Julia Cunningham

Handbags, accessories and gifts designed and made in Scotland

The Muckle Fantoosh

Julia CunninghamComment

The Fantoosh is the original bag that inspired the Julia Cunningham label to come into being and has stood the test of time. It has taken Julia to Japan to the British Fairs in Hakata and Osaka and it has brought a Japanese film crew to the Scottish Borders.

You can find this bag in Tweeds, Tartan and printed Linens which are sourced locally in and just across the Scottish Border. It can also be made up in vintage cloth or in fabric of your choosing.

With small developments and improvement over the years. The iconic padded handles have reduced in size to be more comfortable and the internal structure is quite robust so that it keeps its shape. It usually comes with quite bold over-sized buttons and a strong elastic closure.

Each standard bag is made from 15 hand cut pieces of cloth unless it is from the funky collection which has quite a few more panels. They have an internal structure which gives them shape but which is soft enough to allow them to be folded flat so are great for sending as gifts or for travelling. It also means you can get a fair amount into them. Being fabric they are also quite light in weight before you start to fill them up. The linings and handles can either be in a plain fabric that compliment the bag or in tartan.

The bag makes a great gift for a friend, family, someone leaving work or of course for yourself.

The Fantoosh ( meaning pretentious ; ostentatious) a quirky bag in a design that you dont see everyday, bag thats just a little bit different.

How to commission a bag?

Julia CunninghamComment
Commission for a customer in Wales with  a long strap

Commission for a customer in Wales with a long strap

You might have thought to yourself. I like those bags but I would like one in a different colour or fabric or I would like one with a different handle or strap. You might like something bold and funky in a mixture of fabrics or just something simple and elegant. You might also have a bit of fabric that you treasure just sitting around waiting to be made into something special.

The first step would be to contact me, you can phone , e mail or send me a private message on social Media and just tell me what you were thinking. I would get back to you and let you know if it was possible. I currently make 13 styles of bag so there is plenty to choose from you and can find them all in The Handbag section of my website www.julia-cunningham.co.uk/the-handbags. It is possible to mix and match some of the styles.

I would then give you a price and postage costs and at this point you can decide if you want to go ahead or not. If you decide you will go ahead then we would look into the design and colours. You could visit the studio and choose the fabric yourself or I can send you images of the fabrics I have in stock. I have a great range which I have collected over the years.

When you have chosen a bag and the fabrics you like including lining colour we can discuss strap length. Is your bag going to to be a handbag, shoulder bag or worn across the body. We would also look at the closure some bags can have just a magnetic closure if you are not so keen on the large buttons.

You can also choose button colour and style, there are the large over-sized square and round buttons or I can hand-cover one for you in the fabric of your choice. In some of the bags it may also be possible to put in a magnetic closure with or without the button detail.

Here is an example of a recent commission for a small collection of work for Historic Bemersyde House an in the Scottish Borders which is owned by the Haig family. I was asked to make this collection in the Family Haig tartan with a lovely contrasting tweed. A number of bags and purses were chosen with magnetic closures and buttons.


Commissions dont have to be for collections they can just be for individual bags this one was all done online as it was for a customer in Sweden. She had seen something similar on my website. She wanted a larger bag and in similar colours.


Step 1- Look at the handbags and have a think about what you would like

Spep 2- get in touch and we will look at costs, colours and fabrics and design

Step 3- I will make your bag then send you images once complete

Step 4- You pay for the bag and I will send it out

It can take 2-4 weeks perhaps longer if I need to order in some fabric.

Tartan Bag Commission for a shop in California

Tartan Bag Commission for a shop in California

Keeping things simple and Individual

Julia CunninghamComment

I have kept my business small over the years. Just me designing and making all the products. It means that when you buy from me you know that I have designed and made your bag or scarf just for you. If you want want to commission an item then we can make all the design decision together. So that you get what you are looking for.

I only purchase very small quantities of fabric so that there are only ever a few or in many cases just one of each product this means that you are getting a product that is often unique and very individual. It also means that if you visit for a commission I have quite a library of fabric for you to choose from. My products can be quite funky with lots of clashing colours and patterns. However they can also be quite subtle and understated so that you have lots of choice.

I make all the straps and handles for all the bags this puts the Ju-C stamp on it, keeping everything just a little bit different.If I am making a bag for you, you can request any different length of strap for any shape of bag, shoulders or cross body bags. Making the bags very personal for you.

I use the simple button and elastic closures on my products. These are simple and easy to use and keep my products quite distinctive. I purchase very good quality elastic for this purpose and am always happy to replace it if there are any problems with it.

I like making products that are practical, that have a purpose. I like to use the beautiful cloth that is woven or printed locally. I like to use simple techniques but in creative ways so that the products I make stand out and are fun to use.

You can buy my products directly from me through my website or you can buy my products from one of the galleries, boutiques or gift shops I supply. They all stock different collections and can be found in quite different locations from the Borders to Japan.

Individuality is one of the values that underpins a lot of my work so that my bags, accessories and gifts are always different and fresh. So that when you come across Julia Cunningham products you will always be seeing something new and interesting.

Where did it start?

Julia CunninghamComment

The Julia Cunningham label was launched back in 2006 while I was at home looking after my two small children in a small rural village in the heart of the Scottish Borders. I think my love of fabrics and sewing came from my mum and my grandmother. I remember my mum sewing me dresses and telling me stories about her mum dressmaking and mending my grandfathers shirts during the war. I wonder how many of us have complained and wriggled about as we stood on a table as our mothers pinned up a hem and told us to stand still.

I loved collecting things as a child and this continues today as I collect fabrics,beads and buttons to use in my collections. I don’t know about you but I miss the treasures you could find in the haberdasheries that used to be on every high street. I still have my first learn to sew books and my first hedgehog pin Cushion made from felt. A time when all households contained darning needles and a healthy sewing box!

As a young adult I made a lot of my own clothing and enjoyed making things that were different in the fabrics I loved. So nothing has really changed I still collect fabric I love, so that I have a rich supply of beautiful cloths that I can dip into when i make a bag for you. I use the traditional skills that have been passed down to me to create these handcrafted products and the design skills i have studied for and picked up along the way.

In and around the Borders we have a rich tradition of weaving beautiful cloth, tweeds and tartans. They are are full of such colour and texture and are used by designers throughout the world. So forging links with these businesses i am able to source small quantities of traditional and contemporary fabrics for my bags and other collections.

So when you buy a bag, accessory or gift from me you hopefully get something that’s a little bit different, that was designed and made by hand in my garden studio. A handbag or scarf that suits you and your style something just a little bit different. That reminds you of the past but fits in with the present.

Its the little things...

Julia CunninghamComment

You probably know I have been making keyrings over the past couple of weeks and I have been having my eyes tested too. My eyes are fine but I am treating myself to new glasses. I wear them everyday and I am not always the most careful with them!! Oh and I am getting two pairs so i can look different when I go out and about. Well thats what I am telling myself when in fact the reason might be that it will be easier to find the first pair I have lost, when I wear the second pair. My glasses are just one of those things i put down and loose from time to time and it can be a great impromptu family treasure hunt.

This brings me to the keyrings which I make to use up all my small bits of fabric along with up-cycled leather from www.aeroleatherclothing.com . These are just small things but have a huge job of keeping track of our precious keys. We never really give our keys that much thought until we cant find them, its only then we appreciate just how important they are to us as they do unlock our worlds. They also lock and keep those worlds safe. Not sure about you, but again another small item that I can easily loose track off.

Feels like a whole New Start

Julia CunninghamComment

Well it feels like a whole new chapter for my business Julia Cunningham, Ju-C with a new website. Amazing how a deadline can spur you into action, my Tictail shop was to close at the end of March so in the course of a month I have made hundreds of decisions about how I present my business to you all and worked my way through many videos and online tutorials. The hardest part is knowing when to stop and get it published. It is quite addictive.

So here it is, my new website which I have built not quite on my own but with a big help from friends and family. Their help has been invaluable so a big thank you to you all.

The website has links to pages where you can purchase my products directly from me . It also has product information pages where you can find out a bit more about each style of handbag and my accessories. You should also find links to all my terms and conditions and a little more information about me, just in case you wanted to know about my small business and who made your products. Everything on the website has been designed, made and packaged by me.

Coming up in the next few months you will hopefully see a few changes to my branding, and more bags and accessories in store. I might even manage a few newsletters, so don’t forget to sign up. It is my aim to continue to blog, to let you know a bit more about me, what inspires me and my products.

Hopefully you will enjoy my new site and I will try to keep it fresh and interesting for you. Thanks for taking the time to pop over and have a look.