1820 Bag Co. Artist Feature - Team Handmade

1820 Bag Co. Artist Feature - Team Handmade

Posted by Helen Mills on

Hooray for 1820 Bag Co, as we've been featured by Team Handmade. The interview also includes pics of the 1820 Bag Co Studio and several of our messenger bags in progress. 

 A quick excerpt: 

As a team of handmade shops, we strive to promote and elevate the importance of true handcrafted items, handmade by the artists. We are kicking off our interview series with one of our top nominated team shops,1820 Bag. Co by HM Mills. Helen’s business is an impressive example of a level we can all strive to reach; her bags are absolutely gorgeous—and I know from personal experience they are very well made and as gorgeous in person as they are in pictures—-excellent photography, a professional website, and well written product descriptions are just a few of the pieces that contribute to her growing success. We wish her all the success she can handle….and please share your comments on 1820 Bag. Co’s feature in the comments below. Thank you for helping to keep the hand in handmade!


What was your sewing background before you started making bags? What inspired you to start making the bags you do? What inspired your styles?
I was first introduced to sewing by my mother who was an avid sewer.  While I was in college, I brought a White sewing machine at a factory sale for $100.  While it was only able to sew six different types of stitches, it was made of metal and therefore lasted years, allowing me to make the majority of my corporate wardrobe after graduation.  Somewhere along the way, whether is was time or lack of interest, I stopped sewing, boxed my sewing machine and placed it on a closet shelf.
A few years ago, I wanted a large Bohemian styled cross body bag and I could not find one that wasn’t cheaply made or flimsy.  I guess because I was a sewer, I always had this tendency of inspecting the construction of an item and fabric durability.  I went home feeling defeated, but got this crazy idea and took my old White sewing machine off the closet shelf.  Although I had no idea what I was doing, I made the ugliest cross body bag that my mother-in-law still insists on using today.  When my store brought laptop bag broke,  I decided to make a durable messenger bag.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but that messenger bag was the springboard for my business.
I tend to gravitate toward classic lines, bohemian styles, rugged canvas and leathers, (so basically, I am all over the place),  I think my style is influenced by conflicting environments: the corporate life influences the classic lines, and my free spirit inspires the bohemian style and the rugged style comes from the necessity of a durable bag as I bike through the Everglades.


How do you source your materials?
I have an affinity toward natural fibers, such as hemp, canvas, wools and linen and natural things.  In addition to natural fibers, I recently started incorporating waxed canvas and leather into my designs as I found leather and waxed canvas add to a bag’s durability as well as a rustic look. I currently wax my own canvas and get a real kick out of attracting bees when waxing canvas fabric with beeswax outdoors.


You can read the entire interview here:  Artist Feature: 1820 Bag Co.


About Team Handmade:

Our team, created on April 23, 2012, is a group of artisan shop owners who create and sell our handmade works on Etsy and beyond. Our members are committed to “keeping the hand in handmade” and raising awareness about the importance and value of artists’ handmade products in an increasingly mass-produced economy. We strive to promote and support handmade artists and to provide assurance to Etsy buyers that purchasing from a team member is purchasing authentic handmade directly from the artist or artists.

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