Quiet Friday: Handwoven Handbags

Is there such a thing as too many handbags, pocketbooks, tote bags, and purses? Of course not. Naturally, my favorite handbags are made from handwoven fabric. Linings made from remnants, handwoven bands used for shoulder straps, hidden zippers, and, of course pockets–these are the details that other people will seldom notice. Yet these are the details that make me smile every time I use one of these bags.

Handwoven handbags - with 1 minute video.
Nineteen handwoven handbags. Various sizes, fibers, styles, and purposes. And colors. Lots of colors!

…You know that box of handwoven bits and pieces? Those weavings from the end of the warp, and the “scraps” from various projects? Hmm… looks like I might need to make another handbag or two.

Here is my collection of handwoven handbags, divided into a few categories. Plus, a short video just for the fun of it!

Rigid Heddle Loom

Handbags from fabric woven on a rigid heddle loom.
Wool, novelty chenille yarn, crochet cotton, and narrow fabric strips are used for weft in these bags. Buttons are from my grandma’s button jar. The small rag-weave pocketbook has a permanent home in my daily handbag. The fabric for these bags was woven on my Beka 32″ rigid heddle loom.
Handwoven fabric for handbags from the rigid heddle loom.
Linings are from remnants of other sewing projects. Bag handles were woven on my inkle loom.

Travel Finds

Handwoven handbags from international travels.
Trips to The Philippines yielded interesting woven goods by artisans there. The green stripe tote bag is woven from native plant material, and the teal and burgundy purse is a beautiful example of ikat weaving. The colorful weft-faced woven shoulder bag and the purple bag with lovely weft-float patterning came from travel to Chile.

Project Carriers

Handwoven project bags.
Large tote bag, woven with 1/4″ fabric strips for weft, carries my “show and tell” when I go to my weaving study group. It’s known as the “Mary Poppins Bag.” Rag-rug bag in the center has straps, woven on the band loom, that were woven into the bag. This bag carries my portable tapestry weaving. The rag rug bag on the right carries my one-and-only crochet project.

Special Use

Handwoven handbags.
Linen bag has beads woven into the fabric. It is lined with satin. Rag-weave purse is simply a flat piece folded in half, with lining and pockets added to the inside. The blue bag is wool, woven in a weft-cord technique. The fabric was partially fulled to produce the ribbed texture.
Handwoven lining in a handwoven purse.
Lining for this bag is made from extra fabric after weaving cotton/linen fabric for cushions, and the pocket is a remnant from a two-block twill tencel scarf.

Daily Use Favorites

Favorite handwoven handbags! Karen Isenhower
Representing some of my “firsts.” The brown and blue small shoulder bag is from one of my first cottolin towel projects. This is what I did when the last piece was too short to use for a towel. The green and turquoise clutch has remnants of my first ever handwoven towel, my first rosepath rag rug, and my first big rep weave project! The blue shoulder bag is the bag I use every day. It’s a remnant from the baby wrap I wove for my daughter’s first baby. It’s lined with a remnant from an Easter dress I made for her when she was a little girl.

May you carry your handiwork with you.

Happy weaving,
Karen

This Is What Makes You Beautiful

A piece of woven sampling becomes a purse. I started creating this little purse months ago, but got frustrated in my design-as-you-go process and put it back in the box.

Twill pattern cottolin towel warp
Sampling at the beginning of the warp, trying out different weft colors and treadling patterns. Most of this warp was made into kitchen towels.

Determined to find solutions, last week I brought the unfinished project back out. After redesigning, ripping out, adding, and sewing… Voila! A finished purse! Finding wisdom is like searching for a solution to something you feel like giving up on. When you press through with determination, though, breakthrough comes.

Handwoven purse being created
Trying out options for adding a zipper inside the purse. Also adding a strap I wove on the band loom.

Beauty is only skin deep. Really? If it is only surface, do you still call it beauty? The outside of a person makes a first impression, but it is the inner person that leaves a lasting impact. What good is a purse that is nice only on the outside? A great purse should make you say, ooh, ahh… when you peer inside.

Inside of handwoven bag
Lined, inner divider with complimentary fabrics, zipper with braided zipper pull, and matching woven strap finishes the bag.

Wisdom that guides everyday decisions creates beauty inside and out. Wisdom must be sought out. Like digging for buried treasure, it is worth the struggle. Wisdom brings extraordinary value to your thoughts, words, and actions; and then presents you as the beauty you were created to be.

Handwoven cottolin purse
One-of-a-kind small handwoven bag, woven and designed with gentle persistence. Handwoven Fabric: Cotton/Linen blend; Lining: Cotton

May wisdom guide all your decisions.

Searching for buried treasure,
Karen