"Those who have experienced Paris have advantage over those who have not. We are the ones who have glimpsed a little bit of heaven, down here on earth." - Deirdre Kelly

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

French Girl's Wardrobe: Tapestry Bag

"Cerie Incanthronum"
- Professor Minerva McGonagall

I began this project to right the wrong of a plain work bag. A professor's bag is always emminently practical: plain, sturdy, and roomy with lots of pockets. I figure, why can't my professor's bag be a product of a figment of my imagination and Paris-fantabulous too? Especially since I carry it everyday?

For the past several years, I've been using a plain, cheap black vinyl tote for my professor's bag. It's large, sturdy and roomy enough to hold everything my little professor's heart could desire. But it's...plain, cheap and unimaginative - so not Diva!

In December, I blogged about the fun to be had in designing your own personal dayplanner and I love the results (see the original post + update here). Since my first foray into designing a 'practical-everyday-something' went so well, I decided to try it again - designing my ultimate professor's bag.

But before I began my journey, I needed a conceptual theme for my professor-bag extraordinaire. For me, there could only be one perfect combination - Paris-Diva inspiration (Marie Antoinette) + Harry Potter inspiration (Professor Minerva McGonnagall) Where to go to find this inspiration - why a trip in my T.A.R.D.I.S. of course! 

Mimi and I have had many girl-talks about Marie Antoinette; the endless inspiration she provides for artists (of all genres) and her iconic status for Parisiennes a coeur. So, I jumped into my trusty T.A.R.D.I.S. and headed to 18th century Paris. I spent a several days with her in Versailles, at Petit Trianon.  La Reine was intelligent, shrewd, innocent, beautiful, a bit naughty, misunderstood and Diva to the enth degree - tout ce qui est de Paris, oui?

Time Lady has to have a terrestrial home too - a girl's gotta have a place to hang her conical hat ;-) And who says that it can't be as fantastical as wandering the Whoverse? The obvious place for a Time Lady to spend her down time? Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry of course. I've been visiting the Potter-verse since 2005. During one of my earliest visits, I met Professor McGonagall at the Three Broomstick's Inn, where we quickly struck up a conversation, than a friendship. At her invitation, I returned often and we became fast friends -  over some we've had some quite interesting conversations (during several rounds of Firewhiskey) about the differences and similarities between the Muggle and Wizarding worlds - she's a dear friend.

A few years into my regular visits, Minerva introduced me to her boss (Headmaster Dumbeldore) and a job offer came not long after that. Ever since then, I've spent some of my off days, and nearly all of my vacation days as Professor Hills, teaching the History of Magic, Muggle Studies, American and Gender Studies,  (though I spend part of my summers teaching Wizardry/Muggle Gender Studies at the Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, in France). Of course, merely walking Hogwart's vaunted halls provides boundless inspiration. 

With such amazing inspiration(s), just any old professor's bag simply won't do. My professor's bag needs to be Paris-diva fantastic and still have plenty of room for my spell and history books, folders, iPad, eReader, my trusty planner, wand, cell phone, etc...to Etsy! 

After a quick Etsy-search, I found the Yoga Bee Vintage shop. Molly's hand-sewn and embroidered carpet/tapestry bags are pure magical whimsy... 

Inspiration - Molly's "Autumn Equinox" Tapestry bag.

So I have my Magical-Diva theme, a fabulous ridiculously talented artisan to make my concept/design a reality, and an inspirational starting point. Molly even digs my whole Marie Antoinette/Harry Potter concept ;-) And that's when the fun really began...

Molly and I spent an entire day furiously convo-ing back and forth (gotta love the internets!). We began by deciding the simple parts: creating the overall look/design and figuring out the dimensions (and yes, there will be a special pocket to stash my point-and-shoot camera ;-) Next, since Molly literally builds your bag, piece by piece, I had my choice of 30+ of the most sumptuous tapestry fabrics (some she created herself), 15+ trims, and a mind-boggling selection of hardware - who knew that a bag had so many parts?!

Bippity Boppity Boo et voila!

photo-montage of my professor's bag fabrics

Molly has kindly agreed to photograph her creation/construction of my Magical Parisienne Professor's bag, from first cut to the final piece of fringe. When I get the completed creation, I'll post an update with photos from start to finish - stay tuned...

Update - Molly's been hard at work, and her results are simply amazing:

One of the exterior panels

An interior panel - LOVE the pockets!

A 'rough' draft interior view

Yeah I know, Minerva is going to want one too ;-)

**Update: the finished creation fabulous is here!

Vivre! Rire! Aimer!



  1. Merci ma chérie, mais où vis-tu ? aux Usa ou à à Paris ?

  2. Je vis aux Etats-Unis (pres de Chicago), mais je me rends a Paris au moins deux fois par an et nous esperons de vivre en France un jour ;-)

    Etes-vous a Paris? Mon mari et je serai a Paris en Mai, nous devrions avoir le diner - echanger des histories.

    J'espere que vous allez bien,


  3. Quelle bonne idée, je ne vis pas à Paris mais je peux y venir !

  4. Magnigique!

    @m'envoyer un mail a tsenes@msn.com - afin que nous puissons faire des plans ;-)

    Tout le meilleur,



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