Handmade and Fabulous: Nina’s Ballet Bag

If someone told me a year ago that I would spend half of my future days hunched over a sewing machine designing and making bags I would have thought that person mad. I am, after all, an accountant who spent 6 years of her adult life hunched over a computer, churning out numbers instead of threads. For 37 years, my home sewing kit consisted of little sliding containers grabbed from the last hotel I’ve stayed in rather than the nearest haberdashery; my sewing experience is practically nil. But life, indeed, is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get next.

It has been a little more than a year since I made my first bag, a cream canvas tote roomy enough for the school run. Since then, I’ve made more bags than I can ever use, mostly for friends and friends of friends. The whole process involved in bag making- from designing to sourcing of materials to the actual construction- is something that gives me joy, no matter how many times I’ve done it. Knowing that what I produce will be out there in the world is a buzz that never fails to excite.

One of my latest creations is a personalised ballet bag for a friend’s ballerina daughter. Her ballet class has to travel to the capital city for a performance and she needs a ballet bag to fit all her ballet accessories. It should be girly, yet sophisticated; sturdy, yet chic; practical yet trendy. Oh, and the girl hates pink.

This is what I made for the girl who hates pink.

After toying with different colours, I chose a vivid shade of red for the exterior – it is girly enough without being cloying, plus it will mask dirt/stains pretty well at least until the next rub down. The outer material is a cotton mix weave (Oxford), sturdy and practical.

To personalise the bag, and to give it more oooomph, I made ballet shoes applique in gold satin and a matching gold cording as embellishment. Again the choice of colours is in keeping with the ‘girly,yet sophisticated’ vibe. My only concession to giddy girlishness are those cute little pink ribbons. I think they made the bag a lot more fun.

The handles are of the same material as the bag body, but with 100% leather trim and contrasting stitching.

The bottom of the ballet bag echoes the leather trim handles – chocolate-brown leatherette with contrasting stitching protects the bag bottom and keeps the overall bag structure.

Inside, the bag is just as eye-catching. The trendy animal print cotton lining accented by red zips tells the story of a fun-loving girl, while the two large inside pockets (one zipped, one with magnetic studs) attest to her practical side.

To complete the package, I made a matching pouch for all those little things a girl needs to stay pretty. Etched, of course, with her name.

My friend was very happy with the bag and I heard her daughter was equally ecstatic to have a personalised ballet bag all her own. I, of course, was the happiest of all.


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