Bags


So, I’ve finally decided to learn how to sew properly, with an eye to creating some tarot bags for myself that incorporate all of the features that I really like in a bag.

Robert Kaufman Stargasers fabricIn my previous post about my favourite bag creators, I mentioned a really nice Stargazers fabric that I kept seeing everywhere. I’ve since learned that it is a Robert Kaufman fabric that comes in the black and blue that I’ve already seen, but also in red. The black version in particular is striking in person.

Robert Kaufman Fabrics makes or imports some other really nice fabrics, including a large range of hand-dyed, artisan batik fabrics from Lunn Studios. I became interested in batik fabrics after seeing the fabrics used by Kerri Walters (Little Moon Originals) for the mandalas on her tarot bags, and Robert Kaufman’s batiks are gorgeous examples of the art.

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I’m addicted to tarot bags.

If I could sew, I’d probably start making my own. But since I can’t, I have to rely on others to create what I can’t.

I haven’t yet found The Perfect Bag™, but I’m definitely giving it the old college try. I’ve discovered a few things about my preferences as my bag collection grows. I’ve discovered that I don’t like duplicate bags — I only have (and want) one of any size/pattern/colour/style bag; I prefer padding, coordinated linings, and double drawstrings; I really love charms, beads, and other dangling doodads on bags and drawstrings, provided they are well considered and securely attached (some of the early bags I got were factory-made and the beads fall off at the least provocation); and I prefer patterns rather than pictures.

Even though I’m constantly on the lookout for new bags, I do have some favourite bag makers that I keep going back to whenever the urge hits.

My top three favourite bag creators are:

1. Little Moon Originals

Little Moon Original tarot bagsKerri Walters is hands-down my favourite bag creator. Her velveteen tarot bags are not cheap (at about $28 US each, they’re in the same range as Baba Studio’s bags), but they are well worth the price. They are large, padded, double-drawstringed, and feature lovely appliqués, beads and charms, and decorative fairy stitches. She doesn’t always have bags in stock in her Etsy store, but she takes custom orders. Have a look through her sold items to see some of the bags she’s made and sold previously to get an idea of what she does. (Her patchwork bags are well worth it, as well.)

(The image above shows four of the bags. The mandala on the front of the blue velvet one on the left perfectly matches the Deviant Moon cup court cards so that’s the deck it holds; the brown velvet bag in the middle holds my Faeries Oracle; the purple on black velvet one on the right holds my Tarot of Dreams; and the green velvet one at the bottom holds my Druid Animal and Plant Oracles.)

2. Annabelle’s

Annabelle's tarot bagsNancy Towne makes lined and unlined bags in a variety of sizes from a wide range of interesting cotton fabrics. My favourites are the lined, double-drawstring tarot bags, which are approximately 5″ X 7″, large enough to hold the Tree Affirmation Cards deck and book without the box (that’s what’s in the autumn leaves bag on the left). They are very simple bags, but are extremely solidly crafted. And some of the fabrics she finds are among my favourite fabric patterns of all-time. (The sparkly purple bag on its side at the front, which contains a matching tarot spread cloth, is a particular favourite.) Her bags feature side seams so prints that have a up side and a down side (like animal images) are going to be upside down on one side of the bag, but that only detracts slightly from those bags.

She also offers free shipping if you buy $25 or more worth of stuff, which is very easy to do. (I just bought a number of bags from her and I could easily find another batch to order.) And she ships really quickly. You can probably find other lined bags elsewhere for $5 or less but they tend to be factory-made and I doubt they’re as well-made as these.

3. Baba Studio

Baba Studio tarot bagsThis is the brainchild of Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov at Magic Realist Press in Prague. My addiction to Baba Studio bags began when I bought the Baroque Bohemian Cats Tarot gold edition from them last year. With the gold edition, you could buy a special bag that featured your choice of card image, a special cat charm, and metallic cording for the drawstrings. It was so beautiful that it hooked me on Baba Studio/Magic Realist Press in general and on their bags specifically.

I’ve wanted to buy additional bags featuring images of their BBC and Bohemian Gothic tarots for ages, but instead I’ve been sidetracked by their Art Nouveau prints (some based on vintage Liberty of London prints) and the bags featuring gorgeous paintings by Arthur Rackham and John William Waterhouse. The bags are impeccably crafted, the silk fabrics they use are sumptuous, and the print images are gorgeous. The only minor annoyance for me personally is the tag sewn into the bottom of the lining, but it’s easily cut off without damaging the bag itself.

(In the image above, the purple bag on the left holds my Reincarnation Cards deck, the coppery gold one in the middle holds my Legacy of the Divine Tarot, the one on the right holds my daily-use Bohemian Cats, and the Arthur Rackham one on its side on the right holds my Mystic Faerie Tarot. The other two bags are awaiting appropriate tenants.)

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Tarot by Melissa tarot bag giveawayMelissa has been busy making patchwork bags for her tarot cards and has decided to give away one of them to a lucky commenter. (See picture to the left.)

The double-drawstringed bag is ~5.5″ x 7.5″ and is lined with microsuede cloth. I love the fabrics she chose for the patchwork. Great colour combination. Very old world retro.

If you’re interested in being in the running to win the bag (I know I am), all you have to do is make a comment on her blog by Sunday, January 18, 2009, at noon EST giving her at least one idea of something that she can blog about. International comments are welcome — she says she’ll mail it anywhere in the world.

Check out the blog post for additional information about her bags and the contest.

As an aside, I love the idea of a giveaway. Don’t know why I never thought of it myself. Might have to steal borrow that idea myself.

Weeks-in-advance-I’ll-never-be-able-to-break-even kind of broke. I’d like to say it’s just the cards and card sets that are doing me in but a tarot bag fetish has broken out that is showing signs of surpassing that.

It started out because I wanted a few new bags for the decks I’d ordered in December. I don’t like to have two identical bags so went on the hunt for new bags. I bought some bags from Dreaming in Color a couple of years ago that I really liked but they are charging astronomical shipping fees now to ship outside the US (understandable but still really pesky). Mind you, I also found the wholesale source for the bags they sell as well — if I ever decide to get more of those bags, I can always get them from the source instead.

So, I went to eBay. This was before I really started investigating things, before I joined Aeclectic and other forums, before I really knew how many wonderful crafters are making tarot bags out there. So, I bought some that I saw on there. Some are just OK. Some are absolutely brilliant custom creations. I also bought some Lo Scarabeo bags, which, despite being mass produced, are actually really nice.

And then I found Etsy. Damn Karen at Magic Realist Press for even reminding me that Etsy exists. As I mention before, I ended up buying one of her custom Baroque Bohemian Cats bags. I also ended up finding the most gorgeous one-of-a-kind custom bags from another Etsy seller that I ended up buying. I know what decks are going in those. I currently have more bags than I have cards to go in them, but that doesn’t stop me wanting more bags. After all, I have more decks on the way, too. They’ll all need their own protective homes, right?

Tonight I made the mistake of visiting Tarot Totes while combing Aeclectic threads for links to list in the Open Directory Project*. It’s a good thing I’m broke. Well, if I wasn’t already, I surely would be now. I’ve had to settle for bookmarking the bags I want for a later date, when I’ve broken even and can afford to buy more. It’s a long bookmarks list. They offer bags in so many sizes, colours, patterns, and styles (including padded cases and double silk sleepers). If only I’d come across them before I went nuts on eBay. Not that I don’t like the eBay purchases, but I would have spent my money here rather than buy most of what I bought there. My favourite bags, I think, have to be the High Priestess bag (just love the pattern on the material), the Swords bag (it’s minimalist but I love swords — used to have a small collection of them but had to get rid of that when I moved), and the Celtic Dreams set (bag and laycloth — who doesn’t love purple?). I also love the double silk sleepers (little sleeping bags, if you will) for cards. I’ve gotten into a habit of double bagging cards, since some of the decks I have are quite slippery, and the sleepers look like perfect little inner sleeves. And they’ll customize the colour combinations. Let’s see — when does my income tax refund come through?

They offer a list of patterns by colour but, unfortunately, don’t hyperlink the lists so that you can easily find those colours/patterns in the catalog. (I know they offer a search engine and tips for using it at the top of the page but it’s still extra work and I’m lazy at heart.) Actually, maybe that’s not a con — if they were all linked, I might find myself buying even more than I’m tempted to buy now. (Laziness wins out over obsession every time.) I also like how they show decks which complement the bags (er, decks that the bags will complement?), though that also sparks my interest in even more decks that I don’t own.

*The ODP is a human-edited directory that provides data for a number of search engines and directories, including the Google directory. <shameless plug> We’re always looking for good editors so consider this an invitation to apply. More information is also available at the ODP’s public forum.</shameless plug>