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SewingMom2006 | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I am the type person that I need a certain type handbag. I also know of several others that are like me and want what I want. However, I can not find what I am looking for. So, I want to design my own. But no so simple.

I’m not sure exactly where to start. I am a tailor and have sewn all types of clothes. A few curtains, and a few other things, but not much in the way of handbags. Much less know how to design them, have tried and missed something somewhere, not sure what.

Now, what I would like to have is information books that I can get on how to designing and sewing handbags so that I can figure how what I am doing wrong. I have tons of ideas, just don’t know how to get it from paper to actually product.

Thanks so much for any advice.


  1. damascusannie | | #1

    Go get a pattern in the basic style you want and make a simple prototype. That will show you the basic construction and then you can go from there with your specific modifications. It's really no different than the first time you made a fully lined tailored jacket--you had to start with the basics and learn from there.

  2. User avater
    JunkQueen | | #2

    Offhand, I don't know of any books, but I'd suggest you buy patterns that are close to what you want, learn from making a couple of them. Modify them to suit your needs and style, then you could move on to drafting a pattern. I usually don't use a pattern, and often wish I had -- LOL, but I'm not talented enough to tell you how I do it. It's just hit or miss, and I rarely put anything on paper. When I have, I have discovered using poster board is helpful to me. It's not extremely heavy, but it is sturdy.

    I wish you the best and wish I had better suggestions for you.

  3. marymary | | #3

    SewingMom, there are many books available, some good, some not so good.  Try the library to find some you might like before you buy.  Or, go to a local bookstore and look through the books.  There are lots of handbag patterns available through pattern companies.  Wait for a sale and buy them.  Look at the line drawings rather than the finished pictures.  One of my favorite patterns is done up in a terrible quilt design in the picture, but made in a different fabric it is one of my favorite.  Yesterday, I bought the magazine "Haute Handbags" for inspiration. 

    I have purchased handbags in thrift stores, taken them apart and used the pieces for patterns.  I also buy belts, jewelry and other assorted things in thrift stores to use on my handbags. 

    Mostly, it is experimentation because what goes on the inside makes the handbag - lining, underlining, interfacing, etc.  What you use depends upon the fabric you have chosen for the outside.  There are many sources for the findings on the Internet, but I have been able to find some at JoAnns and Hancocks.

    1. SewingMom2006 | | #4

      Thank you all. Unfortunately we have two book stores in this town and not a one of them carries anything sewing other than the three top sewing mags. Which is how I got my subcription to Threads. I get frustrated with the book stores here.

      The next time we have to take my son the the doctor, which is 300 miles around trip away, I will check out the book stores there. I have had much better luck finding things out of town. Didn't know if there were any suggestions out there?Thank so much.

      1. starzoe | | #5

        Did anyone mention the internet? There are lot of free patterns there which might be a way to begin. I make bags and bags and bags, and most of them are "out of my head" although the ideas come from all the different sources already mentioned.If you are a tailor, you are eminently skilled to make bags of any type.

      2. Gloriasews | | #10

        You could also check out the books on Amazon, as their prices are reasonable - & you can sometimes obtain used copies for less.

        My favourite bag is a tote-like bag, with pockets inside & out, & it's washable.  With embellishment, it only took an afternoon to make, & best of all, it's the right size.  I just don't buy purses anymore, as I can't find any that suit me, or they're flimsily made & don't last (zipper goes or straps break, etc.).  Design what you'd like & try it out - you'll be finally satisfied to have what you want.


  4. ntharp | | #6

    My favorite bag for everyday use is made from the top of a pair of jeans.  I cut off the jeans at the crotch and use the legs to make the shoulder strap.  Sometimes I make a lining with pockets for checkbook, cellphone, etc.  The hardest part is sewing the lining to the jeans -- it gets pretty thick in places.  I do have to sew by hand the area around the snap.  Sometimes I use jeans with embroidery or trim already on them.  Other times I add my own, or I leave it plain.  What I like best about this purse is that it has so many pockets - both inside and out - that I can always find what I need.

    1. SewingMom2006 | | #8

      Thank you all so much.

      1. Tottie | | #9


        I have been interested in bags for some time now and I bought a book by Linda McGhee entitled "Simply Sensational Bags".  It is full of ideas, instructions on lining, interfacing, pockets, zippers, handles.  I have it used this book quite often and its an excellent reference book.


  5. Sancin | | #11

    Sewing Mom - How do you know you need a certain type of handbag? Have you found a purchased one you like? I like specific types of handbags as well. When I make one I look carefully at the 'usually' leather purse and make a pattern up from that. I have even been know, on occasion, to purchase a purse and then return it. I did this when I looked for a sports purse and could not find anything I liked. As I have become older I have become weaker and find that some of my favourite leather purses (and wallets) are just too heavy to carry around all day so I make fabric ones which are lighter.
    Good luck.

    1. SewingMom2006 | | #12

      Thanks all for your replys. I know I need a certain type of bag because, nothing works for me. I'm talking as for size. I also like lots of pockets. I can find the lots of pockets but very small, I can find the large enough but no pockets and I loose things. I have tried a basic backpack and that is way to large. I also have narrow shoulders and a wide shoulder strap works better for me as strange as that sounds, narrow straps slide right off my shoulder. I can not have anything that goes across the shoulder as I have pinched nerves in my back the across shoulder causes this to hurt worse. I'm one of those type people that like to carry everything including the kitchen sink. :-) As a writer and sewer both, I also carry lots of paper and pens so that I can record ideas. Thanks.

      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #13

        Hmm, SewingMom, I think that you are like me.  They do not sell or make Mary Poppins bags.  I have looked forever for one.  Big enough for small purchases and a date book, light enough to carry everything without all the weight, enough pockets that you do not lose everything in the bottom, and stylish.  When you design it, let me know Ok!  Cathy

      2. damascusannie | | #14

        You mention that you have a bad back and I can relate! Did you know that carrying a heavy purse is about the worst thing you can do to your back? My mom, who has chronic back pain from a long-standing injury was told that she should never carry more than a two pound purse. Her solution is to have a large tote bag that she puts a smaller bag into. The tote has her notebook, cosmetics, and other essentials. The little bag is for her wallet,checkbook, cell phone and a small notebook. Most of the time the small bag is all she needs when shopping, but she has the tote with her other stuff handy in the car if she needs it. I've gone to this method, too and it makes shopping much nicer if I'm not trying to juggle a giant bag along with my purchases and it's definitely easier on my bad back as well. Something to consider.

        1. Sancin | | #15

          Annie - I do exactly what your mother does. I started to use bag and purse when traveling, then when I got home I went back to old ways and not only did my back hurt, but I got tired sooner. I sat down and analyzed all the items in my purse (I go prepared for WW III) and was brutal asking myself how often I actually used the things I carried around daily and how much each item weighed and space it took up. It was a surprising exercise. I was shocked to realize I rarely used my hair brush but use notepad and pen frequently as well as tissues and aspirins (I actually hate shopping).

          While I still occasionally become obsessive about filling my purse I find it much better keeping a lot of things in the bag in the car, like my cell phone. I find it rude to talk on the phone in public, at any rate. I also keep envelopes of fabrics/books/etc I may purchase when I see them. I also now carry a much smaller note book and I throw out the pages I no longer need. I keep track of measurements and items, like family birthdays, which I refer to often. This has cut down on a lot of loose papers. I don't carry a cheque book, I put a few in my wallet with a post it note to record numbers and amounts - usually, sigh. I also leave a lot of store cards in the car. It seems there are cards for everything these days. The cards I ensure I always have close by are my ID, care card (Canadian medical card), next of kin/who to notify - this because I have some health problems and I am older. Of interest, this past summer, while on holidays I purchased a supposedly light weight travel purse from the AAA. When it was filled up it was quite heavy. It had a lot of pocket, zippers and structural supports that seemed to make it heavy. Always something to learn.The best purse I made was out of ultra suede. I lay a purse I loved out on some old fabric and made a trial on up first. This way I was able to make the purse a little deeper and the straps shorter.

          1. Stillsewing | | #16

            In another thread a poster mentioned the differences between the English language and American. Well the last two posts have me really flummoxed!!! What is the difference between 1 a bag
            2 a purse
            3 a tote.I use a purse for my coins credit cards, and paper money. I put that in my handbag together with my other essentials eg tissues, lipstick, comb, diary, mobile phone, biro. I also use a shopping bag (tote?) for any additional items or my shopping. As the handbag that I use daily was purchased at great expense this time last year in New England it is obviously something that is on sale over there. After these three then there is "the bag in the car," is this a tote, a handbag, or a purse? I think as I get older the world becomes more confusing!! All this on top of a "hockey mom"? who is the governor of a State. Very hard to decipher..........

          2. Sancin | | #17

            Well, as a Canadian, I probably speak both English and American, though tend toward British terms. From my perspective:1. bag - a tote bag or large handbag/purse - generic term2. purse = handbag - holds separate wallet,'stuff', makeup, notepads, cell phone, old linty pieces of gum, eye glasses etc. Some purses have slits and zippered pockets for paper money, coins, cheques cards, cell phone pockets, while other require separate wallet/coin holder/billfold. 3. wallet = container for paper +/or coins and credit card and/or cheques + and often 20 year old pictures of 'the kids'. Those who use wallets or billfolds may change purses frequently. 4. tote - a largeish (MY word), generally unstructured cloth or leather bag used for shopping items or other smaller bags (like a purse or wallet). Recently these are available as lightweight foldable bags to use when shopping for ?The 'bag in the car' may be a large handbag or tote. In my case, it tends to be whatever I grab whenever I am heading out and plan to return to my car off and on. If I find my purse/handbag heavy, I have been known to use a paper bag that just happens to be in the car. If, I, as I plan to this weekend, go to a craft fair, I will take my lovely leather purse/handbag as I need my wallet and also space to put small items I purchase. My purse will contain several foldable tote bags to put items I purchase after my purse is full or if items are too big for my purse (which is not all that big).To make things more complicated I have switched from carrying a lovely leather wallet to carrying a coin purse with several sections to loosely hold my cards, coins and paper money. Coin purses have a snap, hook and loop tape, or zipper closures. Long coin purses for paper money may be quilted and are called bill folds. I forget the term that Brits use for small containers that women take out just to hold coins for washrooms and telephones. I was given a gorgeous chain link one as a gift from someone who had been traveling. I currently keep my smaller earrings in this when traveling Then there are some people who make something unique and put their own words on it and you can only tell by looking at it or using it!!

          3. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #18

            Sancin, I think you got it pretty well bang on for the most part.  I might refine a few definitions this way:

            Bag=sack or a contraction of handbag.  It is American slang to use the word bag for handbags.  The words purse and handbag are used interchangeably.

            Tote=large sack for carrying items, usually decorative, for shopping or travelling.  Usually constructed from fabric with carrying handles.  Soft sided luggage is also sometimes referred to as a tote,(this is carry on size luggage, like a carpetbag.)

            Often the difference between a purse and a tote is either the size or the material it is made of.  A plastic bag copied into fabric becomes a tote.   As if it isn't complicated enough as it is, you have to add in the differences in language........ Cathy



          4. Rieann | | #95

            From my neck of the woods, Australia,  A bag, is a handbag,as well as any kind of soft container that you can pack 'stuff' in' and can be made of cloth, paper or  plastic.

            A tote is usually a structured multi purpose medium to large sized item which holds lots of shopping or craft stuff or baby needs.

            A purse  can be a simple coin or change purse, or it can be a multi pocketted object which holds credit cards, keys, folding money and coin. A purse is usually, but not always, carried in the (Hand)bag.

            How safe is sit in the USof A or Canada to leave goods in your car? There is no way I would leave credit cards, drivers licence, cheque books or anything else with ID on it in my car in Western Australia.

          5. starzoe | | #96

            For security's sake, no matter where you live, it is not good practice to leave anything valuable in the car. I live in a relatively safe environment but still I am very careful about my security, in the car and out.

          6. Sancin | | #97

            Looking in my car window would be like looking at showroom car (not bragging, simply don't keep much in the car). I lock everything in my trunk. I have an Toyoto Echo which has an unbelievable number of hidden storage areas (to the point I often can't remember them all!) If the trunk is full I put small valuables in the waste bucket I keep in the car and hide things underneath.
            Like many of you, no doubt, I have a few 'favourite' places to put things in my house so I can find them. For the past 2 weeks I have been hunting for a major credit card and 2 years ago my watch which had been missing for a year was found on the top of my Christmas decorations where it had fallen from one of my 'places' before I put the decorations away till next Christmas. I learned about waste bucket storage hint years ago when a colleague arrived at my door in a panic. He had hidden all his computer disks in the waste bucket when going on holidays and the last thing his wife did was take out the garbage. This was in the days of small disks and many copy programs so I had the same programs he did!!

          7. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #102

            You just do not.  It is not safe.  In large cities it is just asking for trouble.  I tuck my carryalls and bags in the trunk.  I have a catchall bag that I tuck under the front dash where it is not easily seen for small purchases and the things I need, but do not need to carry.  I keep an extra winter coat or sweater in my back seat for safety reasons when travelling, as I live in the country, and I use that to cover whatever I have to leave in the back seat.  In the small towns that I usually shop in, it is not so bad, but you never know.  Insurance companies will tell you that if you leave items visible in your car, it will void your theft insurance....   Cathy

          8. Teaf5 | | #19

            As soon as you ask for the "American term" for something, be prepared to get a variety of answers, depending on dialect!  My cousins in the South use completely different terms from those in the North and those of us in the West.  My dad used to tease my mom about "bag" and "sack" (split along the Mason-Dixon line) as well as about "sofa" "couch" and "Chesterfield," (a SFBay Area localism).

            So here's a Californian's definition for you:

            Bag= a paper grocery carrier, plastic garbage bag or the kind of accessory older women carry on their forearms (aka handbag)

            Purse=a leather or fabric accessory that younger women wear, usually on their shoulders, ranging in size from 4" square to 2 feet square.

            Clutch=a small purse without a handle, usually for formal occasions

            wallet=an organizer for cash and cards, carried by men and by women who carry purses or handbags

            tote=either the large unstructured canvas carrier for the beach (aka "beach bag") or the smaller piece of a luggage set or the customized carrier for crafting supplies.

            Young women in California no longer carry any of these, it seems; their keys and cellphone are clutched in one hand, and their cash/card/and identification go into a back jeans pocket or into their "messenger bags," backpacks, or "laptop bags." Young men tuck them into various pockets of their cargo pants or hoodies (=multi-pocketed pants and hooded sweatshirts).

            I haven't heard the words "briefcase" or "billfold" in a long time, either.  Just as soon as we straighten it all out, the language will change, and we'll have to start again!

          9. Stillsewing | | #20

            Thanks very much for such a fulsome reply!! I had often wondered did the word sack come from the French "sac" which is one that seems to be used a lot. Their nomenclature is much more simple - "sac" et "petit sac"!I have never had the opportunity to visit any other part of North America except the US and then only about a half dozen times. Your explanations that there is such a wide variety of dialects - not to mention accents - explains why I have found it so difficult communicate over there. I have repeatedly found that people that would generally meet travellers and so should be accustomed to "English as it is spoke in other English speaking countries" do not seem to be bothered with trying to understand us. Maybe it is as you say, and they do not understand fellow Americans either! ......yes I had to use sign language and finally writing, last year in New England with a receptionist in a hotel! and no, she did not come from south of the border. Over here while we have different accents we generally use the same words to describe an item. Maybe I am just biased and this is not really the case. I will continue to use the descriptions for these items that I always have and use sign language if I want to buy something if I ever go that far west again. I will continue to carry my purse or wallet in my handbag and my shopping bag for larger items.However in the context of sewing I still like to know what people are talking about. All this came out of someone describing what they were about to make! On a lighter side one of the funniest mispronouncements that I ever heard was in an airport somewhere in Europe (maybe Amsterdam) when an announcement came over the Tannoy for people to assemble at the "chicken". While I was wondering where the chickens were in the airport I suddenly realised that the South African/Australian announcer was of course referring to the check-in.

          10. damascusannie | | #21

            Tannoy? See, no matter where you are from, your English will have words that are specific to that area. BTW--we call them intercoms, or loudspeakers.

          11. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #22

            One of the good things/bad things with the french language is that they try to keep it from evolving too quickly.  The French try to keep the language from becoming fractured like the english language.  They want to keep it like latin, a common to all language, hopefully not a dead language.  French Canadian French is a dialect that is almost a language all of its own now, even the French cannot understand it! 

            The one thing I love about the Gatherings Discussions is all the neat things I learn.  Like all the different names for the same things in different areas.  Or the trade name/generic name for a product I like can be different around the world.  Even sewing terms can be different.  It gives me better language to work with when trying to talk to different people so they can understand  me.  I like that.  If it comes down to one word making understanding easier, than I will work with that!   Cathy


          12. Stillsewing | | #23

            I agree with you that an international forum like this is great for introducing us to different phrases and ways of describing things. However I most enjoy the company of people who love sewing and are interested in the same things as I am. Nowadays most people are too busy to do any type of handcrafts --- more's the pity.I hadn't realised though that Canadian French had become so stilted. I'm surprised that it has become so separate from mainland french given that there is such ease of communication with films, radio etc nowadays. I know that the French are very protective of their language I remember the shock and horror when "Le weekend" became common parlance. It was when I worked in Paris in the sixties that I discovered the differences between American and English words. Friends of mine there had a dictionary of the different words like lift/elevator and holidays/vacations. It was the only time in life that actually sat down and read a dictionary!

          13. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #24

            Isn't this forum great? So many personalities and world views, held together by a single sewing thread...... (pun intended).I love just randomly opening my unabridged dictionary and reading definitions of words with which I am not familiar. It is entertaining to discover a word that is easily integrated into my daily conversations. I know, I know, I need to get a life, but I find this to be so much fun and harmless. My friends have come to expect this idiosyncrasy of mine. Unfortunately, I have a tremendously difficult time understanding people from England, in any of their dialects, and people from Australia. There is a possibility this plagues me more as my hearing acuity lessens. Also, given my understanding of the word "stilted", I'd have thought mainland French was stilted, and Canadian French not. Live and learn. I adore having so many people here from so many cultures. A mini-education almost daily. Viva la sewing!!!!!!

          14. miatamomma | | #25

            I am with you on the dictionary.  I often have a dictionary beside me when I read and I do a lot of that.  You will stay young as long as you continue to want to learn.  Keep it up!!


          15. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #27

            We keep one in the bathroom.  Amongst the other books that are kept in the "Reading Room."  tee hee   Cathy

          16. miatamomma | | #31

            Great idea!  You always have something to read in "the library".  I had never thouoght of having a dictionary there.


          17. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #32

            The stories are not so long that they tie up the facilities.  You learn something new each time you read it.  It is in a central location where everyone can find it, and they know where to take it back to when they are finished using it elsewhere.  And sooner or later, they have to go there, so there is no excuse for not returning it to where it belongs!  Cathy   tee hee hee hee

          18. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #28

            JQ, you are starting to scare me a little.  Are you some distant lost twin or something? tee hee  I love dictionaries, and the thesaurus is fun to read as well, just to add a few words to expand the usual descriptive terms I use. 

            When the kids were small, we used to play a game where we would try and describe a common object in as many creative and unusual ways as possible.  It was part of the therapy they needed, but it was a lot of fun as well.  The dictionary would often come out for help, as a word was debated as being a real word. 

            Kinda takes us back to the sewer/sewist thing does it not?   Cathy

          19. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #29

            LOLOLOL.... You would have to bring sewer/sewist up again. I have a pocket edition of a Thesaurus that resided in my desk drawer at work, and it now sits within arms reach of me while at my computer. It is so worn and fragile it is coming apart and is now in two separate parts. It's been such a good friend all these years I hate to part with it. I would love to have an OED set, but they are very expensive. I could buy a nice sewing machine for what they cost. By the way, I finished the camp stool for DH today. I know he is happy I'm through with it. Never in my life has it taken so long to finish such a simple job. The malfunctioning machine caused a long delay, then I had the cataracts removed from both eyes, over the past thee weeks. You should see my black eye. When the anesthetist deadened my left eye, he hit a blood vessel. It is quite a spectacular shiner.

          20. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #30

            ROTFL...sorry about the sewist thing, could not help myself...tee hee

            I think it just comes down to the fact that I love words and wordplay.  And Books.  We took down our bookcases because they were a mess and took up so much space in the living room.  We miss them.  We miss our books.  So we decided that they were going to be replaced by better bookcases.  To heck with the mess.  We will learn to love the mess too. 

            Hope the shiner heals quickly.  Did not need a costume for halloween tho did you, tee hee 

            How did the camp stool turn out?  I hope he appreciated all the effort it took.  Is the machine working good now, or was a repair required?  Man, am I a nosey parker full of questions tonight.  Cathy

          21. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #33

            Camp stool looks good. DH is always appreciative of these Honey Do's and brags effusively. The man can think of an abundance of projects to keep you busy!

            The shiner is gradually making it's way down my face. Most people quickly averted their eyes when they noticed the bruise, but the few who asked, I told them is was my Halloween makeup.

            The machine is repaired. Seems when I was having problems with the embroidery a while back, he adjusted the bobbin case. Then when I switched to regular sewing, it didn't work well. He gave me a new bobbin case, and adjusted it, to use just for regular sewing and some spare bobbins. He's a good guy and interested in keeping my business.

            Incidentally, book shelves are supposed to be messy -- like the home to our old friends they are. We are a family of readers for the several generations I recall. My 12-year-old grandson is currently reading Tom Clancy's Clear and Present Danger. I hope he enjoys it as much as I did.

          22. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #34

            I must have been watching too many of those home dec shows again!  Personally, a clean desk (or sewing table) is the sign of a sick mind.  I shall duly add bookshelves to the category as well.

            Sounds like you have a really good sewing machine guy!  I did find a place to get that zipper foot for my machine, down in Vermont.  They were very helpful, and were really trying hard to get my business. She had about 30 old Berninas she collected lining the walls.  We shall see. 

            I just finished reading the latest James Patterson book.  Seem to have missed the one before that.  Just found out that Tony Hillerman just passed away.  Such a shame.  I really enjoyed his books.  I did not realize he was that old.  I don't realize I am getting old either tho, tee hee.  Got to get off to bed.  Caught DD3's nasty cold.  Slept half the afternoon away, but still need to get some shut eye. 

            Amazing how we go from handbags to bookshelves in one thread.    Cathy

          23. miatamomma | | #35

            I loved the Tom Clancy books.  We are overrun with books in our house.  I can hardly bear to get rid of a book that I have read.  I always think how much enjoyment I got out of it.  It is just like a old friend.  I do give them to the library which has monthly sales so someone else can get some use out of them.  I will not pay full price for books so usually get them at flea markets or Goodwill.  I try to get most of my books at the library so I can just return them and not have to keep them.  Can't imagine life without books.  What do you read?



          24. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #37

            Mysteries, international intrigue, courtroom drama -- those are my perennial favorites, and I read other things that strike my fancy. My DIL is a language arts teacher working on her Master's Degree on her way to a PhD in education, so while she reads a more esoteric selection than I do, she recommends books to me regularly that I then read. DH says I read anything from pornography to the Bible. That is truly an exaggeration, I'd never read the Bible. I am KIDDING, just KIDDING. Just couldn't resist. Anyhow, I like Clancy, Harlan Coben, especially his Myron Bolitar series, Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. I have most of her books on CD because we listen to books when we travel, and I got DH turned on to her lighthearted style of writing. She and Robert Parker of the Spenser, PI, fame write very much alike. One unabridged book with generally make a round trip to see our grandkids. Stephen White, both Tony and Faye Kellerman, Vince Flynn's wonderful Mitch Rapp series, sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, and of course, Robert Ludlum. My going price for books is 29¢ at Goodwill. I rarely pay full price for a book, and my friends and I all trade our books. When I've seen them come back to me about the 3rd time, I donate them. One of my friends has a permanent booth at a monthly flea market, so I give a lot to her to sell. The library in my home town down on the Gulf coast sells a lot of used books to help finance extras they want to provide. I plan to go down next week, so I will likely come back with a good supply of books.

          25. miatamomma | | #40

            What kind of a Goodwill do you have?  Where I live hardcover books at Goodwill are $2 and softbound are $1.  However, on Wed (if you are a senior citizen) you get a 20% discount.  As you can probably guess, I only go on Wednesdays.  You read quite a variety.  I tend to read more non-fiction though I read Patricia Cornwell, Margaret Truman, Sue Grafton, and Julie Smith.  Your list is more what my DH reads.  Sometimes I get hung up on one subject and read what I can find on it.  One time it was the snake handling churches in Appalachia (sp?).  That was different.  Now I am onto reading about the intelligence work that took place during WWII.  Real-life Tom Clancy.  Are your eyes doing okay ?


          26. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #46

            Eyes progressing well so far. A little problem with the left eye, but she says we'll revisit it when I go back next week for normal followup. Thanks for asking.Actually, our Goodwill here raised their book prices a while back. I was using Goodwill generically there, I think. Salvation Army has cheap prices, Women's Shelter Thrift Store, too. I book shop at every garage/estate sale I go to and as well when I travel. I just got back from a few days visiting my grandchildren, and I spent and entire day at the wonderful thrift stores they have there. Came back with a good supply of books for these upcoming dreary winter days. And a couple of lambswool sweaters to full to make slippers for Christmas gifts. Not to mention the ultra-suede skirt I'm cutting up for trim on a jacket made of recycled sweaters. Ohhhh, I think your current reading topic would be so interesting. You may have just directed my reading focus for a while. Incidentally, I read Cornwell and Truman, too, and actually so many that it's hard to recall them offhand. I wish I had listed books I've read as I read them. It would be interesting to see how my reading habits have evolved, if at all, and also to just know the sheer numbers of books. I never leave home without my current reading material. Waiting in line or for doctors becomes less stressful when you've got a 'friend' with you.I might mention that these book series I mentioned are far more interesting when read in sequence.

          27. miatamomma | | #55

            Twelve years ago I started keeping a list of the books that I had read that year.  I start anew each year.  I also have all of them on Excel and that way I can sort all 12 years by author, type, etc.  Helps keep me from reading the same book twice.  I always try to read books with same characters in sequence.  Just started one on submarines gathering intelligence during the Cold War.


          28. sewelegant | | #64

            You mention not wanting to read the same book twice!  If I love a story I keep the book in a special place and several years later I will enjoy it just as much as I did the first time.  (Not true of all my books! many do get dropped if they do not catch my fancy the next time I try to read it)  I just went through all my old Dale Van Every books.  They are about America in the late 1700's and early 1800's.  He mixes history with fiction in a very satisfactory manner.  I am not an outdoor person, but love adventure fiction, based on fact, especially about the far north and Alaska.  I loved Mrs. Mike and Tisha and will read them again for the fourth or so time before I die, I'm sure.  I did glean a few new authors to look up, thanks to all those who have entered this discussion.  I too am an avid fan of Ludlum, Baldacci, Grisham, Flynn, as well as Ken Follett, Nelson DeMille, Dick Francis and others.  I just read Cornwell's latest book and was so disappointed in the style she chose to write it in and did not care for her lapse into more vulgar language, I am not so prudish, but when I see it written it seems to cheapen the character for me and makes me vow to clean up my own act!  I have a book bag tote that I like to keep in the car just in case I go into a thrift store along my way.  The church thrift shops, especially, seem to carry a lot of newer paperbacks.

          29. damascusannie | | #65

            I was thinking the same thing, but I'll reread my favorite books once or twice a year, both as books and on audio. I listen to the entire Harry Potter series every winter and I just picked up a bunch of Agatha Christie audio books. The same goes for the Narnia series.

          30. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #67

            I wish books on tape/CD were as easy to find 2nd hand as movies and books are.  I often rewatch (rather listen to) my favorite movies when I am in my studio.  It is like having a favorite friend come to visit, and another voice around.  Books on tape would be even better.  Thanks for the tip.  Cathy

          31. damascusannie | | #68

            I wish I could find them used, too, but for now, our library and the extended library system will have to do.

          32. Teaf5 | | #81

            I can't listen to books on tape and drive at the same time; I tried it once while commuting to work and got so wrapped up in the story (The Princess Bride) that I missed my exit and drove ten miles out of my way!I was late to work, but I was much more afraid that I hadn't been paying much attention while driving, either.I don't mind re-reading a book, but I really hate re-buying one! At that point, I figure that it must have value to me if I can enjoy it twice...

          33. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #82

            I hate finding out that I have bought a book that I have already read.  Means that it did not make much of an impression on me the first time round, and that I have wasted my money.  tee hee  So I end up gifting the second one to a less picky reader who I know will enjoy the story anyhow.  Cathy

          34. Gloriasews | | #84

            That's happened to me, too!  Usually, it's because the cover has been changed & the story line appeals to me, but, by the end of the first few pages, it all comes back.  Most annoying & sometimes expensive!  I, too, have regifted them (if they would appeal to anyone I know, but most don't) or put them in the library as donations, either for their shelves or for their sales.


          35. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #66

            Hmm, DH and I both felt the same way about Cornwell's latest!  I could even go as far as saying I was more confused and bored with the characters this time than on the edge of my seat. 

            I enjoy re reading books.  Often, there are details, and depths to the story you do not catch the first, or even the second time round.  And there is nothing like finally getting to actually read a series from beginning to end, IN ORDER!    Cathy

          36. Gloriasews | | #72

            I have a few I've read several times, too, & I won't part with them.  I, too, enjoyed Mrs. Mike & Tisha - as well as Silence of the North.  If you like stories about the north & Alaska, check out the Sue Henry mysteries - most take place in Alaska.  I'll sometimes even read Westerns, as some have been very good - especially Louis Lamour's books (much to my surprise), as well as pioneer stories.  I, too, like non-fiction adventure stories, although I, too, am not an outdoorsy person.  Chris Czajkowski (pronounced Tchaikovski) has written several books about her life in the BC wilderness.  She went to live in the mountains, alone, in 1988, 20 miles from a road, built her own log cabin & has lived there ever since.  She now runs (for the summer) a very small & basic eco-tourist operation (2 cabins).  Her first book was Cabin on Singing River.  You might enjoy those.


          37. sewelegant | | #75

            Thanks, Gloria, I will definitely check these out.  I have not noticed the Sue Henry books, but I haven't really discovered any new authors and need some.  I went through a Louis LaMour phase back in the 70's and 80's and have read every one!  His later ones did repeat himself alot, but I think he must have been speaking into a machine (computers not being around yet) instead of writing in the old fashioned way.  He always had an entertaining story and he was full of Old West knowledge; a lot of which I had heard growing up in Montana.  I saw the movie "Silence of the North" but have not read the book.  I am not even going to try to reprint the name, but I am definitely going to look up Cabin on the River.

          38. Gloriasews | | #79

            The absolute best book of Louis Lamour's was Last of the Breed, in my opinionIt wasn't a western, but a spy story, & so exciting, that I couldn't put it down until the end.  Even the rest of my family enjoyed it, & none of them would read Louis previously.  I didn't like his war short stories, though, as they definitely repeated themselves, as did his western short stories.  The Sacketts  was a good series, though.  Good luck with finding Chris' books.  I'd read Silence of the North a few years before the movie was made, so I was terribly disappointed with the movie (it covered only about 2 chapters of the book, as movies tend to do).  So I never see movies made from books anymore - I prefer the books.


          39. damascusannie | | #80

            I loved "Last of the Breed", too. Easily his best book in my opinion.

          40. Gloriasews | | #83

            I agree with you - I think it was his best book, too.  The 'hook' at the end of each chapter was so clever!  You just had to keep reading!  I think it was the fastest book I've ever read.


          41. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #94

            I was delighted to find a copy of this book in a stash of books my son had left here. Yes, I have stashes of books as well as fabric.... This is next on my reading list. Can hardly wait.Thanks for the heads up.

          42. Gloriasews | | #99

            Which book was in the pile your son gave you?   (I had mentioned several).  Just curious.  I, too, have stashes of books, along with my fabric stash.



          43. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #100

            Ohmygosh. I neglected to mention the title. Getting old is not for the faint of heart...

            Last of the Breed by Louis L'amour. I also recall my DH's best friend recommending it to me.

            I'm so sorry you have the added challenge of macular degeneration. I do so hope all goes well for you. The decision to have ANY surgery can't be lightly reached in my opinion. None of them are risk free.

            Ordinarily I'm a confident and good driver, but when I came home Sunday, I was anything but. The drive through Houston was an adventure, but I had to get home. Seeing with just one eye was disconcerting and made me very nervous. I drove way slower and and cautiously than usual. Much to the chagrin of the Houstonians. Traffic on the freeways there akin to Bumper Cars times 10.

          44. Gloriasews | | #106

            You'll be very impressed with that book.  Enjoy!

            That was a very long drive for you with just one eye.  Yikes!  I don't think I'd have been brave enough for that - good thing you were, eh?  And the main thing was that you got home safe & sound.  I'm hoping that the removal of the cataract will improve my vision - but I don't know if it's the cataract or the degeneration that is affecting my vision the most.  Guess I'll just have to wait & see (see being the operative word :).


          45. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #108

            That is going to be a tough decision for you. Perhaps the cataract surgery will allow you to see better for a while?? Good luck, my friend.I'll let y'all know how I like the book. I will start if in a few days. I can't read as much as I usually do because of the eye problem, but I get a few pages here and there through out the day. Can't sew!

          46. Gloriasews | | #115

            I'm hoping it will, as the fogginess in one eye is driving me nuts, that's why I've quit driving.  My reading speed has slowed down tremendously, too.  It doesn't seem to have bothered the sewing yet, thank heavens, but I've been needing brighter lights, too, like you did.  It's always something, eh?  Wasn't it Bette Davis who said that growing old isn't for sissies?  If it's not the eyes, it's the joints, or something else.

          47. sewelegant | | #109

            You all have re-stirred my interest in "The Last Of The Breed" by Louis L'amour.  I did read it quite a few years ago and remember it being one of his better books but can't for the life of me remember what it was about!  I'll have to dig it out and read it again!

          48. User avater
            rodezzy2 | | #126

            glad you made it home safe and sound.  Don't do it again!

          49. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #42

            I see your tastes in mystery books is much like mine.  I recently have started into some of the english mystery writers (thanks to my friend's mom who loans me a bunch.)  BTW, our MissTeriWriter on another thread is on the up and up.  http://www.laurabradford.com/    Check out her website.   You will find it very interesting, esp. her up and coming books. Look under News.   Cathy

            Edited 11/3/2008 8:55 am ET by ThreadKoe

          50. miatamomma | | #43

            If you are reading English mystery writers, you might enjoy Jacqueline Winspear with her main character of "Maisie Dobbs".  I think she has written 5 and I have enjoyed all of them.  Would suggest reading in the order she wrote them.  They are different from most mysteries but very enjoyable.


          51. damascusannie | | #45

            If you like Maisie Dobbs, have you read Patricia Wentworth's Maude Silver books? Old, but classic. I love Catherine Aird's C.D. Sloane mysteries, too. In general I prefer the classic British mysteries--great stories without the graphic sex and language of the moderns. That's why I like Catherine Aird, she's much more in the tradition of the classic writers. And then there's Elizabeth Peter's "Amelia Peabody" books--they are laugh-out-loud funny, appeal to my love of history and well-crafted mysteries as well.

          52. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #48

            I love Amelia Peabody!  I think that Agatha Chritie's Miss Marple was like her in much younger days, tee hee!  Or perhaps that is what the character is based on perhaps?  Cathy

          53. damascusannie | | #49

            Miss Marple never had younger days, did she? >smile< I remember reading an interview with Miss Christie years ago and she always said that she couldn't understand why she chose to have her two main sleuths start out as elderly--Poirot and Miss Marple. If you do the math, I think Poirot would have been something like 120 years old by the time she died! I personally think her Mrs. Oliver mysteries are good, too, often with Poirot. Mrs. Oliver was a parody of Agatha herself and I think gives a lot of insight to her personal approach to her writing and her fans. VERY illuminating! Interestingly, both Elizabeth Peters and Agatha Christie have archeological backgrounds--did you know that? Peters has a doctorate and is a highly respected Egyptologist, and Agatha's husband, Max Mallowan was a well-known British archeologist. Mallowan was her second husband, and she often traveled to the Middle East and worked on his digs. More recently, I've discovered Terry Pratchett, who's fantasy novels about the "Discworld" often include mysteries as well, especially those about the Ankh-Morport police force. His Commander Vimes is a wonderful character.

          54. KharminJ | | #50

            Ah! At last you're talking about some fiction that I've actually read! I love the Ahnk-Morpork books! Also Mercedes Lackey's several/many series, both about (several different) fantasy/science-fiction kingdoms and about elves in the modern world. And Marian Zimmer Bradley, Anne McCaffrey, David Weber and Robert Asprin ... I could go on for pages, probably, but I haven't ever kept track of them all, either!Lately, if I've been reading anything, it's been non-fiction - you know the latest is the Singer Perfect Fit! >grin


          55. miatamomma | | #54

            Thanks so much for the English mystery writers.  Not familar with them but will add them to my list of books and authors that I want to read.  So many books/so much fabric and so little time.  If my library doesn't have some of them, it is very good about going through the loan program.


          56. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #47

            I have seen her books, but did not know what they were like.  Will try them out.  Thanks.  Cathy

          57. Gloriasews | | #52

            Thanks for the link for Laura Bradford.  You're right - very interesting!  Now I have a new author to look for at the library :)


          58. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #53

            It amazes me some days how much we Gatherers (as someone just put it) have in common!  I too look for new authors and subjects to read.  There are lots of new suggestions today.  Cathy

          59. Gloriasews | | #57

            I'm still surprised at the avid readers we have here!  I'm one of them, & yes, I took notes of new authors to explore, too.  I also like Fern Michaels - especially her Weekend Warriors series (the Sisterhood), who specialize in revenge for the victims.


          60. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #61

            OOOH, those sound like Fun!  Cathy

          61. Gloriasews | | #70

            Those are good books - you'd enjoy them.  They're exciting, the revenge is carefully plotted (but risky, of course) - & justice triumphs!  They are fun to read.


          62. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #85

            I just got home from a trip down to the Texas Gulf Coast so I'm a bit late in commenting on Fern Michaels. I love her weekend warriors series. Great light reading, and they just make you want to say , "So THERE!" My friends and I perused various thrift stores and the on-going library book sale while I was in So. Texas. I bought several books -- none over a quarter, and then got to go through a box of freebies. I won't have to buy books for a WHILE. There may be some I've already read in this haul, but I'll take them back next time I go and donate to the freebie box my girlfriend maintains at her house for us book lovers. I am deep into one I bought down there now, but can't read as long at a time as I'd like to. My newly "de-cataracted-eyes" are not cooperating and have been giving me some trouble. Glad to be home. Driving the 300 miles today was a bit of a chore.

            Edited 11/9/2008 8:08 pm by JunkQueen

          63. Gloriasews | | #86

            I like your 'So THERE!" better than my thought of 'Justice at last!' 

            You were so lucky to be able to buy your books at that price (gad, only a quarter!) - especially the freebie box.  That doesn't seem to happen in Canada.  The library sells theirs for $2 for hardcovers, 50 cents for pocketbooks; the thrift shops do the same or charge more, & yard sales usually want $1 for pocketbooks.  It really helps if you can trade with people who have similar interests in reading.  My friends either don't read books of any kind or stick only with historical romances or the bestsellers (which I rarely enjoy).  So you did well on your trip.

            How long does it take before your eyes improve enough for reading?  You may need new glasses to go with your new eyes.  I need to have a cataract removed, too, & am not looking forward to it, although everyone who's had it done says it's not as bad as my imagination makes it.

          64. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #87

            Gloria, I could read easily, with glasses, within 2 days. However, I had a setback, and my vision in my right eye (done 4 weeks now) has the appearance of looking through a foggy window. Turns out, I'm allergic to the eye drops, so the front part of my eye is swollen. I went to the doctor this morning and that was the verdict. Should be better in 3 or 4 days now that I'm avoiding the offending eye drops. I even drove 6 hours on Thursday after having the surgery on Tuesday and had perfect vision out of the right eye until the allergic reaction manifested itself. I also still have a black eye on the left side, because, when the anesthesiologist deadened my eye, he hit a blood vessel. My experience is different from almost everyone I know. I put off cataract surgery a long time because of the same apprehensions you have.

          65. Ralphetta | | #88

            Okay, I now have the creeps. I have to have it before long and when I hear about someone hitting the wrong thing I get the shivers.

          66. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #89

            Didn't mean to creep you out. The black eye was only colorful and startling to see. It was not painful at all and really just an accident because everyone's blood vessels are in slightly different places, or at least not exactly in the same spot. I am one of those people that those thing happen to. It is wonderful to be able to actually see colors again, and white is white -- not cream. After having it done, I likened cataracts as looking at the world through a nicotine stained film. Your experience will likely be like the other 99% of the people who have it done and have no problems at all. Everyone except me who has had it done has had zero problems and were delighted with the results. Don't hesitate! Good luck. Be sure to keep us posted.

          67. Ralphetta | | #91

            A few months ago I posted a question about cataracts and seeing colors on this thread. My mother didn't know that her sense of color was so distorted and I was hesitant to tell her how bad her makeup, etc. was looking because I new she was ill and figured it just wasn't a priority. I have not been able to find any kind of "test" that will keep me appraised of my ability. I

          68. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #92

            Ralphetta, the cataracts just sneak up so slowly, it's almost impossible to know exactly how bad the vision is. I had begun to complain about a 'lack of light' in my home and resorted to using flashlights when searching the cabinets for something. I probably would have continued merrily along a while longer had my internist not commented, while checking my eyes at my routine physical, that he didn't know how I was seeing out of my right eye the cataract was so bad. I then contacted the ophthalmologist for an appointment. I have to tell you that I looked in the mirror and exclaimed to my husband that my hair surely had gotten gray all of a sudden. He said, "Ummmm, no, it's been that way a while." I really thought my hair was still ash brown/blond...... It's actually almost totally white around my face and headed in that direction in back. I don't even want to think about how my make up has looked nor any clothing color combinations I may have worn.......

          69. Ralphetta | | #93

            I was told they were starting but not bad enough to operate. After seeing how distorted my mother's sense of color had become I did some checking to see if there was some kind of color "test" I could do in order to determine how mine were doing. I was told that since determining color was not considered dangerous, insurance companies hadn't made an effort to develop them. I've gotten sort of paranoid about double checking colors.

            Edited 11/11/2008 3:28 pm ET by Ralphetta

          70. Gloriasews | | #98

            We all don't look forward to these things (both Ralphetta & I).  Like Ralphetta, I also get the shivers thinking that I'll be awake while they do this - yikes!!  But, putting it off doesn't help - it just gets worse.  I also have age-related macro-degeneration, so I don't know how much removing the cataract would help.  In the meantime, I'm trying to read & sew as much as I can while I can still see.  I don't feel confident driving, though, so I haven't for the past couple of months - & I really miss that.

            Thanks muchly for the encouragement.


          71. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #103

            JunkQueen, thank you for being so open and honest about your eye surgery.  My FIL has his cataract surgery next week.  He has been worried about it and you and the others who have been talking about it, have helped allay his fears.  He is 83 and does not want to lose his independance.  It is amazing the things we discuss here, and how something like this can help others.  Thank you so very very much.  Cathy

          72. Stillsewing | | #104

            Both my father and my uncle (his brother) had cataract operations when they were in their late eighties/early nineties and all three operations were hugely successful. In fact for my father's last operation in 1987 he was unable to have a general anesthetic as he had been involved in a car accident and that went off without any difficulty for him. So reassure your FIL that it should be ok for him too. In fact I'm sure there have been improvements in this type of surgery since then. Wish him good luck from me!

          73. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #105

            Thank you, I will.  He lives on his own next door to us, but spends the day here puttering around.  If he loses his drivers liscence.....he loses his independance.  That will be hard on both of us, Him and Me.  Cathy

          74. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #107

            Cathy, many of my friends and relatives have had this surgery and have had no trouble. I have an immune system problem that causes me so much trouble. Instead of being a sentry for my body, it's mostly joined the other side! That and the fact that I am diabetic and diabetics have a lot of problems with cortisone in any form. One of the eye drops was Omni-pred -- a cortisone.... I am now officially off that med. I am just an anomaly. I'd have it done again in a heart beat even with the little glitches.

          75. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #110

            Thank you for the words of encouragement.  I will keep them in mind for sure.  You definitely are one in a million!  Cathy

          76. Josefly | | #112

            I just decided to see why this "handbags" thread has gotten so long....mystery solved: books!
            and language! and words! I wish I had read this while it was going on.I thought I would suggest Elizabeth George, P.D. James, and Kathy Reichs, if you haven't discovered these mystery writers yet. I'm always looking for new (to me) authors, especially mystery-writers. P.D. James is an English writer, Elizabeth George is an American writing in the style of English mystery writers. Kathy Reichs is a forensic anthropologist, as is her main character...the TV show "Bones" is ####disappointingly poor adaptation of the better novels.Hope you're seeing clearly enough now to enjoy reading!

            Edited 11/13/2008 7:45 pm ET by Josefly

          77. JeanM | | #113

            If you really stretch this, there is a connection:  words and language go in books;  handbags are sometimes referred to as pocketbooks;  paperbacks used to be known as pocketbooks!  :) 

          78. Josefly | | #114

            Good chain. I even remember when I was a kid seeing my mom's stack of Penguin Pocketbook mysteries. So yeah, it's clear now, why the book, word, language discussion would be tucked away under "handbags". :>)

          79. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #116

            Bravo!  I like the way you think!  Cathy

          80. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #117

            This thread is like a having a kaffee·klatsch. The conversation just meanders along as we drink our coffee (or tea), occasionally coming back to the original thought, but going off on tangents as something else is mentioned. I love womens' conversations for this very reason. You have to listen closely to follow. My DH goes crazy trying to follow the thought processes of my friends and me.

            My eye is much improved now that I've quit the offending eye drops. I've still got a way to go, but most of the scratchiness is gone. So, early this evening I made a mistake. I mentioned to DH what book I had just opened to begin reading.... Last of the Breed. He plead with me to read it aloud so we could enjoy it together. We finished 9 chapters this evening before my eyes tired too much to go on. Actually, I really enjoy reading aloud. I often read aloud to DH and son over the years. Jean Auel, Steinbeck, Forrest Carter (Gone to Texas), and others.

          81. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #118

            What a nice thing to do together.  Lucky You!  Cathy

          82. miatamomma | | #119

            Reading aloud--how nice.  My DH would probably fall asleep if I read to him.


          83. Stillsewing | | #120

            Just a suggestion - for any problems with eyes and reading..... all the libraries over here have large print books available and even if you do not have a problem with your eyesight they are very relaxing to read. It would be worth while checking out your local library to see if they offer this service!

          84. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #123

            You are right. Thanks for reminding me. A life without books is something I don't want to contemplate. My dearest friend had a series of strokes a few years ago. She and I always shared our love of books. Now her vision is like pieces of jig saw puzzles. That was one of the most difficult parts of her illness and road to recovery. We got her tape and CD players and audio books. It was a Godsend.

          85. Josefly | | #121

            Enjoyed your message. Yes, this thread is fun, like a good conversation.Glad your eye has improved, and hope it will soon be completely restored.You know a book that cries out to be read aloud? Moby Dick. The language is amazing, but if not spoken, it loses something. I read it a few years ago, and found my mind moved through it slowly, mentally pronouncing the words and sentences as though I were reading it aloud. So my husband and I took turns reading to each other... it was great.Another writer whose work benefits from reading aloud is Barbara Kingsolver. Do you like her books? She has some audio versions where the author herself is the reader. Wonderful. There are some writers whose words just need to be sounded. Annie Proulx, too. And Rick Bragg, oh my.Edited 11/16/2008 12:36 pm ET by Josefly

            Edited 11/16/2008 12:36 pm ET by Josefly

          86. damascusannie | | #122

            Almost all the classics are better read aloud, they were written for the spoken voice because it was common practice to have someone read aloud at sewing or quilting bees, or just for entertainment purposes in the evening. Today we watch TV, back then they read aloud. A good reading voice was almost as admired as a good singing voice.

          87. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #124

            I am not familiar with Barbara Kingsolver's books, but I just went to her website and read a blurb about Animal, Vegetable, and Miracle. I'm hooked. She is definitely added to the must read list. Besides, we share a birthday. Not the year, but the day.

            I've not read Moby Dick since it was required reading in high school, when boy were much more interesting than classic books. I shall get a copy of it, and we'll have another "read aloud" this winter. i love retirement. If we want to spend a cold dreary afternoon sitting in front of the fireplace reading aloud, we can do just that.

          88. Josefly | | #125

            Oh, good, I'm glad you'll try her. I haven't read that latest one yet, but I'm pretty sure I've read all her fiction. I especially liked "Prodigal Summer." Her prose is wonderful.And yes, a cozy evening, or several, by the fire, reading Moby Dick, is a luxury we all deserve.

          89. Gloriasews | | #51

            JQ, you are the only other person I've 'known' who likes the Stephanie Plum series.  When I passed one of her books to a friend to read, she never finished it - it was 'boring'!  I guess she likes the heavier mysteries (sigh).  Can you believe that??  I've enjoyed every single one of the series.  Another series you might like are Thomas Perry's Jane Whitefield books (all 6 of them are great & very different from the usual mystery, serious & exciting - not at all like the Evanovich series).  Happy reading & sewing!  (I'm surprised how many in this group are also avid readers, too.  Right on)!


          90. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #56

            Thank you for the suggestion. I've been busily making lists to keep with me so I can look for these books in my soirees. If you've never listened to Stephanie Plum on CD or cassette, you've missed a bet. The woman who reads those books really brings them to life. My DH, who reads almost nothing except technical and the Jean Auel caveman series, looks forward to Whichever one -- Joe Morelli or Ranger -- she decides she doesn't want, I'll take...... LOLOLOLOur mutual, collective love of reading on this forum is just one more reason to love being here.

          91. Gloriasews | | #58

            No, I've never listened to her audio books - I still enjoy the paper ones still - the weight of them, the quality of paper, etc., not just the stories  I also have to agree with Miatamomma, who said, 'So many books, so much fabric, so little time.'  Before I retired, I read 2-3 books a week (mainly on the bus); since then, it's only 1 a week, but I have 2 on the go all the time (one beside the bed).  If the book is exceptionally good, I have a real problem putting it down & doing chores :(.   It used to drive my mother nuts, when I was young & she'd ask me to do something, & I'd say, 'As soon as I finish this page/chapter.'  (She was not a reader).

            Worse yet is if I have nothing (fiction) to read in the house!  Then I read cookbooks or cereal boxes or my sewing/quilting books.


            Edited 11/5/2008 12:55 am by Gloriasews

          92. damascusannie | | #60

            LOL! I'm a compulsive reader, too! Honestly, I think I could tell you anything you ever wanted to know about the interest rates on credit cards--junk mail WILL work as reading material if nothing else is available!I love audio books for "reading" while I'm working in my studio, but they'll never take the place of a real book. In a perfect world I'd have all my favorite books in both formats.

          93. Gloriasews | | #69

            Ooooo!  You even read the flyers!  You are more compulsive than I :)   As for audio books, they would be too distracting for me if I'm trying to sew or do needlework or anything that I must pay attention to - I would end up listening to the book & stopping what I am doing.  I can listen to soft music, though, when I'm sewing, but not on a Walkman, or I listen to the music & lyrics too much & my foot tends to tap to the beat - not great for sewing :).  Strange!  I guess I must be easily distracted, eh?


          94. damascusannie | | #74

            I don't find that I stop sewing to listen to the books, but I will go the other way around and have to rewind, or skip back to catch a section of the book that I missed. With old favorites, I don't have to do this, but with a new one, I sometimes will turn right around after finishing it and listen again in an effort to catch bits that I missed the first time around.

          95. Gloriasews | | #78

            That's a different & interesting way of doing things, but, if it works, good for you.  I could see it would be better if it's a book that you've already heard, eh?


          96. Ralphetta | | #62

            I've never been able to understand people reading to put themselves to sleep. I have to be VERY careful not to pick up a book, magazine, catalog,etc. after 9 pm. Reading is a stimulant and before I know it, it's 12:00 or 2:30...and I just can't stop.

          97. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #63

            You too?  Thought I was the only one.  Housework goes undone, family unfed and ignored when I am reading.  I am off in another world.   Fortunately I am a fast reader and come back to earth quickly when the book is done.  :)   Cathy

            Mind you, they learn to be self sufficient that way, as long as it doesn't happen too often!

          98. Gloriasews | | #71

            The secret, Ralphetta, is to choose light, fluffy, happy or even humourous bedtime reading that you can put down in 10-15 minutes.  Anything exciting will definitely keep you up all night - either because the book is so good you can't put it down - or you're too scared to turn out the light :). 

            If you like laughing out loud funny, check out the Richard Lederer books - especially 'Anguished English' & 'Bride of Anguished English' - they are hilarious.


          99. Ralphetta | | #73

            Okay, I'll try. But, if it's funny...I want MORE. It's easier for me to just say no...to whatever it is, than try just a little. I have a real problem with doing anything in moderation.

          100. Gloriasews | | #77

            I sympathize with you - moderation sucks!  (& it's no fun, either) It's all or nothing, eh?  :)  I have the same problem, so, unfortunately, I can't help you out there :)


          101. Stillsewing | | #36

            Try Ireland, we speak ever so clearly, I jest. Some of us do. But then in Texas you have such a lovely quaint way of speaking that is so enjoyable even if when I don't understand it. I'm with you on the Aussies being difficult to understand and I understand that they provide subtitles on most of their imported English programmes. Don't know what they do with their foreign language programmes!! Still it is interesting to expand our knowledge of each other's ways and customs with our common thread!

          102. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #38

            There are different dialects here in Texas. I speak with a very pronounced East Texas brogue -- read that back woods country hick. Is it that way in Ireland? Do people from different areas of your country speak differently? I love the Irish accents I've heard. I call it lilting. I absolutely love the international flavor of this board. Additionally, I don't think I've ever witnessed any cross words or rudeness here. It's always a real pleasure to log on and read.

          103. Stillsewing | | #39

            Yes some people in Dublin think that they have the "best" accents. Depends on what part of the city they come from! I think it is the same the world over. A local can nearly always tell where some one else is from. We have accents that differ a lot but not dialects. We would all understand each other but there are just a few words used in different parts of the country not used in other parts but still easily understood. Most Irish accents are soft but are not.Like you I love the international aspect of this board which of course is located in the US. Those of us outside of it learn a lot about your customs and I would like to thank you all for that. For example I found out what a home coming dress is and recently was able to tell a friend of mine here what it was. That is only one example. You don't learn these things on a short trip to a country where you only meet with people in hotels and restaurents.

          104. bysandra | | #157

            Hi Stillsewing, Just caught this post, should have read right through before I posted.  No we don't need sub-titles for imported english movies - It has always been my understanding that although other English speaking countries like some of our movies they do need sub-titles - cause, guess what? they may understand English but they do not understand Australian. Sandra

          105. Josefly | | #158

            Ha, ha, ha. I have a wonderful sister-in-law who is from Australia (moved here in the late 80's), and her accent is beautiful, and she is very soft-spoken, and I love to hear her speak but I must listen very, very closely. A few years ago we were skiing together in another state and she heard some strangers speaking with accents clearly Aussie, and she said, "Good heavens, do I sound like that?" I suppose that, in spite of yearly visits back home, she'd grown unaccustomed to the sounds of her own accent!

          106. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #26

            Actually CDN French is not stilted so much as free flowing and very alive!  It has adopted many english words and phrases, and other languages as well.  The slang phrases used are actually quite comical as well.  It is referred to as Jolie (spelling uncertain).  My friend who teaches at a French Lycee, where they teach the real French versus the CDN French tells me that many of the students have a hard time switching back and forth between what is spoken at home and what is spoken at school.  Cathy

          107. Sancin | | #41

            Several things I believe that the reason Canadian French is different than European French is that it is old French. Once France lost the war to Britain lo on many years ago there was little immigration from France thus the language people used was from the time they arrived in North America and have since added, not only English, but a lot of North American slang. Unfortunately there seems to be prejudice between the two 'French's'. I learned European French in high school from a teacher, whom (who?) I doubt very much ever left the West Coast of BC. When I went to live in Quebec for a few years I struggled. Now that my son is bilingual in the official Canadian languages I can pick up the differences in the Canadian French than what was used 40 years ago when I lived in Quebec. He tells me he speaks 'street or common' French and it gets him around the world, but sounds gravelly to me.I was once at an international women's conference somewhere here in the west and met a woman from Switzerland. She told me she had just come from 3 weeks in Quebec. I asked her how she liked it - she told me she didn't dare speak French the whole time she was there!! The funniest mix I ever heard was someone ordering a MacDonald's hamburger in New Brunswick -"Hamburger avec la works"I am with those of you who read anything and anything, including dictionaries. I have 5 bookcases in my house, including a whole wall in my sewing room. I am currently reading The Know it All by A.J. Jacobs - about a man who reads the whole of the Encyclopedia Britannica - he comments on all he has read and it is very funny as well as interesting.

          108. damascusannie | | #44

            I read "The Know-It-All" last winter--it's hilarious! I could really relate to the whole idea of reading through the encyclopedia because I tried it when I was a kid. We had the Encyclopedia Brittanica and I think got about halfway through B. I read and re-read the entries on art, painting, sculpture and about wore out the horse section.

          109. User avater
            susannah_sews | | #59


            I have read this thread with interest.  My sister, who studied french (in Australia) lived in Montreal for a few years.  She said that whenever she spoke to french canadians in french, they responded to her in English.  This puzzled her for some time, until a friend told her that some quebecois were a bit sensitive about language, and had confused her as a french-french instead of Canadian-french, and preferred to speak english than expose their canadian french dialect to potential criticism.  Apparently my sister's accent, after many years of study, was quite a classic parisienne french!


          110. bysandra | | #156

            Hello Stillsewing,  I have been reading posts, having a wonderful time.  I could not resist replying to your post about the 'chicken'  I am an Aussie and we have many South Africans living here - also many New Zealanders so I am fairly familiar with both accents. I mention the New Zealanders because that pronunciation of check-in sounds pure Kiwi to me,  although it may have been South African. I can hear Tony Greig (Former South African and the  English Cricket Captain now Australian) almost sounding like that.  Of course we also have American, Canadian, Irish, English, Welsh and Scottish accented English here, as well as Australian (some wonder at the relationship to English). I can pick most but not all and as someone mentioned about the different areas of speech in America someone from Yorkeshire sounds different to someone from Cornwell.  It is a great language that we all speak. Especially the stitchers of the world.  I have had great conversations about quilting with Japanese women and I don't know a word.  Luckily one of them knew a few words. Sandra

          111. Stillsewing | | #164

            You are so right, sewers of the world will manage to communicate with each other. I brought my mother to Rome on holidays many years ago and my abiding memory of that visit, was of her, sitting on a bench in Piazza Navona (my favourite square in Rome) communicating with two much older ladies about the crochet they were doing! They had a protracted discussion about the type of thread and the needles they were using and yet my mother did not have a word of Italian nor they of English. My mother was disappointed that she did not have her needles and thread with her to show them. However we went shopping immediately afterwards to where the ladies had bought their thread. I am sorry that I never learned to crochet, all I do is sew, alter and mend things.It's no harm either to keep this thread diverted from purses or is it handbags as I am still confused about which is which.

          112. bysandra | | #165

            I agree about being diverted, I came here cause of bags (allsorts) as I make a lot of handbags, purses and tote bags but I have enjoyed the whole discussion.  Women are so good about going off on different tangents and we learn so much from it.  I think I have read every post now and being a stitcher, reader and talker it was great reading.  Sandra

          113. Stillsewing | | #166

            Well done to have read all the posts! After I joined this forum, I read and read all the posts from the sidelines without making any comment and really enjoyed it. Now I tend to reply more and don't manage to real all the posts, particularly when I'm away for the weekend like last week, but they are great, aren't they?

          114. maggiecoops | | #127

            As an English woman, a bag is, wait for it,

             Handbag, carried in the hand on short handles, designed to carry a purse, handkerchief, small make up rescue kit, lipstick, powder mascara, glasses if you wear them, perfume, gloves.  

            Shoulder bag, similar to handbag but with a single or pair of straps worn over the shoulder, more informal than a handbag.

            Fashion rucksack, or back satchel.

            Clutch bag, small hand held handbag with no handle

            Evening bag, small decorative bag depending on the style can be with or without straps, handles.

            Then there are drawstring bags, dolly bags, oh loads more, but now you know the difference between a purse and a purse..


            Also used to describe hold alls used for the gymn or sports equipment

            other bags are plastic bags, carrier bags(groceries) paper bags laundry bags string bags etc.

            Purse, a small receptacle for carrying loose change and some notes.

             Untill recently, thanks to the internet, a tote in England was where you placed bets on a horse race, a colloquialism for carrying something, ie, a gun toting cowboy, or a large sack for putting parcels in. Recently it has been introduced to describe a simple canvas shopping bag with gusset.

            Our bill folds are called wallets,  and we do have a combination purse and wallet, I suppose you could say it's a pullet.


          115. Josefly | | #128

            Nice to hear from you again... you haven't been here in a while.

          116. maggiecoops | | #129

            I had a period of time where I couldnt sit at my computer, and my son's laptop wasn't enabled for the internet, then time ran past me at a rate of knots, and here I am in November but I could have sworn it was only February!

          117. Josefly | | #130

            Sorry, but hope all's well now. Yes, it's hard to realize another entire year is about to end! Glad to have you back.

          118. maggiecoops | | #131

            Thank you flower, I've been trying to catch up with the threads, but I have missed do many.  It's my snooze time now here in England, 01.15 so I have to go and renew my acquaintanceship with my bed, I know it misses me.

            love mags

          119. User avater
            rodezzy2 | | #132

            Hey there maggiecoops, missed you!  You're just in time to hear from me at my new home office... giggle.

            Glad to have you back.  Missed you!

          120. maggiecoops | | #133

            Hi rodezzy, it's nicetobe back, I have a lot of catching up to do. Now you have your new computer at home there will be no stopping you.  I know you'll sort out somewhere for your office and sewing soon.

            love mags

          121. User avater
            rodezzy2 | | #145

            Yea, I've got a job on my hands in sorting it all out, but time is on my side.  I don't have to do it real fast or anything.

          122. maggiecoops | | #146

            In that case Rodezzy hop on a plane and get over here, I've got to rip up fitted carpets, and lay wood floors on my first floor landing, entrance hall, (make that cubby hole) corrider and downstairs cloakroom, plus install a new toilet after digging up the floor to attach a different foul waste coupling, Fit a new wash hand basin, redecorate the hallway, stairwell, rip out the old ranch style stair banisters and put in spindles and handrails, and get all my Christmas presents made. I'm just finishing removing 20 years worth of paint from my bedroom window, have laid a new floor in there, interfered with the building of new wardrobes and chests of drawers, well we have to let the young uns know when they aren't doing it to our liking.  In fact as my daughter said, it's like watching the lame lead the halt as my son who is helping has dreadful problems with his back and shoulders, and I can't walk without a stick now. But hey we're getting there. I brought my considerable weight to bear on a problem he was having, I stood on the boards while he fixed them, worked like a dream. Who needs specialist tools when they have an overweight mum!

          123. User avater
            rodezzy2 | | #147

            LOL oh, my Lord woman, where do you get the strength?  I don't have a problem at all.  I'm just buying stuff and rearranging stuff.  You are really working.  Lord God Almighty.  You have me laughing to my walls.  Yea, who needs those modern day tools.  hahahahahahahahahaha... 

            I won't be complaining any more about what I need to do after hearing all you're doing.  And I haven't even bought nothing yet, I'm just sitting on my fat bum whinning while I look around at the mess in here.  (giggle)  Take care now lady, don't get hurt. 

          124. damascusannie | | #134

            Here a "pullet" is a young female chicken that hasn't laid her first egg--she's not a hen till she's laid an egg.

          125. maggiecoops | | #136

            We use the same term as well, and as my combination purse and wallet rarely has paper money in it, you could say it's like a"pullet"  no golden eggs in it to spend.

          126. damascusannie | | #138

            LOL! My wallet is more like a pullet, too!

          127. Stillsewing | | #135

            I really like you defininition of a tote. I agree with you 100%. As I live in Ireland I also use all the same names for purses, bags etc that you do. You have clarified all those titles so well. I'm still as confused as ever on what our US sisters call the various things that they carry in their hands and by now I'm beginning to think it all depends on what part of the States they live in .... or where their ancestors came from .... As a result of all the information flowing backwards and forwards on this thread, I now have a new problem. I always thought that a "pocket book" was a wallet or some such for carrying money. Now it appears to be a book! I haven't yet worked out whether this is a hard back or soft back. I holidayed (vacationed) in the US last year and had endless difficulties understanding and being understood. It really took away from the overall enjoyment of the trip. I think it will be best for me to continue to holiday in Europe where I can make myself understood in most countries. If I don't understand what is being said I can blame it on my lack of language and not on my lack of understanding of the language that I normally use.

          128. maggiecoops | | #137

            Well it used to be a paper cover book, paper backs, designed to be pocket sized, and when first published in America was marketed as "A pocket book novel" however I have a feeling the meaning has changed since then. Filofax and diaries  are now advertised as pocket books, judging the size of some of the paperbacks now, you'd need enormous pockets.

          129. Stillsewing | | #141

            I hadn't realized that a pocket book had a meaning before "wallet" or "diary" or even "pullet". I really like that one. This forum is a great learning experiencee!

          130. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #139

            I am sorry your trip was spoiled like that.  Please do not let one bad experience spoil the whole continent for you!  You have Canada and 99% of the States yet to explore, and before then you have us to coach you through anymore pitfalls! 

            It is unfortunate that you seemed to hit a run of intolerant people.  I have had some of that experience in my own travels, but it has been fairly rare.  Mostly it has been a positive experience with wonderful, helpful people.  I travelled alone with 3 small children across Canada by car.  I was helped more often than I could count by many wonderful everyday people.  I have also travelled with my children, alone, down into the states, and found it to be a similar experience for the most part.   Cathy

          131. Stillsewing | | #140

            No in fact I have enjoyed many trips to the US in the past so that was not just a first time. Maybe good trips makes one's expectations too high! Over 20 years ago on my first visit to the US I had a great holiday in Queens NY when I stayed with cousins. I have been back there a few times, always enjoyable. We have had great holidays in both Texas and Las Vegas/Canyonlands ..... but New England/Boston area were just a no no. My husband used to go climbing in North Conway in the eighties when he lived in Bermuda (he had to escape the flatness of the island) and he too was so disappointed when we went there last Oct. Maybe we spoiled by travelling over on the QM2. It was special. Or maybe I am getting too old for all this long distance travel. Before I finish I would love to see Mexico. Ever since I visited Peru I have wanted to see the remains of the similar civilization that was there.

          132. damascusannie | | #142

            My daughter was just in the Boston area on business and she really disliked it. She's been literally from coast to coast and from north to south and this was the first city she visited that she really didn't find anything good to say. My husband would say the same thing about West Palm Beach, FL. One of my best friends grew up in a suburb of Baltimore and had always enjoyed going back to see her mom. Lisa just got back from a trip out there and she said that things have changed so much in the three years since she was last there that she hardly recognized the quiet little town she knew. She said she would never go back if her parents didn't live there.

          133. Stillsewing | | #143

            Glad to know that we are not exceptions. It was not a good trip and was certainly the most expensise one I ever took - and we travel a lot. It's a shame to have to say these things about places, lots of nice people are let down by the few.

          134. damascusannie | | #144

            Oh well, these things happen. I had a wonderful experience in Kentucky this spring when we broke down on a major highway in the mountains. The guys who came out to tow us to a repair shop actually volunteered to fix the car then and there, right on the side of the highway, another man brought out the part, accepted an out-of-state check without batting an eye and the guys who performed the repair only charged me $60. So, there are still places in the U.S. where you can travel and find good people. In fact, the whole trip was characterized by kind, thoughtful, friendly people.

          135. Josefly | | #148

            I had to chuckle at your remarks about understanding and being understood here in the States. I have that problem myself sometimes. I'm not sure if I'm just mentally slower these days, or if my hearing is worse, but I seem to have lost my ability to understand some of the heavy accents and regional idioms we encounter when we travel around the country. I hate to keep asking people to repeat themselves, but otherwise I won't know what's going on. I don't have much of a problem with most people where I live, but when we travel, I'm sometimes astounded - one would think regional differences in speech and customs would've been erased by now, with the mobility of our population, but no. The strong accents are still there. I think it's lovely, really. It's nice to know that we aren't completely losing our regional speech peculiarities, which make the language much richer than a homogenized version would. My husband and I enjoy watching on public television some of the British television shows, but are often completely befuddled by the language - we look at each other and say, "Huh?" Thank goodness we have captioning. When I was younger I was quite good at understanding; after just a few minutes of listening, my ear seemed to adapt to an unfamiliar accent, and the idioms were easy to decipher from the context. I've read that the Harry Potter books had to be edited heavily for U.S. readers. I wonder which version of the books was sold in Canada - the English or the revised?

          136. Stillsewing | | #153

            You're right - in the US - I haven't been anywhere else in north America - it can be difficult for us to understand what people are saying, even though I was brought up on a diet of Western pictures, (movies to you), John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart etc, all our cinema in those days was Hollywood so I generally do not have a difficulty understanding American, even though you do have some funny ways ways of saying things. I regularly translate for my husband during "Desperate Housewives". I think that in American ideas are stated much more succinctly than we are used to so we have to work out the meaning but that is not my difficulty. My difficulty is making myself understood! Like you I don't like to have to repeat myself either to ask or to reply to questions. I suppose it does tend to indicate the hearing loss/advancing years. I had to smile at your use of the word "captioning". We would call it "sub-titles". Just another of the many differences between the two languages! A far as I can see all books are edited nowadays for the different markets. An odd time I come across an American edition of a book, the spelling is quite different from our English/Irish spelling. For example in American the last "u" is usually omitted as in colour = color or centre - center. I could go on. So I'm sure that all books are edited from that point of view but the Harry Potter books would have quite a lot of terminology that would not be common to both sides of the Atlantic.

          137. Josefly | | #155

            Ha. I started, in fact, to use the word "sub-titles", but I tend to think of that word as applying to a translation of the language spoken. Here, on television, "closed captioning" was originally available to those who are hearing impaired, but now it's available on most shows to anyone, just by clicking a button on the remote control. And thank goodness; otherwise I would miss a lot - not just on the British shows, but we used to sometimes use it to watch "West Wing," where the dialogue was rapid-fire and mumbled. I know, I know, I must be hard of hearing.

          138. sewelegant | | #151

            I enjoy watching the English comedies on public television here where I live, but I do have a terrible time understanding half of what I hear so watching the same show numerous times never seems to get tiresome.  One of my best friends is from England and even after 25 years she still baffles me with some of her terms!  It may be a little difficult making yourself understood here in America, but most people here seem to love the Irish accent with its pleasant lilt and I would wager you were more "accepted" than not.  At least, I hope so!  There is another quirk about our society that, I'm sure, many have noticed and that is... we may have a lot of immigrants from all over the world, but we have never had so many tourists.  The decline of the dollar has made a big impact on how many foreign tourists we have been seeing and there is probably a big difference in the mindset of a tourist and someone who plans on living here, just as there would be in the average Americans way of treating a tourist (visitor).  Unfortunately, we expect the immigrant to try harder to understand us rather than the other way around!

          139. Stillsewing | | #154

            i don't think my Irish accent was a particular hinderance but what seemed to happen to me was the fact the people we came in contact with were not bothered to make an effort, so when we did not use "Americanese" they weren't bothered to listen. When Americans visit us we always (there are exceptions) go out of our way to talk to them and be friendly. After all it is no bother to speak to people who share the same mother tongue. I have visited the US over the past 20 years on and off and maybe there are more tourists now than years ago, I wouldn't notice as I don't tend to return anywhere, always moving on to see new places. I do think that immigrants should adapt to their new surroundings. if a country is good enough to give you a living then you should fit in. move on.

          140. Gloriasews | | #149

            Oh, Maggie - you're definitely back!  That was an absolute hoot - a combined purse & wallet being a pullet!  Hahaha!  Now, if you could teach it to lay eggs, you could make a fortune! :)


          141. Ceeayche | | #150

            Whew!  I know better than to triage these threads!  Gotta make time to read them all!  I'd been coming in for quick "snacks," and this particular thread got away from me!  I mean you started at bags, next language, then books, then cataract surgery, then travel or not to travel to Boston, then ripping up carpets!

            All of it was interesting reading and I applaud this group!  You all are diverse and like someone said I learn so much from reading the messages. 

            Here's my twist on the pocketbook/handbag/purse/tote/ debate.  I also grew up in California, Los Angeles to be exact, and raised by women who were raised mostly in Texas and Lousianna. 

            The pocketbook was a casual bag that held wonderous mysteries for young children.  In addition to wallet, checkbook, mirror, hankerchief, gloves, etc.  there were books (usually a small bible, and the most recent fiction paperback).  There were bills, there was often a rain hat, a scarf, a rosary and a head doilie, and keys to mystery doors and drawers long since forgotten; diapers, bottles and candy bars could also be found there.  Comb and brush, and extra ribbons barretts or rubberbands. A round coin purse stamped with the bank's name was sure to get you penny candy at the store.  Being on the business end of that back after misbehaving got your attention but good.  To my small hands they seemed cavarnous.  They were typically softly constructed, but closed securely. 

            The Handbag was less casual, more stylish and used for work or "businesses" meetings like back to school night.  Often my mother and aunts matched them to their shoes, etc.  as part of an ensemble.  They were medium sized and tailored with closures that snapped or buckled. They were typically in neutral colors cause they had to match the shoes as mentioned earlier.  The contents tended to be both utilitarian and feminine.   Aside from the usual there was a shiny compact of translucent powder,  small calendar, gloves, scarf, and mints.

            The purse was used for church and women's luncheons.  It was similar to the handbag, but it was smaller, sleeker and may have more unusual straps, shape or color.  Everything in this vessel was about being a woman-- with minimal needs.  So the compact, lipstick, last week's church bulletin (folded down neatly), small bible, doilie for head, rosary, keys, comb, etc.  Hat pin, or bobby pins might also find their way there.  Coordinating gloves were a must.

            Evening bags, were pure fluff!  Small and usually with a unique shape, fabric, or embellishment, these were often little more than glorified wallets. With hankies, mad money folded neatly, a compact, lipstick and a hankerchief.

            Totes were utilitarian things.  Designed to carry books (all of my female relatives were teachers and avid readers).  They were larger, usually had minimal fastenors, and sturdy straps that were wide and long enough to sling over a shoulder.  They were typically filled with lessons to be graded or text books.  They typically were assigned one function (class work or sunday school), and were typically kept packed and ready to go.

            Knapsacks were something my cousins who went to college in the 60's and 70's brought home.  They had lots of buckles and pockets and were always stuffed with the life of a college student.  A little bit of everything. 

          142. Teaf5 | | #167

            A "pullet"?  Does that mean "raw chicken" in England, too? Very funny! 

            While reading your list of bags, I realized that Americans have more kinds, too, including duffels, hoboes, messengers, stroller bags, diaper bags, walker bags, and string bags, which used to mean mesh bags but now refers to thin athletic pouches with cords for handle/drawstrings. 

            And lately, I've been hearing about "eco-bags," the new name for any bag the customer takes to the store to replace "paper or plastic."  Language, like sewing, is infinitely interesting!

          143. maggiecoops | | #168

            Pullet is a young hen not yet laying, so no golden eggs to spend.  Raw chicken we tend to think of as solidied water, no taste, no texture, no substance. Unless of course it's been raised outdoors and fed grain and scratched a good bit, then we we call our freinds to tell them there's real chicken at the butchers.

            Like you we have hundreds of different bags, the humble shopping bag has been done over by the marketing gurus and stylists, but at the end of the day it's still only designed to carry the kitchen sink and our million and one bits we seem to gather as we go along.

          144. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #169

            A handbag or purse is something a husband or signifigant other refuses to carry or hold while we are shopping because it will demean his manhood, and is too heavy.  tee hee   Cathy

          145. maggiecoops | | #170

            Ahh, but have you noticed how they ask to put the car keys/loose change/important pamphlets they collect when in or near, tool/fishing tackle/sporting goods/model train/golfshops, as they haven't got a big enough pocket. Or their wallet pocket shrinks suddenly when you suggest a coffee or meal. Really strange that,or your standing waiting for a cashier to total up his purchaes and he says, get that will you, I just want to check this over here. The this over here far enough away for him to miss paying for the items. The wallet has siezures when asked to open and repay your purse. I used to smile sweetly and tell my DH, no can do, I left my card at home so I couldnt over spend and all my cash is gone now. You stay here and I'll go fetch the pamphlet on the item you were interested in. Then leave the queuewhile he did impersonations of gold fish. Took me years to catch on to how men duck the till.

          146. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #171

            Tee, hee, hee, hee.  I always asked mine upfront, are you paying or am I? and of course the manliness gene kicked in and he would mutter, of course I am paying! Tee hee hee!   I learned that one at an early age.  My Dad's wallet was tight, and my Mom pulled that one on him!  Yes, my DH always asks me to pack his papers for him too.  At least he doesn't mind carrying the shopping bags, unless they are from very feminine places.  Those I have to carry myself.  Does yours develop "shoppers limp" in the parking lot?   OOPs  I am sorry, I forgot, you have lost your DH.  Did your DH develop shoppers limp when shopping with you?   Cathy

            Edited 11/28/2008 10:29 am ET by ThreadKoe

          147. maggiecoops | | #172

            If we were grocery shopping he'd get shoppers claustrophobia and have to make his escape. We had a car with a built in route finder, no matter which direction we travelled in we always ended up at a guitar shop or canoeing centre. Never did discover what was wrong with the car, he didnt need Sat Nav, I'd say I'd like to go the fabric quarter in Birmingham 45 miles away, and we'd find ourselves in the car park of a huge guitar shop.  Head for the open air market in our nearest large town, and we'd end up at the canoe course. Really weird. Stopped doing it after DH died.

          148. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #173

            That is just too funny, Maggie!  Our car speeds up past ceramic, bead and fabric shops for some reason, but slows down past tractor dealerships!  Go figure!  tee hee  Cathy

      3. mcarr719 | | #152

        Sewingmom2006,When I find a handbag that I simply fall in love with, I copy it.You are a tailor -- think of handbags like a nicely tailored jacket. I bet you can look at a jacket and figure out what pieces go where and how to put it all together.Same thing with handbags. Sometime you just have to try it to see how it works. Now if you are concerned about not knowing how to stiffen the bag or how to do some of what I call the "mechanical" aspects of handbag construction, that's often a trial and error process. Some bag patterns end up so soft that they are useless and others have you use such heavy interfacings that you can't turn the seams. Just like with tailoring, you have to try it until you get a result that works for you. (can you tell that I've given up on patterns??? -- long ago!)So do a mockup in cheap fabric until you get the shape you want. After that it's all design work -- if you want pockets, make pockets that fit what YOU will be carrying. I have a couple of students in the beginning sewing class I teach locally who are making tote bags. The standard pattern has 2 pockets that are sized completely useless in my opinion. So I show them how they can adjust the size to something that works for them.I say, forget the angst about patterns and books and just unleash your own inner creative genius and have fun.mc (mary carr)I was put on this earth to accomplish a certain number of tasks -- But I'm so far behind that I'm going to live forever

        1. sewelegant | | #159

          I like your thinking.  There is an old handbag (shoulder bag) hanging in my closet that I just can't get rid of because I liked it so much.  It is such a simple design and I bet I could copy it very easily with a little ingenuity.  I have never copied anything though, so it is a challenge.  I am wondering... the bag is leather, would I like it just as well in a fabric?  Would the secret be in duplicating the "hand" of the finished bag so that it felt like the same weight and stiffness as the original?

          1. mcarr719 | | #160

            I understand exactly what you are saying -- I will often take a few scraps of fabric I'm considering for the remake and play around with fusible interfacings (my current favorite is a fusible tricot). I do some test fusing -- adding layers, running the "grain" in different directions, etc to see how that changes the hand of the fabric. Sometimes I end up with something I actually like better than the original. The only time this hasn't worked for me was when I was trying to duplicate a stiff sided bag. That's when you have to pull out the buckrum and wire to get something similar. I've even tried using corset boning on some bags to get the same "feel". I think you have to be willing to sit down and fiddle with the fabric and the design. Sometimes you end up in a different but equally nice direction.Kenneth King has a really good book on cd about handbag construction. Every now and then I'll go take a look to see what he suggests for a certain type of construcionHope this helps a bit -- have fun with your projectsI just LOVE to create!mc

          2. sewelegant | | #161

            Thanks for responding.  I will have to find time for this project!  It sounds like it might be fun.

          3. mcarr719 | | #162

            me, too -- besides teaching beginning sewing 2 nights a week and an almost full time job managing a theatrical costume warehouse and rental business I don't seem to have any time to do any sewing myself! In fact, I'm getting my stuff ready to teach an introduction to hand sewing class tonight.Sometimes I think I really gotta get a life!mc

        2. Josefly | | #163

          You are so right. Actually playing with the fabric is the best way to find what you want, and sometimes in doing that, you find that you want something else, after all.I love your tag line. I should live forever, too, considering where I am on my list of things to get done.

  6. damascusannie | | #76

    Did you ever figure out the perfect handbag design? The thread sort of drifted off-topic, but I have been wondering!

  7. Bek | | #90

    I have been reading the responses with great interest as I love to make purses.  My biggest concern with most patterns is the purse/bag is open at the top.  I usually either add a tab closure or I include a drawstring lining.  

    http://www.u-handbag_com.htm   has a free basket purse that I love to make

    http://www.nicloemdesighn.com.au  has patterns ranging from beginner to expert. 

    I have made bead knitted purses and attached them to the metal frame but wish to learn how to do it with fabrics as well so am buying some of Nicole's patterns.   I wish I could find a supplier of purse parts in Canada who did not charge an arm and a leg.  Anyone any ideas on that.


    Burtine, Alberta Canada


  8. tcsewhat | | #101

    "Hold it! How to Sew Bags, Totes, Duffels, Pouches and More" by Nancy Restuccia is a classic.  It gives the basics on sewing any kind of bag and explains how to make modifications to meet your needs.  She has ones that work as a purse and also much larger.  Mary Mulari's "Accessories with Style" is filled with purse patterns.  She also has good directions.  Anything from Ghee's on the internet is a great resource for purse patterns and instructions.

      I also found http://www.henriettashandbags.com/.  She has both ready made bags and patterns- hundreds of patterns! 

    There are a few sites that give instructions on how to construct purses.  That is a great one from Australia, but I can't think of it right now. Google this and you will find lots of helpful sites that also sell notions for bags. 

    Nancy Zeiman just came out with a line of patterns/templates for bags.  It is called Trace N Create and is made by Clover. These are hard plastic templates to make bags with all the crucial marking and joining points clearly shown.  They come with instructions on how to adapt different styles.

      Another site with great patterns and clear instructions is http://www.creativethimble.com.  I have made her tote and one or 2 of the smaller purses.  All easy to construct and clear directions. 

    It is tough to draft your own patterns unless you have done it before.  Since the pieces need to fit together to make the shape of the bag, even a mistake of 1/2 inch is a disaster.  If you have a pattern in a similar style, you can lay out the pieces in relation to each other and see how a change in 1 piece will affect the others. 

    Another source for patterns is Barbara Randle's "Crazy Quilting with Attitude". She does most of her quilting on purses and her 2 books are filled with patterns.  They all have bases to quilt onto that can be used as unquilted patterns.

    Amy Butler has some nice bag patterns as well as gorgeous fabrics.  I think her directions could be better, (too many steps when there is often an easier way)but the finished product is beautiful.   

    As you may be able to tell, I make a lot of bags.  It never fails that I find a purse I like and they stop making it.  So I have learned to do it myself and I search out resources to  make it easier.Hope this helps!

  9. MyrtleFillmore | | #111

    The last purse I made was of yo-yos stitched together in an origami fashion that made it three dimensional.  The pattern came from a book written in Japanese, which of course was "Greek" to me.  But the book had good illustrations and on faith I made 198 yo-yos.  I worked out the origami joinings on a small scale model using paper and scotch tape. 

    The important lesson I got from this project was, "making models is fun." 

    My point is, there is more joy in experimenting than in copying.

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