Saturday, November 13, 2010

Vera Bradley, Women’s Suffrage, and Pseudonyms

Vera Bradley, Women’s Suffrage, and Pseudonyms.

Pictures at the end!

Vera Bradley.

People seem to love it, or hate it.  I’m in the middle.  I like some.  I feel ambivalent towards some.  I feel very, very antagonistic towards the price tags of most.

Who/What is Vera Bradley, you ask? 

Well, here is what wikipedia has to say:
“ The company was founded in March 1982 by Patricia Polito Miller and Barbara Bradley Baekgaard, a 1962 graduate of Marymount College. Named after Baekgaard's mother the company got its start when both were inspired while awaiting a flight in Atlanta, where they noticed a "definite lack of feminine-looking luggage".[3]

The article also says that they are famous for “quilted cotton luggage, handbags, and accessories”.

Okay, Vera.  That’s a pretty good idea. Maybe not change-the-world good, but definitely make-it-easier-to-find-my-bag-at-the-airport good, and who knows what that could lead to?  I want my luggage to look feminine too.  Thank goodness I live in a time when I can vote and have feminine luggage. Imagine the super olden days, when I would have had to carry a “Portmanteau” or “valise” and blog ( I mean, write on parchment with a quill) under a man’s name, like Currer Bell.…except I would have had to pick a different name because Charlotte Bronte used that one. 

Yes, we are living in a very pleasant age. 

Anyway, I think I was talking about Vera Bradley.  I like some Vera Bradley things.  I have some friends that love this stuff and some that really, really don’t.  I have a several Vera Bradley bags, it’s true.  Somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.  Mostly thanks to my Aunt, who gave them to me. (Thanks!!!) I really do like them, they’re colorful and fun.  I actually had to retire one because I used it too much and it got a hole in it. However, the suggested retail prices of Vera Bradley products are CRAZY.  Like, get a student loan to pay for them CRAZY.  Okay, I’m exaggerating. I’m working on developing my own Vera Bradley inspired bag making method, and today I reveal to you my first attempt.

Ok so basically Vera Bradley bags, in general, are quilted cotton.  Machine quilted.  This is not difficult to do.  All you need is two pieces of fabric and some batting for in between. I’m betting there are several tutorials on how to do this out there on the net so I won’t go in to it that much.  My grandmother is an excellent quilter; I really need to improve my own skills a bit more.  The difficult part becomes making a bag pattern that will give you the desired shape.  Because this was my first attempt at a quilted bag, I chose something easy to replicate.

A paper sack.

Yes. That’s right.  I made a quilted-cotton version of a paper sack.

I chose a fun patterned fabric for my outside fabric and a weird scratchy, thick greenish fabric I picked up as a remnant at some fabric store a while back. I thought it would lend some structural support.  I used the paper sack as a pattern guide and cut out 1 bottom piece, 2 side pieces, and 2 front/back pieces from the 2 fabrics and the batting.  Then I made my “quilt sandwich” and pinned them together. I used my machine to quilt it, which I did a bit haphazardly, seeing as I didn’t measure or anything to make the lines even. Turned out pretty good! Then, using the trusty inside-out method, I sewed it all together to make the bag, taking care to fold over and hem the top.    Next time I’ll do it so the lining covers up the ugly inside parts, but this was a bit of a rush job because…..I was impatient. (The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem) 
Paper Sack as a pattern!

mmmm Quilt Sandwich!

All my pieces, pinned and ready to sew.  Why are there two bottoms, you ask? Because I forgot what I was doing.


And vertical.  Next time I will try more interesting patterns.

I am totally pleased with this first attempt. You have to start small.  I think I will attempt a tote bag next time, with a pretty lining and handles.  Also, I might put some cardboard or plastic somewhere it the bottom part to make it sit flat. It’s going to be awesome.  Oh! By the way, this entire little bag project probably cost about…umm…3 dollars or so. I had all the materials hanging around in my craft lair, so I’m really not exactly sure. 
Close up! Check out that highly geometrical quilting action!

It is the perfect size to use as a Shoe Travel Bag (Is that a thing?).  Don’t you hate it when you have to toss your shoes in your bag on top of all your non-shoe clothes?  I mean, you have no idea where the bottoms of your shoes have been, really.  Especially if you sleepwalk.
Home Sweet Home for my yellow peep-toe pumps?

Or, to hold a book. You know, in case….um.. I really have no idea why you’d need to use it for this. But it fits. You could really put anything in it you might put in a regular paper sack……….
Book Holder?

I hope Vera Bradley doesn’t think I’m trying to horn in on their profits.  It’s just little ol’ me…..trying to empower the world, one stitch at a time.


  1. Courtney this is awesome! I miss you! And this blog is so fun to read!

    ~Whitney Davis

  2. Thanks Whitney!! I'm glad you like it :) I can't wait to see you over the holidays!

  3. Dude, that turned out so cute! At first when you wrote that you were making a Vera-style paper sack I was a bit skeptical. But you've made a believer out of me! ;] Awesome job!

  4. I think that my favorite part of this post is the fact that you used your yellow pumps as the shoe props for your multi-use quilted bag. Or the reference to Currer Bell... it's a toss up.

  5. Thanks Abby! Jessica, I also considered Acton and Ellis Bell. lol.