Arts + Crafts

Mood Board Bags

October 27, 2010

Hello dear readers! How are you today? I had quite a productive work day and look forward to bringing you the great 2011 calendar round-up here on decor8 tomorrow and Friday. It’s going to be huge and amazing so stay tuned for that! But first, I want to show you a quick glimpse of the gifts that I help to design for students who attended the decor8 retreat week in Marrakesh (I blogged about it here). I designed 10 bags from scratch (well 11 since I kept one as a memory of our wonderful week) with my friend Ingrid and her sewer… and so I was sitting on my floor for HOURS, days even, cutting and pinning and tracing and measuring… it was a labor of love and I truly adored doing it for my students because I know they loved their bags and how much I loved giving them something from my heart.

Mood Board Bags

I hand stamped the inside with white fabric paint using a stamp that I hand cut with my name on it. I also designed brooches for the bags that have gold pins on the back so they can move the brooches around on the bag, wear them on a jacket, pin them to something at home or even adorn their wall with a pretty brooch. The fabrics were taken from my stash — I have so many gorgeous prints and patterns, it was fun to sit down and combine fabrics from America, Europe and Japan, some vintage and others brand new, to build a custom bag for each student. I tried to experiment with many colors and patterns and loved doing them patchwork-style. I wanted to give students something from my own studio — that really mattered to me — and not simply hand them something that I found in a store. Plus I wanted to inspire them to think about how to combine patterns and colors to create something unique and special. You can take do so much with a stack of fabrics from make a bag to design a pillow, some curtains, even a duvet.

Mood Board Bags

Mood Board Bags

Mood Board Bags

Mood Board Bags

Mood Board Bags

My inspiration: I’m big on applique work and hand stitching, and I went with the idea of having the bag look like a mood board with a linen back and handles and then the patchwork style fabrics and appliques on the front. I don’t share a lot of my crafty work on decor8, but so many of you emailed me asking about what it was that I made for my dear students so I am happy to share them since you asked so nicely. ;) I guess this is the side of me that I keep hidden because I always felt like if I posted the things that I make then what is my motive — to seek praise? To stroke my ego? But then today I thought that when I look at the work of others I feel inspired and encouraged so why would you not feel inspired and encouraged by my work as well? These bags took me a lot of time and patience, why not share the fruits of my labor! I am very proud of how they turned out. I’m so happy I had my friend Ingrid available to help me and her sewer who did a beautiful job stitching them together.

Mood Board Bags

Mood Board Bags

Mood Board Bags

Unfortunately, my battery died in Morocco on the second day and I had no spare with me (I left it at home on my bed!) so I don’t have any photos (that I took) of the bags or of the beautiful journals that I prepared for them which contained vellum envelopes filled with inspirational papers, trims, ribbons… and some rubber stamping that I did inside – simple touches but I think they were cute. :) Thankfully, photographer Tiffany Kirschner, who was on the trip with us, shot some nice photos of the bags close up so those are shown in this post above. If I find any more images of them where you can see entire bag views, I’ll let you know but for now I only have these.

I hope my dear students will always think of me and our special week in Marrakesh whenever they use their bags — I miss them all so much, I’m having withdrawal symptoms! I imagine if I had spent another week with them I would be in so much pain of heart right now. I loved getting to know these 10 women and connecting with them but also being a source of friendship, encouragement and inspiration to them but in return they gave wayyyyy more back to me than I even feel that I gave.

I took a long walk today and felt sad that I may never see them again as a group altogether. But then I thought of how we are all together online and then I smiled, like the internet made it all better again. :) I don’t know if you’ve ever gone on a creative retreat but man, you really start to find yourself thinking in new ways when you are unplugged from the world but also immersed in a creative, inspiring environment around people who are so open, who have so much courage, rich life experiences and who just want to soak it all in and learn together without judgment or fear. I wish I could have spent more time with each lady, it is my only regret, but hopefully they can continue to tap into me through my blog and also via email over the years. I will always remember them and I know they will always remember me and together all we have to do is see something Moroccan and we’ll forever be transported back to that very time and space. If you are ever in a position to go on a retreat, save the money and DO IT. Really. It’s the best experience and worth every cent.

Now back to my bags… now I want to make patchwork pillows for my guest bedroom! :) I feel a future project coming on!

xo, Holly

(images: Tiffany Kirschner from The Fancy Farm Girl)


  • Reply jenn October 27, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Holly, I’m so glad you shared your bags! They are adorable, and completely inspirational. I don’t think you should feel self conscience about sharing your own crafty adventures. It really is inspirational for your readers to see other people’s talents — including your own! :)

  • Reply Sarah@Mocha October 27, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    Looks like a lot of work went into those bags. Your students must have been thrilled to receive them! Looking forward to seeing the patchwork pillows sometime soon ;-)

  • Reply Cassie October 28, 2010 at 12:08 am

    These are spectacular!! Double-love! xx

  • Reply Lizzie [Ten Thou Bride] October 28, 2010 at 12:08 am

    Those are beautiful!

  • Reply Sam October 28, 2010 at 12:12 am

    I love the bags! How I miss I could have gone with you to Marrakesh. Thank you for sharing them.

  • Reply Lisa October 28, 2010 at 12:14 am

    Thank you so much, Holly, for sharing your bags. I’m in a creative dry spell right now and it is so nice to look at things that other people have made.

    A bit of a non-sequitur here, but one of my favorite phenomena about the creative process is how people can be inspired by the same things and then go off in their own individual creative directions.

  • Reply karina October 28, 2010 at 12:15 am

    Hey! Your bags are precious!!!
    I never attended to a creative retreat and it would be a dream to do it.

  • Reply Kelly October 28, 2010 at 12:45 am

    Holly, I’m really glad to see some of your creative projects and would love for you to share more crafts. You feature so many wonderful artists here and many of the things they make involve fabric or crafts – I don’t see why you wouldn’t include yourself in that group! You clearly have a beautiful eye, and it’s fun to see your design sensibilities come to life through the things you make. More please!

  • Reply Aimee October 28, 2010 at 1:04 am

    Oh, these are lovely and so thoughtful Holly! I’m bummed I missed the round up again. Maybe next year I’ll have my act more together. ;)

  • Reply Mariella October 28, 2010 at 1:23 am

    Wow Holly they look gorgeous really! So so cute! If you have a talent for this you surely have to share I am a complete failure in everything crafty but I love seeing what other people can make!! They are beautiful!

  • Reply Minnie October 28, 2010 at 1:28 am

    Wow, those are beautiful bags, so full of color and whimsy. The applique work is charming, but I was most taken by those layered flowers with so many textures on the tassels. Those lucky students!

    I enjoyed reading every detail of how you made them and the fact that, despite being as busy as you are, you took the time to create something from your heart. I think many would agree that it would be lovely for you to share more of your handiwork with us. We’re already so inspired by all the beautiful things you share with us, but sharing your own work would take us to an even deeper level. At least on Haus Maus, please consider it. :-)

  • Reply Ben October 28, 2010 at 1:31 am

    Very pretty! You have a very nice blog.

  • Reply Winonafashion October 28, 2010 at 1:56 am

    OH! I like a lot your job and this blog. the brooches and the bags are Wonderful and are very beautiful!.. I’m fashion designer and decor8 is a big inspiration,,THANKS!. If you want to see my draws, I have a blog with designs. Greetings from Barcelona (spain)

  • Reply Heidi October 28, 2010 at 2:18 am

    These bags are amazing! I think you should sell these!

  • Reply Collette October 28, 2010 at 2:38 am

    Holly, I am inspired! I’ve been doing a lot of simple sewing lately trying to use the huge stash of fabric I already have, even though I want to buy more new pretty stuff. You know what I mean?
    Those bags are so sweet and thoughtful which is lovely. I’m especially partial to the red one.
    When you make/create things it is wonderful to share because that’s what we do here, share. And I’m glad you did.

  • Reply jamie herzlinger October 28, 2010 at 2:52 am

    would love to be able to buy-hardcover journals that have that gorgeous appliqué work! you should sell them if you do not already!
    beautiful work!

  • Reply christine {bijouandboheme} October 28, 2010 at 3:05 am

    Your bags are so lovely and you can tell they were made with such joy. I agree with Jenn, you shouldn’t feel anything but pride in sharing your creations with the world- I loved seeing your bags! Meeting and learning from creative people is what inspires me to do more of it myself so thanks for the post:) And again, the bags are beautiful.

  • Reply Fatou October 28, 2010 at 3:06 am

    Hi Holly!

    Your bags are gorgeous and am so glad you decided to share them with us. I hope you’ll be showing more of your craft items because it is very inspiring :-).

  • Reply Katie Truelove October 28, 2010 at 3:57 am

    Beautiful! I love all the different fabrics together- what fun to sit down and be able to use so many of the fabrics from your stash! I don’t have much fabric on hand but this is definitely inspiring me to mix and match some of my pretty paper on a card or collage!

  • Reply Diana October 28, 2010 at 4:29 am

    Holly these are so lovely! You are such a sweetheart to make such a thoughtful gift for your students. (I’m not surprised at all) Can’t wait to see this year’s calendar lineup!

  • Reply opera glass October 28, 2010 at 5:26 am

    They look amazing! Great work.

  • Reply heather October 28, 2010 at 6:07 am

    I love all of your bags they are so cute. I love the chosen colors and patterns, great job! I’m sure they were much appreciated :)

  • Reply Kitty October 28, 2010 at 6:25 am

    Holly, I just loved this post. First of all, your bags are GORGEOUS!! You absolutely must share more of your craftiness here…not only because you are extremely talented, but also because of the way you write about it! The time and effort and love that went into each bag is so palpable, it makes me want to dive right in to a special project of my own. I also loved reading more about your experience and the connections you made…isn’t it crazy how strong of a bond you can develop with other creatives, and so quickly? Thank you so much for sharing this!

  • Reply annamaria October 28, 2010 at 6:26 am

    I think the bags look awesome, I wish there were more photos of the whole thing- I post my artwork all the time and eventhough it can be nerve *twisting* at times, it’s always a learning experience and its happiness shared- I love all the inspiration I find on blogs- everything from photos, to design, to art, to craft- I think it’s a marvelous exchange of creativity-Thank you for sharing:-)

  • Reply Kiran October 28, 2010 at 6:41 am

    You are very talented Holly :) Great personal gifts to inspire the girls.

  • Reply Bridget Price October 28, 2010 at 6:58 am

    LOVE the bags!! The materials are gorgeous making the bags one of a kind!
    Thanks for sharing

  • Reply juliette October 28, 2010 at 7:53 am

    oh wow, those are really gorgeous! I know each woman must’ve really appreciated the gifts since it’s obvious that a lot of time and effort went into them. You should definitely share more of your projects!

  • Reply roboti October 28, 2010 at 8:45 am

    So cute!

  • Reply flowing moments October 28, 2010 at 8:53 am

    I could say exactly the same words as Jenn … and your choice of fabrics is delightful, I want one of these bags of “love” :), holly you are inspiring ! and the toile de Jouy in the first image reminds me of the bedroom where I used to sleep in my grandparents’ house …

  • Reply Szilvia Szabó October 28, 2010 at 9:17 am

    Beautiful colors, beautiful work! Congratulations. Szilvia Budapest

  • Reply cris camarena October 28, 2010 at 9:37 am

    how beautiful! would love to have one, it shows the care and love, and they are really pretty.

  • Reply Sanda October 28, 2010 at 10:25 am


  • Reply Rambles with Reese October 28, 2010 at 11:19 am

    These bags are an awesome idea and your students must have loved it! Wow!

  • Reply Leslie October 28, 2010 at 11:26 am

    I really like this seeing this ‘side of you’ on Decor8…I kinda feel like I connected a little with you today. I guess what I am trying to say is that sometimes the wonderful experiences you have seem almost fantastical to me…teaching in Morocco …or shooting beautiful homes overseas etc. I liked this creative side of you…and for me its attainable. If you don’t think Decor8 is the right place for this, perhaps Haus Maus maybe?? I am off to check out my fabric stash!!

  • Reply Janina Lear October 28, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    I totally adore the bags and now feel I have a need to go create

  • Reply Sonal October 28, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Dear Holly, you’ve got to be one of the sweetest people on this planet….love the ideas, the words, the pictures and the spirit of this post.

  • Reply Laura October 28, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    When you moved to Germany and talked about boxes and boxes of craft materials I wondered what craft you do… Now I see and it’s absolutely gorgeous! I’d love to see more of your craft in this blog.

  • Reply Zara October 28, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Oh so gorgeous, unique bags! Thank you for sharing, that is very inspiring, indeed!!

  • Reply Janneke October 28, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    These bags are absolutely gorgeous! Love them!

  • Reply jill October 28, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Very creative bags! The pin that comes with them is a great idea.
    Well done!

  • Reply Jessica October 28, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    the work you put into these is evident: they are so unique and clever! I’m so impressed with your creativity…sigh!

  • Reply winter October 28, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Thank you for this sentance…”But then today I thought that when I look at the work of others I feel inspired and encouraged so why would you not feel inspired and encouraged by my work as well?…This is my nugget for the day to remember about sharing.

  • Reply Melanie (Kimono Reincarnate) October 28, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    Wow, they are simply gorgeous! What a beautiful touch to make those for your students, and I’m sure the journals were equally as stunning.

    I’d love to see more of your crafty work, especially if it is this scrumptious!

  • Reply Margot Madison October 28, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Hollllllyyyyyyyyyy! (that’s me whining) I’m so inspired and not so secretly jealous. I want one of those cool bags, but more than that, I want to take a girls trip to Morocco! Ug!

    You are a kind-hearted gal! And do I feel ANOTHER blog developing from you? A crafty kind….


  • Reply Amanda@EasyPeasyOrganic October 29, 2010 at 12:29 am

    What a perfect idea! I may even need to get out my sewing machine for this one ….


  • Reply Bek October 29, 2010 at 3:22 am

    love the bags!! absolutely adorable…especially the cute flower on each. :)

  • Reply Genelle October 29, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    Mood board bags?! What a great idea! I love, love, love them! Totally my style! Thanks so much for sharing! Great photos!

  • Reply Megan {Honey We're Home} October 31, 2010 at 4:07 am

    Holly, I could really feel the love you felt for your students as I read this post- makes me so happy to have been one of your recent BYW students:). The bags really are like a mood board, and I think that is so special that you put a little journal inside. I’m sure the women recipients will Cherish this gift forever. Your effort and inventiveness has me thinking about the gifts I intend to give my friends/family this year for Christmas. I need to take some time now to contemplate this . . . Thank You!!

  • Reply Mary{theperfectmirror} November 2, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Excellent page, thank you so much for sharing

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