I'm starting a new project today - I'm going to make a leather-and-crocheted bag.
I've been working with leather for the past year or so, making handbags and shoulder bags, and enjoying it very much. It all started when I went to a Free-cycle event in downtown Seattle last September where local designers and interior decorators gathered all their throw-away materials in one place and invited people in to take what they'd like. Talk about a fantasy land for artistic people! Fabric samples and wallpaper samples and flooring samples and on and on and on...and LEATHER!
I dug through boxes full of cool stuff and found little squares of beautiful leather samples left over from the furniture-making business (and other business, I assume.) Each one was more lovely than the last and before I knew it, I had collected quite a nice stack of them. I decided I'd try to make a book bag with them. I had no idea the project would take over my life and last for the next five weeks.
My Book Bag
I had so much fun with this project! It was painstaking work - I had to punch little holes in the leather everywhere I wanted a stitch. That's hundreds and hundreds of them, so many that my hand began to complain. I liked the bag and I liked the leather, but I wasn't happy with either the type of thread I used (a thin-but-strong beading thread I had laying around) or with the stitch I used. Other than that, the bag was (is) great, and I showed it to everyone who I came into contact with. Besides which...TA DA!!!...it was utterly and completely free aside from the time I put into it.
Purse Number Two...
And then, I had to make another one. How could I not? I'd used up a lot of the colorful free samples, but I still had quite a few black squares left and a bunch of white and off-white ones. The black ones measured about 4" by 6", and I knew there must be a clever way to use them. This time, I used waxed linen thread made especially for leather stitchery, and a simple running stitch (in one hole and out the next).
This bag has sides and a bottom, set in with piping around all the edges. I had to take off the bottom panel three times before I figured it out, but the piping made the bag's lines more crisp, and made it hold its shape better. I also decided that pockets were a good thing to have in a bag. I followed the stitches already in place (so no ugly extra rows of stitches would show up) and put in both a pocket and a key strap. I also used sticky-sided velcro as a closure. I learned a lot with this purse!
Purse Number Three...
I figured every guitarist needs a gig bag! I copied the dimensions of my favorite guitar-paraphernalia bag and made a pattern out of brown shopping-bag paper. I made it deeper and wider, and the handle longer. I hand sketched a classical guitar onto another piece of paper, and then chopped it into pieces, like a puzzle. I love making things hard on myself, it seems!
Guitar Bag, side one
Guitar Bag, side two
If you're thinking that this looks like it was a lot of work...it was! And I made even more work for myself by making another guitar on the second side. Probably the most challenging part was to make the guitar shape lie flat.
Oh, and I broke down and bought a batch of leather scraps off of ebay. So this bag wasn't free...
Purse Number four...
A handbag. I don't usually use one, I haven't carried one for more than twenty years, but this design came to me out of the blue and I just had to do it. Also, I visited a shop in Tacoma that sells small-ish pieces of VERY COOL leather remnants and I bought a stack of them. I was looking for black pieces in all different textures and patterns, and boy did I like what I found. This hand bag uses strips of the black pieces.
This purse was another learning experience. I lined it, for one thing. I also figured out a nifty braided handle. I also used two round magnets as a closure system - you can see where I hid the top one, in the circular button-shaped thing on the front.
That's all so far! I'm starting a new purse today...and I plan on blogging about it as it develops. Thank you!