Bessie Handmade Bags and Homewares


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Our names are Michelle and Kate Gilmore and Bessie is an online store located in beautiful Rainbow Beach Queensland Australia. We combine contemporary fabrics and recycle vintage and retro fabrics linens and notions to create new and gorgeous bags homewares and gifts.

handmade vintage retro recycled upcycled salvaged reclaimed rescued……..

We recycle neglected fabrics buttons and fancywork to create beloved new treasures. So much so we started selling them only this year. We also enjoy beautiful contemporary fabrics’ so you will find those in our shop too.

Our creations

  • handbags’ totes and purses for women and girls – so many designs and fabrics
  • table runners
  • zip pouches/ pencil cases
  • vintage delicates wash bags
  • custom made towels with babies names appliqued in retro and vintage fabric
  • ready made and custom made products

Why Bessie?

My sewing teacher mum- Pat taught me to sew on my Grandmother Bessie’s singer. Both Kate and I are named after Bessie- so we felt it was the perfect name for our enterprise. I have always nurtured my fabric stash since making clothes for my Cindy doll in the 70’s. Op shopper specialist- Bessie has given me the excuse to flex the shopping muscles more and enjoy rescuing and recycling gorgeous fabrics.

Why are Bessie bags different?

Every one of our Bessie bags is unique with individual detailing. Each style of bag has been selected just for the fabric- some bags were designed around the reclaimed find (see our doily bag). We have invested much energy in finding patterns’ adapting patterns’ researching to find the perfect bags styles from vintage and contemporary fashion. Inspiration for Bessie designs continues to grow – filling our design board.

Each bag starts with handpicked fabric lining and notions (buttons zips buckles rings etc). Fabric zips’ buttons and handles are sourced from existing clothing’ fabric remnants discarded scraps and salvaged offcuts and it takes much effort and time to source the best materials. Most contain co-ordinated i-phone pockets key holders and are fully lined- with recycled or vintage finds.

Most of our fabric have been discovered locally around our beautiful region of the Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay in Queensland. Other fabrics and buttons have travelled with me over the years. We have also been unable to resist purchasing material from the rich contemporary array available from both Australian and international designers.

Our philosophy

The Bessie philosophy is one of old values to maximise our limited resources’ recycling and giving new life and purpose to beautiful vintage fabrics’ doilies and linen. Nothing is wasted- many of the bags are generated from remnants and beautiful salvaged fabrics and vintage clothes. Our offcuts are used to create smaller children’s bags purses and zip pouches. Even tiny fabric scraps are used to personalise your Bessie Bag label or gift vouchers.

Visit our website and sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive the latest releases and new product information. We would love to hear from you – please let us know if you have any questions about our range and send feedback to

Michelle and Kate

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As the heritage and cultural centre of the Cooloola Region, Gympie boasts a tradition that few areas in Queensland can offer. A city of 16,000 people, Gympie offers the warm hospitality of a country town with all the modern conveniences.

Known as the "Town that Saved Queensland", Gympie's proud heritage began in 1867 with the discovery of gold by prospector James Nash at the site now occupied by the Town Hall. At the time, Queensland was facing bankruptcy due to drought and the fall in wool prices. However, Nash made the five day journey down the Mary River from Maryborough and, after digging up 75 ounces of gold in six days, staked his claim. The Gympie Gold Rush was on, injecting the boost to the Queensland economy that enabled the colony to survive.

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