Sunday, December 9, 2007

Featuring abibansaldesign

From time to time, we'd like to feature fellow Etsians, but to make things more interesting we wanted to get to know the person behind the avatar. Meet Abi Bansal of abibansaldesign.

How long have you been designing bags?

The first bag I ever designed and made was out of paper and cello-tape with a length of string for a handle. I was trying to imitate my mum’s handbag. I remember making lots of these and they always looked the same—like an envelope on a rope!

I've been *making* bags for a few years, ever since I did them as a textiles project at school. I have always been interested in fashion and clothing, and it is through accessories that I think you can make accessible much of what is often considered inaccessible. It is only recently that I’ve begun to design my patterns from scratch. I was so often frustrated by having the same thing as everyone else; I wanted to be able to afford something unique, and part of my desire to make things comes from a selfish frustration and a desire to have things "just so," which is why I call my shop abibansaldesign. It is MY design and my style you are getting. In terms of ideas they usually arise from frustration at existing products—I carry a notebook everywhere and when an idea comes, I sketch it!

Who taught you to sew? How old were you?

I have my late mother to thank for that. From a really early age I always remember her making costumes, decorations, and gifts throughout my childhood, and I inherited her old singer, which I didn’t have a clue how to use! A lot of the actual skills were learned from books and trial-and-error, and I also took textiles at school, which helped a lot. I think I was about 12 when I first got a little mini machine and attempted to put a skirt together.

A surprise in my later life was to discover that my dad is actually fantastic at sewing. His mother taught him as an important life skill when he was younger, and, when I was completing my final projects at high school, he was able to take to the machine and piece together some garments for me. I am still learning—if there is a method I’m unfamiliar with, I figure it out eventually.

What is the first purse you remember having? What was your favorite purse?

It wasn’t really a purse but a small red circular vanity case I used to carry about with me. It was fantastic, and I used to fill it with all kinds of small toys and bits of wool. I think on some subconscious level I have always tried to replace that particular bag. Sadly it was stolen along with some other luggage when our car was broken into in about 1989! I love bags. I have so many!

Where do you find inspiration?
I’m inspired by books and magazines like British Elle and Country Living. I love looking at other artists’ work and home life on flikr. I’m inspired by stylish people on the street ... I can imagine them carrying my designs. Film and Theatre are hugely inspiring—I love the flamboyance of a bygone era juxtaposed with the insouciance of the present. Just lately I’ve found a lot of inspiration in the work of Vivienne Westwood—the tweeds in my collection being a nod towards English eccentricity.

Very often, an idea will come from a situation, and then the bag will follow—for example, my design for a mini satchel came from the need to carry just the bare minimum, and (like the gentleman’s Scottish sporran) the mini satchel was born! I like to think of people owning "a bag to take to market," and I’m inspired by imagining where the eventual owners will use them or, indeed, even if they consider them too beautiful to use.

What music do you listen to while creating/sewing?

Anything and everythin! BBC Radio One keeps me company, but when I’m not listening to that it’s often bands like Radiohead, the Manic Street Preachers, The Libertines, folksy stuff like the Decemberists, and artists such as PJ Harvey. I’m also partial to a bit of Motown, golden oldies, and Jurassic 5—anything I can dance or sing along to.

Is abibansaldesign your main job? If not, what do you do in "real" life?

I’m an actress and dancer in "real life," but more and more when work is thin on the ground I find myself retreating into my studio.

Finish the following: "In a parallel universe, I would be _____ instead of designing bags."
Making pretty dresses! (I’m actually going to start doing that in the new year.)

Your favorite sewing tool?

THE SEAM RIPPER!!! Where would I be without it? And a pincushion!

Your favorite and least favorite fabrics?
I work with a lot of pure cottons, linens, and wool mixes. I like the way they behave and wear. I use vintage and new fabrics in equal measure and really enjoy combining the two. I enjoy using stretch and scratchy synthetics the least—sometimes they cheapen the look. Oh, and I ADORE felt!

What's your hope for the future of abibansaldesign?
I hope to branch out into a small range of dresses in the new year. I’m amassing and pattern-cutting in preparation right now. I hope that more people will get to see what I do and continue appreciating the things I make. I also hope that I can continue to build a recognizable brand and that fellow crafters will stop by my shop, not only to purchase but to look and be inspired as I have so often been by them.
Don't miss abibansaldesign on Etsy!
And thank you, Abi, for answering all of my questions!


Deabusamor said...

Gorgeous pic choices, they really showcase the various styles of Abi's work. Fun interview, great job!


Ophelia Miller Boutique said...

great feature. Cute bags.

LazyTcrochet said...

Great interview!

Kathy Maximo said...

Hello, hello
Please come over to see me at my blog today (December 11th)..I've tagged you for a meme!