July 13, 2024


I Fall For Art

Making a Straw Purse

Making a Straw Purse

Ladies from all around the world are known to love, admire or own a straw purse of some sort. Many are wanting to know how to make a straw purse. The straw industry has experienced unprecedented growth as a new breed of straw purse designers have emerged on the scene making the most unusual and highly sought after straw bags.

An agent for change in the straw industry in The Bahamas is none other than the Plait Lady herself Mrs. Claire Sands. Claire spawned a turn in the industry with her new and innovative approach to the art of making straw purses.

Another trend breaker in the area of straw purses and handbag design is Bahamian designer Harl Taylor, (deceased) who in his brief lifetime had influenced the upward mobility of the straw industry by creating cutting edge designs with a bold, trendy flair. Harl’s amazing handbags have made their way to celebrities and other well-known persons.

Most nations have their own distinctive style of straw that is unique to their country or region. The Bahamas is no different; having oodles of varieties of what is locally known as plait. This plait is harvested from the silver top (Palmetto Fronds) plant which is stripped and processed then hand-woven to create unique designs.

Some of the more well-known plaits designs include: Peas n’ rice, Jacob’s ladder, Soursop, Bahama Mama and Fish pot. There are a number of variations to these designs and even more variables as colors are introduced through a form of plait dyeing.

For years tourists have flocked to the world renown Bay Street Straw Market to purchase their piece of The Bahamas in the form of a straw bag. What was once considered an art reserved for the older generation has now been transformed into a modern accessible treasure for the young, creative designers.

The Bahama Islands most known for its straw production are Long Island, Andros, Eleuthera and Cat Island. These skilled artisans harvest plait and ship their fine craft to every corner of the Bahamas, where young, old, seasoned and even newbie designers put their wares to good use; creating purses, belts, slippers, baskets & household items.

When the straw is in hand the other items needed to create a straw bag are: purse handles, chipboard, purse feet, fabric lining and a closure of some sort. Once the chipboard is cut in the desired pattern, sewing is the next step. This task is quick and easy once the basics techniques are learned. The key is to stitch the straw together on the chipboard by sewing machine. The straw should slightly overlap until the pre-cut chipboard is completely covered.

When complete, the straw must be secured at the edges so that it does not fray or break away from the chipboard. This is done by stitching around the perimeter of the chipboard. The excess straw can then be trimmed away and the hardware and lining added. Once this is done the purse which is typically made of four separate parts can now be framed with straw and then assembled by hand stitching the elements together for a beautiful hand-crafted straw purse.