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2014-07-17

The bag lady

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

It all started with a wedding. Then before she knew what was happening, Sheila Antenen became The Bag Lady.
"My son was getting married and a friend of mine came in carrying this simple bag of squares and I thought it would be a good idea to make bags for our out of town guests staying in hotels," Antenen said. "So I made 10 bags and filled them with bottled water and chips and other goodies to put in their rooms."
The bags were such a hit that other people decided "that they needed bags, too!"
As a result, Antenen has become known as "the bag lady" at Gone Quiltin', Bandera's unique quilting and fabric shop. There, between helping customers, she mulls over ideas for new bags. "I began to look at fabric and thinking about which ones would make a good bag," she said.
This year, she set herself a personal challenge of coming up with a new bag design each month. She has the bag of the month ready for show and tell by the third Wednesday of the month for the meeting of the Bandera Quilt Guild.
So far, Antenen has managed to keep on schedule, but working on full-size quilts, gifts and special orders has sometimes made the deadline a crunch.
Antenen usually works from patterns and kits. As her skills have grown, she has been able to adapt those patterns to her own or her customers' liking. "I had one pattern that had pockets in the inside, but they weren't deep enough, so that was an easy fix." She has also learned how to be creative with zippers, magnetic fasteners, drawstring closures and Velcro.
She teaches regular bag making classes at Gone Quiltin' that are open to anyone with basic machine sewing skills. Just call the shop at 830-796-4360 for more information about the classes and to get on a list to be called when a class is scheduled. Classes are from 4-6 hours and are held at various times and days of the week.
A bag from The Bag Lady can vary in size from a 5x8 make-up clutch with a generous handle to her hefty 14x14x5 carry-on bag that holds everything a traveler might need. It features two side pockets for water bottles, a padded inner section for a laptop, conveniently accessed front pockets for boarding passes, generously deep inner pockets of assorted sizes for notebooks, passports and more, a key fob to keep those guys from drifting to the bottom of the bag, and a roomy outside pocket just perfect for storing your copy of The Courier to take along.
As an added plus, a wide strap on the side slides over the carry handle on your luggage. And when it's time to board, wide shoulder straps make your carry-on the most comfortable one on the plane.
Another popular design is the beatle bag, a grab and go roll up bag loved by quilters and crafters. Antenen's design contains multiple zippered clear plastic notebook style "pages" great for storing needles, thread, scissors, bobbins and more. It also has a detachable pin cushion. A variety of inserts for the beatle bag are available from craft vendors. It should make a great jewelry and makeup bag for traveling, too.
Antenen has just recently begun making what she calls her Concealed Carry Bag. "I've gotten lots of requests for this one already," she said. The generous but not overly large bag gives no clue that the carrier has her weapon tucked inside. A padded zippered pocket allows secure storage for a small gun and holster, with easy access when needed. A generous swath of Velcro keeps the holster firmly in place.
The amazing thing about the bag is that there is still plenty of room for all of those other necessary things like credit cards, phones, keys and more. A wide shoulder strap provides comfort as well.
Antenen's bags can be purchased at Gone Quiltin'. Give her a call if you have a special request. She recently sewed up a brightly flowered sling for a friend who had broken her arm!