Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Linda's Review of Making Vintage Bags by Emma Brennan

Making Vintage Bags: 20 Original Sewing Patterns for Vintage Bags and Purses is a wonderful choice for the 2ND book to be reviewed in my handbags, purses, and totes craft book review.

I have to tell you that what drew me to this book initially was that it concerned vintage bags from the 1920's through the 1950's. According to Emma Brennan's foreword, "A handbag can make a statement as well as being a practical means of carrying your essential possessions around. This book gives you patterns and ideas for making your own special bag, influenced by vintage styles but perfect for modern living."

I couldn't agree more. Whenever I leave the house I am lost without my handbag. It is an essential part of me outside my home and when I am without it something just seems to be missing. The handbag I use all the time weighs a ton with all the stuff I have in it and my Mother is forever telling me to lighten the load. She thinks it's putting a dent in my shoulder and will cause me back problems down the road. Well, after 40 years of carrying around a bag I think I'm used to the weight. Besides whenever I go through my bag nothing is thrown out. Everything seems to be essential - or at least I think it's essential.

So, I always promise myself that I'm going to reduce some of the clutter so I can change bags more often and, maybe, carry some smaller bags. The bags of the 1920's to 1950's were definitely smaller and I would, indeed, need to reduce some of my essentials in order to utilize some of them.

They may have been smaller, but they were adorable and Emma's "Making Vintage Bags" is a wonderful pictorial for making 5 bags each from the 1920's, 1930's, 1940's, and 1950's.

The beginning of the book is an introduction to the materials and techniques needed to make her bags. She starts with general information on basic stitches, fabrics to use, base materials, piece preparation, interfacing, handles, fasteners, magnetic snaps, lining, zip fasteners, making matching purses, embellishments, applique, and photo print bags.

The rest of the book is divided into 4 time periods starting with the 1920's with each era covering 5 bags to make. The 1920's has Clara - two tone art deco pocket bag, Lucille - mini evening bag with ribbon rose, Virginia - mini clutch with tassel and ribbon rose, Dorothy - asymmetric bow flap clutch bag, and Evelyn - asymmetric clutch with vintage buttons.

Each purse section contains step-by-step pictorials of constructing the purses, as well as materials needed, dimensions, suggested fabrics for the bag and the lining, and sewing tips. The actual pattern pieces for each bag are in the back of the book and need to be enlarged by 165% to use. I would have preferred for the pattern pieces to be actual size.

The 1930's has Doris - the handle bag with rose corsage, Nancy - ring handle bag with felt flower applique and matching purse, Lois - bag with draped buckle trim, Rita - pleat bag with silk rose trim, and Marion - semi-circle two-tone bag.

The 1940's has Martha - flounce bag with sausage dog, Veronica - tapestry bag with butterfly trim and matching purse, Grace - wool leaf applique bag, Patricia - autumn bow crescent bag, and Rose - nautical rose crescent bag.

The 1950's has Audrey - gathered bag with felt corsage, Vivien - small bowbelle bag, Shirley - two-tone flower trim small bag, Peggy - striped bow bag with straight handle, and Gloria - picture bag with rope handle.

I just loved the fact that Emma named all her bags and I do have a few favorites that I would love to try. I love the adorable looking Doris - tie handle bag with rose corsage form the 1930's. She is just so "pretty" to look at.

I also love Martha - flounce bag with sausage dog from the 1940's. The reason for this one is a sentimental one. You see when I was a little girl I used to love to stand and look through all the clothes in my Mother's closet. Back then she had a genuine "poodle skirt" that I just loved. Of course, I was too small to wear it, but I wanted one when I was big enough to do so. This bag reminds me of those times.

I also happen to love Veronica - tapestry bag with butterfly trim and matching purse from the 1940's. The reason for this is I tend to favor anything tapestry. In fact, I used to have a tapestry blazer that I wore everywhere until it fell apart.

Shirley - two-tone flower trim small bag is another one of my favorites. I'd love to make it just to look at it as I'm not sure it would be big enough to carry a lot of my "essentials." But, it sure is a cute looking bag.

Last, but not least, there's my favorite bag from this book. Her name is Gloria and she is a picture bag with a rope handle. The reason she is my favorite is because the bag is big enough to carry most of my "essentials" and because it contains a cut-out picture of a vintage shoe. And, I love shoes. Plus, I love the simple yet elegant designs of this bag.

If you love vintage bags and purses and would love to try your hand at making some then this book has a lot to offer you. I know that I would love to try my hand at a few, starting with Gloria. Now, if I could just find some more time......

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