Credit: Hermes


BRAINSTORMING: Create an out-of-the-ordinary handbag

The handbag is the primary accessory of modern fashion. A form and function so deep-seated in women’s wardrobes, new ways of delivering a style image, no matter how avante-garde, struggle against it. Though form and function does not necessarily improve the delivery of your identity message, it can improve the ease with which you present yourself, and a good bag design can effect how well it is understood.

A handbag is a miniature fashion look — generally smaller, with fewer restrictions, and more easily adopted than the whole designer collection. It provides some distinct advantages over a conventional, single-use method, such as a paper shopping bag. It is more durable, more in-depth, more accessible—with compartments for storage and security. And though it can be used to tote and store, it often contains something more than a convenient carryall — it completes, complements and offers value or utility to your ensemble. Let’s do some design and style brainstorming:

[1] Create a shape that fits — A handbag sized to fit delivers its promise to tote your essentials with ease. It can do so daily if you design its size to carry the objects being transported. It is the perfect size and shape to tote your belongings, along with a handle or shoulder strap, specifically designed with you in mind.

[2] Make it stylish — Classic style typically displays personal preference – to complement or to complete—not to be fashionable. You can do the same by mixing your personal tastes within the fashion of your creation, for example, sport a classic silhouette in current fashionable colours or materials. Style is forever while fashion is ever-changing.

[3] Have a focal point — Use trims and embellishments to draw interest throughout your bag. Emphasis will always draw attention to your creation. Often this focal point is the opening of the bag.

[4] Be stylistically consistent — Try to stick to one kind of construction method throughout. Using techniques from different sources can degenerate into a patchwork. Don’t put every design idea you have into one bag style. Keep stitching and details identical while matching metal colour and finishes in hardware; this will provide continuity and harmony in your design.

[5] Include some specifications — For assembly and organization, a checklist of desired pieces and hardware adds value to the design process. You might create your own checklist to keep you thoughtful of the design’s fabrication, or include a shopping list of raw materials and quantities needed.

[6] Make it personal — Including a wishlist makes it more likely your bag will be kept and used instead of casted away at the end of the season.

[7] Make it ready for action — Though your handbag may have a fashion flavour, it should always contain a clear call-to-action. In this case, determine if it is for daily-use or special occasions only, then let its design reflect its purpose.

[8] Create a new shape — Not every bag design has to be a standard size and shape. Create one that is visually different — the top may be a drawcord instead of a zipper or a bottom may be oval in shape rather than rectangular. Take your cues from the kind of garment you’ll be wearing with the bag.

[9] Build on a theme — Present your handbag ideas based on its creation. You might base your theme on the type of content being carried, the season of year, or the subject matter of the occasion.

[10] Design around your wardrobe palette — If you find a collection of garments that work well with your subject matter — design around them. The handbag can be designed using these clothing styles as the seeds to grow and develop your ideas.  The construction may match the bold simple shapes and the background colour can match a colour pulled from the garment fabric.

[11] Inside, focus your message with compartments for security and organization — let’s face it, most of us don’t have the time or inclination to search for belongings at the bottom of a bag — certainly not, in this setting. Divided interiors help you make your access easier — in this case to bring to mind the kinds of chattel you might pursue using your well-designed handbag. The bonus element here is you can customize it to your own personal needs.

[12] Pull out pieces — You can extend the scope of your design by creating a companion wallet or coin purse and repeating the fabrication elsewhere on the layout. Don’t overlook cellphone cases or eyeglass cases.

[13] Bring the inside out — By now you’ve probably read about the underlying grid most designers use to create handbag patterns. How about using pieces of that grid as a part of the design? Sections of the grid layout can produce two-toned colour styling and complementing textured surfaces.

[14] Add hardware to push your ideas — Think of the hardware as the jewellery of your design. Consider the type of closure and hardware desired and its best application, and the type of seaming techniques that are appropriate for the design.

[15] Find a colour scheme — Whether you are basing your design on a collection of clothing or a lone ensemble, try using a colour scheme based on colours drawn from the garment. On the other hand, colour-matching is not always possible, consider a contrast colour scheme to highlight or add interest to a neutral background. Keep it subtle with colourful or ornately-patterned fabric wardrobes and dare to be bold and vivid with sober, conservative ones.

[16] Use stitching as design — The stitching you choose for a handbag design often have as much visual influence as the texture and colours. Using big, bold, thick stitches, like with saddle stitching, adds to the flavour of the styling in the design mix.

[17] Stay out of the ordinary — Adding an extra half-inch to the back cover, for instance, provides a tab on which to feature a twist-lock clasp or ornamental trim. Think outside-the-box and dare to be different. Once you know the “rules of design”, use your knowledge to break them.

[18] Plan with a budget in mind — Creating your handbag using available materials and hardware saves money. A handbag based on a simple grid and folded in half, then sewn by machine, is almost always less expensive than a pieced or hand-sewn version. Running any part of the bag close to or over the edge of the leather requires to skive, cement, fold, split and bind, then trimmed back down to finished size, increasing the skill and labour required. Designs involving expensive components such as fancy frames, brass hardware or carved wooden bag handles drive up the cost more so than plastic ones. The more you add, the more costly your project will be, both in time (labour) and money.

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Filed under Bag'n-telle, Design Insight

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