Sunday, 27 September 2009

Auction Antics!

I spent quite a bit of yesterday at a local auction. They are held periodically in the local community centre and are a one day only event. You drop your lots off in the morning, viewing is from 12.30pm and the auction starts at 2.00pm. It is usually all over by about 5.00pm depending on the number of lots, which is usually around 300 or so. The best bit about it, is never quite knowing what you are going to find!

This time, I was selling as well as buying. I had a few handbags which hadn't sold, as well as a large box of linens I didn't need, so decided to try my luck with them in the auction. I dropped off my items at 10.00am and took a crafty sneak peek at some of the other lots whilst I was there.

I was quite surprised to find not only another box of linens but also a lot of three vintage bags. The bags were really interesting, one was a small beaded Art Deco purse in very good condition. The other two were more modern but one had a very unusual frame at the top which folded in on itself to open. I was quite excited to be going back later for the actual auction.

After waiting for just over an hour to get to the linen lot, bidding was quite fierce. I had had a bit of a rummage in the box during the viewing and one item had really caught my eye. I set my highest price in my head and hoped for the best! Luckily the bidding stopped with me, at my maximum bid of £20. Adding commission, the lot was going to cost me £22.

A short while later, the three bags went under the hammer. I had set a price of £10 in my mind, which would have been £11 with commission. The small Deco bag I probably would have sold for about £14 and the other two bags were a real risk. Unfortunately, the seller had place a reserve of £15, so the bags went unsold.

My lots came up about an hour later. The handbags and linens raised £16 in total, which wasn't brilliant but it got rid of them, so I was happy. Having settled up at the desk, I took my new box of linens home for a good sort out which is always the best bit!

Whilst three quarters of the box was of no interest to me whatsoever, there were some really good items amongst it. There was a large piece of net curtain, which is an essential tool when making felt with soap and water. I needed a larger piece so that was a real bonus. There were a few linens with wide lace edging which will be ideal for turning into lavender bags and there was a set of four table mats with very pretty embroidery which will also make good lavender bags.

The star of the show though was the embroidered jacket that I had spotted. You couldn't really miss it as the fabric is so striking. It is embroidered all over in the most gorgeous and elaborate pattern. The jacket is old, possibly homemade, and I would guess it dates from around the 1930's but I could be wrong.

The base fabric feels like a fine wool and judging by the moth damage on the collar, I think I am probably right. It is fully lined in a salmon pink satin and has two handmade buttons at the front.

Overall, the jacket is in very good condition, apart from the moth holes and some small yellow marks. Having said that, there is plenty of usable fabric remaining. Part of me thinks it is a shame to cut the jacket up, but to be honest, it is not wearable as it is due to the moth holes.

I am certainly not going to rush into making any decisions. I will probably take the jacket apart to start with and see which bits are usable. I will then decide what to make, whether it is a whole handbag or just use parts as features on different bags. It really is a case of watch this space!

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Sunday, 20 September 2009

Tray Cloth Clutch Bag

I bought a vintage, hand embroidered tray cloth recently with a view to making a batch of lavender bags from it. It measured 58cm x 43cm which did limit the possibilities slightly but I got it at a good price, so it was worth taking a chance.

However, when the tray cloth arrived, there wasn't really enough plain fabric for the backs of the lavender bags. Not only that, the large areas on embroidery at the corners were also too big for a lavender bag. I didn't really want to cut in to the gorgeous embroidery either as it seemed a bit of a waste.

After quite a bit of thought, it suddenly struck me that the tray cloth would make a really good handbag. As I had a spare frame, a clutch bag seemed to be the perfect solution.

As I was using a curved handbag frame, the best shape to cut out was a triangular shape with a curved top. This perfectly incorporated one large piece of corner embroidery, as well as two smaller pieces either side. I could then use the same pieces from the diagonal corner for the other side of the handbag. Having cut both sides of the handbag out, I had just enough of the tray cloth left over to make a couple of rose petal scent bags as well.

The bag is lined in a pale lilac cotton which came from a gentleman's shirt. The colour of the lining perfectly compliments the embroidery and makes a good contrast to the cream of the linen. I think it also adds a good element of surprise when you open the handbag. The soft gold of the frame also works really well with the cream linen.

I was a bit concerned glueing the handbag into the frame, as I always find it really fiddly to do. Having taken my time, it seemed to work out quite well for once! The two rose petal scent bags also make a good bonus to the whole project.

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Sunday, 6 September 2009

Less Is Definitely More!

At the dawn of handbags, a few hundred years ago, bags were used mainly by workers to carry their tools, food and other essentials. The noble classes didn't use bags, preferring to keep their personal belongings in pockets tied around the waist. It was these pockets that gradually morphed into the handbag and became acceptable across all the social classes.

However, the size of your handbag still gave a clue as to your status in society. Larger bags were still considered to be for the working class. The upper classes tended to prefer elaborately decorated handbags, the smaller the better! This held true, certainly for evening bags, for a very long time. A lady of status didn't need to carry much with her for an evening out. Besides, anything that couldn't fit into their evening bags could be carried by a gentleman companion.

These days, handbags come in all shapes, sizes, colours and designs. Even handbags used in the evening are often the size of a day bag and contain huge amounts of "essential" clutter. Anyone who has read my post "Everything Except The Kitchen Sink!" will know I am certainly no exception.

Why do we insist on carrying so much about though?

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I really travelled light. On an evening out, I wouldn't even bother with a handbag. I would take my lighter and packet of cigarettes in my hand, have my money and door key in my pocket and that would be that. I never felt the need for anything else. If I didn't have any pockets, my key would be in my shoe and my money would be in a small purse.

These days, I don't smoke, so that should mean I have even less need for a handbag. But no. I take my keys, money, comb, mobile phone, lipstick, eyeliner, tissues, spare contact lenses, hand cream .... need I go on? These items have become a security blanket for some reason, I feel as if my right arm is missing if I don't take them.

It seems to me that as we go through our lives we carry more and more in our handbags. Ask anyone with small children and you will find even more odd items in their bags. Maybe the amount of clutter we insist of carrying around with us directly reflects the amount of emotional baggage we pick up as we go through our lives. Who knows.

Why don't men feel the need to carry so much around with them though?

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