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Weekday Worktable

March 29, 2012

These past few weeks I’ve been mulling over the ideas of making something new and different with leather. While I absolutely adore making books and will continue to do so, I need something more in my booth if I’m going to try to venture into the “Art” Fair world (as opposed to the Indie Craft Scene) and afford to make such a leap. So . . . what to make what to make?

Well, the honest to goodness answer is purses.

I already made a kind of purse with a book (find them here!) but I make them to purposely still look like a book. I don’t make any attempt whatsoever to make them appear to look like a purse, and I don’t plan to. With leather, however, that would be exactly my challenge. Not only to make it functional as a purse, but to make it look like one, and be gorgeous all at the same time.

So, I wanted to start small. A clutch. Perhaps a wristlet clutch, I kind of like those. I spoke with my seamstress friends about zippers and other closures and decided a magnetic closure with a wraparound flap would work best. That style resembles what I do already in book form. It couldn’t be too hard . . . could it?

Ha! Like I said, I mulled this over in my head for weeks before actually attempting it. I thought about how I would line it, how I would use the natural curve of the hide to create the foldover flap, how I would attach the magnetic closures and how I would create an interesting visual by using varying kinds of leather and sewing them together kind of quilt like, but in my own manner. And finally, the other night, I set out to do it all. It didn’t turn out so well.

It started out fine. I created a ‘pattern’ for how large I wanted the clutch to be, foldover and all, and cut my pieces of leather accordingly. I then ‘quilted’ them together and then picked out a lining fabric. I realized then I had no idea how to attach the magnetic closures so a quick google search led me to a nifty tutorial which then made me realize I would have to line my lining. Boy, this was becoming a bit convoluted. I hadn’t planned for all of this.

So, I lined my lining, attached the magnetic closures (had I thought ahead I would have taken pictures, but I was too ‘in the moment’ and wanting to have a finished clutch in hands before ‘night’ fell (meaning before my eyelids drooped over and sent me to bed)) and then started sewing the lining to my leather exterior. All was fine . .  . until the leather started slipping. I don’t use pins (I’m not  a seamstress and this leather is THICK) and so the lining was a bit off kilter. But, still, I was ok. This clutch would simply be a mock up- and be mine. It’s not like I was planning on selling it.

Anyway, it turned out ok. I flipped it inside out and Voila! It looked great actually. So, now, to turn it into a purse. Now, don’t laugh at me. Seriously, don’t. Let me say again, I”M NOT A SEAMSTRESS. I could not for the life of me figure out how to make it into a purse. In my head (it was 2am mind you) I needed to turn it BACK inside out and sew it together and then turn it right side out again. So . . . I did that. Yeah. I did that. Obviously that didn’t work. So, the seam ripper came in handy. And finally it occurred to me to just sew the thing half-way inside out (meaning, just turn it over). And I did, and added my little strap of leather on a keychain for the wristlet to attach to, and voila! again. Only, my keychain was on the inside. Hrmmm. I’m not so smart.

Alas, after some sleep the next day I ripped the seams again, added a new keychain and leather set and it’s finally complete. It’s actually not so bad! I added the lobster clasp and actual leather piece today and I’m quite happy with it. I’m going to take it with me to see The Hunger Games this week and see how it holds up. Yay!

Lessons Learned

  • pin work or at the very least glue it to keep it in place while sewing
  • double check it’s all in place before trimming edges
  • don’t attack keyring/leather until last step (unless you want one inside)
  • account for seam allowance in pattern (which I did not do and it turned out MUCH smaller than I’d intended)
  • be ready for it not to turn out the first time – you’re not perfect at everything kiddo!

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