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*
So sis-in-law was a huge fan of Dr. Stacey’s purple purse. Her birthday was in October, so I made this black and white version for her. She requested one long, skinny pocket to be attached horizontally on the inside for pens and pencils. There were two other pockets on the other side, one for her cell, and one for her keys.
You’ll notice the strap on this one is not crocheted. Sis-in-law had a very specific length desired, and since crochet tends to stretch, I used this bad ass belt instead. I got it at a thrift store, and removed the metal belt-y ends. I used tacky glue on the raw edges so it won’t fray apart, then I used black thread to attach it to the purse. I got that button at Hobby Lobby, aka my second home.
There she is, cute as a (star) button. Look at her shirt! Did I choose the perfect button or what? I love giving homemade gifts!
I freaking love purses, and I have to restrain myself from filling my house with them. One thing I noticed, is that if I take the time to customize a purse to my needs, I’m less likely to go out and buy a dozen more that are “better”, so we’re filing this under “saving money”.
As you can see, I already have a super bad-ass purse:
I find this kind of epicness at thrift stores all the time. I know you’re jealous. The one problem with this purse? No pockets. Not ONE. I know, right? My phone and keys are constantly sinking all the way to the depths, never to be seen until the call has gone to voicemail. I have a solution that involves fabric scraps, and about an hour of time, at the most.
This is the piece of fabric I planned on using. I measured it around my cell phone, and added about a half inch all the way around to allow for hemming and the fact that my phone is 3 dimensional.
Here I have my trimmed, folded, and pinned pocket-to-be. On this project we’re using the whip stitch again. Once you have the pocket pinned where you want it, start sewing around the outside edge. Be careful not to sew too deeply through the purse. You want to use small stitches, sewing through 1 or 2 threads of the purse with each stitch, that way you won’t see stitches on the outside of the purse.
Ta da! This isn’t exactly the finished product, but you get the idea. I have used this same method to add a pocket to the inside of a sweater. I usually choose a fabric that at least somewhat matches with whatever I’m adding it to. I added another tiny pocket to the other side also, but I didn’t want to bore you guys with repetitive pictures. I’m always thinking of you guys.
As you know, because I know you’re an avid reader, hanging on my every word, Dr. Stacey is a dear friend of mine in medical school. We were recently hanging out and I mentioned I had some electric purple yarn I wanted to get rid of somehow. Dr.Stacey liked it, and needed a bag for medical school, so tada! an idea was born.
Dr. Stacey requested two pockets, one for her phone and one for keys, and a bag big enough to hold a spiral notebook. I also had lots of odds and ends of purple yarn laying around, which I mixed with the electric purple to tone it down some. I crocheted the main part of the bag first in one long rectangle, which I would fold in half later to make the bag.
I also made the pockets as individual rectangles, and then sewed them onto the bag. This is them loose, but about where I attached them.
And like Martha Stewart, Viola!
The darker purple is not quite as blue in real life as it looks in the photo. There’s a little flap and a button on the top to close the bag. With the strap you have to be careful, because they will stretch. My sis-in-law, Lis, has requested one now, in black, white, and grey, and I’m going to use a belt from Goodwill as the strap on hers, so that the length can be controlled better. I still have more electric purple yarn, but it’s about half gone. I wonder what other wonderfulness I will create?