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Samantha Garrison has always loved R.Riveter bags, but her first would come in the form of a unique design that was hers and hers alone — one that honored the relationship between her and her grandmother, Ruth.

A product of R.Riveter’s Heirloom Collection, Samantha’s bag is one of hundreds of one-of-a-kind designs created by the brand’s sewers and fabricators. Through the program, textile memories are freed from shelves and boxes to become a wearable homage to a loved one.

In July, The Sway partnered with R.Riveter to gift a reader with an heirloom bag. Samantha submitted the story below (edited for length and clarity).

The Story:

“My Granny Ruth was my best friend. I don’t say that lightly. From day one she would tell me that the Lord sent me after my grandpa passed away so that she would have someone to love. I was blessed enough to have her on this earth for 25 years. Before she died, she was able to have a chance to love and spoil my first baby boy, Gabe. She had crocheted a gorgeous blue baby blanket, and also made a pink one ‘just in case.

“At my second baby shower, more than 4 years after Granny passed away, my mom, sister and aunt handed me a mysterious box with no name on it. Cue the flood of tears. It was that beautiful pink blanket, carefully crafted with love by my Granny’s hands so many years ago.

Now, we are expecting our third baby, a boy. At around 14 weeks, I saw the other two baby blankets ready to he washed and burst into tears because I knew this baby didn’t have something made from her or with a connection to her. I would love to have something made from one of her shirts — a little bag to carry his tiny little things would be super special to me.”

We’re not crying, you’re crying. And while the Whittle is not a baby bag, we wanted Samantha to have the opportunity to carry something with a connection to her grandmother.

The Process:

Samantha brought in the now-famous shirt (a classic grandma sweater), and sat down for a consultation with Rachel Schalin, the interim manager of R.Riveter Flagship Store in downtown Southern Pines.

Together, they decided how to best use the material, and picked a color for the Whittle’s signature leather front (brown).

“I just love how out-of-the-box this story is for this project,” Rachel said, adding that most clients bring in uniforms or canvas used in military apparel and gear, but that R.Riveter’s seamstresses can work with almost any material.

Samantha and Rachel determined which part of the sweater was the most important to be incorporated into the bag, and made a plan to return the rest of the shirt after the bag was complete.

The entire process took about 10 minutes, during which Samantha shared memories of Ruth.

“If you asked her what her hobbies were, she would say her family,” she said. “She was just the absolute best.”

“The consultation lets people talk about the person they’ve lost when they might not have had another opportunity to do so,” Rachel said. “It’s something that we really enjoy doing, helping people turn a memory into a piece they can carry with them.”

Rachel sent off the instructions and the materials to the West End fabrication shop, where many R.Riveter bags are finished and readied to hit the shelves.

A Few Weeks Later, Samantha Had Her Bag.

Her daughter, Daisy Lane, and her mother, Jan, joined her for the appointment. Watch her reaction to the unveiling:

“It looks like something [Ruth] would have carried herself,” Jan said.

Samantha agreed — on that and the fact that it was absolutely her style, too.

Holding on to a piece of apparel you’d like to turn into a wearable memory? Read more about R.Riveter’s Heirloom Collection here.

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