|My first Kathy Van Zeeland purse...|
Seriously, ladies... some of those so-called top brands are drop dead butt ugly.
For most of the past thirty years, I've carried a utilitarian black leather organizer style purse. For a long time, I also hauled around a large messenger bag style "briefcase" in which I kept my work stuff, so my purse actually had to be small enough to fit into its main compartment. Let's just say that it was not a period of my life when carrying a stylish purse or bag was a priority.
Six years ago, having exited the rat race for a while — at least on a temporary basis — I started looking at purses that no longer needed to fit inside a briefcase. Or that were basic black. Or that were made out of leather. (Yes, leather lasts "forever", but who wants to carry the same bag "forever"?) I discovered a line of bags made by Kathy Van Zeeland and found myself drawn to them for their designs and functionality. I love her use of bold colours and prints. (Some of them can be somewhat gaudy, but what the hey.) I've always been quite fussy about what the inside of a purse offers for storage, so it's quite a big deal when I find something that looks good (to me) and is functional, to boot. But the biggest plus for me was when I found out that her bags can be found at reasonable price points.
|This is my summer time Kathy bag...|
I also get a lot of comments about the Kathy bag that I carry in the summer months, shown here at right.
[Let me take a moment to clarify: I usually buy purses that are in the $10 to $20 range. It was not really in my comfort zone to buy one that was $35 plus shipping, never mind three of them over the course of a few years. It was actually my (similarly thrifty) mother who advised me to go for it and treat myself. I think it was part of a conversation that involved me no longer needing to maintain a work wardrobe, so why not spend a little on a nice bag? Or two? Or three?]
When I first started making my own bags, I carried each of them for awhile. And I tend to take one with me on vacation. But over the past year, I found myself gravitating back to my KVZs for daily use and recently wondered why. Is it because I still haven't come up with my own ultimate "dream purse"?? The one that this blog was supposed to document the design process for? Hmm... that's a thought for another day.
In the meantime, I have a growing collection of handmade bags hanging in my sewing room that I'm not sure what to do with...
I want to survey some bag designers and pattern testers to find out what they do with all of the purses that they create. Do they use them, give them away, sell them? And if they don't use them, what actual purses do they use in everyday life? I'm curious to know, so I'm going to ask.
|Christine's current purse...|
As to what's on her arm right now? "Sometimes when I am between designs, I like to use a “commercial” purse... I find this a great way to learn what not to do in my own designs! LOL... the design I am working on hasn’t quite reached the stage where I have a prototype suitable for carrying, so I am currently carrying my version of the Companion Carpet bag, January’s Bag of the Month Club design by Samantha of Sewing Patterns by Mrs. H. It’s a great design and I love the nice wide opening created by the use of an internal frame."
|Daryl's beautiful Evelyn bag...|
Probably like many of you, Daryl has tried to sell the test bags that don't suit her personal tastes, without much luck. "I will give it another shot and lower my prices to (hopefully) cover my costs of making the bag(s). I make bags because I enjoy making them and I am always looking for bags that I will enjoy using myself or for my daughter. Those bags that we won't use are still great bags for someone." In terms of potentially giving them away as gifts, she says it's "really hard to know if [a bag] will be loved and used. If I knew someone who loved one of the bags I made that I didn't want, I would gladly give it to her."
As for the "designer purse" question, Daryl says, "I have never carried a designer purse. I couldn't afford them and the store bought bags I have purchased in the past came from discount type stores. I started making bags for myself because I could choose the fabric and the other features to add or subtract from a bag I make. Most store bought bags do not have enough pockets or the right size pockets. Most tend to have black flimsy lining and you can't see what's inside a bag with black lining. I bought a bag once with a black lining that came with a little flashlight that was attached inside the bag. That tells you something right there!"
That's it for now! If you want to take part in this "study" — LOL — leave a comment if you just want to add your input here, or send me an email via the contact form at left to have your answers featured in a subsequent post. (Look for a follow-up in another couple of weeks or so.)