Friday, 17 June 2011

Sinister or Dexter

Some nights I don't sleep very well. While a number of these wakeful episodes are the result of a very convincing impersonation of a traction engine performed by he who shall remain nameless, most often than not I am the one to blame. I can't seem to get my head to switch off and I start mulling over some seemingly inconsequential thing that has been put to the back of my mind earlier on in the day. 

One of these little brain teasers that is becoming a firm favourite (!) is 'does it make a difference if a bag is left or right handed?'. 

I wear my bag on my left shoulder, and quite frankly didn't really notice if anyone else did the same. That was until I started making bags myself. I design them around me, using myself as a model to work out sizes, strap lengths and overall usability. So of course my bags are going to be geared for a right handed, left shoulder user. Does it make a difference? Well, yes, I think it does.

This is one of my newest bags ( apologies for the poor lighting, but if I had waited for a sunny day I might not have posted this until September! )

worn on the left shoulder

worn on the right

The leather embellishment on the front of the bag is a brooch so it can be moved to any position ( a concession I made after a sleepless night!) but the one on the strap is fixed. Even the inside of the bag has been geared to wearing on the left. The key clip is at the front and the zipped pocket works from front to back.

I've done the same with this bag, the strap being adjustable as you are wearing it , but only if worn on the left shoulder.

I thought I'd cracked it with this one. No embellishment to dictate a front or back. The scarf handle can be tied on whichever way you please. Hurrah!

Oh, but what about the zip? Well, obviously I've put it in so that it can be opened front to back. After all, when you're in the middle of a busy street, rooting around looking for your purse  you don't want to give everyone access to the contents of your bag. 

But if you wear it on your right shoulder it zips from back to front, and the key clip is further away . A bit of a fiddle wouldn't you say?

And if you flip it around so the zip is once again operational from front to back the inner zipped pocket is now on the outer side of the bag. Aaargh!

So I asked the lovely Lisa Lam of U-Handbags for some help. She very kindly offered to do a straw poll on her FB page to discover whether most women were right or left shoulder users. Many thanks to all of those who took the time and answered what must have seemed like a strange question. 
There were right handers that wore them on the left, left handers that wore them on the right, lefties on the left, righties on the right and some that couldn't make their mind up, changing side depending on bag style or how heavy it was.

You would think with all of that information I would be able to say once and for all whether we wear our bags predominantly on the left or right and design them accordingly. I can't. Unfortunately it was almost a 50/50 split! 

He who shall still remain nameless came in to find me with my head in my hands, bemoaning the unfairness of it all. 
" You didn't really expect to arrive at a logical conclusion did you?" he said, "It is women you're dealing with after all."

Methinks the traction engine will be running in the spare room tonight!   


Ali said...

Oh my goodness Linnhe Mara. I loved your bags before I read this post...but now appreciate them even more after reading about all the intricate details, inside and out, and all the creative thoughts, decisions, and dilemmas in their design!
I'm right handed but sling my bag round the left of my neck so it hangs on my right side - the strap across my body (like a messenger bag.) I jut accept whatever is where?! Perhaps I should be more discerning?!
I suppose variety is the spice of life...but it doesn't help you sleep!! Dare I say sweet deams?
Ali x

Anonymous said...

Hi- interesting....I think you can actually buy zippers for purses that open from either direction! I will see if I can remember where I saw them and get back to you!
I always have to stop and think which direction I want to put the zipper too!

Colette said...

Oh you poor thing - and so considerate too. I did some research too on this many years ago - the try-out-all-the-bags-in-the-store type. Most zipped from left to right when it's on a table facing you. Don't know if this helps or hinders you, just thought I'd share.
I just long for the day I can use a pretty handbag again that isn't full of spare knickers, wet wipes and snotty tissues. x

Linnhe Mara said...

Thanks for the compliment. I think most of us just accept a handbag for what it is. I'm often accused of over thinking things and I may be running that risk here. It comes down to the that old adage about' all of the people all of the time' I suppose.

Thanks so much for dropping by. I would be interested in those double ended zips, would solve at least one headache :o) Not sure whether they will be available in the UK though.

Zipping from left to right when facing you does seem to be the norm, probably as the majority of the population are right handed. It's only an issue if you are accessing your bag while wearing it. I just assumed as a right hander a bag would be worn on the left, sort of like keeping your sword arm free!
Don't worry, the day will come when you get back to only carrying your purse and a lipstick, and believe me it will arrive sooner than you thought possible!

Emma Thomsen said...

Ooh lovely bags - I love your choice of fabrics and very interesting post!

Eryl said...

Do you know I have never even considered whether a handbag can be left or right side specific. I am right handed but wear my bag on my right side, when I use a handbag and not my usual rucksack, and haven't noticed accessibility problems with any of my bags. It is really fascinating that as a bag maker/designer you do have to think about these things, and I don't think you're over thinking, I think you're just trying to do the best possible job. Succeeding too, I'd say.

A Time for Stitching said...

I've never thought about this before!! The only bags I've made open with a button and loop so it hasn't really mattered but I'll certainly give it more thought if I make a zipped or embellished bag.
Interesting stuff!
Teresa x

Anonymous said...

Good grief you have totally traumatised me now...! I am worrying that I can't remember how I wear a bag for starters.. Linnhe these are absolutely gorgeous bags - sleep easy..

Mary Witzl said...

I switch my bag around a lot, from my left side to my right. That way I don't end up with one side stronger than the other -- or a sore shoulder.

Your bags look great, and very well thought out. I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who lies awake wondering about things like this -- though the things that occupy my mind tend to be whether leftovers can be recycled in a certain way.

Becky (Hazel and Blue) said...

Really kind of Lisa Lam to do a poll on L) or R) shoulder preference for holding a bag. Your bags are beautiful! Bx

gtlady said...

I think you are over thinking this one! I am left handed, who wears bags on her right shoulder. Speaking as a lefty we get used to doing most things right handed as thats just the way things are, for example when I was younger my mum bought me some left handed scissors and a ruler (the numbers start at 30 and go down to 1) and I really struggled with the scissors as I had learned with right handed ones (though the ruler was and is a god send!). If the majority of the population were left handed zips/buttons would be on the otherside, sewing machines would be reversed, pans would have spouts in the right places, I could go on! But I guess most of us have learnt the right handed way and while it may be a bit awkward for us sometimes, to re learn a new way (the proper way for us) would be even harder! Besides, your bags are so gorgeous I can't imagine anyone refusing to purchase one because the zip is on the wrong side!

Linnhe Mara said...

Emma, thanks for dropping by. Glad you like the bags

Eryl, Rucksacks would definitely seem to be the answer to the left/right debate :o)

Teresa, buttons and loops seem like the obvious ambidextrous closure. I'd stick with them if I were you, saves on the headaches!

Ali, don't panic, do what a lot of people do and alternate:o)

Mary, thanks for dropping by. Wish I had been as sensible with my bag wearing. I now have a permanent groove and a raised left shoulder. Still, the upside is my bag rarely slips off.

Becky, you are so right, it was exceptionally kind of Lisa to help with the poll. So glad you like the bags

Jane, after all that I think I have to agree, I have over thought it. One of my boys is left handed ( it's quite common in twins to have one right and one left) and I also bought him left hand specific products. The scissors are the only thing he still uses, finding it easier to adapt to a right hand bias environment.

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