Hi! Long time no chat!
SO much has happened since I shared the last story for Outback Wife back in October. If I’m honest, sitting here at the farm with the harvester rumbling in the distance, International Quilt Market and Australian Quilt Market feels a world away.
I loved the travel and all the amazing people I met, but I’m happy to be home.
Knowing my fabrics would be launched internationally, I really wanted to use the opportunity to showcase some fellow makers. Calling in a few extra pairs of hands to help with sampling also reduced the risk of me sewing myself into a straight jacket by trying to do it all myself.
The first extra pair of hands I recruited belonged to Australian bag-maker extraordinaire Melisa McCarthy.
Melisa is a mum living in rural New South Wales with her husband and their two sons. For over 5 1/2 years she’s run her small handmade business from her home making gorgeous handbags. She’s grown a loyal following of happy handbag collectors and while sewing gorgeous handbags is her mainstay, she’s also been known to dabble in clothing too.
I had in mind two bags made out of leather and barkcloth, one a handbag, the other carry-on luggage size. Knowing I’d be using these bags for air-travel I really wanted them to have a leather component for durability (as well as for looks). Having a definite vision in mind, I knew it was asking a lot of Melisa to make them, as neither of the designs were a part of her current custom range. I was fully prepared for her to politely decline (I know how time-consuming it can be to take on a custom order for a design you don’t usually make). I was so excited when Melissa immediately understood what I wanted and said she’d make them for me!!
The first challenge was finding the perfect just the right leather. After much hunting, Melisa found a beautiful slightly-distressed Italian leather. Ever the farmer’s wife, I’d asked for it to match my Blundstones and the one she found is perfect.
For the handbag design, Melisa used the Harriet Expandable Tote by Swoon Patterns.
Gorgeous yeah? The barkcloth fabric is one of the ‘Kirstine’ designs, although I can just as well imagine it made with any of the other designs too.
(I know there’ll be many of you wanting one of these babies so I’ve put a link to Melisa down in the last paragraph of this post. Please keep in mind it’s Christmas time so any order enquiries will most likely get a response in the new year)
Onto bag number two…my request for a carry-on luggage bag was a bit more of a challenge as we couldn’t find an available pattern that suited what I had in mind. Luckily, Annie Zorzo (a friend of Melisa’s that also designs and makes bags) came to the rescue and modified a new design she’d been working on so it would meet with airline carry-one luggage restrictions.
After a couple of month’s of collaboration and preparation, Melisa’s finished bags are show stoppers!
Seriously…I quite literally got stopped everywhere I went with them by people asking me where they could buy their own.
Melisa’s work is impeccable and I can’t thank her enough. When I first approached her it was with a timeline that would see her have around 6 weeks to make the bags. Due to the unfortunate late arrival of my barkcloth sample yardage, she ended up making these beauties in only two days. TWO DAYS!! The are truly perfect. I love everything about them!
Melisa surprised me with a gorgeous clutch too, but I want to get some pretty photos of me using it for you, so will share that at a later date.
If you’d like to have one of these beautiful bags made you can send Melisa a direct message via her Facebook Page for price details and to be put on the waiting list. Please do keep in mind that most makers have now closed custom orders so they can spend Christmas with their families rather than chained to their sewing machines and/or computers. This being the case, on behalf of Melisa I’d ask you to please message with the expectation that you’ll get a response in the New Year 🙂
Photo Credit: All photos snapped by the bag lady herself, Melisa Jane Handmade.