I can’t recall when I first started to make bags . I just remember not being able to find the bags that I wanted. Without coming to a real decision, I found myself manipulating patterns to make my own and occasionally making bags as gifts for relatives. People would often ask me where I got my bags but at that stage, I didn’t consider adding them to my product range. I moved into Cockpit Arts in 2011 and, with my first open studio fast approaching I was still developing my coats. It was suggested that I could make some bags to test the market for my first open studios. I do believe I did an excellent job at hiding my surprise when I sold my first bag!
Cockpit Arts open studios 2011
So I began to design and make cloth bags as well as coats. By about 2013/2014 I began to experiment with leather to incorporate harder wearing straps and bases to some of the bags. I was not completed happy with the results and decided I needed to learn more about leather.
The first course left me feeling I had not learnt enough skills to apply to my products. I still tried making a machine stitched cloth/leather piece but I was dissatisfied with the result. It was a “Meh!” Bag in my opinion… During this time I was also collaborating with other designer makers with a pop up shop for a month, while working part time as a course co-ordinator for Fashion and Textiles at City Lit. The role included introducing new courses to the curriculum (this is relevant stay with me..!)
We all took turns to working in the pop-up shop in pairs. On one occasion I was paired withKatherine Pogsonwho specialised at the time in …wait for it… Leather craft and was teaching leathercraft skills to small classes of students! I told Katherine about my “Meh!” bag and my disappointment in my progress with leather up to that point. Katherine mentioned that she had been trying unsuccessfully to contact someone at City Lit about delivering classes!! Sooooooo guess who started TEACHING handstitched leather courses at City Lit?! And guess who ATTENDED three of the classes?!!!!
Not having enough coats for my first open studio weekend, led to me developing a brand-new product line.
Wanting to refine my bags lead me to trying an intro to leather course that did not meet my needs.
Making the “Meh!” bag, then sharing my story, led to forging a link with a skilled leather craft designer maker who was also a good teacher.
My first hand stitched leather bag
The result. Handstitched leather courses being offered at City Lit, and me getting to do a course with a teacher that was better suited to me. I have found that taking one step even if it’s a pigeon step into “Meh!” always seems to lead to other steps that ultimately, help me to achieve my goals.
You can see how far I have progressed at Cockpit Arts Deptford open studios this week. Dates 30th November – 2nd December Times Fri 1-8pm, Sat & Sun 11am-6pm Location 18-22 Creekside London SE8 3DZ
Ticket Price On the door| Deptford - £4 (Free entry for children under 15yr )