Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Merry Christmas from Traffic Cone Bag mission control!

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me ... 
Ka-chingle bells ... stuck for a gift for the person who has everything-made-in-China? Consider this: a Made-in-New-York-City Traffic Cone Bag!  This bag is starting to pop up in the strangest places around the planet.

For all Xmas 2011 orders I've been throwing in 2 starter sheets of Lightweights reflectors worth $10, handy for blinging up your bike, helmet, shoes ...
... NOT another Bed, Bath & Beyond voucher for stuff I already got! 
Not one of those generic round tins of shortbread cookies everyone gives away ... 
Not something made by underpaid elves working in sweatshop conditions ...
... but a Traffic Cone Bag in a pear tree! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

It's a snap!

UPDATE August 2012:
All Traffic Cone Bags now come with this new engraved Traffic Cone Snap:

UPDATE, October 2011
All Traffic Cone Bags now come with this metal snap:

The original snap - a ring:

BLACK SNAP (standard, if you don't specify).
The new, discreet snap closure. The fabric of the bag fills the centre of the snap. 

This may well come back to bite me on the butt, but I'm allowing you to specify whether you want an orange, silver or black visible ring for your snap ON THE BLACK SIDE (on the orange side it will always be orange). The default is black. Let me know when you order.

Silver snap.

Orange snap.
(The following information - now superceded as of October 2012 - is about the former button and open ring snaps) 

"Small things amuse small minds," my father use to say.

Well forgive me for my gnat-sized cerebellum today, but  I'm excited about the new snaps I've been putting on my bag - by hand.

The original TCB had a snapless front pocket, which worked fine -  I typically used the pocket for a magazine with my jacket stuffed on top and my cellphone stuffed deep, and wear it against my back for security.

But the launch of the new, bigger Guyfromdownunder TCB  with its bigger, New-York-Times-unrolled pocket begged a little closure to stop it yawning on the way to the coffee shop. One TCB owner  had already sewn a piece of velcro to his bag, and discovered how awful velcro is for this particular svlete application. Who hasn't had their clothes ripped up by Velcro?

The first batch of Guy TCB's had a rather large, heavy duty snap, painstakingly handsewn by Caroline Fu. Like this:

The OLD, handsewn snap. I have a bag of these snaps languishing in my bottom drawer if anyone wants them!
Since then, I've discovered a nifty little snap maker by SnapSource. It's basically a three-part plastic gizmo you sandwich the fabric and snap prongy parts with, then whack it with a hammer - here's the Snapsource how-to video. And here's the kit - a hammer, the snap setter, and the male/female snaps.

 My friend Monika said she's had a kit like this for years - "from the time when it was fashionable to put press snaps on your jeans and shirts for decoration." Xanadu ... Xanadu woo-ooo ...

So, a couple of whacks later (plus a couple of tentative little ones to make sure), here's the result:

Using the rare silver snap. Most people want the black.
Great, except to be truly minimalist, these underparts should be BLACK. Especially for those who use my 3-1 TCB in the third "musette" mode, where you turn the black pocket inside out to make a smaller bag. Refresh your memory by watching the video. I asked SnapSource inventor Jeanine Twigg about this, and she got her Made in 'Merica factory (good one you Jeanine!) to rustle up some all-black prototypes. And here's the result ... 

All-black vs silver 'undersides' of the snaps:

Snap Source now make (in 'mercia!) matte black snaps to make your TCB truly ruly stealth

All-black snaps installed on a couple of TCB's:

A couple of whacks (actually three plus one for good measure) and .... it's a snap! 

Jeanine says she's worked hard with her factory to make sure the black won't rub off. Since I'm the prototyper I hope to hear from you folks about how they are wearing.


As I said above, BLACK SNAPS ARE BETTER FOR MUSETTE MODE: Does anyone use the TCB in that trippy third i.e. "dressy little shoulder bag" mode (see TCB demo video if you don't know what I'm talking about 'cos it's dang impossible to explain)? If so, snaps are best all black, inside out and outside in. 

Below: And how does it look on the body? Here I am in Caroline Fu's studio ($20 retro paisley dress courtesy of Happening Fashions Wholesale, 209 W37th St NY):

So how does the orange side of the snap look? Very orange!

The orange side has an orange ring. Not a true match (navel vs valencia) but not bad. 
This is on the non-pocket side of the bag, the side against your back when riding the bike (or walking) in orange mode. The small stud falls between your shoulders and should not be felt. 

Yes, I know it should ideally be hidden INSIDE the bag, installed before the bag is all sewn up, but logistically, for this little 1-woman project, it's easier to do it on the finished product.

If you want to send your bag bag for me to retro-fit the snap, email me. I'll have to charge you a nominal amount to cover postage, snaps and time, otherwise you can always go to the SnapSource site at and become a happy snapper yourself. It's a little tricky to get right, be prepared for a couple of wasted snaps as you whack the wrong side, get it off center etc.

Thank you for your intense interest in the Galfromdownunder, made Upover Traffic Cone Bag.
Can you stand more of this? Go join the TCB Facebook Fan Page.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Q: How to you make a minimalist bag? A: Start with a piece of fabric and take away everything that's not bag

Today a friend was pick-pocketed in the subway - her stylish, backpack-style purse was zipped opened and her wallet taken, "first time in 25 years living in NYC."

Stuff in zippered compartments on your back is asking to be robbed.

The Traffic Cone Bag, worn with the black pocket against your back and closed tight, is "lite" security by design - light fingers can't get at your stuff without slashing it with a knife.
Wearing the TCB the security-conscious way - drawn closed, the outside pocket against your body

It's all part of designing only what you have to, or "minimalist design."

I learned something about this from my advertising days at Saatchi:

Q: How do you carve an elephant from a block of wood?
A: Take a block of wood and remove everything that's not elephant.

Minimalist industrial design has always been my first love.

When designing this bag to be 'everything you need and nothing you don't', I found myself re-thinking the actual wearing process, and how that interaction with the body might influence the design.

For example, you need somewhere to put your cellphone. This would normally suggest a pocket with some kind of closure - a zip, button, that awful velcro stuff that rips into delicate fabric if you brush against it - to keep it secure.

In the above picture, Linda is wearing the bag with the large black pocket against her back rather than facing out.

Not only is the patch pocket deep enough to drop items into and have them stay there, wearing the bag in this way replaces the need for a zip.

What's wrong with a zip? Adds cost, bulk, and looks like, well, a zip. It's just not minimal, and the zip can catch and break.

I have though, conceded to adding a single snap closure you can eyeball on this post. That's to stop the lip from gaping somewhat when open.

Of course there's nothing wrong with these closures. But unless you're specifically designing a bling thing (and I like crazy bling too), re-thinking how an object is used in a holistic sense leads to no more - or less - than a perfect elephant.

 TCB security at your favorite bar