repurposed military bags – the bag that started it all
I once saw a bag for sale online that had been repurposed from old military textiles and immediately fell in love. It was so authentic, loaded with character and had such a historical significance that just really drew me to it. I wanted that bag, in a bad way, but it was really expensive!! Over the next couple weeks I kept going back to admire the bag but I knew I would never have it. That was when I told myself that I would learn to make one.
I’ve always had a sewing machine and … I’ve always known how to sew. But I had never sewn a bag so naturally I thought it would be easier than it was. I spent endless hours online reading tutorials and watching DIY videos and weeks later, I pulled out some scrap textiles and made my first bag. It was not very pretty. So I made another. And another. Over the next several weeks, I made more. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so I made more. I wasn’t very satisfied with any of them, never mind that it took me a ridiculous amount of time to make just one. I also made the mistake of trying to use military textiles right from that start which, in hindsight, was a huge mistake. Not only did I spend half of my time trying to dissemble them in a way that didn’t damage them, but they are also are very thick, old, worn and all around difficult to work with. I remember I would get blisters before I was even half way done with a bag! I wish I had taken pictures of some of those beginner bags but if you can imagine a very basic tote with no frills, no liner, no pockets, no zippers, some never even got straps! I just kept going through the motions., undoing what I did, and then doing it again. I was super determined!
Well, I did eventually make my first military bag. And I loved it. I loved it so much, that I opened up an Etsy shop and listed it for sale. I didn’t list it for very much as I didn’t feel that I was a professional bag maker in any way, but it was a nice bag and I thought that someone out there would love it and be able to appreciate the time and thought that I had put into it. While I was making another one, it sold! And so it began. My shop at the time was called Rebagged designs and I was only making bags. We had another shop called Apothecary Art where we were making apothecary cabinets. Eventually we combined the two to create TNBC designs which 5 years later, became 1770 mercantile.
So that is how it all started. And the best part? Hundreds and hundreds of bags later …. and I still have yet to make one for myself!!