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