I'm working the slow bag movement. Materials are cut with a pair of scissors, everything is sewn on an old industrial machine, and copper rivets are hammered by hand. I make the things I want to use - things that will last. From design to production - this is a one woman show.
By Judith M. Gallman
Bag obsessives can appreciate all the thought and work that Morgan Abbott puts into her MoMurray bags, dopps, and weekenders. Abbott uses waxed canvas – attractive, sturdy, waterproof, impervious. She prefers a light shade for the inside so items don’t get so lost. The totes hold their shape, convenient for market shopping. Zippers are durable metal, and bags come with a variety of pockets, sometimes with cross-body straps. At 5 feet-1-inch tall, Abbott wanted to be able to hold them by their handles without their touching the ground while still being able to slip them on the shoulder. She attaches handles with labor-intensive hand-hammered copper rivets.
“That handle’s not coming off,” said the 37-year-old, who works out of her sunny Lake Merritt home using an old Juki walking-foot, single-needle, lockstitch machine.
The understated vessels reflect Abbott’s personal down to-earth style, embodied this morning by her crisp, short-sleeve blue Oxford short, pencil-leg blue jeans, and bowling shoes.
Abbott’s mother and grandmother sewed, but she didn’t growing up near Woodland or as an adult, until she needed pillows and made them. When her wallet broke, she stitched up a simple one from mattress ticking – another favorite material – and created wallets for friends. Eventually she graduated to bags and began manufacturing in 2013. She devotes most of her time to MoMurray but has a part-time job, and her wife Elizabeth “Ella” Taylor, works in finance.
“I make the things I want to use,” Abbott said. “Things that will last.”
Abbott’s grandmother sometimes calls her Mo, short for Morgan, and Murray is Abbott’s cat. The cat is named for Bill Murray, whose visage is planted on her arm in a tattoo – not too far from a tattoo of Elizabeth Taylor.
Find MoMurray bags (from $32 for the Three Pocket Wallet to the $300 Zip Tote, Two Tone) at Dandelion Post and Marion & Rose in Oakland, online at MoMurray.com where other retailers are listed, and major craft fairs.