Handmade handbags came into my life at just the right moment. I was looking to focus on a craft to start a little business in my retirement and this was just the challenge I needed.
I know people who constantly change handbags and then find they've omitted to swap something vital - like a purse! Personally, although handbags fascinate me, I've always been far too lazy to keep swapping.
I think maybe I started making them to fulfil a need to be surrounded by different ones but without feeling compelled to use them all. Maybe my handbag history explains why?
History of handmade handbags or why I started making bags
I grew up just after WWII. As a child I tended to only have one of everything (except underwear which was often knitted by my grandmother!) Unfortunately this thinking is so deeply entrenched that it's hard to overcome.
As a teenager in the 1960s without much money my handbag was either plain brown, navy blue, white or black. This was so that it would match my smart shoes - of which I usually only possessed one pair at a time.
Since school uniform dictated that we wore brown shoes, I rarely had shoes of that colour for other occasions. School uniform was navy blue so out-of-school shoes in that colour were also tainted.
That left either white or black. So mine were usually white, with a white handbag to match, of course. Generally things were made to last and were expected to.
As the years passed people tended to have more money to spend, many items became available more cheaply due to foreign imports. Cheaper coloured fashionable shoes and other accessories appeared.
But old habits die hard.
When my children were growing up I could be heard saying things to them like, "Why do you need another pair of jeans? You've got a pair!"
I do, however, now possess pairs of purple and red shoes in addition to the black and the white ones. I also no longer believe accessories must match and my handbag does definitely not have to be the same colour as my shoes!
I love bags! And I adore brightly coloured bags with pictures on them although I can never allow myself to buy them. So, in order to get my hands on fun bags with funky designs I started to make them myself.
However, I can still only allow myself to use one bag at a time, so I satisfy my cravings by creating bags to sell to others who haven't got my hang-ups.
I hope one (or two?) of them might appeal to you. After all, who wants plain black or brown or navy when the world is a kaleidoscope of colours?
The sewn garment of which I'm most proud
I have always sewn. After retiring from my day job I seized the chance to spend the hours in the day creating lovely things.
The item I have sewn of which I am most proud was my daughter's wedding dress.
I also knit and paint and do photography. As far as the bags are concerned I am still deciding which style of bag I want to focus on. So all my creations are a bit different - unique examples and one-of-a-kind.
The bag that was my one true love
My beloved Enny bag aged 41 years
My beloved Enny bag age 41years
In 1976 my husband bought me an expensive leather handbag made by Enny in Italy. It was to die for!
For starters it wasn't sensible brown or black but a deep ruby red. It was big - big enough to hold files and folders I needed at work.
It also had lots of pockets of different sizes and I soon established a specific purpose for each so I could always instantly find whatever I needed in it. When my daughter came along it often held her nappies and feeding bottles along with all my other "must have" items.
When I went anywhere the bag came too. It is much travelled. Looking through old photos I have found sightings of the bag on numerous foreign holidays.
Since I am often the one behind the camera, I have put the bag down to take the photo and it has managed to sneak into the corner of many shots!
I have photographic sightings of the bag in Bermuda, Singapore, Australia, Florida, and various UK places to name a few. (see the bag version of "Where's Wally" below!)
1981 At the Beach
From time to time I would apply red leather polish to it to revive the colour which faded over time. At one point, when the handles fell apart, I sourced a specialist firm who could make new ones for it.
That bag became part of my identity. I used it for work right up until I retired. I still have it but it is now in retirement too. I can never bring myself to part with it so it ends its days happily in the wardrobe.
So why am I writing so much about a bag that lasted over 40 years? Because I want to contrast expensive long-lasting leather bags with the fun fabric handmade bags which I feature on those website.
So now I am trying to be a less faithful and more fickle handbag owner who is happy to take a different bag on holiday each year. I am obsessed with finding a bag that will hold all the things I need on the plane that doesn't have to go in the overhead locker and which will double as a shopping bag when I visit the craft markets and shops at my destination...
I'm working on it...
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