Fine sewing, beauty, creativity: it’s all in the bag for Fire Sparks Creations

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This story is part of a series focusing on local makers. In 2022, The Review will find out what local entrepreneurs are creating, explore the how they do aspect of what they do and of course we will ask them why they do what they do. This week we speak with Lisa Sparkes. Since moving to the area in 2021, Sparkes has grown her home-based business and joined a local choir. You may have come across Sparkes at a local market for the past few years, smiling in welcome as she stood surrounded by an array of fabric bags, wallets and accessories that she makes and sells. And now, his story.

Sometimes you can trace a new idea back to its original spark.

For Lisa Sparkes, it was a spontaneous trip down what she calls a “rabbit hole.” She was browsing Pinterest and looking at colorful quilts. Other than sewing what she calls terrible shorts in 8th grade, she hadn’t sewn. Now, with a young girl at home, she felt inspired. She made some baby quilts.

“I figured I could sew something with straight lines,” she joked.

But the beautiful fabrics inspired her. “I got to thinking that most bags were brown and black or boring. But these fabrics were so bright and colorful.

Sparkes made a few bags, and when her family members started asking for them, she started selling on Etsy, a website known for selling handcrafted items. The name of his new company? Creations of fire sparks.

“We used to sit around a campfire when I was a kid and when the sparks flew from the fire, my dad would always say, ‘Look at all those sparks’, like some kind of joke because that was our last name. . So the name just seemed to fit, she said.

By following patterns created by others, Sparkes’ skills began to develop, as she read and learned more about the art of bag making. “I really started paying attention to how things are built,” she explained. She took note of interlining, the idea of ​​cork bottoms to give bags and shape, and created her own design for a coin purse. Sparkes manufactures and sells fabric wallets, small cosmetic bags, beach bags, coin purses, belt bags, crossbody bags, infinity scarves and other accessories.

This shoulder bag is one of the items you can find for sale in the Fire Sparks Creations store or by visiting Lisa Sparkes at her stall at one of the local markets where she sells her wares.

Since the closure of a local fabric store in Vankleek Hill, Sparkes has had to go further to find quality fabric. She orders online, but aims to order from Canadian suppliers when she can, not just for fabric, but for what she calls hardware (like zippers).

The seams of Sparkes products are impeccable. “I’m a perfectionist by nature,” she says, adding that she always experiments when making a new type of bag.

Sparkes and her husband have a 10-year-old daughter and they also work full-time in the biology lab at Vanier College from August to May.

Her new found love for making bags melted into selling the bags on her own website and traveling to local markets to sell her products.

“During the pandemic, everything was different. We traditionally prepared everything we needed for the labs, but now we had to scan all our slides, for example,” Sparkes explained. Sewing provided an outlet for work. “Working with new fabrics, new designs and even making the same bags but using different fabrics – I think that releases a lot of serotonin,” said Sparkes, who compares the feeling to singing in a choir because while you sew or sing, you can’t think of anything else.

When it comes to fabrics, Sparkes leans towards florals, line art and she loves modern and abstract patterns. But she tries to use a mix of styles so her products appeal to everyone. Some people lean towards particular colors, and Sparkes noted early on that she was buying more reds, pinks and purples, so she’s now careful to consider the full spectrum when shopping for fabric. Popular these days are what Sparkes calls “sweary” fabrics – prints with slightly irreverent words written on them. “They sell out right away,” Sparkes says.

Sparkes’ husband and daughter often accompany her to weekend markets. And she tries to keep up her pace, alternating weekends in the markets rather than being in certain markets every weekend.

Sparkes thinks of her aunt and grandmother every time she sits in front of her Singer Model 237 sewing machine, which dates to the 1960s.

When family members reunited in Newfoundland months after the death of Sparkes’ maternal grandmother, the conversation turned to Lisa’s passion for sewing and when her aunt heard her speak of fabrics and sewing, she said she had a sewing machine to give Lisa. .

Lisa recounts that years earlier, her maternal grandmother (Edith Harding) convinced her daughter (Lisa’s Aunt Debbie) to buy a second sewing machine they found at a second-hand store.

“My aunt told me my grandmother said you never know when you might need a second sewing machine.” It was like that sewing machine was supposed to be mine, Sparkes said.

Lisa Sparkes works on her Singer Model 237 sewing machine.

Sparkes and her husband moved to the area in 2010 from Montreal. Colleagues who lived in Bainsville, Ont., kept telling them to move to the countryside, Sparkes says.

“It was a big change. We are surrounded by agriculture and we are in the countryside. It is so quiet here,” she says.

To connect with Lisa Sparkes, you can find Fire Sparks on Facebook, visit her website or email: [email protected] Her wares are also available at Indigo Hill at 26 Main Street in Vankleek Hill and she is a regular at the Vankleek Hill Farmers Market every other Saturday (check the market schedule, which is posted on Facebook).

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