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Can you guess who wore the first known handbag or purse? Otzi, the Iceman, a traveling gent who lived circa 3300 B.C. He was found in the Schnalstal glacier in the Otztal Alps near Hauslabjoch on the border between Austria & Italy. Otzi's clothing for the most part was made from several natural materials such as woven grass, bearskin, and different leather skins. Otzi, however had attached to his belt a piece of sewn-on leather that could be closed with a fine leather thong. Hence the first evidence of an accessory used by "Man" to carry items. We haven't changed much in 5300 years; leather is still the most popular material to manufacture our handbags & purses. With the tanning process, leather becomes a durable, long lasting natural material. Leather is ideal for a fashion accessory that is subjected to all kinds of wear, tear and weather. With the many treatments developed, an extensive variety of "looks" are available to designers to create those beautiful handbags. The predominate types of leather used today are: 1. Calfskin made from the hides of young cattle and has a soft smooth texture. It makes an excellent choice for the very best quality of handbags. 2. Kip (Steerhide), still from the bovine, a slightly older animal, not as fragile as calfskin, but somewhat stiffer and not as fine. 3. Cowhide comes from the full grown animal and has a grain making it popular for the casual look.
4. Sheep & Lambskin is fine grain leather lighter than the bovine class. As sheep farming is not the major animal industry within North American, this skin is usually imported. 5. Reptile - oh yes, the skin can be used to make trendy purses with the unique design of the original reptile's skin. However, there are some restrictions on the use of some skins due to laws protecting endangered species. While leather is the most desirable of materials, it is also the most expensive of materials.
Purse manufacturers realized the potential market of women who could not always afford the leather purse and had to find a more economical yet just as durable material. Hence, synthetics were developed. Synthetics such as vinyl, polyurethane, pleather and probably many more names became a lower cost substitute for leather and can be sometimes called
"faux" leather. These types of materials have also enable manufacturers to produce handbags and purses that are very similar to actual Designer Handbags while being a lower cost alternative to the everyday woman who cannot afford to pay $250 - $2500 for a "Designer Leather Handbag". Last but not least,
textiles can be used in
purse making. Fabrics at both ends of the spectrum are used to manufacture a variety of Handbags. Burlap, a coarse bumpy fabric, cotton & canvas are most popular fabrics used for casual bags. Peau de soie,
silk brocade, moire, bengaline & crepe used to create those oh so elegant evening bags for a night on the town. For the lady who loves patterns, needlepoint,
cross stitch and petit point create beautiful, richly designed handbags for afternoon tea.
Velvet material adds a richness and luster to any handbag. As we move into the 21st century with the focus gradually becoming more on our environment & natural resources, Eco-Friendly
handbags made from recycled waste are now appearing on the market. I would have never thought that newspaper could be used to make a handbag but who knows anything goes! But as a card carrying member of the female half of the population as long as it holds what I need and I can close it, then we are good to go!
Brenda Marchese, at this moment is a budding article writer on fashion accessories for the Frugal Fashionista! As they say the world is my oyster, so stay tuned for my pearls of wisdom. And to all of the Frugal Fashionistas for the million dollar look for a few coins, visit designer inspired handbags.

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Comment by Vee on November 1, 2009 at 2:06am
I am currently sewing handbags out of jeans, cotton, silks, and denim. I purchased some scraps of leather and strips to practice making leather necklaces and pouches to sell. After I practice with the smaller pieces of leather I will advance to the larger items including seude purses. I saw a video once with a reversible seude purse. Who states you must go to school to be a designer. You gave good information.

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