Monday, February 18, 2013

My Latest Handbag - A Drawsting Silhouette

Many years ago I was the handbag buyer for a major department store here in Detroit, called J.L.Hudson (its now Macy's). The job called for frequent buying trips to NYC, L.A., Italy and Asia in search of handbags and small leather goods for the chains 20+ stores. I bought fabulous bags for the chain representing a wide range of price points, from inexpensive bags to beautiful one retailing for hundreds of dollars. I loved that job as well as many of the bags I bought for the store. So much so, I maintained huge stashes of bags. In fact, I always kept several in my car so that I could match my bag to whatever outfit I was wearing before I entered my workplace as a way to both enjoy all the beautiful bags I owned and to promote them. 

Now I make them, in most cases, for less than $20 a bag. Granted, the ones I make aren't constructed from fine leathers or represent the style du jour. Nor, do they display the many designer nameplates I purchased for the store. Nonetheless, they are equally practical, functional and fun to make.

I continue to always take note of handbags people are carrying these days. And, I am always in search of a great handbag silhouette to replicate. Easier said than done, given many of today's overdone and sometimes ridiculous styles. At a recent family gathering, however, my sister was carrying a new bag she had purchased while on a vacation in Northern Michigan that managed to catch my attention. It was a darling drawstring style bag made of several pastel colors of leather, in a color-block fashion. The overall style was both clever and practical. Not too big, with straps that could fit comfortably over the shoulder and with plenty of pockets inside and outside to store cellphones, keys and other assorted personal items. 

This could definitely be made in fabric, I thought, and I had a stash of fabric that would suit the style. What I had consisted of some black nubby textured upholstery fabric along with a coordinating print and a great Japanese inspired cotton print for the lining. Great for making an all-season bag and sturdy enough to last a season or two. 

Since I didn't possess the bag I had to design it based on my memory of what it looked like and how it was constructed. 

I find upholstery fabric works quite well for handbags.  It provides good body, sound structure and durability to the bag. Nonetheless, I always add a good medium to heavy weight interfacing to them. The same is true for the lining. Adding a fusible interfacing makes the lining more durable, which is especially important for the pockets which take all the wear and tear. 

I'm pleased with the way the bag turned out. In fact, after the bag was made, I saw it again and was amazed at how closely I interpreted the bag's dimensions and style components. 

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