Now that I have my sample piece from the other day and I know it will work, I can begin working on my handbag in earnest. First, I cut out a small mountain of circles, falling in love with each piece in turn. I have added more pieces, more colors and textures - it seemed like every bit of leather in my stash wanted to be included in my new project.
My favorite piece is dark brown and impressed to look like it is woven. Unfortunately, I used most of it in a prior project, so I was only able to cut out a single whole circle and two halves. You can see the halves in the upper right quadrant of the image below.
The First Batch of Circles
And then (no surprise!) I went overboard on my additional color selections. I cut two circles out of a lovely, buttery-soft remnant in a deep red color - but when I put them with the others, they jumped out from the others because they were too bright. So I did some quick thinking and made something special out of them. Luckily, my daughter Sarah quite likes large, dangling earrings in bright colors! I just know she'll love them.
Earrings for Sarah
My favorite Part - Arranging the Elements
I spent three evenings punching holes and crocheting edges around thirty circles - and then I couldn't wait to start putting them together even though I knew I didn't yet have enough for even the front panel of the handbag. I spread them all out onto the kitchen table and admired how much prettier the decorative edges seemed to make them. Then I set to work arranging them.
How much time did I spend moving circles here and there? Way too much! I wanted to scatter the textures and colors in a pleasing manner, so that no two pieces of the same thing were touching each other, and it took a long time to get it right. When I was finally satisfied, I taped the rows in place so I would know which particular piece to add as the piece progressed.
The half circles are for making a straight edge along the side of the purse panel, which will later be covered by a strip of leather piping. I haven't yet decided what color to use for the piping. Probably black.
Taping the Pieces in Place
Sewing the Pieces Together
I use a sharp-tipped needle and waxed thread for this part, making simple whip stitches to connect the crocheted stitches. It's not difficult, but takes more concentration than the crocheting had. I only poked myself twice - and one of those wasn't my fault. My cat decided he needed to play with the dangling thread and he didn't really care that I was holding a sharp needle.
It's Starting to Look Like Something!
I decided to make this bag a bit slimmer than the last bag. I'm thinking that it will be a book bag, large enough for a book or two (of course!) or perhaps a pad of paper and pen and a chocolate bar and my car keys. I'm planning on the front panel being seven circles wide by seven circles high. The height may change as it progresses.
Once I have the front and back panels made, I'll decide how deep the bag ought to be. Right now, I'm thinking two circles deep...but I'll have to see. In any event, I have the bottom third of the front panel made, and it looks great.
Part of the Front Panel
Back to Work
I'm very pleased with what I've made so far and I can't seem to keep my hands off it. I just love how leather feels to my fingers, and I'm delighted how well leather and crocheting work together.
But... it's sobering when I think about how many circles it'll take to complete this project. All this work, and I'm only a tiny bit into the bag! I don't really mind - each of my previous handmade leather purses took months to make. But does it really matter if this bag takes forever? Unlike my jewelry work, I'm not selling the leather purses, so I'm not counting the hours I'm putting into them. Besides, I'm doing this for the pleasure of it, because I love creating things where nothing existed before, and because I love to use my hands and fingers.
And now, I need to cut some more leather circles...