Saturday, 25 July 2009

OhGosh! Handmade Bags

As you have no doubt gathered by now, I love handbags. Be it vintage or modern, mass produced or handmade, I can't resist a good bag. When you make your own though, quite often I look at bags and think I could make that myself, instead of buying it. That's actually what got me started in the first place, I had bought a few appliqued fabric bags and suddenly thought why buy them when I am more than capable of making my own?

Having said that, when I do make them, as much as I love them all, I do feel that I ought to sell them. If I kept them all I wouldn't have much of a business! It is quite a buzz when someone wants to buy an item you have spent time creating. It makes you realise that what you make maybe quite good after all.

I quite enjoy perusing the marketplace for handbags. I love scouring auctions for vintage, the High Street for mass produced lovelies which won't break the bank and of course, craft sites for one off handmade creations. It was on Etsy that I first came across Gosia Weber who is a fellow bag maker based in the UK. Her shop name is "OhGosh" and I couldn't resist buying a carpet bag from her back in January 2008, it was love at first sight!

The bag, entitled "Busy Street in the Lunchtime" is appliqued with Gosia's trademark elongated people which I love. I was not only drawn to the colours in the bag (I love turquoise) but also the quirky style and the brilliant title. Measuring 40cm x 13cm x 28cm and lined in bright red, the bag features a zipped top and two internal pockets, which makes it a really useful bag with plenty of room for all my clutter.

When the bag arrived, I was really impressed with the quality of her work. As a bag maker, trust me, I have a fairly critical eye. Especially where the competition is involved! I couldn't fault the bag, I just loved it too much and it has been well used since I bought it.

A few weeks ago, I decided to stop by Gosia's Etsy store again to see what she was making. Turned out to be a costly visit as I fell in love with another of her gorgeous bags. This one is called "Stroking the right way - not furry bag". The vibrant orange just grabbed my attention, together with the appliqued people.

Made of thick, orange corduroy, with chocolate faux suede handles and base, this bag measures 25cm x 30cm x 12cm and features a central internal pocket. Having fought with a bag frame myself lately when making a clutch bag, I have an even greater appreciation of this bag. Trying to attach bag frames is a really fiddly occupation. This frame is attache perfectly with no glue leakage to be seen.

The number of fans of Gosia's shop, plus the number of sales she has achieved are testament to the popularity of her work. As well as her Etsy store, you can also find her items listed on Folksy and Dawanda. I will certainly be dropping by again in the future and will no doubt end up with another bag for my collection, why don't you take a look too.

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Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Teddy Bear Give Away!

I spend some of my time as a fundraiser for a local wildlife rescue charity. This involves overseeing the management of two charity shops which play a vital role in the fundraising.

A couple of weeks ago, I was working in one branch and came across a sad looking Teddy bear which was heading for the rag bag. He had obviously been well loved, as he was a bit bald in places and the felt on his paws had worn very thin. Despite his sorry state, he had such a lovely face, I couldn't face him going in with the rags.

I decided all the Teddy needed was a bit of TLC, so took him home for some refurbishment. Having been subjected to the washing machine, the felt on one of his paws gave way and all of the stuffing in his leg came out all over my load of washing! It took some patience picking off hundreds of bits of foam to stuff back into his leg.

Once dried, I gave him a good brush and replaced all of the felt pads on his paws. A new red ribbon was the finishing touch to bring him back to his former glory - well almost, he still has a few small bald patches. I was going to call him rags but I think he looks far too distingished for that now, so I have called him Edward.

All Edwards needs now is a loving home ....

And that's where you all come in. I am offering Edward, completely free of charge to anyone who would like to offer him a new home. All you have to do is email me or leave a blog comment and I will put your name into a hat and draw out the lucky winner.

The closing date for the draw is 31st July 2009. The winner will be announced on my blog and will be notified in person, so don't forget to leave me your email address.

Good luck!

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Sunday, 5 July 2009

Trying to Get a Handle On It!

When it comes to making handbags my absolute nemesis has got to be handles! Unless I make clutch bags all the time, there is no escaping putting a handle onto a handbag. They just seem to give me no end of grief though.

Take today, for a prime example. I made a lovely little satin bridal bag, with a single strap handle but it took me three attempts to make the handle. The first one, I tried to do some decorative stitching along it which ended up crooked. Second time, I tried a different decorative stitch and I ran out of cotton three quarters of the way along the handle. Trying to match up the stitching again was virtually impossible. The third handle I ended up leaving plain.

Having made the handle, I had to attach it. Simple you may think. I sewed it on when sewing in the lining. Having turned the bag the right way out, I found the handle was twisted. Having unpicked the stitching and trying again, the handle wasn't on straight. Third time was just about acceptable.

If you want to put on double handles, it throws up yet another problem. Trying to get the handles exactly the same length can be tricky. If they are uneven though the bag will be lopsided when you carry it. Making handles can also be troublesome. If you are using a thin fabric, like satin, you can sew them lengthwise inside out, turn them the right way and iron them flat. However, with thicker fabrics it is impossible to make them that way as you can't turn the fabric the right way out again. You have to fold the edges in and stitch all the way along. Maybe it's just me but I seem to have problems sewing in a straight line on a thin strip of fabric.

Finding cheats are a real help. Chain straps, single straps and bamboo or cane handles are really useful. I have also used a leather belt recently which worked really well. I would like to say practice makes perfect but I am not so sure. I just never seem to be able to have stress free handles!

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