A Blue Leather Bag


If you tell enough people that you sew, they'll send stuff your way.
Antoine makes falconers' gloves out of upholstery leather scraps and I was telling him I was looking for electric blue leather and he said he had "not quite electric blue" calfskin that he couldn't use because it's not very historical and he would send some.
I didn't fancy the color much, it's a bit on the day-glow lavender side so, I asked around to see if I could dye it, not. It is so thick, I thought my machine wouldn't handle it, so I asked about that as well. Then, my crazy brother forwarded my US stash and I suddenly had a matching fabric for the lining and thus, began my journey into leather bag making!
A home sewer is not well equipped to sew leather. So I had to get a few unusual supplies besides a special leather needle and thicker thread for the machine : a cutter and several blades, a small piece of glass, a knife sharpener, a hammer, glue, a lighter, you might need a palm and a heavy duty hand sewing needle (I didn't). 


I also made a few tests out of scraps to get the shape I wanted. Test 1 went to my niece, test 2 to my goddaughter.


I made the lining, put in the magnet.


And then spent the better part of an afternoon gently sawing at the seam allowances with a cutter blade! 


See, this is how it's done. Bag makers have a special machine that does that to reduce bulk. I strongly recommend you keep all your scraps to practice before you do that. It's very easy to apply too much pressure and cut into the leather. To keep your blade really sharp, have a kitchen knife sharpener handy. Before sewing the darts, I was advised to hammer the skin to temporarily thin the leather. Don't back up, tie your thread and heat it up with the lighter ever so slightly to seal the knot. 
Even with all that work, my mid-range home sewing machine struggled through so if your machine is all plastic, prep and go to your local shoe-maker to have it sewn. 


I even got to rig a little thingamajig I never use to get the top stitching nice and even as I needed both hands to help the feed dogs. 
Next time I feel the urge to sew leather, I'll go visit somebody with the right machine, as I am not sure mine has survived the ordeal. I will also beef up on the turn of cloth concept as my lining ended up way too big.


You can see how my Singer struggled on the inside there. I also think it was a major design flaw on my part to want darts, which were an added difficulty, I'll have to remember to simplify.


And here it is, warts and all. I am quite happy even though it looks and feels like my first dress. 
It's just about the right size for keys, phone, wallet and coin purse which is the boon of having a growing son, you don't need to carry as much stuff, he can carry his own.
And I love the color now, it matches my new shoes!


5 commentaires :

  1. Gosh, I think it looks really good. I wouldn't have known where to start with leather.

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  2. I love everything about the bag! I've got a pile of thrifted leather coats and skirts to cut up and use for something--maybe I'll try a bag like yours. The good thing about leather from clothing is that it is easier to sew, especially with a mid-20th-century straight stitch Singer. Not as sturdy, however.

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  3. It's gorgeous! And the lining is such a quirky touch.

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  4. Wow! That's amazing! You did a great job with the home sewing machine. I have some thick upholstery grade faux suede that I was going to make into a purse as well. Thanks for all the tips!

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