The Linen Tote
How it all started
Linen is said to be stronger than cotton of the same weight but we wanted to know just how much more durable the fabric can be. We started the test by selecting some of the toughest, hard-wearing cotton and made them into totes.
Not just any regular tote but one that features time-tested construction techniques that seamlessly form a companion that can carry your daily load without adding to it. The straps sit comfortably on your shoulder instead of cutting into it and the body gives enough room for all your everyday essentials.
Hundreds of these totes weaved into the lives in many parts of the world since 2014 and after several years, we got in touch again. Some carried the tote almost every day to work while others fold it into their luggages for travelling. From students to working adults, single to mother-of-two, the tote witnessed many life transitions and remained a favourite.
But the linen totes that we started making in 2016 got the nod for withstanding wear and tear more gracefully. Despite the linen totes being lighter, the load is better supported by the fabric so less stress is being put on the stitching and reinforcements.
It can be carried for years and still feel like you’re carrying for the first time.
Tested for durability every day for years
Whatever the load, the linen softens with each use, remains free of odour without the need for regular washing and reveals its matured beauty over time. These pictures capture two totes — one that has been heavily used for 3 years and another for only several months.
The Raga print act as an indicator of just how much wear and tear the tote can still hold up, usually a lot more than you think.
The zero-waste approach
We took an entire year off from production to evaluate the impact of our totes. They’ve checked most of our quality standards except for one: zero-waste. Although minimal, there were still scraps after cutting the pockets which we’d then distribute through printing parties and fabric scrap bundles.
We decided to only piece together a tote (no pockets!) when we’re faced with fabric too small to be made into The Linen Wrap, unexpected defects or excess fabric in the bolt where there’s slightly more fabric than accounted for.
That means measurements of the tote may vary slightly so that not an inch of fabric is wasted.
Washed before printing
Linen is primarily a cellulose fiber. Its molecular structure allows it to form a physical bond with water and it gets more absorbent after each wash.
For a long-lasting print, washing before printing ensures the fabric holds on to our water-based ink better. Cold water, low energy cycle and no detergents - just sodium carbonate, a natural cleaning agent. As a result, your Linen Tote is soft and ready-to-wear when you receive it.
To support the zero-waste design of the Linen Wrap, we take pride in making your Linen Tote only when you order. Unlike inventory-based companies that are in the guessing game of predicting demand and always end up generating waste with deadstock, the made-to-order model allow us to have an ever-changing material and colour palette while maintaining minimum waste.
We carefully design our prints in such a way that we can use the same screen for years. We also practice the reuse of waste water when washing our screens, reducing our water consumption significantly when compared to commercial screen printing practices.
Instead of running the raw edges of the fabric through a serger machine, we meticulously encase them to protect from the abrasion in the washing machine. Seamlessly using reinforcement stitching and topstitching high-stress areas to form a solid body. Apart from our sewing machines, nothing works harder than our own hands.
Drawn based on a crumpled piece of paper and then hand-carved on a block to form a pattern that embraces cracks and imperfections. Bumi directly translates to “earth” or “ground” in Malay (our native language).