Friday, November 07, 2014

Branded Bags?

Or Make Your Own?

I have made countless household and personal items for myself and my family. It is not because I’m mean and tight-fisted. It’s not because I want to avoid spending money—although it doesn’t hurt to have that unspent money kept for a rainy day or used to buy things I cannot make—such as a spade, a frying pan, books.

The reason is simply because I’m a DIY person. The first thing I do when I need something is reach for my tools. I can handle a hammer, a saw, a drill as well as a needle and thread.

Similar to the baskets my mother made

And I love creating stuff. 

I come from a family of ‘crafty’ people. My mother was good with her hands. When I was a kid I thought she could make almost anything. She made woven palm-leaf attap, barait, sinambung, bamboo fish traps, etc. She wove mats, baskets, fish nets and cloth; made our pillow cases pretty by decorating them with dainty laces and multi-coloured flowers she had crocheted herself. My sisters and I are good seamstresses and between us have made various articles as well as tailored men’s attires. I’ve sewn clothes and hats; made cushion covers and curtains; smocked and embroidered little girls’ dresses. I’ve transformed pieces of wood into shelves, tables and racks. And I’ve made bags.
A shirt I made for Mr Hubby's jockey.

It’s those jahit-sendiri bags I want to write about here, the bags that some people say are embarrassing and which make me pathetic and worse than an orang kampung—because even orang kampung buy handbags with popular brand names.
A piece from a quilt,my sister's current project

I began sewing bags a long time ago. Seeing something I have started from scratch taking shape and developing into a useful item is rewarding and deeply satisfying. As I make each bag I visualize how the finished bag would look and how proudly I would say that I created the bag. To me each bag is precious. I have kept a 30-year-old jahit-sendiri bag because—being used first as Dottie’s primary-school bag and later as Sonny’s music-class bag—it evokes so many memories.
One of my bags

My bags satisfy my needs. They are roomy and perfect for holding books, a small camera and (now that there’s a baby in the house) just nice for nappies and milk bottles and there’s even room for a soft toy.
The 30-year-old bag

 I heard that some women get all excited when they spot bags of their favorite brands at the mall—or in online stores. I don’t. They can’t resist getting more bags even if they already have a closet full of them.  Not me. And they get a certain kind of thrill if their bags cost much, much more than their friends’. That's all fine and acceptable. But it would be wrong to assume that every woman wants to play the same game. Or that she's a failure if, instead of striving to own a branded bag, she makes her own.

I may be wrong but I guess there are women who like to flaunt the branded bags they have collected to show that they are successful and that they could afford expensive items. To them using anything homemade is unthinkable because it lacks taste and refinement and defines one as a country bumpkin who is too poor to buy anything fancy. No class, they’d say as they roll their eyes at the sight of my jahit-sendiri bag while pretending to stifle their giggles behind their hands.
Another jahit-sendiri bag

I don’t have to impress anyone—or cause anyone to be envious—by carrying around an expensive Coach or a Burberry or Blueberry or whatever. 

 I don’t need a branded bag to feel whole… or to scrape off my ‘kampung-ness’. I know some people will judge me by what I have or lack. I hope they have fun making fun of other folks. But I also hope they'll find more exciting and worthwhile activities to pursue so they could really feel great about themselves without first resorting to making other people feel small and insignificant.  

A little girl's smocked dress

I thank God for giving me the ability to be creative with my hands. It is common knowledge that not everyone is so blessed.

 Now you know. End of rant.

1 comment:

  1. Hey I've checked the collection and found it really attractive, I've also got great collection branded bags online at Majorbrands.