My Material Life

Red Plaid Bags I Have Known and Loved

Barbie’s, 1960, Source:

What’s Up Doc?, 1972, Source:

Home Sewn, 1999

I’ve had a life-long love for red plaid bags.  My first memory of one was a school case from early childhood.  I would take it with me when my mom and I would go to pick up my older siblings from school. I’d get out of the car with it and pretend that I was older and coming out of school just like they were.  It must have looked great with our red Falcon station wagon.

And I’m sure my sister had that Barbie bag because it’s just so familiar to me.  Do you ever have the feeling that certain things and their image are etched on your psyche?  That’s how I feel about that bag.  Then of course there are the identical red plaid bags which are central to the plot of the screwball comedy, What’s Up Doc? from 1972.  Have you ever seen it?  As if Barbara Streisand, Ryan O’Neal and Madeline Kahn weren’t enough, there are those bags!  Not to mention a San Francisco setting – such a fun movie.

I still can’t believe I made that last bag.  I used The Rain Shed flight bag/diaper bag pattern that you can find on their website.  I found the plaid in a regular fabric store and I laminated it with a fusible vinyl that I also found in the fabric store. Everything else – nylon, hardware, zippers – came from The Rain Shed.  The Green Pepper has a similar kind of website with outdoor-type patterns, fabrics and notions.  They have some nice bag patterns too.  Also a sleeping bag that I might have to try.  We still use this bag regularly.  It’s held up great and really wasn’t difficult to sew.  It is definitely one of the most satisfying sewing projects I’ve ever completed.

I love the side pockets.  It’s difficult to see, but the pocket is actually pleated in the center.  Ever since I made this bag I haven’t felt the need to buy or make any other red plaid ones.  But I have developed a fondness for red plaid umbrellas.


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