Q: Do you take custom orders?

A: No. I only sell the bags you see currently listed in the Available Bags, but I’m always making more and you’re welcome to make suggestions about colors, materials, etc.

Q: How do you handle shipping?

A: Everything listed on the Available Bags page is in stock and will ship via USPS within one to three days.

Q: Do you ship your bags to other countries?

A: No. At this time I only offer domestic shipping within the Continental United States.

Q: What is your return policy?

A: I want my customers to be completely satisfied with their purchases. If there’s a problem, please contact me ASAP and I’ll do everything I can to make it right.

Q: Are all the materials you use vegan-friendly and cruelty-free?

A: Yes. I am very interested in the many possibilities of making high-quality handbags without using leather. I am especially fond of using cork fabric, which is  PETA approved, as well as renewable, sustainable, fashionable, and naturally water, mildew and bacteria resistant.  I also use enviro-leather, marine vinyl, cotton and canvas and love researching forthcoming alternatives such as pineapple leather, mushroom leather and banana leather.

Q: How do you decide which bags and accessories to make for the site?

A: I have four criteria when I’m choosing patterns. First, the bag has to appeal to me esthetically and be something I would use/carry myself. Second, it has to fit into my lineup of a dozen or so choices whose appeal bridges several age groups. Third, it has to offer something special (design feature) that you don't get with a ready-made bag. Fourth, it has to challenge me/my sewing skills and possibly teach me a new or more sophisticated bag-making technique.

Q: Why do you donate $25 for each handbag you sell on the site to The Sewing Machine Project?

A: As soon as I read their tagline about passionately believing in the possibility embodied in a sewing machine, I knew that Third Stage Bags and The Sewing Machine Project were kindred spirits. I also felt a personal connection when I read about their free local mending services, something I had done twice a month for 10 years at my local food shelf. Donating $25 to SMP for each bag I sell will add immeasurably to the joy I receive from bagmaking because I know it will help other women around the world learn sewing skills and improve their lives.

Q: How long have you been sewing?

A: Sewing has been an important part of my life as long as I can remember and was always my favorite leisure activity. It started as a child, playing with scraps and making doll clothes. I got my first sewing machine when I was in grade school thanks to my uncle who worked at a school. The Home Ec Department was getting rid of outdated machines and he saved one for me. In the decades that followed, I did a lot of experimenting and enjoyed the many challenges sewing offered. I even made my living for a few years in the 1990’s running a custom curtain, slipcover and upholstery business called Peabody & Plum, but this is the first time I’ve been able to focus all my energy into making exactly what I want when I want and it feels great!