Sunday, 28 June 2009

Multi Coloured Pleat Handbag

A couple of years ago, I bought some gorgeous furnishing fabric swatches from a charity sale. The charity rescued greyhounds, so I very happily bought quite a few pieces of fabric. I have used some of it for making doorstops and beanbag frogs but have been meaning to make a handbag for months.

A few weeks ago, I was in a charity shop and found a thin leather belt that not only had complimentary colours in it but also had a similar design to the fabric. I realised it would perfect for a bag handle.

I finally sat down today and made the handbag. I knew I wanted a single handle and a puffy style but other than that had no real plans. I didn't even have a size worked out, the fabric really dictated how the bag was designed. As the fabric was a colour swatch, the large piece of fabric was made up of squares in a huge array of colours which gradually blend into the next square.

Each side has two pleats to give the bag a puffy shape and the belt has been used as a single handle, as planned. I have kept the belt buckle so that the handle length can be adjusted to three different length settings. This will allow the bag to be carried in your hand or on your shoulder. The inside is lined in pink and has a magnetic clasp to hold the top edges closed.

I am really pleased with the final result. It is always a bit of a gamble when you don't follow a pattern or have any firm idea in mind. Having said that it is quite exciting to see how it will turn out. I was worried I was going to ruin a really great piece of fabric, but I think I have managed to do it justice.

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Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Black Is The New Gold!

Just as I had blogged about gold vintage handbags being the latest must have item, I sold three black vintage handbags. Just goes to show, I know absolutely nothing about current market trends! If anyone can predict next week's trend, I would be grateful so that I can stock up.

The three bags, were sold to two different people, one in the USA and the other in France. The French lady bought a lovely 1950's handbag with a rose design and a fushia pink lining. I have had the handbag in stock for a while and had recently reduced the price. That obviously did the trick!

The other two handbags were older, one was a beaded Art Nouveau handbag and the other a small round beaded purse, probably 1930's-1940's. Both were quite recently acquired and both needed a small amount of work on them to bring them up to saleable condition. I had never actually attempted any beadwork before, so I was quite keen to see what I could do.

The Art Nouveau bag had a patch of beading missing in the middle of one side. The beads really needed replacing to stabilise the remaining beads surrounding the area. By sheer chance, I had come beads that were a near enough match to be used to fill in. Just repairing a small area made me really appreciate the work that originally went into making beaded handbags. No wonder they were expensive in their day!

The small round purse had some beads missing, a long tubular bead was snapped in the middle and the main structure of the beadwork on one side had come loose. Again the beadwork really needed repairing to protect the rest of the beading. Trying to recreaate the symmetrical arrangement of the bead network really got me thinking. It was not as easy as it first appeared. I was quite pleased with the final result though and the repairs I carried out to both handbags has certainly given me the confidence to take on more vintage handbags in need of some TLC.

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Wednesday, 17 June 2009

All That Glitters ....

All that glitters may not be gold but vintage gold handbags certainly seem to be popular. I have sold three in the last few weeks, I am beginning to think they are this season's must have!

There is something quite glamourous about a gold handbag, it can certainly add a touch of bling to an outfit.

I have sold quite a big variety of gold vintage bags in the last year or so. The bags have certainly spanned the decades and have been quite a range of designs and even shades of gold.

A few of them I have really liked and I have to admit to a few pangs of sadness when I posted them off to their new owners.

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Wednesday, 10 June 2009

It's A Small World!

I upgraded my website a few months ago and I can now get more detailed statistics on visitors to my website. Before I just got a graph of the number of visitors. Now I can see which countries people are based in, which I find endlessly fascinating.

It never ceases to amaze me how global a marketplace we now live in. Despite being a small UK based website, I get visitors from all over the world dropping by to see what I am selling. Most of my sales have been to the UK and USA but there have been some to other countries too.

Visitors to my website, in no particular order, have come from the UK (obviously!), Russian Federation, France, Slovakia, Antigua & Barbuda, Canada, USA, Italy, Belgium, Egypt, Finland, Mongolia, Croatia, New Zealand, Israel, Germany, Poland, Netherlands, China, Singapore, Brazil, Switzerland, Australia, Czech Republic, Ireland, Chile, Argentina, Denmark, Philippines, Spain, India, Malaysia, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. It's like a meeting of the United Nations! I quite like the live feed map on my Blogspot page as well as that gives an instant map of where blog visitors have come from.

It is quite odd to think that the internet can so easily connect us with complete strangers all over the world. People we will most probably never meet or ever talk to. The internet has certainly helped small business the world over reach a far greater customer base and become more successful. I know I owe a lot to it!

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Sunday, 7 June 2009

Two Bowls, Two Designs

I spent some of yesterday and today wet felting a couple of bowls. I haven't done any felt work for a while and really felt in the mood. The trouble with wet felting is that you can't really start and stop it, you have to pretty much finish the whole felting process in one go. That means you need to have a spare few hours to make anything, which is sometimes easier said than done.

This weekend, I knew I would have some spare time, so made a note in my head to definitely do some felting. I had been wanting to try out a couple of bowls for a while, so that is what I decided to make. They are really easy to make as you simply use a ball, in this case a football, as a mould to apply the wool to. I used some knitting wool to start with, in two colours, just for interest and then used a variety of complimentary colours in merino wool. Once you get started, keeping the wool on the ball is actually quite easy.

I gradually built up layers using the colours I had chosen, applying soap and water as I went to help the felting process. Once I was happy with the thickness, I finished with a final layer of dark blue merino which I spent quite a long time rubbing with soap to ensure a good felt. When I was happy with the stability of the felting, I put the ball into the washing machine on a 60 degress cycle. This ensured that the felt got a good pounding to mesh the fibres together and also rinsed out all of the soap I had used. I didn't add any detergent to the cycle as a lot of fabric detergents have any felting chemicals in them to protect your clothes.

Having been spun at the end of the wash cycle, the ball was fairly dry when I took it out. I gave it a quick iron to flatten the fibres as it was looking a bit fluffy and then came the exciting bit, cutting it open. As you work from the inside to the outside, you are never quite sure how it will turn out. I have to say I was really pleased with the resulting bowls.

One bowl I decided to simply sew on a felt flower made from matching merino wool. The other bowl, I thought I would be a bit more ambitious and apply some beadwork to the outside. I threaded pink, green and blue seed beads onto beading wire and then sewed the length of beading onto the felt bowl. I think both options have worked well and I really don't have a favourite between them.

The vibrancy of the colours of the wool always really appeal to me, which is why I think I love felting so much. Also the softness of the merino makes objects really tactile. I guess felt bowls aren't very practical though, a bit like a chocolate teapot! They are definitely more decorative than anything else.

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