Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Handbags & Gladrags...

My obsession with beaded bags started a long time ago and were one of the very first vintage items that I started to collect and I don't think that I will ever tire of them. I love the detailed designs and the fact that they were lovingly hand~worked. I love to imagine who would have owned them and used them and the occasions and dresses they matched. The faded lipstick stains inside, or a tiny cracked mirror in the pocket only adds to the mystery...

A few lost beads or a faded patch with loose stitching is part of the history of the bag and unless absolutely necessary, I don't repair or try and hide these little imperfections. Most of all, I love the scale of them, petite and lady~like; the complete opposite of what I require in a functional handbag now! My collection changes quite frequently ~ I sell some then buy a few more! They are mostly displayed on a wall at home on pretty decorative hooks, then a few more on bed knobs, drawer pulls etc.

My favourite type of beaded bag to collect are the ones with decorative metal frames...

Nearly all of the bags that I collect are in soft colours of beige, cream, duck egg and white...

With the exception of this one, which has the most wonderful amethyst and pale pink beads and has to be my favourite!

My collection of bags has been a source of inspiration for the items I make ~ this is one of the larger lavender filled pillows I make in the shape of a handbag. It is made from a vintage French rustic white linen and trimmed with the corner of an old embroidered whitework and lace edged handkerchief. The finishing touches are a gorgeous early 20th century paste button and a length of 1920's glass flapper bead fringing in a tarnished silver colour.

I use the original bags I have to copy the shapes and also have some excellent source books of designs to use as well (the pages that you see above are from Dover Books ~ and are copyright free so you can use the images for lots of different purposes). The little bags above are all made with vintage linen and lace handkerchiefs or collars with old trims and filled with lavender. The cream kid leather long gloves are c. 1930.

Illustrated sourcebook from Dover Books (you can also get the images on CD Rom)

A wonderful reference book 'The Handbag' by Caroline Cox.

This large sized handbag shaped hanging pillow is my latest creation ~ a vintage fine cream linen textile bought from Vintage to Victorian, overlaid with the palest pink lace collar. I have trimmed it with old glass beads in pale pink with a faux pearl and real shell bead drop. The ribbon is a vintage French grosgrain. On the back is a 1930's pink pure silk satin. As the fabrics are delicate, I have fully lined it before filling with French lavender.

These old handbag frames are just waiting for me to start a new project ~ the woven cream silk fabric in the background is French c.1900 and is going to be perfect for restoring them. I think they would be lovely as wedding bags when finished.

I rarely buy new handbags now, mostly because the ones I really want are way out of my price range. My little luxuries in life are Cath Kidston 'mummy sized' bags, that are reminiscent of a Mary Poppins bag as you can just get so much in them ~ essential kit with a little one...

My favourite Cath Kidston bag with a little raggedy vintage fabric corsage made by me. The shawl is a 1920's silk georgette.

Until next time,


  1. Oh what a wonderful bags you collect. How lovely....I love them all I believe. Even the new and latest one.
    I have enjoyed it here.
    Have a nice weekend

  2. What a beautiful collection. I rememebr my mother having the sweetest little beaded evening bag. My daughter has it now and it is much loved.

  3. Beautiful collection of bags. I also love the ones you made. My compliments. Have a nice day

  4. understand totally and completely. Bags with history are so precious. I hope when my little girl grows up and inherits my collection she will love the history behind them.
    the bags you make are divine.

    On a different matter, I think we both have the same chair!


  5. I love the little handbags you make, they are so pretty! The ones you collect are gorgeous too. Did I spy a tag with one of your photos' on? I can't bear to part with that beautiful card you gave me, it's tucked away in a drawer and I just look at it now and again!

    mel xxx

  6. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and for the sweet comment. I love your blog layout and from the looks of the photos I'm going to enjoy those as well. Thanks for adding me to your blog roll. I've added you to mine. Now, I'm off to look around your blog some more.

  7. Hi Ali
    What a wonderful post. I too love and collect such beaded bags. They are so beautifully made. I smiled when I read about you imagining the outfits that would go with the bag, as I too sometimes try and imagine who would have used it and for what occasion.
    Your lavender pillows in shape of hanbags are exquisit! I do love looking at your blog, such good ideas and beautiful photos.
    Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. Have responded to your comment.
    Take care
    Isabelle x

  8. Hello there, thanks for stopping by my blog, I'm so glad you did as you have the most BEAUTIFUL blog! can't wait to read more. Lisaxxx

  9. What an absolutely wonderful collection of bags! Your beaded handbags are stunning, and your creations are amazaing! I will be stopping by again and again!


    Thank you for your lovely well-wishes on my blog!

  10. What a wonderful selection of bags, both bought and made. Thanks for showing them to us.

    I thought of you today, as I decorated my cupcakes with real Toulouse violets! I have some pictures of them on my blog, but most of the real cakes have gone now...

  11. WAUW, I love your collection
    and the ones, you make yourself, are soooooó pretty too.
    greetz, Anna

  12. You have a wonderful collection of bags. I have a few and I was thinking of hanging them on a wall in my bedroom.

    Your handbag pillows are fabulous!

  13. Oh my your have the most amazing collection of bags, they are gorgeous.

  14. Waw! You have a stunning collection my dear! I've never seen so many beautiful bags!! Very elegant!
    Have a nice Monday!
    Warm hugs

  15. Gorgeous bags Ali. I only have the one beaded 1920s clutch bag and I treasure it! Many thanks for calling in. Your blog is lovely and I will be reading more today. Lucyxx

  16. Beautiful, beautiful bags Ali, what more can I say. Take a look on my blog, there's an award for you.
    Take care.

  17. Dear Ali. Firstly, thank you for 'following' my blog, which has enabled me to find your blog! I am so glad I have found it - what a wonderful place! Just reading this post about bags, and I realise I have seen your GLORIOUS creations many times over on ebay - I have admired your work for a long time over on 'the bay'! so I am delighted to now be able to find out more via the blog. Can't wait for further postings. Have a super week - I hope you get plenty of Spring sunshine. Happy days. Denise

  18. I've enjoyed looking at your beautiful collection of bags! The beaded ones are so pretty ... apparently my great-grandmother used to make these. Although I have nothing that she made, I do have a jar filled with the glass beads that she used which is so special to me.

    I love how you were inspired by the bags to create your linen sachets ... they are beautiful!


  19. What beautiful beaded hand bags. Just beautiful. I just love the colors. You have an amazing collection... What a fun post...

  20. What a beautiful collection of bags, I think I will have to keep coming back too have another look.
    Love Lou xxx

  21. What a lovely collection! I suppose they are very rare? I don't see them very often over here.

  22. First time I have visited your website. It is delightful!
    I have a 20's bag that was my Grandmothers, very special.
    Lizzie x

  23. What a lovely post. I love my handbags too. My favourite are Liz Cox ones - I have three (collected over several years, given the price!)

    You know I might be mistaken but I think you said in a comment on my little lavender bags that you only bought your sewing machine just before Christmas...? Can this be right? Is it really possible to become so good in just a couple of months???

    Afraid I haven't had time to sew anything for a couple of weeks - haven't even had time to post here until today.

    It's nice to take the time to catch up today though :-)

    Love Charlotte

  24. Ali your post is beautiful!!!
    Love those bags!

    You may want to try some of my mom's sealah no sew tape for embellishing your pretty purses!!!

    Thank you for your sweet comment on my blog ;-)
    Have a blessed day,


  25. These bags are so beautiful. The bags that you have made a really gorgeous, I love the linen and lace that you have used.
    Carol x

  26. Hello Ali,
    Such a beautiful post - I share your passion for beaded bags and purses too....but I think your collection is far more impressive than mine! ;-)) You have a fabulous selection of styles.
    Your hand made lavender hand bags are just stunning...the lace adds a magical quality.
    Thanks for taking the time to share your wonderful photographs,

  27. your bags are SO pretty! I love each one.

    xo Heather

  28. I wouldn't have known what you meant by 'duck egg' until yesterday when who I thought was "Gilbert" is actually a "Gilberta" and she has been laying the most beautiful shade of cream I have ever seen...is there a paint color calle 'duck egg'...there should be!

  29. Beautiful! I love all of the lovely things that you share on your blog, they are so inspiring!


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