Saturday, August 17, 2013

New Handbag - Day One

A New Project:

I just adore beginning a new project!  Everything is wide open with potential, exciting and new.  I carry around an idea for awhile - anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks - and then I can't stand it anymore and I have to start.  Even if I don't quite know what I'm doing, I know I can figure things out as I go.  That's how I've always created artwork, whether it's jewelry or a painting or writing a new novel - I have confidence that I can figure it out as I go.  

The Idea:

I passed by a woman in a parking lot on Thursday (two days ago) and my eye was caught by her unusual shoulder bag.  It was made of fabric circles with a border of black crocheting around them, all sewn together.  That was it - I only saw one glimpse of her lovely purse, and then she was gone.  But it was enough to get the "idea" machinery churning in my head.  It was perhaps even a good thing I saw so little, because with such scant information to go on, I am now free to make the purse my own and not simply a copy of someone else's.  This is what I sketched as soon as I returned home:

The first sketch

The second sketch

Getting More Serious About It:

So now I had an idea.  And a kernel of a plan.  I let the idea stew for a few days, and then I went through my leather pieces and pulled out this piece and that piece and the other piece, and spread them all out on the table.  I have several gorgeous patterned pieces in brown-ish colors that I've been wanting to use, and they kept rising to the surface.  I added some textured black pieces and some lovely brick-red colored pieces also, to add dimension to all that brown.

Eventually, I settled on perhaps fifteen different leather pieces that could potentially be used in this purse.  I may add more colors as the project develops, but here is the basis for the purse (the piece that looks dark blue in the photo is actually black):

The chosen pieces

Getting Started:

The circles ... how big should they be?  It was totally up to me, since I didn't remember how big the circles were on the purse I'd seen - and anyhow, I didn't care because I wanted this to be MY purse design.  I pulled out my circle template and drew several of the biggest circles on brown paper, cut them out, and lined them up in a row.  They looked good.  I liked the size.  They'd work nicely for what I had in mind.  So I went ahead and cut out a couple of trial circles in leather.

Using the template to draw circles on the back side of leather.

Preparing the Circles:

I knew I'd have to punch holes in them to work the crocheting into the leather.  I punched a trial row of holes in the first circle, but the hole size I'd selected was too small to get my crochet hook through. (That's the kind of thing that happens when you work without a pattern; all part of the fun!) I went back and punched them all again, using a hole punch two sizes larger.

I'm very lucky because my mother taught me to crochet when I was young - only about seven years old, if I remember correctly.  We used a giant purple plastic crochet hook and fat pink yarn, and I thought it was great fun to learn this nifty handicraft that not only my mother knew, but also my grandmother and my great-grandmother - I felt so grown up!

Back to the present...I tried two types of thread for the crocheting (using a slender steel crochet hook, not the giant purple one from my childhood...) and settled on the same waxed linen thread I'd used for my prior two purses.

The hole punch, the steel hook, two crochet trials, and the waxed linen thread 

And - We're Off!

I liked what I saw.  The leather circles, the crocheting, the thread, everything worked well together. So I settled in and made more.  It was evening.  I brought my supplies to the family room where my husband was watching TV, sat in my easy chair and kind-of watched a re-run of that delightfully odd detective show "Monk" and worked on my project at the same time - a very pleasant hour.  When I had six circles ready to go, I couldn't wait any longer, I had to stitch them together with my large sewing needle (using the same linen thread).

The first bit of the purse

And there it is!  Now it'll just be more of the same.  I'll continue making these little circles, crocheting their edges, and stitching them together, until I have something that begins to resemble a shoulder bag.  At which point I'll have to start thinking about a lining for the bag and a sturdy handle.

I'll post more as it develops.

I'd love feedback, if you like what you see or if you have questions!

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