It's Not (Just) About Oprah's Pants: Totes With Tales

Okay, so the tote bag made from part of a pair of pants once owned by Oprah Winfrey was drawing people to the display kiosk at White River's Newberry Market. But that is not the story, or stories, of designer Nancy Roy's Totes With Tales. The real story lies in that sweatshirt from your first concert that no longer fits but you can't throw away, or heirloom linens that remain in your closet because you don't know what to do with them. 

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You have probably heard of craftspeople who take your old T-shirts and fashion them into quilts. Nancy Roy does something similar. She designs one-of-a-kind tote bags from just about any piece of clothing or fabric imaginable, or as she says, from " . . .   . your grandfather's tweed jacket, or a tablecloth that mom used for special occasions." 

Designer Nancy Roy of Cornish NH at her display at the Newberry Market

Roy meets face-to-face or by phone with each prospective client to determine what item is being used and what the client's needs might be. Each tote is designed to tell its own tale, and is often embellished with, for example, buttons and pockets from the original clothing. 

Tote made from a man's sport coat.

Roy says that she "understands the priceless connection between people, and how memories can reside in physical items." Having one of her custom totes is a  unique way to hold your memories close. One of her customers says that her tote is like "the velveteen rabbit . . .more worn and loved each day."

Bag made with part of an infant onesie

And the Oprah pants? Roy obtained them from a place in Chicago called Oprah's Closet, where Winfrey's clothes, often worn on her television show or the covers of O Magazine, were for sale, with proceeds going to charity. Except for an online version, the store is no longer there. But that tote bag could still be yours.

For more information, go to or contact Nancy Roy at 603-675-9317.


I write about the arts in the Upper Valley. Please sign up to receive an email each time I post something new to this blog, ArtfulEdge, by clicking here. To view my profile page, please click here

Susan B. Apel, writer, ArtfulEdge


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