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 I care for my new cork fabric bag?

A: Because the cork fabric I use has been treated with Scotchguard at the factory, the maintenance required to keep your bag looking great is minimal. It can be easily cleaned using a cloth with a mild soap and water to wipe away any dirt or marks. After a gentle rinse, blot with a towel and air dry. Natural baby wipes that are free of harsh chemicals also work great. Cork is also weather resistant, so if it gets rained on, just blot it with a clean towel and let it air dry thoroughly. When not in use, store it in a cool dry place in the custom dust bag that it was shipped in. That’s it!

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!