Designer Deck Condos!

Pfaff Expression 2028

Pfaff Expression 2028 – my pretty baby

It seems I can only exist in one frame of mind and seeing as I’ve been of a creative mindset lately, the writing here has had to take a backseat. When the brain is working in pictures, words mean little and are honestly too cumbersome to fling around with my usual verve. When the internet loses its flavour, I know I’m riding a serious wave of creativity! I also managed to RSI myself with a little too much CTRL+W action, resulting in agony and a practically useless left hand.


Not to worry, I kept myself busy with making tarot bags!

I got inspired to make a stack of bags a little while ago and a few days after that, I saw that there were some decks available for trade on the AT forums. Trade, you say? I can indulge my habit in exchange for my skills and unleash a little creative steam? SIGN ME UP! They’re finally done (despite a minor artistic crisis during the birthing process) and mailed off and now I can share – weeee!

If OctoberGwen happens to be reading this, LOOK AWAY! ;)


The bag that sprang into being with the least fuss was the bag intended for the MerryDay Tarot. The first cards I saw from this deck included the 2 of Swords and I was immediately enamoured of the dusky, twilight mix of pinks and purples that made up the background. Looking through further deck images, I saw these colours repeated quite often, but the heavy presence of dragons in the deck also included fiery reds and oranges (and me with the perfect fiery velour to match) and the natural aspect scenes depicted brought in a beautiful yellow green (got 3 or 4 fabrics that fit that description…) that is hard for me to resist.

I finally decided to let the fabric store decide for me. And it delivered! A veritable mountain of fabrics in the twilight colour scheme, so many that I actually had to leave some behind :gasp: The main body of the bag is a fabric that reminds me of my grandmother in the biggest way. I’m sure she had a dress or (and?) curtains in the same striped colour scheme… The colours couldn’t be more perfect! The collar is a colour-change soft taffeta, as is the lining (which is a lovely cornflower blue).

In my ribbon stash I found a 2-tone purple braid for the tie. I trimmed this with buttons, skinny ribbon and beads and charms from my big box o’ treasures. When I saw the MerryDay, one of the things that struck me about it was the very strong “earth” feeling it has; it is both fantastical and magical and the bag to house the deck needed to reflect this. I chose a fairy pendant, a snaky dragon pendant, a small sun, a labyrinthine spiral and a fairy riding a crescent moon. Only when I uploaded the 2 of Swords did I realise there was a crescent moon in the sky!

And if the MerryDay doesn’t love its new home, I will personally come over to spank some sense into it ;)


My trading partner was planning on getting the Dark Angels Tarot, so this bag was originally going to house a deck about fallen angels and needed to have a good dark and gothy personality. Luckily, dark and gothy is something I channel really, really well!

In my mind, I saw black velvet, black feathered wings and a gorgeous turquoise silk lining to match the lovely card backs. Unbelievably, there was no turquoise silk! I settled on blood red (and managed not to buy one of each of all the other sumptuous colours available…) Then my partner let me know that she had changed her mind about the Dark Angels and was thinking of getting the Tarot Favole instead. Goth overdrive!

But then my brain decided the bag just had to feature a cameo. Cue weeks of searching, but eventual success HUZZAH! I embellished this with pleated ribbon (gotta get pleats in there somewhere) and vintage pearls, Swarowskis and Czech glass beads. And feathers :) The bag is lined with black satin and the collar is a black velvet scrap from my grandmother, so it’s well over 40 years old. To trim the bag and incorporate the tie, I used vintage cotton crochet beading. My mom bought me a spool of this about 15 years ago and I’ve been saving it all this time, waiting for the *perfect* application (no more “saving” my precious things! USE THEM.)

I freaking LOVE how this bag turned out (a rare event)! It reflects my vision perfectly and I think it will be a good match for any number of “dark” decks in my partner’s collection.


The final deck I was given a mission to craft a special home for was the Paulina Tarot. Apparently, this deck was designed with the spirit of Mardi Gras in mind. I don’t see this in the deck at all – given, I don’t own it – but I do love the intricate artwork. Searching for fabric to match this delicate, flowery, frippery was a complete bust, so I went back to Mardi Gras. Remembering that I had a lovely deep purple vintage sari at home that would be a great starting point, as well as plenty of gold ribbons and sequins and jewellery bits (thank you, retired dance costumes!), I chose a deep green taffeta and gold charmeuse to complement these elements.

Though I couldn’t find a suitably decorative base for the bag, my angel baby Pfaff stepped up and embroidered a gold star design on the main fabric. (Seriously, this machine sews effortlessly with metallic thread, with nary a snag or break or stripping incident to be seen – I LOVE it!!) Scavenged beads and coins were added to bring in the gold tones and add a little over-the-top Mardi bling. I selected a trio of ribbons in purples and green as ties for the bag and added bells to these for Moar Fun™

I was a little afraid of going too far or not far enough with this bag, but I think I got it just right. It jingles and rustles and the lining is sooo silky. Perfect for the slightly strange performance artist that is the Paulina.

Now it’s the waiting game, while the bags make their way across the continent. It’s nice to be reminded just how much I deeply enjoy making beautiful things for people; customising them and carefully selecting elements that have meaning, both for the intended recipient and in a larger sense of the mystical world in my head. I’m thinking now that this might be a good way to support my deck “habit”. For the work and materials that go into these, I can’t sell them for what they’re worth, but making them to trade is a wonderful creative outlet (PURPOSE!) and it plays right into my concept of a perfect world where bartering is the primary economic system (I guess my dirty Socialist agenda is out there now.)



17 thoughts on “Designer Deck Condos!

    • submerina says:

      :D And there’s more to come! It’s rough being pulled in two directions, but this was why I picked up tarot in the first place: to find my lost creativity. Can’t complain now that it’s working, right?


  1. erishilton says:

    The Paulina Bag doesn’t say Paulina at all, but… ZOMG! It’s so adorable! Love-love-love it! It makes me think of Paulina going out with her girlfriends for Moroccan food, and the kind of drunken attempts at bellydance that could ensue. With those coins… Ensue, they would!

    All I can say is that this looks waaaaaay too fun! Hooray for projects!

    Also… I <3 the color match on the Merry Day deck…


    • submerina says:

      Middle Eastern Mardi Gras! It was hard getting a bead on Paulina’s personality; she’s a bit like Drusilla – from Buffy – when she’s not being a psychotic blood-sucker ;) Sort of wan and floaty and living in the attic… so CARNIVALE! won out over frilliness.

      The MerryDay colour match just made me happy!

      Do you use bags at all?


    • submerina says:

      Thank you! The Secret’s home would simply _have_ to be PVC with LOTS of buckles! Maybe it could be talked into settling for something a little more RomantiGoth though. I’ve got a mermaid-themed one ready and waiting to be sewn up… ;)


      • Dancing Gemini says:

        I think Secret would totally dig RomantiGoth duds. :-) I can’t wait to see your reading on the Palette of Creative Possibilities. It’s one of the best spreads I’ve ever worked with.


  2. Digital Dame says:

    So, a little late, but I just now read this post, followed the link from your birthday entry.

    These are the most fabulous bags I have ever seen. If only I could sew. I have a bunch of really ugly bags someone gave me, but now I want something more special. I don’t know if my old Brother sewing machine is up to the task, though.


    • submerina says:

      Thank you :) I’m sure your old Brother should be enough. It’s mainly hand work that adds the special-ness; the bags are pretty straight forward. Beautiful fabric and the right accessories are what it’s all about. If I could ever get around to it, I should post a tutorial for my technique. Miss Haversham, take a memo…


      • Digital Dame says:

        I would so love to have a pattern for the kind you make that have the flat bottoms so they stand up. I’m not much of a seamstress, but I did make a pass through the local fabric store the other day. Nothing much grabbed me, though, so I went home empty-handed.


        • submerina says:

          It’s officially a draft post; just got to do it. I thought fabric stores in the States were made of WIN and AWESOME – that’s what the forums tell me, at least. Here, there’s 1. ONE store to “choose” from. No more independents. So sad.


  3. Digital Dame says:

    I’m sure it’s me and my lack of imagination and design skills. You could probably find all kinds of glorious fabrics, but I walk through and see nothing. Well, there were a couple, but I should probably practice on some cheap-o stuff first before I invest in the pretty stuff.


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