Part 2 of how to reduce your spending on accessories. If you missed part one, you’re a terrible person, but here it is for your edification.
If you are the type of person to buy lots of purses, give some thought to why you’re buying them. I kept looking for that “perfect” purse. Each one would have some fault: the opening was too small, there weren’t enough pockets, the strap was too short, whatever. To finally restrain myself, I thought about the features I wanted in the ultimate purse, and what items that purse would need to carry.
At the time, I was in college, and I wanted to be able to carry my spiral notebooks, pens, calculator, and snacks for class, along with regular “purse stuff”. I wanted a pocket just for my cell phone, because what always happens? Your phone has fallen to the bottom of the purse, and you forgot to turn off your ringer, and OF COURSE it goes off in class during an exam, and everyone hates you, and you paw around in there for twenty minutes trying to shut the damn thing off. I like to avoid masses of people hating me for legitimate reasons, so a pocket was a high priority for me.
I also wanted a long strap, so I can wear it across my body. This is better for your back, and I’ve always found it to be the most comfortable. I get sick of shoulder bags digging into me after awhile, and I like to have my hands free for important things, like playing on my cell phone. I also didn’t want a big purse, because that just enables me to be a packrat.
Taking all these criteria into account, I designed and made my own purse. I figured it was easier than hunting every mall and thrift store for the perfect bag, and also pride in my own creation would be even more motivation to stop buying other purses. It’s worked for 10 years now. I still have the same purse, and I even patched it up a bit recently. I have a few other purses, all of which were gifts, or free.
There are several things to consider when looking for or designing a purse:
1) Are you a clutter-bug? If you tend to collect random crap in your purse, is this something you want to prevent or enable? If you want to prevent it, get a purse small enough to hold your essentials, and that’s all. That will force you to keep it clean. If you want to enable it, you’re nuts. You’re not Mary Poppins. But get a slightly larger bag to accomodate your hoarding.
2) What do you need to carry? When checking out purses, or starting your preliminary crafting, make sure your basics – cell phone, keys, wallet, make-up, water bottle, toy velociraptor – will fit, and are accessible. If you are constantly fighting with your purse to jam things into it, you will not be happy.
3) What do you need quick access to? For me, it’s my cell phone and keys, which is why they have their own pocket that’s easy to see and reach.
4) What kind of strap do you want? Maybe you only need the space of a clutch, but do you want to have it in your hand all the time? Keep in mind that straps can be added or altered on purses fairly easily, so if you find one that’s almost perfect, check out the strap area to see if you can make it fit your needs easily.
5) What kind of opening do you need? I prefer purses that open fairly wide so the inside is well-lit, and I can find my
flask chewing gum easily. If you’re the type to just chuck your purse all over the place, consider a zipper so your stuff stays inside.
6) What other things bother you about past purses? I have one friend who is petrified of germs, and hates having to set her purse on the floor at restaurants or in bathrooms. I would suggest one with a hard bottom, with those little metal feet, so it doesn’t actually touch the floor, and possibly made out of vinyl, or some other material that she could easily clean and sanitize.
These same principles can be used for anything you’re buying a lot of, such as sports equipment (I’m guessing). Take a minute to assess what you like and don’t like about the items you already have, and find an item that will meet your criteria.
I have this purse that I made more than 10 years ago. At the time, I realized that I had begun collecting purses, not out of the desire to have a collection, but because each one was not quite right. I was the Goldilocks of purses: this one was too small, that one was too big, this one didn’t have enough pockets, etc.
The only way to end the vicious cycle, and avoid being buried alive in purses was to make my own purse specifically to fit my needs. Also, I wanted to brag about it. And I still do. As you are witnessing right now.
The problem is after 10 years of hauling my crap around, the purse started to have some issues, like this gaping hole in the side:
I was worried the whole thing would give way, because the hole is directly under the strap. So what’s a clever chick to do? Fix it! By the way, this purse is made from a pair of pants that shrank IMMEDIATELY in the wash, and I never got to wear, a t-shirt that shrank after I wore it to death, a belt, a Batman I cut off a child’s t-shirt, and fabric scraps. See? I have always been this crafty and
A friend of mine happened to be getting rid of some denim scraps, so I gave them a good home. I think more of them will show up here eventually. I cut a long rectangle of denim, folded it in half, and tucked all the edges inside. (At this stage, make sure it’s big enough to cover the hole). I then sewed all the way around it. Doing it this way makes the patch extra strong, and seals the raw edges inside so you don’t have to worry about it unraveling.
Next, I pinned the patch inside the purse, over the hole, and sewed it thoroughly to the purse. I stitched the purse strap to the patch directly to make sure the weight of the purse is evenly distributed, and the connection is strong.
This is what it looks like from the outside. I know most of the time when you’re patching things, you don’t want to see the patching. To that I say, “Meh”. This gives it character, and anyway that hole is so raggedy I don’t have any idea how I could have patched it invisibly, other than getting a Robin patch to go over top. And come on, Robin is a dork.
Here’s the final view of the inside. I used lots of stitches, and short pieces of thread, so that if one breaks, there are others to keep the patch in place until I can repair it.
I have used this method for patching blue jeans, too. It works great if you can find a close color of denim, because then it looks intentional, like those super expensive torn jeans the kids are wearing these days. Those kids, with their Rock Music, and their terrible clothes they stole from my generation! *Shakes fist in general direction of youths*
I love my friends. They have gotten into the whole clothing swap thing, and I am profiteering like mad. I grabbed this particular shirt, thinking it was cute. I didn’t try it on at the time, and it looked HIDEOUS on me. I can’t even describe the horror. I still think it’s freaking adorable, so I decided to make it into a purse.
I started off using the seam ripper to remove that strappy, across-the-shoulders bit. This will later become the purse strap.
That strappy piece was one big loop, and fortunately it was only sewed together on on side. I used the seam ripper to get that apart too, and that gave me one long piece for the strap.
The pieces are now separated!
I folded down the top edge, and rolled it under to prevent it unraveling. There were little armpit curves on each side, so I folded everything down enough so that those were not visible. I then pinned it, and sewed along the edge.
This is the future strap. It was sewn to itself along parts of its length, but other parts, like this, had been sewn to the rest of the shirt, so when I pulled the whole thing apart there was nothing holding it shut.
I tucked the raw edges inside, pinned it, and sewed it shut. This created basically, a long tube of fabric for me to use as the strap.
The bottom of the shirt was already hemmed, so I just turned the whole thing inside-out, pinned it to each other, and sewed it shut.
For the strap, I tucked the raw edges inside the ends of the tube, and pinned the ends inside the body of the shirt. I centered them on the side seams of the shirt, and sewed them on, which hemmed them at the same time. And POOF!! We have a purse!
It’s a bit floppy, but it came out really cute. If you were going to be ambitious, you could sew a liner into it, but I didn’t feel like putting that much effort in. I enjoy looking at normal things in a new way. I have another shirt coming up that may get a make over as well, but it may be too complicated. You’ll just have to stay tuned to find out!