Sunday, May 7, 2017

Nothing Says Summer Like a Great Straw Bag

Spring has done her job beautifully this year, but I can tell she’s anxious to move on.  The white blossoms on my dogwood tree are almost gone.  Summer is waiting patiently in the wings for spring to take her final curtain call. 


And what’s that in her hand?  Why, it’s a cute little straw bag.  Nothing says summer like a great straw bag. 

Vintage 1950s Jute Hardbody Tote Available at ETSY

Straw bags became all the rage in the 50’s, and about this time every year Mme Mère would come home with a new one.  For me, that straw bag meant summer and the last day of school were right around the corner.  Yippeeee!!!

Styles, shapes and materials may have changed, but we ladies still love our straw bags.  I know I do, and I’m crazy about Jamini bags from Paris. 

Indian-born Usha Bora moved to Paris almost 20 years ago and knew immediately that she was in love.  And like any woman who finds herself torn between the love of two cultures, she finds her true path to happiness in embracing them both not only in her heart but in her lifestyle.  (I know a thing or two about that.)  Jamini Designs is the child of that Parisian-Indian love affair.   Last year Usha opened a second boutique in Paris in the 9th arrondissement. 


While Jamini Designs is a whole lifestyle, it is Usha’s straw bags that first caught my eye, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you. 

This pink and green pouch embroidered in a floral pattern is made of jute and that pink tassel is just so Jamini.  You’ll see a lot of tassels on her products (pillows, throws, handbags, etc.), which I love.  Did I ever mention that I have a real “thing” for tassels (the art of passementerie in French)?  I have tassels all over the house.  I attach them to oversized keys, lamp switches and doorknobs.  Tassels aren’t just beautiful to look at, but they have a tactile appeal.  There’s something wonderfully sensual and soothing about stroking them. 


I love the shape of this rounded basket made from water hyacinth entirely woven by hand by women from Assam, India, where Usha was born.  Each basket is unique. 

I had no idea what water hyacinth was either, but it turns out it is an aquatic plant found all over Southeast Asia that produces deep purple flowers.  BTW, the word “jamini” in Hindi means purple. 


If this handwoven macramé bag doesn’t bring you good Karma, you’re obviously doing something wrong.  It’s made of jute with cotton embroidery, and that deep indigo shade is sure to add a huge splash of color to any outfit.  It’s perfect for a summer stroll down a quiet country lane or a brisk walk on a city street.   Guaranteed to bring you good luck and a smile to the face of everyone you meet. 


Of course, Jamini Designs doesn’t just do straw bags.  I really fell for this cotton, grey and yellow shopping bag from their Paris store.  The double tassels sealed the deal for me.  The snake skin motif is handblocked onto the fabric using carved wooden blocks.  No two bags are alike.  This is the perfect bag to take to your local, open air market and load up with summer fare and fresh flowers for your kitchen table.  P.S.:  It’s machine washable!!    

So, if you are in Paris, stop into one of Usha Boro’s Jamini stores and have a lovely browse.  If you are on this side of the pond, the good news is that there is a Pop Up Jamini store in New York City RIGHT NOW through May 14th.  Click here for more information. 

Summer is waiting in the wings and so is that great little, must-have straw bag.  


  1. I love straw in summer for both bags and hats. I am lucky in that I can buy mine in St. Tropez market.

    1. I'm so jealous, Josephine. You are indeed lucky to buy your straw bags and hats in St. Tropez.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Cheers, M-T

  2. Wish I could pop in that Parisian store! The way things are, I'll have to look on etsy. I do love the look of a straw bag, and the vintage ones. So summery. We had frost warnings last night. ?? Warmer than usual winter, but this spring has been cold. xo Deborah

    1. I have had to turn the heat on at home, too. Believe it or not, our rhododendrons have started to bloom even in the cold. A very cool spring for us on the east coast, too, but I'm not complaining, since I'm not partial to hot weather. Etsy is a great place for all things vintage.

      Thanks for stopping by, Deborah.

      Cheers, M-T

  3. Dearest Marie-Thérèse,
    Well, you did reveal one more thing that we do have in common. Here in our home there are quite a number of nice tassels on door knobs and keys! Not the cheap ones but the rayon and more artistically made versions which I do so admire.
    Talking about water hyacinth, that is an aquatic pest here in the southeast! We had an invasion in our pond but no more.
    Amazing what beautiful artwork they can make of it in India!
    Thank you for sharing this with all of us.

    1. Dearest Mariette,

      I am not surprised you knew about water hyacinth. Isn't it funny how one man's/woman's pest can be another man's/woman's inspiration.

      Ah, yes, we do love our tassels. It's not easy to find beautiful ones these days. Where do you find them? I just adore them.

      As always, love it when you stop by.

      Gros bisous ma chère,

    2. Dearest Marie-Thérèse,
      Well, I got some lovely ones at Palais Royal in Atlanta, they were selling the renamed brand of Yves Delorme, French linens and elegant home décor, body lotion and other luxury items. Also found a very special on in San Francisco at my fabric and notion supplier (don't sew anymore...) of
      And of course my bestie gifted me some...

  4. I remember straw bags, Marie-Thérèse! My mother had them too, but I don't remember her using them. I remember them on a shelf in her closet. And like most young daughters, I got into her closets to play dress up.

    Jamini Designs is very stylish. Thanks for the introduction. I like what I see!

    Let the sunshire and long days of summer begin!


    1. Dear Debra,

      It sounds as if your Mother just liked collecting them as opposed to carrying them, which I quite understand. I, too, loved to get into Mme Mère's things to play dress up. Do little girls still do that these days? What do they find in their mother's closets? I found the most wonderful things.

      Perhaps you can check out the Jamini Pop Up Store in NYC this week. If you do, would love to know what you thought of it.

      As always, a pleasure to hear from you.

      xoxo, M-T

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