Monday, 12 September 2011

Bag Lady

When you read the title to this post, you would have been forgiven, reader, if you thought you were going to read things of a grannyish nature (though granny-stuff rates fairly high on my radar, anyhow), because I suppose bag lady has some rather negative connotations nowadays. But fear ye not for in fact, it's exactly the opposite you'll be finding here at the HenHouse today, for it is positivly oozing glamour. Ooh la la!

If you've been following my blog for a few years now (thank you kindly), you may recall that before my obsession with quilting began, my former obsession was bag-making. As one of my sisters once remarked, I am a person predisposed to obsession. I call it passion, myself. I made and sold an awful lot of bags, mainly through Etsy, that was really where my journey into sewing and eventually peddling my little wares began. A lady only needs so many bags (albeit that's a pretty high number). I used to make bags from patterns, Amy Butler has some smashing ones, but eventually, I started making the designs myself, having learned the desired skills from the patterns.

I don't know why but over the last few weeks, I was seized by the desire to get back into the baggy stuff. I think I needed a rest from all those hefty quilts (though it would be a lie to say I haven't got a quilt or errm, two, on the back burner). I also wanted to try something new, I think it's very good to challenge oneself and learn new skills every now and then. So off to Lisa's fine bag making emporium I went and came away quite a lot poorer, then huddled waiting for the postie to arrive with my package of much-anticipated bag frames and things. Oooh exciting!

So I rather fancied these interesting handle-frame-bag thingies. I think they look cute and vintage-y, I'd never used one before, so why not indeed? I had it in my head that the vintage look of the handles and the shape of the bag was reminiscent of the 1930s and the next lightbulb moment was to patchwork the bag front in a radiating sunrise fashion, an image they used over and over again in the '30s on everything from the glass in front doors to the quilted patterns on eiderdowns. It was of course, nothing other than an excuse to use more than one fabric from my precious vintage stash (six, in fact).

I went for two rather different colour schemes and found some lovely vintage brooches to match. I have always done this with my little clutch bags, (it is, after all, one way to justify my rather large collection of sparkly paste brooches).

But let's not stop there (you get free postage on the site when you spend over £40 so that made good business sense, no?) I have for ages fancied having a go with these kiss-lock purse frames (doesn't kiss-lock sound rather marvellous?) They remind me of the purses of my youth but nowadays are much more fancy and just the thing with a little black dress, don't you know. I used up a precious fat quarter of this lovely rosy 1950's fabric which still has a slight sheen to it. Man handling the glue-y fabric purse into the glue-y metal frame is not for the faint hearted but the result is certainly satisfying.

Another lovely brooch went on this one.

Talking of brooches, I always add a fabby vintage brooch to my ball gown clutch bags. I first made one of these bags several years ago as a custom order and they proved really popular. The puffy style reminds me of those full-skirted ball gowns of the 1950's. It seemed a natural marriage then, to fashion some with some rather divine 1950's fabrics.

I just love finishing the bag then agonising over the perfect brooch. It has to be one I'm willing to let go but it's often a close call, and one of necessity. You can still find these vintage brooches relatively easily, the trick is finding them in good condition with all the stones intact and at a reasonable price.

Because I'm a wild lady at heart, I lined the grey/black rosy print clutch with a shocking pink lining and added a tiny pink ribbon bow to the diamante brooch. Yes, that is as wild as it gets round here.

It has been really enjoyable to use these dark-toned fabrics which are perfect for the bags but are hard to incorporate into my other patchwork squares and quilts which tend to the sugary, pastel spectrum.

Last but not least, there's only so long I can go without getting out the pretty flowery fabric and I found this lovely piece whilst in the throes of my latest bag-making frenzy, so home it came to be immediately fashioned into an English-garden style clutch. This one has a pretty blue and pearly brooch.

Great '50s fabric, don't you think?

So there you are. I must confess I still have a few other bag frames to have a go with but maybe for now, I've got the bag-making bug out of my system!

If you have a LBD in need of the perfect finishing touch or if you're already getting organised with your C*******s gift shopping (eek), you can find all these bags in my Etsy shop.


  1. They are all exquisite, aren't you clever?

  2. Those bags are......well I have to say it too Exquisite, I love the brooches too. May have to purchase one to get a brooch! LOL!
    Julie xxxxxxx

  3. You are very clever, particularly like the two in darker colours, just lovely with the little brooches xx

  4. Very pretty bags Hen, especially the floral clutch at the end of the post. I could imagine it being used at the Queen's summer garden party! x

  5. Hen, thay are lovely. Nice to see some glamorous vintage makes too. I know I'm guilty of it all being a bit samey sometimes but yours are really smart. Not old ladyish at all!

  6. Absolutely lovely my dear bag lady! You have such a creative talent. Love the two darker ones. They will fly I'm sure. M x

  7. lovely pretty bags, your work is so lovely i always love reading your posts and seing your next homemake

  8. Those are gorgeous! You are one talented lady Hen! Lizzie xx

  9. Great Stuff! The bags are all delightful...I know what you mean about the 'free postage' aspect of purchasing crafting items...lethal temptation.
    Hope to see you at the weekend- in the Church Hall on Sat, Arts Centre Sun.

  10. Wow! Gorgeous glamorous bags! Really LOOOVE the ones with the vintagey frames! Gorgeous fabrics as ever. I have never tackled bag making, but have had Lisa's Bag Making Bible for ages, something I keep meaning to dip into!
    Sally x

  11. Hi love your bags the first one is very pretty would so go with a skirt I have.Love Jill xx

  12. Wow Hen, again you come up with a beautiful and original bag. You are soooo clever. I adore them (and recognise some of those beautiful fabrics too) and may have to indulge when I see you at the next V&H x

  13. Those are all very pretty. Good job.


  14. These bags are so cool! They are really pretty and fresh :o)

    The purse and brooch are exquisite too!

    I've used a couple of those bag/purse handles too, and they get easier when you get the hang of it don't they? But I'm nowhere near as accomplished as you at bag making :o)

    I love them Hen!
    Have a lovely week.
    Donna x

  15. They are absolutely fabulous. I am in awe of ladies like you with such an eye... I see these things,but lack the talent (and probably the patience) to do them.

  16. The kiss-lock are so pretty ( well! They all are ) but these are my favs......I love your fabric choices and brooches that you have added, am damned sure you don't get that down in the high street!
    Nattie x

  17. I LOVE your bags. Don't get me wrong I love your quilts, but EVEN I can make a quilt, a that's something else!

  18. Beautiful, beautiful bags Hen! I am soo treating myself if there are any left at the end of the month when I eventually have money again.

    S x

  19. Hen, it's been fun to have this catch up with your devotion to the creation of exquisitely unique hand bags with great vintage homages.

    I smile a bit as your version of vintage is now just on the thresh hold of my very own late teens, early young adult years...just before those sixties!

    As always, I do send you compliments on your wonderful taste and sense of style, no matter which era is involved.


  20. What a perfect marriage between brooches and fabric. My favorite is the dark with yellow flowers. So perfect. Good luck on the sales!

    Thank you for sharing.

  21. So pretty! You have been super busy. I can't decide which one I like best. XXX

  22. They are so lovely! Such pretty fabrics and the brooches go so well. :)

  23. Loving the black and yellow clutch, that yellow enamel broach is gorgeous-smorgeous too! You are so good to part with your treasures Hen. Just think how thrilled the recipients will be when your parcels arrive!

    Sarah x

  24. Oh my, what absolutely gorgeous bags!
    I especially like the lilac one and the one with the yellow flowers.

  25. Very glam indeed! I really like the contrast of the shocking pink lining, a perfect finish. :) xx

  26. What beautiful bags you are so clever, and I spy my favourite perfume in one of the photos!! have a fun week.

  27. wow i love these bags! I'm going to show them to my mum, she's made bags in the past, she is going to love them!

  28. oh my what a lot of lovely bags I want them all
    xx fee


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