A Bag Full of Bags

I have a lovely fabric handbag that I bought years ago from a gorgeous woman who made it from left-over upholstery fabric. It is large and capacious and fits lots of useful stuff in it which is both a blessing and a curse. It tends to accumulate All The Things with alarming rapidity, and then I can find nothing and spend minutes at the checkout hunting for my purse, and hoping against hope that I won't send a shower of tampons, receipts and my library book onto the floor before I find it, and then I spend more minutes standing in the rain/blazing hot sun in the car park while I hunt for my keys.

In order to mitigate this handbag craziness I was recently inspired to pop my indispensable handbag treasures into separate little bags. I am loving this plan because now what falls out of my bag onto the floor is sweet little other bags, and also, I can now find my keys.

What is in my Hand Bag:
Clockwise from top left: A drawstring bag containing 8 more drawstring bags - light-as-air Onya produce bags. A friend gave me these for my birthday a couple of years ago. Since then I have also passed them on as gifts. I like that they are made from recycled plastic bottles. I have not collected a plastic produce bag for a couple of years now, but the extraordinary thing is that I am just now coming to the end of my collection of plastic produce bags stashed under the sink..
2 A fold up reusable bag, this one a Christmas present from The Girl, also a couple of years ago.
3 My lovely leather wallet that I have owned for going on 12 years now. I had the zip replaced once by my favourite shoe-repair man, who can fix almost anything.
4 This little zip-up purse was a hand-me-down from a friend. This is where I stash the grocery money.
5 The red heart-shaped purse is sewn all over with tiny red beads and is one of my favourites. I found it sopping wet in the gutter in the middle of a rain storm. I brought it home and washed it and now it has a new life preventing showers of tampons raining down upon the checkout counter. It is doing very well at this job.
6 A pencil. When I left my job as a teacher assistant I took home all the used pencils from the Prep classroom as it was the end of the year and the teacher was going to throw them away. I now have quite the collection of easy-grip pencils, and have no excuse not to form my letters correctly.
7 My shopping list!
8 A tiny tape measure that came with a magazine I bought a good decade ago. Endlessly useful for measuring furniture in op-shops to see if it will fit in my house. Also used it in a gardening job last week when I forgot to bring a proper one. I felt ridiculous measuring garden edging with a tiny 1 metre tape measure!
9 My diary. Because I haven't worked out how to use my phone calendar yet. Luckily I don't have to do that until 2020 now:)
10 Sunglasses case. When Posy was seven she had a temper tantrum at the optometrist's because Rosy got to have glasses and she didn't. They rewarded her by letting her choose a glasses case..
11 This is a little Japanese fabric bag that Posy doesn't want any more. It contains tissues, a fold-up hairbrush that came in an airline freebie bag, band-aids, lip balm, and is a useful place to stash tiny important things - hair bands I find on the street, chocolate I don't want to share..

So that is what is in my bag, along with phone, keys and water bottle.

Tell me about the important things you lug around with you on a daily basis. Are you a minimalist, or are you prepared for the apocalypse? Are you happy with your bag solution, or still searching for hand bag nirvana? I have ended up with a bag full of bags, but am quite pleased to have found a practical solution to my hand bag clutter, and especially pleased that it did not involve spending any money, and did involve using things I had stashed in drawers. That, for me, is a good day's work.


I have more than a minimalist would!

So first - my tape measure, which had a button to retract, died :( I must get an ikea fold up paper one, if nothing else, now I'm moving and prone to wanna measure items like furniture too!

I have a mesh pencil case which holds all the things: lip balms, various tablets (period pain, headache, muscle pain, allergies, throat lozenges), band aids, sometimes a sewing kit, bobby pins etc etc. I have another pencil case with my bamboo cutlery and chop sticks, a metal straw and a linen napkin. Another pencil case is coloured pens, with a ziplock of tissues (and hilariously, a condom or two?! Makes up for tampons as I use a cup)

I also carry a phone (or two on work days), a charger for said phones and a super short cord. Wallet from Country Road which I LOVE LOVE LOVE but it's soft leather is damaged so want to get remade by someone. I also have keys - house, car. I add church keys and badge for Sundays. Oh and I like to always have a tiny swiss army knife for my cuticles and nails.
Jo said…
Sarah, wow, you are so prepared for every eventuality:) I see you also use the bag in a bag method. I can't think why I haven't done this before - it is so easy to find everything.
Anonymous said…
My favourite bags were made by my daughter, and have several pockets around the inside, so they will hold things like notebook, pencil, lip balm, phone, emery board (broken nails drive me crazy!), sticking plaster and so on. I also have a fold-up grocery bag and a bag of those wonderful Onya Weigh mesh bags in there.

Recently I used an online tutorial and learned to make zipper pouches, using scraps of fabric. Now I am totally hooked on them, so everyone received one at Christmas, filled with various Useful Things. One of these will also live in my bag, I think, and contain a pack of Raspberry Drops or secret chocolate.

I have recently found myself washing, drying and re-using my dwindling supply of plastic bags, as I imagine people did when they were a new and wondrous thing.

Linda in NZ
Linda said…
Sounds like a good plan. I like little bags and purses to store things in. A few years ago I made two Patchwork drawstring bags for both my husband and me to keep our battery chargers all in one place. We were forever looking for the chargers and muddling his with mine. Now they are stored separately and so good when we go away, we just have to pop the bags in the luggage. A friend made me a little Patchwork purse where I keep my favourite pendants and earrings- again all together and ready to pop into the bag at the last moment.
Jo said…
NZ Linda, oh, I am always amazed at people who can sew. Rosy learned to make zippered, lined, fabric pencil cases a couple of years ago, and all her friends got them for their birthdays as well! They are such a good idea for stashing things in. Your bag sounds very useful, mine doesn't have pockets, which is a flaw. What a useful daughter you have there:)
Yes, I wash plastic bags as well, either to recycle or reuse. It is extraordinary how they seem to multiply under the sink though..

Linda, what a good idea. Random cords are one of the curses of the modern age. What are they all for? Who do they belong to? Well done you for solving that particular problem. I love patchwork, it is so beautiful, and so practical, using up what you have. My favourite:)
Miss Maudy said…
I have two bags - one is my work bag and is a medium sized messenger bag. I walk to and from work every day, so it has All The Things in it. Right now, it has my work laptop, a pair of shoes, a notebook, two pens (sometimes three. Depends), my paper diary - I can and do use google, but for seeing all the days at once, paper is best. A little plastic pot with a lid (about the size of a deck of playing cards) with bandaids, a tampon, perfume, pain killers, migraine stuff etc, a business card thingy, a charging block, my exercise egg... Sometimes it has my pilates clothes, a jumper, a scarf, a pair of gloves, emergency shopping I've done at lunch time. Plus, wallet, keys, phone and glasses.

My other bag is my New Bag. It's replaced a long lasting and hard working bag that used to invariably end up filled with Other People's stuff. But Santa decided I was worthy and I now have a very small new bag - it fits my very small wallet, my glasses, phone, my other charging block, and my keys. It's lovely and makes me feel like I'm 30 again with no responsibilities! It has a proper strap so I can go hands free as well! (Although I did discover it fits himself's wallet and keys. Ahem).

I'm planning to make some kind of fabric case for my glasses as the hard case is a teensy bit too big.

Jo said…
Miss Maudy, sounds like you have a completely split personality going on there - the responsible maximalist, with the giant bag, which, like Mary Poppins' bag, will cater for every emergency, then you have the child-free, responsibility-free minimalist me-bag. I like it. Except one day maybe you will leave the house with the minimalist-me-bag and never.come.back. It would be very tempting, some days..
Hazel said…
My bag, my house- definitely all prepared for the apocalypse. Another trait from my mother, but a useful one. I stop short of the car jack that we're pretty sure she has in her handbag.

My bag has got rather out of control over Christmas but is basically bags in the bags the same as yours. Onya bags, fabric shopping bags, first aid kit, useful stuff pouch. At least I no longer carry round Bananagrams...

I'll give myself an incentive to tidy it up by copying your post. It's mostly receipts and papers (my nemesis) that have got stuffed in there. I love my bag but when it falls apart I am going to look for one with compartments.
Jo said…
Hazel, ok, so I had to look up bananagrams, which is a very educational item to carry in a handbag. The things mothers do.. I am hearing you on compartments. They could be useful. I am kind of thinking of my bags in bags as compartments..
Hazel said…
Jo, Banangrams is fun, honestly! I always think of Scrabble as a bit worthy and it's not like that. No scoring, just first to finish and easy to play a short game of it.
Jo said…
Hazel, we play Upwords for a more fun version of Scrabble, but there is no way I could fit it in my handbag!
Lucinda said…
I fear my bags are of the kind that would feature in a “before” post. Not only are they stuffed with useless things such as old petrol receipts, they are stuffed with multiples of useful things, such as reading glasses and pens. (Except no one needs two sunglasses or two reading glasses or five pens in one bag.) And, as I own multiple handbags and have them in the go, or waiting-to-be-on-the-go on the back of the dining chairs, I end up losing my glasses or favourite lipstick because it’s in one of the bags, somewhere.

Your bag looks to be a wonderful clean and tidy number!!!
Jo said…
Lucinda, well, my bag would have featured in a before post before I cleaned it out! Of course, I could just have written a post about how disgusting my bag was. That would have been perfectly justified just over a week ago:) I amazed that people can have more than one bag. Aargh, I would lose everything, all the time. If you can manage with just misplacing lipstick and glasses, you are doing well!
Jen's Busy Days said…
Funny how we come up with the same ideas at the same time. My request for Christmas this year was multiple small zipped bags. I have one for makeup that doesn't get put in my bag all the time, a perfume bag (spray and some wax based ones from Tree of Life), lady's bits and bobs, headphones in a cute bunny purse, hairclips and elastics, shoe clips, a pencil case and deodorant. The nice thing is that they all feel different so I can dig in my backpack without spilling until I feel the sought item.

Best wishes,
Jen in Qld

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