Sketchbook Crafts‘ range of backpacks, totes and wallets are all handmade with care by Amber Jensen and the materials used are sourced locally or American-made when possible—and while all the homegrown qualities are appealing, they don’t overshadow just how great the bags look. Jensen says she grew up in an “intensely creative” family, and the brand was a natural progression for her. “Working with my hands creating high quality, thoughtful work was encouraged early on and today is a part of my everyday life. The inherent tactile nature of working with textiles seemed like a natural evolution as I grew up and started my own company,” she explains. After finishing her BFA in Drawing from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Jensen made moves with Sketchbook Crafts. “In my parents’ basement, I taught myself (with the help of my mother) how to sew and over the course of a year. I developed prototypes, poured over books about clothing construction, and created countless samples not knowing that these pieces would eventually become a full line of backpacks and satchels,” she tells CH.
Jensen’s progress is—as expected, considering she makes each item herself—time-consuming, and the reason she works in small batches. “My process begins with a solid design and from there I source the best materials to execute the project. Wool felt is my favorite textile to work with. It’s inherently water resistant, durable, beautiful and naturally renewable.”
The brand’s F/W 2014 collection is made up of rustic pieces—using materials including leather, waxed canvas and cotton—all of which are durable and just as useful in the city as in the country. The standout is the new Patchwork Backpack, which blends the classic roll-top backpack with folksy themes and highly customizable features that make it even more functional. Coming in three colorways, the backpacks are made from natural Merino wool felt, waxed canvas and leather—with a lined interior and two inner pockets, plus a laptop compartment. “The Patchwork Backpack started as a quilt block that I designed to resemble a tree. Each piece is cut by hand and stitched together. Then I cut all of the waxed canvas, punch and finish all of the leather, and begin building each bag into a sculptural object.”
Each Sketchbook Crafts backpack is highly functional and made from durable materials, yet Jensen’s aim for her products is more abstract and romantic, and based in her passion for nature and exploration. “Since there is so much care and detail that goes into each pack, my hope is that the owners of these will also care for them as well as take them on wondrous journeys and exciting adventures.”
Images courtesy of Sketchbook Crafts