supplies and for a tiny bit of time…).

Hope that does not sound too whiny. I was overjoyed when I finished the piece and could wrap it up nicely for shipping. They were going to celebrate Christmas as a family on 12/21 so with the magic of priority shipping, I was able to get it to them on time.

So here are photos from the creation of to the completion of the backpack (it feels like I lived and breathed this backpack and did a couple all nighters on it):

You can see in the photo above that although I had to quilt larger pieces of fabric to make the sections, I tried to make it more “scrappy” by creating and sewing on “patches” of Tula Pink fabrics.

One thing that I did enjoy while making the backpack was getting to use a bunch of my Aurifil threads I rarely use – very fun colors:

Well it’s all shipped off and per the postal tracking it was delivered. I’ve not heard back from the person who requested the commission and I am not sure I will get feedback on how it went when the sister opened her gift on 12/21, but we will see.

After I shipped it off, I came across this awesome quote by the author Barbara Kingsolver, and I took her advice:

Now I am working on a couple of my personal projects and relaxing and enjoying the holiday season. I am not even working on more stuff for my Etsy shop yet.

46 thoughts on “Adventures in Bag Making: The Commission”

  1. Love this post and the bag which reminds me of the ones I see and buy made with love & care on my Gambian visits.
    Can identify with both quotes and Morgan Freeman one is priceless. Not had chance to check into reader recently & glad I did, thank you. Seasons greetings to you and yours πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A meme!!! A hilarious meme, too : ) That bag looks so cozy…and I realize that’s a weird word to describe a bag, but it really does.

    Your situation reminds me of a woman one time at the post office who had clearly just sold something on ebay (or other site) and when she was told the cost to ship, she whined, “But then I’m not going to make anything for the sale after that.” Like it was the post office’s fault. At least you own up to your booboo…and yes, lesson learned : )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I enjoyed this maker journey with you and the bag is GORGEOUS! It’s truly a priceless piece. She will be overjoyed it receive it. Will you tell us what price it should have been? There is so much talent here- you’ve very talented.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh commissions! I love doing them, trying to match my work to the client’s vision (and it usually works). However, working out costs is so difficult. So, I understand why this was a problem for you.
    I know this time of the year is a difficult one for you, so I hope you are able to find joy and peace over this time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The bag is beautiful. I understand the whole commission regret remorse thing- it is so hard to price one of a kind things. It’s stressful all right. I gave up doing commission work for this reason and never went back. But let’s return to the main thing. You did exquisite work.


  5. Wowzer – what a creative ‘ordeal’ to have to juggle between the artistic realm and the all too real business realm…the good news? You learned tons, enjoyed your product and fullfilled your ‘order’ with something you’re proud to put your name on!
    Now, go forth and ‘be still’!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The bag you made looks lovely Tierney. And so does your Etsy shop! I totally get you when you run us through all the decisions and learning involved in this experience. Sometimes it’s easy to jump to conclusions indeed but then you find out there is A, B, C, D, E once you’re at it and it’s just a totally different ball game in the end. It’s great that you enjoyed making it (labour of love) πŸ™‚ Have a lovely relaxed Christmas time!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love it. If the recipient hates it I’ll buy it from her. Do you have any more of the raccoon fabric? If you do, I would love to buy a project bag from you. Or I’ll make you socks as a trade.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow. That was quite the endeavor. I admire your commitment. The final product is stunning. Have a blessed Christmas.
    The Morgan Freeman meme is HYSTERICAL!!


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