Friday, August 16, 2013


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!!! 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).

Laptop bag

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 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!

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