Sonya Lee has always loved sewing. With three children attending a stream of birthday parties, she started making personalised gifts for them to take – bags or cushions with the birthday child’s name on. “The kids loved them” she says.
So a a few weeks ago when she started saving up to take her children on an overseas holiday she decided to see if she could make bags that would appeal to the adults. She had a lot of scraps of fabric sitting around she says, partly from the upholstery business she runs with her husband.
So she made a bag as a thank you gift for someone and put a photo of it on her Facebook page asking what people thought. The response was overwhelming. People loved it. And since then she hasn’t looked back. She’s even had people pitching up with orders – ostrich skins, or jackets they want made into bags.
“I go to bed thinking about bags, I dream about bags” she laughs.
Many of the bags are a basic tote style but they are all one off creations. Great for bag enthusiasts who don’t want to see someone with the same bag walking down Rangiora High Street.
But for Sonya it also means that there’s a lot of time and thought gone into each one. So what’s the process?She starts off thinking about the best design to suit a particular fabric. Then cuts the pattern or design out onto cardboard, before cutting the fabric itself. Then there’s the sewing together, the lining and adding any of little details like buttons or doilies. It means she’s often out in the shed sewing till 1am with her two staffy cross dogs for company.
“I want people to get something really nice for a reasonable price” she says.
The bags come in all colours and shapes and sizes. From bright upholstery fabrics to cow hides and velvets.
As for Sonya’s own bag, I have to see it before I leave. It matches the fabric on the stools at her kitchen counter. Lovely!
You can check out Sonya Lee Bags on Facebook.