‘Boldly feminine’ and ‘vibrantly colored’ are not phrases normally used to describe the angled slices of fabric that make up traditional American quilts. The idea of blending the concepts is one that has become a trademark for Tammy Shattuck and her vividly whimsical handbags and totes.
Her unique take on bags and accessories was an evolution from her Midwestern roots amidst a family and community of quilters that set the course for a love of sewing and, ultimately, designing. Raised in Des Moines, Iowa, Tammy grew up in an environment where quilting was a favorite pastime. Her mother, an avid quilter for many years, often shopped for quilting fabrics and patterns with her daughter in tow. While the two continue to attend quilting shows today, it was her early education in elements of quilting construction that helped create the designs she currently uses in her bags.
While Tammy was inspired tosew, she wasn’t actually interested in quilting in a traditional sense. “I knew that quilting wasn’t my cup of tea,” she says. “I wanted to sew but wasn’t sure what I wanted to create.” A long-time fan of Bernina sewing machines, she bought her first of several, set up a sewing room in her basement and started to play with different patterns and ideas. Eventually she bought patterns for purses and began modifying them and adding her own touches. Since then her bags and accessories have grown more sophisticated and she’s developed a specific, fresh, modern style.
It is the color blocking, a mixing of patterned and solid fabrics that is the most obvious connection to the age-old tradition. At closer glance, though, one notices other aspects of quilting construction involved in making her exclusive bags in that they are interfaced and given body, shape, and structure much in the same way quiltsare fabricated. While construction may stem from quilters in her past, she focuses on fabric and color to bring her bags to life. She says, “I’m all about the color. I might be inspired by a certain fabric and then complementary fabrics start to make sense.”
Jeane Brennan, owner of In the Light, located in the Shops of Olde Marco, features a selection of Tammy’s bags in her boutique-style gallery. “Everything in the shop is created by local artists from Marco Island, Isles of Capri and Goodland. Tammy’s bags fit because they are truly works of art. The attention to detail is amazing. The trim, lining and decorative accents add to their unique quality.”
Over the years, Tammy has experimented with a variety of fabrics, silhouettes, fasteners, and accents. “Sometimes the embellishments make the bag. I’ve used handles with crystal beads that have been very popular and I have requests for oversized, decorative closuresall the time.” While her line of purses, beach bags, totes, make-up, and evening bags carry her trademark visual appeal, no two are alike. “I buy small quantities of each print to ensure that no two pieces are duplicated.”
Living on Marco Island, she studies popular colors in swimwear and resort fashion each season so that her bags can be carried as part of a complete ensemble. Her constant attention to current trends results in a line of brightly colored bags in all sizes and shapes, expertly crafted, brilliantly trimmed. That her designs are steeped in an American tradition makes each one a delightfully uncommon treasure.
A Southern California native and graduate of Arizona State University, Lisa has spent the majority of her 25 year career in the apparel industry as a buyer, merchandiser and accessories designer. Continued study in elements fashion, style, arts and aesthetics are not only career choices and hobbies as much as a way of life.