Welcome to Wit's End!
I'm Ginny, resident seamstress and critter wrangler. This is Tinkerbell, a.k.a. NoNoBadKitty ~ she's my Quality Control Agent. She takes her job verrrrrrrry seriously.
Here she is sitting in my great grandmother's suitcase, which ordinarily holds feed sack scraps that I may be able to put to good use later. I had taken them all out to try to better organize them, and when I turned around, there she was! She later stuffed herself into the stretchy pocket you see behind her, thus causing the lid to slam shut.
I would have taken a picture of that but I was laughing too hard.
While this is a very critter friendly place my studio is off limits to them, mainly because sewing with a cat in one's lap is ill-advised. There's a chipmunk that gets in occasionally and I think he's making little hats or coats when I'm not in here, but he's a non-smoker and doesn't leave a mess so it's okay.
What exactly IS "Handcrafted at Wit's End"?
Literally? All kinds of things. It's sort of a play on words, since I refer to my home place as Wit's End Farm and I like to, uh, handcraft stuff. My main focus is totes and purses upcycled from vintage feed, seed, sugar, flour and coffee sacks. This is nothing new, really, as resourceful mamas were doing it many, many years before I picked up my first needle and thread. They did it out of necessity - trying to reuse/repurpose something for their household or family, often making curtains, dishtowels and clothing from empty sacks. After a while the mills got wise and started making their feed sacks fancier, with all-over prints rather than just the name of the mill and the contents. I suspect there were quite a few little girls running around with "Layer Mash" bloomers! Since my own daughters would have nothing to do with that notion, I started making purses when my feed sack collection outgrew the space I had to display them. That purse evolved into the carpetbagger version that I sell the most of today. The original kraft paper pattern has since been remade on a stencil blank so it will hold up better and because I let the sacks tell me what they want to be, I will occasionally tweak the existing patterns to come up with new and different purses. Otherwise, they get made into pillows if the design or graphics are too big or too spectacular to cram into purse form!
Boxes and Paper.
I also make wind chimes from vintage silverware and decoupaged boxes with genuine ads from vintage trade magazines. I don't use commercially available decoupage art, it's too mass produced. Instead I find old newspapers and magazines (really old, as in 1900s) and hand cut each piece and apply it to my surface of choice. After that about seven layers of decoupage medium, aging medium and then polyurethane are applied, along with decorative ribbon trim.
I have several sizes that are suitable for storing your earrings, maybe for use as a treasure box, storage of old love letters or your stamp collection. It's entirely up to you! They look especially fetching when stacked and tied together with a length of grosgrain ribbon.
Old Quilt, New Life.
In addition to feed sack purses and totes (and pillows), I love to recycle vintage quilt tops into carpetbagger style purses. These are always unique even if I make several from the same quilt top because the quilt squares themselves are so varied. Most of them were hand pieced with newspaper patterns! I spend a considerable amount of time picking paper out of the seams, but I love thinking that some other woman, long ago, spent an even greater amount of time putting it all together.
Oh, the stories these old quilt tops could tell!
Vintage quilt top purses are lined with batting and coordinating cotton fabrics or old feed sacks. I add decorative topstitching for durability and twisted cotton roping for the handles, which are fed through black metal grommets.
How YOU Can Get Your Very Own, Fabulous, One-of-a-Kind, Vintage Feed Sack Purse. Or Tote.
You may check out my Etsy shop at www.ginnymae.etsy.com OR you may see something right here that you love. Items that are currently in stock are located on the next page.
Word to the wise: don't bookmark it for a rainy day. I have had many an email from a procrastinating soul who waited and lost out on a bag. These are one of a kind, people. Even if I get more than one of the same type of sack, no two are ever exactly alike (sort of like people. And snowflakes!) because of dye lots, how the were stored, whether they've been laundered. Even if they are remarkably similar, I never use the same fabric for the lining. I like to shake things up a bit, challenge my creativity and dig through my fabric stash to find the fabric that is *just right* for the feed/seed/flour/sugar/coffee sack in question. It helps me justify buying more fabric. Plus, it keeps me from getting bored. I use new cotton fabrics mostly - calico, floral prints, ticking stripes, theme prints and the occasional solid color. It all depends on the graphics or type of sack and the colors that I have to work with. Here we have an end view of a Purina Cow Chow wee sized carpetbagger so you can see the knots and grommets. More on that later. What was I saying? Oh yes, I also happily consider custom orders, so if you have something swirling around in your brain I can totally relate and will accomodate you if at all possible. Just shoot me an email at email@example.com or a convo through the Etsy shop and we'll work something out.
Why I Have a Fabric Addiction...
There are so many feed sacks and no two are alike. The dye lots vary, they age differently, some have been laundered and fade. I like to find just the right fabric for the lining. Here is just a sampling, a miniscule selection of what I've got to work with when I'm creating a new purse.
Actually, most of these fabrics are long gone already and I'm on to something different.
I have Textile A.D.D.
What About Wholesale Orders?
I am happy (bursting, actually) to say that I have already done custom wholesale orders for a few different boutiques around the country. I can do the same for YOU!
My minimum wholesale order is just twelve bags, totes or a combination thereof. That way you can stick your toes in the water without investing a whole bunch. Lead time depends upon what else I'm working on, but it's generally 2-3 weeks, unless you purchase items that are already in stock. In that case, I ship them the next business day! If you need to place a smaller order I can do so at regular prices but will ship free. Either way you're getting a quality, handmade product at a great price.
Prices vary with the the size and type of bag you want along with the actual cost (to me) of the feed sack.
I prefer not to do consignment because that's just too many irons in the fire and besides, I've got a growing puppy to feed. Instead, I ask for a 50% deposit on all wholesale orders with the balance due upon completion, prior to shipment.
If you are looking for a certain theme (hogs, chickens, camels, coffee maybe?) I will sure try to fix you up. All I ask is that you trust my artistic instincts and allow me to choose the lining fabrics. You won't be disappointed - I've been told that I've got a good eye for colors. If you really, really must have red flannel lining or something, let me know. Otherwise I'll choose a coordinating print for each individual sack from my mountainous fabric stash!
As seen on TV.
No. Not really. But I have gotten some great exposure in Small Town Living http://www.stliving.net/ST_Living_June_July_08.pdf and at Napa Farmhouse 1885 www.napafarmhouse1885.com . There are several of my carpetbaggers and totes for sale on this site. Diane is my biggest custom order-er thus far. Check it out - she's got some groovy stuff!
Oh, and MaryJane Butters of www.maryjanesfarm.com bought one of my carpetbaggers herself and she LOVES it! Woot!
The big news is that one of my carpetbaggers was featured in the September 2008 issue of Country Home magazine!
The bag shown at right is the actual carpetbagger that was chosen for the magazine! Sorry folks, it's already SOLD.
The closeup below shows the original patch job that someone did long ago. I love that.
I'm not ordinarily one to toot my own horn, but this kind of came as a surprise and I'm pretty happy about it so there, I just tooted.
If Goldilocks carried a purse...
She would have three sizes (at least) to choose from. I am, believe it or not, a girl who likes to travel light so I try to carry the smallest purse possible. This leaves my hands free for picking flowers or petting kittens, or patting my head and rubbing my tummy simultaneously. I realize that some of you (who shall remain nameless but you know who you are) actually LIKE carrying around approximately 9/16ths of your worldly possessions. With that in mind, I've created the Big Mamoo sized carpetbagger. It also comes in handy for use as a diaper bag. For those of you who only need enough room for, say, your pet groundhog ~ there's the Just Right sized carpetbagger. For those who like to carry just the necessities, there's the Wee carpetbagger (but don't let the "wee" part fool you, you could still carry a small chicken if you were so inclined). Each carpetbagger style purse has fabric covered roping handles that are fed through metal grommets for added strength. I give each one an interior pocket for your cell phone or other small stuff that will invariably go to the bottom of the bag otherwise.
No sooner than I had all that figured out, someone came to me wanting a market bag. I created a Tote Bag of Enormous Proportions for her and she's a happy camper, walking around New York carrying heaven-knows-what in her vintage rabbit feed bag and looking snappy doing it. I can do the same for YOU (with a different feed/seed/flour/sugar or coffee sack, of course). If you only want a tote big enough for the beach, the library or bingo with Aunt Harriet, I've gotcha covered with the Anything But Average sized tote. If you just want to carry your cell phone, cash and a hamster then the Wee tote will fit the bill, but I would caution against the hamster and the cash in one bag. I'm just sayin'... All of the totes will have either flat fabric or cotton webbing handles and a generous interior pocket.
When a Wrinkly Bottom is a Good Thing.
The bottoms of all of my carpetbagger style purses look like the one pictured. There are wrinkles, or gathers if you prefer, that give it a little wiggle room and thus allow you to cram a lot more stuff in it than you would think. Like a bowling ball. Don't ask how I know this.
A Tote of Enormous Proportions. Cool beans.
Questions? Comments? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org