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Bag Design with hand-woven fabrics – Advice and Tips from Adele Orcajada

original fabric design for a bag and shoes by Adele Orcajada

original hand-woven fabric design for bag and shoes by Adele Orcajada, textile apprentice at Anna Champeney Estudio Textil (Galicia, Spain)

adela orcajadaAdele, you´ve worked in the world of fashion and accessories for quite some time now, so you know this industry well.  Tell us a bit about your professional career.

I was a graphic designer but then did a Masters in accessories´ design.  Since then I´ve worked for different types of businesses but all related to fashion.  I started in a small craft studio specialising in shoes in Madrid – Franjul.  Then I worked for Sfera (clothing brand of the Corte Inglés chain) and Zara and other small companies producing for the luxury market.

¿Typically how many of one particular kind of bag might industry produce for a seasonal collection?

It depends on the kind of company.  A multinational might produce up to 240,000 of one design in one particular colour, but a high-end luxury brand might produce just 200.

¿What would you say are the hallmarks of a quality bag?

A well-made bag has fittings which don´t change or lose their colour, metal zips – where the colour of the zip isn´t lighter than the colour of the leather.  If possible it should be exactly the same  colour, and this is also true for the colour of the thread used to sew the piece.  The lining should never be of polyester!

In your opinion can hand-made bags compete with industry?

Clients for hand-made bags are different, so I believe industry and craft are not in competition.  The person buying a hand-made bag pays more for higher quality and for the distinctive and unique character of the bag, as long as, of course, it is well designed as well as well-made.

¿What are some of the advantages and disadvantes that a craftsperson has compared to industry?

The craft maker has a freedom to define their overall design brief and he or she isn´t so limited by fashion trends.  The disadvantages include the limited access to raw materials:  the minimum orders that suppliers insist on are just too big for small craft producers.

¿What advice or tips can you offer deigner-weavers who want to design their own bags?

I´d recommend that they remember that the main feature of the bag is the fabric itself, rather than the bag.  Making and designing bags can be a complicated business – it is, after all, a sector in its own right.  When a weaver designs a bag they would do well to think of something simple or else seek advice and help from an expert in bag design, or work on a design in collaboration.

You´ve been working and training at Anna Champeney Estudio Textil, a small fabric weaving studio in rural northwest Spain this November.  Can you tell us a bit about the work you´ve been doing?

saquitos tisana de AC  Estudio Textil

I´ve been helping Anna to make up some of the studio´s products for sale in the shop, and I´ve also learned a lot about the theory necessary for understanding basic weaving design – how to set up a loom, select the fabric structure, select yarns correctly…  Then I´ve put all of this into practice in the design and weaving of a final project – in my case – fabric for a bag and matching shoes.

paisaje de la ribeira sacraYou´re used to living in Madrid, so coming to rural northwest spain has been quite a change for you.  What have your impressions been of the village of Cristosende where the textile studio is based, and the surrounding Ribeira Sacra area?

It´s a very peaceful area, perfect, in fact, for concentrating on learning to weave.  The  landscape is also very inspiring, for its colours, textures, and light.

What has been the main challenge of learning to weave?

Setting up the loom in such a way that the final result is similar to the orginal idea I had in my head.  The best part has been being able to improvise once the loom was set up, and just play with all the different possibilities for using colour and texture.

tela artesanal para bolso y bailarinas
Tela para bolso y bailarinas de Adele Orcajada, el proyecto final de su tiempo como aprendiz en el taller textil de tejedora Anna Champeney en Galicia

Visit the Anna Champeney online textile and basket shop – we are now open for christmas

Contact us for more

Luxury brands like Hermes or independent craft producers? Where to buy this christmas?

High quality craft is in fashion this winter!  So much so that luxury brands like Hermes are promoting themselves this season by borrowing heavily from the craft sector –  using the hand-made and craftsman-made as concepts for adding value and distancing themselves from the idea of large-scale, standardised and anonymous industrial production.  In Vogue (at least in the Spanish language version) Hermes portrays itself as an “artesano contemporáneo desde 1837”, or “contemporary craftsman since 1837”.  Really???  The current Hermes catalogue includes a series of stylish photographic portraits of their employees – not obviously the office workers, administators or communications specialists sitting at computers (no doubt the higher percentage of workers) but the “artisan” employees.  Of course, the top fashion and design companies do use skilled craftspeople for the top-of-the-range items.  But the fact is that most items are not one-off or limited edition, and the way the business is run, directed and presented to the public could not be more different to the small craft businesses – whose very magic and individuality the large brands seek to capture in their own publicity.

Anna Champeney Estudio Textil one-off textiles

One-of-a-kind scarf drying on the clothes line at AC Estudio Textil (Spain)

At least the campaign reminds us of, and reinforces, the positive images associated today with traditional crafts.  But this seems to be something that something that craftspeople themselves seem either to forget or fail to get accross to their clients:  Authenticity, individuality, quality defined as the embodiment of carefully-honed craft skills (you really can´t fake craft skill), and the personal touch of making something with one´s hands.

For these reasons people looking for exclusive, well-made and unusual objects would do just as well to look to their local independent craftspeople rather than the big brands, this christmas.  Not all craft is high quality – just as not all industrially-made work is high quality, but there are many fantastic craft makers and small craft businesses who take a real pride in making good work.

People hunting for well-made craft will also find that, compared to luxury brands, the actual objects are very reasonably priced.  The other big plus that independent craft workshops offer their clients is the elusive quality of something that money just can´t buy.  A Hermes bag or scarf is easy to buy, whereas a scarf made by an independent maker isn´t, for it may well be a true one-of-a-kind piece and once it´s sold there just won´t be any more!  Craft-made items also have a hard-to-define exotic value;  like rare birds or flowers, they´re not easy to find – they´re not on every high street and they´re not even on Bond Street.  Once “discovered” craftspeople tend to be a bit like well-kept secrets, to be shared with friends.

hand-woven fabric Galician style

Detail of hand-woven pile fabric (Galician felpa) on the hand-loom

Using the warping mill

Weave assistant, Adele Orcajada, winds hand-dyed yarns into a warp. Just one of the preliminary stages in weaving textiles by hand at Anna Champeney Estudio Textil in Spain

The images on this textilesnaturales post are of hand-made textiles and baskets all being made by hand this November at Anna Champeney Estudio Textil, the independent hand-weaving studio in Galicia, and at Lluis Grau´s basketry workshop in north Spain.  Prices range from 15,50€ to around 250€.

Textiles and baskets all available from 1 December onwards from the online shop at textilesnaturales.  If you should find yourself in Galicia, north Spain, in December, you can also visit the workshops as they have special weekened opening hours throughout December (open christmas day, morning only).

lluis grau basketmaker in Galicia

Piteira or traditional Galician chicken nesting basket being made by Lluis Grau. Available to commission.

hand-sewn edging on hand-woven fabric

All linen sacks are finished with hand-stitching

adele weaving a saquito

Over 200 individual rows of weaving are needed for a linen saquito (Adele Orcajada weaves)

Spanish crafts for christmas Anna Champeney Estudio Textil & Lluis Grau – Louet Spring 110 floor looms now in stock

Wall piece in linen by Anna Champeney

Linen wall hanging by Anna Champeney in natural linen

Buy Spanish Crafts for Christmas – As well as working on existing orders Anna (weaver) and Lluis (basketmaker) will be working hard in November to produce new items so look out for linen face-cloths, Christmas baskets, cushions, scarves, and split wood Galician baskets.  Have a look at the shop section here at textilesnaturales at the beginning of December to see what they have in stock.  We can send items out by post and payment can be made by cheque or paypal.

a gift token for Spanish craftPersonalised gift tokens – If yo´re not sure what to give friends and family why not them choose by giving them a gift token?  We can issue them in pounds or euros and they can be used to buy textiles or baskets in stock, for commissions, towards equipment or materials, for any of our courses – and even for a weekend break at Casa dos Artesans.    Tell us the name of the person who you would like to send the token to – we are happy to add  personalized wording to the token.

Craft courses in November and December (in Spanish) More info

  • Beginners´ basketry and weaving courses during Spain´s bank holiday weekend in December
  • How to design a weave project from the beginning (intermediate level weavers) – 19 & 20 November

Louet spring loom available at Anna Champeney Estudio Textil in Spain

Louet Spring (90cm / 110cm)

Louet loom equipment – We are now expanding our stock range, as Louet´s representative in north Spain.  Anna Champeney Estudio Textil / Textilesnaturales now stock the Spring 110, Louet´s mid-range, 8-shaft floor loom.  If you have outgrown your Louet table loom and want to use longer warps then this is a good production loom, with 110cm weaving width.