March 01, 2017
“Why can’t you make the bag the way I want it?” As a designer and maker of handmade, one-of-a-kind handbags, I’ve been asked this question many times over the past 5 years. Each time, I try to explain why you can’t have it all because I want my customers to understand what and why there are limitations to all the designs and features of a handbag.
Each request is as individual as you, the basic bag design, the features, the embroidery and the leathers. So, let’s start with the very basic shape and size. This is the adjustment that is requested the most. Some styles of handbags, such as a tote, the adjustment size and sometimes shape is easily accommodated. However, making size or shape changes to satchels and doctor bags means more than simply adjusting a pattern. Since these styles are more sophisticated, they require starting from the beginning with sketches and prototypes.
Features, such as those all-important pockets, handles, straps and hardware also have limitations. Pocket size is dictated by the size of hands and items that will be stored in them. So, small cross body bags mean fewer pockets while a large weekender bag means plenty of room for several.
We all have a personal preference for straps and handle style because of the way we typically carry our bags. Width of strap is assigned by hooks and rings which come in sizes from ½” to two inches wide. Sometimes straps are limited by the thickness and size of the particular hide of leather. Handles are made either flat or cord style. Do you carry your bag on your shoulder, over your arm or cross body? Many of my designs allow you to adjust a strap to do all three however there are some styles that simply don’t allow for these options.
This brings me to the most unique feature of BeautifulBagsEtc – embroidery on leather. Understanding and working with leather has its own set of techniques and advantages. There are things you can do with leather that can’t be done or isn’t practical to do with fabric and vice-versa. This is where the confusion starts with leather embroidery. Large and dense embroidery designs will distort leather, making it pucker and protrude, not a good look! So, most of the embroidery that you see on my handbags have open spaces between the stitching. I also must determine which embroidery design will work with a particular leather since each hide has its own unique characteristics.
See how complicated it all gets? What seems like a simple request affects much more than what you might have thought. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done. It just means we might have to make some compromises.
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