Sunday, 8 November 2009

Welsh Tapestry Handbags

I am always on the lookout for vintage handbags to add to stock. It never ceases to amaze me how many are still in circulation, there is truly something for everyone. I tend to only stock handbags I like and am probably a bit on the fussy side. One style of handbag which has intrigued me for a while is Welsh Tapestry. Last week I was lucky enough to finally come across one in my local town - absolutely nowhere near Wales!

Welsh Tapestry, as the name suggests, is a traditional woolen cloth similar in texture to tweed. It was and still is produced by Welsh wool mills using a double weaving process which entails weaving two cloths together. Unlike tapestry pictures which spring to mind, Welsh Tapestry uses geometric designs. The double weaving process means that the pattern is the same on both sides of the cloth.

It was during the 1950's that the trade in Welsh Tapestry items really took off, with the increasing tourist trade. The cloth was used for a variety of small household items which were perfect as tourist mementos. As well as handbags and purses, Welsh Tapestry was used for placemats, drinks coasters, tea cosies, bookmarks, jackets and naturally blankets. With the tourist market being the main target group, it is hardly surprising that a vintage Welsh Tapestry handbag turned up in my town. It was no doubt bought and loved following a happy holiday in Wales.

The colours and designs of the geometric patterns vary greatly, with designs no doubt being attributed to certain woolen mills and areas of Wales. A collector would possibly know at a glance which mill produced a certain pattern - a bit like Scottish Tartan belonging to certain Clans.

I have no idea where my handbag started out, the label just reads "Real Welsh Tapestry All Wool". The perfect condition of the cloth after all these years is testament to the quality of the fabric though. I would certainly consider buying some new Welsh Tapestry items in the future, as they are still being produced for sale today. This just goes to show how desirable Welsh Tapestry still is after all these years.

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