I have spent the past several weeks thinking about my creative future. It has been a full year since I started my bag business, and as much fun as it has been, I am ready to throw in the towel.
WHAT? You’re never going to make another bag?
NO. I just don’t want to focus on them anymore. I am tired of straps and pockets and linings. Bags just aren’t my bag. Never were. They were just a quick way to accessorize a dull wardrobe. And that is how it all began.
For those of you who don’t know the tale on how I stared sewing, and bagging, here you go:
It was 1998 and I was living in Chicago, off the Blue Line California stop with my boyfriend Putz. No, wait. I know I usually give aliases to protect the identities of those I write about, but I’m not even going to do that for Putz, oh yeah, his name is Greg Thorpe. Of the Cincinnati Thorpe’s. Anyhow, it was Christmas time, and instead of getting a traditional tree, I had to have a Christmas Ficus. But instead of calling it a Christmas Ficus, I would say it real fast so it sounded more like Christmas FUCK-A. Those were the days.
Under the FUCK-A that year, my mother got me a sewing machine. Actually she got me a phone call, of which I took my name down to the local Sears and picked up my machine, and THEN I placed it under the FUCK-A. (This is a beautiful option for buying gifts for loved ones who are far away. I just walked into Sears and they gave me my machine. Wham. Bam. Thank you MOM).
Growing up, my mom always sewed. Every pre-teen Halloween costume. (She won’t let me live down the bunny costume of 83. She claims she was snorting foux Peter Cottontail for weeks. I ended up wearing the damn thing till it was more like bunny-knickers). Every special occasion dress, from prom to my stint with pageantry, she sewed. I designed. She sewed.
I never watched her during these sewing bouts. I just picked out the fabric and pattern and that was it. Occasionally, when I wasn’t screaming at her, I helped cut out the pattern and help pin, which to this day is still her least favorite part of sewing. But I never actually sewed. So when I brought my Sears machine home and took it out of its microwave sized box, I had no idea of what to do.
Greg “the putz” Thorpe and I didn’t have any furniture for me to set up my machine on. We had a kitchen table, but no chairs. We had a couch, but no coffee table. We had a desk, but that was for Putzie’s computer, not, gasp, for a sewing machine! I set up on the floor, brought out some old items of clothing, cut them up with kitchen shears and tried to make a straight line.
Fast forward to fall of 1999.
The Putz and I were through. I moved into a fancy pants garden apartment with my gal “Ford Model”. We had less furniture combined than I did with Putzie. I did, however, have a kitchen table. Once we bought chairs, we were set! As for a couch, each of us being couch potatoes, I had to come up with something QUICK! I went down to the local Salvation Army and purchased a dozen old couch cushions and a dozen vintage sheets in solid colors of blue & green. I ran home and began a frenzy of sewing, recovering all of the old cushions in a retro, lets-lounge-on-the-floor-pillow, style.
It was my first big project. They worked out great, if you don’t mind the lack of lumbar support. And by the time I was done with the project, I had my straight lines down. What does this have to do with handbags, you say? Well, this is the back drop for the story that begins now.
Ford Model and I weren’t very responsible with our money. Instead of buying furniture, we would spend evenings having lavish $400 meals. Instead of buying new shoes, cuz I think I might have a hole in mine, we would go and have a lavish $400 meal. Instead of paying rent on time, we would go have… you get the idea. We were food whores. Working in an upscale food establishment that pimped out fine dining on a daily basis, it is all we wanted when we were done with our shift. We wanted to pimp some food y’all.
With this food debauchery came the booze debauchery. Campari and soda to start, or Pimms and a cucumber. Champagne while we waited for the table. A bottle of wine with dinner, or two. An after dinner drink, perhaps Gran Marnier or a fine port? This is how we rolled, in our holy shoes and tattered clothes. But one night I had had enough. Too much. And on the cab ride home, I had only one place to put it.
I barfed in my handbag.
I upchucked in my purse.
I ralphed in my clutch.
Pick your favorite. That is what I did. And the next morning, after cleaning off all of my ID’s and bank cards and what not, I was faced with a dilemma. What am I going to put all of this shit in?
And that is how it started. I sat down and sewed my first bag. I used some of the left over sheets and the lining was made out of a vintage shower curtain, incase I had to wipe it out. OH YEA, I was thinking! It was fast, it was easy, and I got so many complements on it. Now before heading out to lavish meals I would sew up two hand bags, one for Ford Model and one for myself. It was an easy way to spruce up our dated duds.
I began to scavenge resale shops and vintage stores for fabric. A local hair salon started to sell them, and I began to bring in money for them. A local paper wanted to write an article about me. ALL BECAUSE I VOMITED IN MY POCKETBOOK! Not very glamorous, I know.
Now when I sew bags it isn’t the exciting “oooh I am going to spruce up a wardrobe,” it is “oh shit I have got to get this out on time.” I started to create something a bit more rock and roll and my clients didn’t like the new style. I wasn’t able to grow with my creativity, and things got pretty stagnant. It has been about two months since I have sewn my last handbag. I have a few lined up for friends, but I am just not feeling it anymore.
I have moved on to clothes. They are exciting in that “oooh I am going to spruce up a wardrobe,” which is what I always enjoyed the most. Am I going to take it to the retail level? I doubt it. Friends and family. I will start there. Just like I did with Ford Model oh so many years ago.