Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Handbag Detective


vintage bag

The Unsolved Case

I found this vintage black clutch online a couple weeks ago.  It was not in the best condition, but I didn’t buy it to use it.  I purchased it so that I could study the design.  I felt the style of this clutch would translate well into barkcloth, and the bag cost less to buy than a vintage pattern would have been.  I used to buy lots of vintage dress patterns, but that was before I started designing bags.  Now, most vintage purse patterns are out of my price range. 


I don’t like to tear the vintage bags I find apart.  It seems almost like an act of vandalism to me, and renders the bag worthless.  Instead I try to figure out how a bag was made by looking at its construction, and taking it apart in my mind. I ask myself questions such as, where are the seams?  And how do the pieces appear to be cut?


Case Solved!

This is my first prototype of the black clutch, made up in an apple green 70’s barkcloth-one of those pay dirt finds from Goodwill where I snared well over two yards of fabric for a couple dollars.  I could easily spare a little bit of this fabric, and if my project went completely awry, I wouldn't be out that much. I lined the bag with a black, white and green leopard print cotton.  I had just enough scraps of it left to cut the lining out.


My Report

While this prototype clutch isn’t exactly like the original, I like the way it turned out.  And by going through the steps to make it,  I can now see  exactly how the original was made. 

I like being a handbag detective.  Knowing that at the end of the day, I’ve done my part to keep vintage style alive and well, and safely preserved for future generations.


Maybe I have been watching too many reruns of Hawaii Five-O.


  1. It seems that your detective method would give you a richer understanding of the bags' construction than a pattern alone. There's nothing like studying the actual product to learn about it. I've done it myself, finding the student in me studying books I'm enjoying, observing just what it is about an author's style or method that is so effective to my eyes.

  2. Well done, m'dear! I love the color of that clutch, too. Very pretty!

  3. Too cute!!! Love the classic design! Beautiful job recreating!! Love the bright color and the mix of grrrrrrrrrr...
    I am always examining bags - inside and out - how did they put that zipper in? that's a great pocket! - It is terrible when someone with an awesome bag walks by and I am trying to get a quick study of how it is made.. my daughter will bring me back to this world with "Mmmmommm... don't stare" Hummm.. I don't know how it would go over if I asked a stranger if I could examine their bag! ha...

  4. You did great Val!
    Really cute!

  5. I have a lot of vintage patterns but most of them are 60s/70s. I will look through and see if any are purses for you though. It is a cute bag!

  6. I like what you did with this bag. It is bright and cheery--vintage-like but wonderfully unique. I love the old Hawaii-50!

  7. Joanne-I'm also very hands on, and observing first hand often makes more sense to me than trying to decipher some written directions:)

    Melissa, Thanks so much, my dear! :)

    Lisa-I can just see you down at the police station trying to explain that you only wanted to study the design of someone's handbag-and not disturb the peace;)

    Ms.G. A big thank you to you-the green made me think of you, too:)

    Lisa-thanks! I appreciate that!

    Mary-thanks! I love barkcloth from the 70's. It has a style all it's own. I see lots of it on Hawaii-50!