Sunday, 26 April 2009

In The Frame

I have decided to expand my horizons and try my hand at using metal frames in some of my bags. They come in a huge range of shapes, sizes and colours, so the possibilities are endless. I did have a few problems locating supplies, so if anyone knows where I can buy frames from, please let me know!

Anyway, I finally tracked down a few frames at a reasonable price so set about transforming a piece of fabric taken from an old sari which I purchased recently from Louise, at Catwalk Creative. Designing the bag was the easy bit, trust me! Constructing the actual bag was no different to any other lined bag and I used the frame as a template to sketch out a paper pattern for it.

The tricky bit was attaching the bag to the frame. You can get frames that you either glue to the bag or sew to the bag. I opted for the gluing version as I thought that would be easier. Hmm! I'm not so sure now. The problems started when I took the lid off the tube of textile glue. It is really runny and I had obviously been applying pressure to the closed tube, as it promptly erupted like a volcano all over my fingers. I had real problems just getting the tube of glue under control before I even approached the bag frame.

The idea is to place an even trail of glue along the channel on each side of the frame. Sounds easy enough. Wrong! Trying to apply even pressure all the way along seemed beyond me for some reason, so some areas were a bit sparse and others had too much glue. As I was using a curved frame, the glue at the ends insisted on running towards the middle. It is worth pointing out that you should only tackle one side at a time.

Timing is everything when gluing. If the glue is too wet it oozes out all over the fabric, if it is too dry the fabric won't stick anyway. I left the glue to dry for about 5 minutes and then tried to insert the edge of the bag. Getting them in was a bit fiddly to say the least. I also realised that having pools of glue in places really wasn't helpful as some seeped out onto the fabric. Thankfully, once dry, I was able to pick most of the glue off again.

I am quite pleased with the finished bag even though it isn't perfect. I won't be putting this one up for sale and will keep it for myself to use instead. It has been an interesting project and I will definitely have another go with other frames I have bought. Hopefully, practice will make perfect and the future framed bags will be as pretty as a picture!

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Friday, 24 April 2009

To Clean or Not to Clean Vintage Bags

When I buy vintage bags for my website, I try to buy bags that are in really good condition with little damage and no stains. However, there is often a small amount of where and tear due to the age of the bag and the fact that someone has used it and loved it in the past.

Occasionally, I will buy a bead bag with a small amount of bead loss, just because I really like the bag. In that case, I will do my best to repair the bag sympathetically and have a couple I am working on at the moment. Sometimes I will get a bag in a job lot which has got some staining and I do my best to spruce it up a bit for sale. Buying handbags over the internet or even at outdoor sales can catch me out, as you don't always realise a bag smells of cigarette smoke. The odour is really hard to remove.

When I think it will be possible, I tend to gently handwash handbags in warm water with a mild handwash detergent. It is amazing how many light stains can be removed and how sparkly beads can become afterwards. Needless to say, completely washing a bag is not always possible and really depends on the structure of the bag and materials used. Sometimes I can get away with just spot cleaning a particular area.

Most of the time, the results are quite successful. However, one vintage clutch bag does spring to mind. It came with a couple of other bags and was a white clutch bag, probably 1960's, with small beads dotted over it. It was very dirty and badly stained, so it was either try and clean it or throw it away. I decided to soak it for a while before rubbing at some of the stains to try and loosen them. What I didn't realise was that the bag was not as solid as I had first thought. The internal structure was made of cardboard and soaking it wasn't really the best idea. As I worked on the stains, the seams came apart and the bag disintegrated into a soggy mess in my hands! The only place left for the poor bag was the bin.

It was quite funny at the time and I didn't really have much to lose as the bag was in such a poor state to start with. I am definitely a bit more careful with others now though!

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Sunday, 19 April 2009

Rose Petal Scent Bags

I have just finished the rose petal scent bags I started a little while ago. The fabric was a set of six embroidered place mats with the flowers embroidered on one edge only. As they were embroidered with roses it seemed obvious to turn them into scent bags filled with rose petals. It is a shame there was only six as it has limited the number of bags I could make.

I think they are really pretty and smell gorgeous. I did have a slight issue with the rose petals I bought as they did not smell that strong. I added a generous amount of Rose Absolute essential oil to the petals to enhance the scent which has worked really well.

If you want to find out for yourself, you will have to buy one!

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Saturday, 18 April 2009

Decorative Stitches

If you read my "Electric Dream Machine" posting you will know that I have bought a new sewing machine. Part of my reasoning for buying it was to have a greater variety of stitches to utilise in my bags. I have been so busy sewing in straight lines with the odd scallop, I haven't actually had time to try out some of my new options. Until just now.

It is actually really exciting trying a new stitch. I was supposed to be making some more rose petal scent sachets but I have snapped the needle I need for the scallop stitch. It suddenly dawned on me it was the perfect time to have a play instead.

I tried out the my 5 favourite stitches from the ones that needed a single needle, which thankfully was the ones I wanted to try anyway. From the top, they stitches are numbers 32, 33, 34, 23 and 39. As you can see from the photos, they aren't exactly like the diagram but they are quite effective in their own right. I will certainly utilise them all in some way in the near future. I have a few plans up my sleeve!

One thing I did find quite disconcerting was the motion of the machine whilst creating them all. I am so used to sewing in one direction only, it is really odd when the machine starts going forwards, backwards and sideways on its own accord and you don't quite know which way it is going to go next. It is quite therapeutic once you get into the rhythm of the stitch though, I felt I could go on for hours. You'd need an awful lot of cotton though!

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Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Fancy A Cuppa?

My mother is an avid teapot collector with well over 400 different novelty and antique pots spread all over the house. When I first saw the fabulously quirky range of ceramic handbag teapots designed by Annie Rowe, I had to buy her one and then another!

I was delighted to find a third one to add to her collection the other day at a car boot sale. It cost me just £3 which I have to say is a complete bargain. I would have paid £10! Each pot comes in a black cardboard box with gold braid handles, thus resembling a handbag itself. The pots range in colour and style as any good handbag range.

The pot I have just bought is called "Hollywood Gold" and measures approximately 17cm across from spout to handle and is 18cm tall, so quite a practical size for a working teapot. The bright turquoise glaze and gilded handle and spout making it very eyecatching. If the pot were a real handbag it wouldn't look out of place swinging on your arm in Monte Carlo!

I haven't given the bag to my mother yet, but I know she will be thrilled with it when I do.

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Monday, 13 April 2009

Website Updates

I have been making changes to my website over the past few days, partly out of choice and partly out of necessity. Whilst I was reasonably happy with the way it looked, there were a few things that really niggled me, such as only being able to show one photo per item for sale.

I decided to bite the bullet and upgrade to the Professional version of the package I use, which actually wasn't that much more money anyway. The cost certainly outweighed the benefits. A lot of my items now show more than one view now which is good but I need to photograph some items again to get more detailed shots.

Having started to change a few things, my site seemed to start unravelling! It was a long time ago now that I designed the original site and I couldn't actually remember how I achieved certain effects. For instance, I couldn't get the background to work for some reason, so had to change it and then it didn't look right with the side bar, so I had to change that!

The upgrade has given some new features which are quite useful though, such as better stock management. Before when an item sold I had to delete it from view, hopefully now it will be taken off automatically when it sells. I have been able to put in stock totals now which is really helpful.

There are still a few issues I need to iron out but hopefully the site doesn't look too bad! Any feedback will be gratefully received!

Friday, 10 April 2009

When Is A Book Not A Book?

When it is an autographed cycling shirt! Confused? So was I!

A week or so ago, I decided to indulge my love of handbags a little bit more and buy another book on them. All in the interests of research obviously! I knew which book I wanted, so happily placed my order online through a certain well known website. However, I opted to buy the book from a private seller as it was cheaper.

A few days later, a parcel arrived that seemed somewhat squidgy to be a book. Upon opening it, I found not my book on handbags but a cycling shirt autographed by singers Beverly Knight, Shaggy, James Blunt, Gabriel and KT Tunstall, as well as actors James Nesbitt and David Schwimmer! A slightly odd mix but nonetheless, a great item if that's what you wanted. Obviously, I didn't.

Slightly bemused, I checked the parcel and found a delivery note for my book, so at least I knew where the shirt had actually come from. There was also a letter from a London radio station dated September 2007, offering congratulations on winning the shirt in a competition, together with a mountain bike. Not a bad win all in all.

I waited a few days expecting a frantic seller to contact me but heard nothing. I emailed her a couple of days ago to point out the mistake and she seemed very surprised as she had not heard from the intended recipient of the autographed shirt. Maybe they just preferred my handbag book. Who knows?

Needless to say, I have agreed to return the shirt to its right owner, who in turn will send my book to me. Well, that's the theory anyway!

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Sunday, 5 April 2009

Blue Applique Tie Bag

I spent this afternoon finishing another tie bag. I cut it out over a week ago and haven't had time to make it up until now. I have to say, not having enough time to make things can be really frustrating. I obviously need to see where I can make more time.

Anyway, this bag is made from a pale blue wool fabric I bought about 20 years ago to make a skirt. I never made the skirt, so the fabric has been sat in my pile for years. The three ties came from a lady at my ceramics class. She had been into patchwork but had decided to change direction. Knowing I made bags, she kindly gave me about 20 mens ties to use. I love using them on bags as I think they look really effective.

I have used both ends of the ties, on each side, and two of the ties have also been used for the handles. The inside of the bag has been lined in a pale mauve cotton, taken from a man's shirt. The front of the bag also features a vintage diamonte brooch to give it a bit of added sparkle and bling.

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Friday, 3 April 2009

Bag Theft

I have had two handbags stolen in the past and as anyone who has experienced this can tell you, it is really annoying!

The first time, about 20 years ago, I was out with my mother having a midweek picnic. It was a fairly secluded beauty spot and we were out of sight of my parked car. I really stupidly left my handbag on the back seat, although did think to cover it over with a blanket. On returning to the car, I found my back passenger window smashed and my very lovely tan leather 1980's saddlebag gone.

Now, I did learn my lesson from that incident. Well almost. About 8 years ago, I was going to see a live band with a friend. I hated taking a bag into gigs back then, so when I picked up my friend from her house, I locked my bag and coat into the boot of my car. I then drove about 1o miles to the venue and parked for the evening. Having taken the precaution of locking my belongings into the car away from the venue, I assumed they would be safe as noone had seen me do it.

Wrong again! When I returned to my car a few hours later, I found it unlocked, which concerned me. Upon further investigation, I found my bag and coat gone, alone with a few coins I kept in the ashtray for parking. Thankfully, the thief had shown some consideration, he had picked the lock with a bent pair of scissors (it was an old car!) which I found on the back seat.

Whilst the inconvenience of reporting the incidents to police, making insurance claims and cancelling bank cards etc is really annoying, the worst bit was losing two really great bags! The second bag was a really soft suede rucksack my sister had bought me in Poland. It was impossible to replace.

Now, I've well and truly learnt my lesson. I never, ever leave my bag in my car, or anyone else's for that matter!

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Thank You x Fifty!

I have just realised I have got 50 people following this blog, so thank you to you all! Actually, there is only 49 as one of them is me. Never mind, hopefully someone else will be along soon to make a true 50.

I have got a whole long list of things to blog about, including handbag history, designers, lots of wierd and wonderful handbags, fabrics etc, etc. You will just have to keeping visiting to see what I have got planned.

It is still a bit of a learning curve, so bear with me. Hopefully, you will continue to find my posts interesting. If not, let me know!