Saturday, October 31, 2009

Leather Purses

Well, I have taken the plunge and designed a bag with leather and antique kimono obi. It really turned out well for my first self designed bag. Here is the first one I made, and I called the Red Ginkgo Hobo bag:

You can see the inside lining is where it got its name:
My friend said that I needed to put more bling on it and I resisted at first because I am not into all the stuff -- buckles, and hardware and jewels and embellishments on things. I like it to be simple outside and really have all the surprise and wow factor inside the bag. But I did figure out a way to put something on it to satisfy those who want a little bling by using these crystal rivets to attach the handle. Understated and a little more classy, I think.

At first I put the silver koi zipper pull, but it didn't feel substantial enough so I began haunting Michael's and JoAnn's bead shop. Here is the zipper pull I came up with.
I think it turned out very well, don't you?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New Handbags on Artfire

I have put up a few new bags on Artfire and they will be up on Etsy soon. You can buy these bags from either site or from the site as I will be putting them up there later this week.

First we have a black and white sweetie purse:
It is 100% cotton, made from two fat quarters. I love the sophistication of the black and white and I since I had enough fabric, I embellished it with a piece down the center flap. Here is a close up of the body:

It's not a big bag for those of you who don't like carrying a bunch of stuff. I can comfortably fit my wallet, cell phone, keys, and pen and small notepad, and kleenx in this bag. Size: 10 1/2 inches wide by 5 inches tall by 2 inches deep . Here's a closer up of the flap detail and the two silver rings.
The strap is black and white on the outside and white and black on the inside just like the bag. Here's a photo of the inside. It has a contrasting pocket to keep your cell phone handy. Isn't it cute?

Monday, October 26, 2009


I have always loved leather. I love the smell of it, the texture and when I got a sewing machine that could sew leather, I was very happy. This machine is powerful. It goes fast and can sew through anything. I have scraps from a leather upholstery shop and have been experimenting with sewing on it. I also tried to sew on my regular Viking home machine and it does okay as long as there are one or two layers of thin leather. The big industrial machine goes through 4 -5 even 6 layers (and fingers too, if I'm not careful).

So I started sewing with small projects like these unlined gadget bags that are perfect for ipods with cords, chargers etc:

And then I tried some applique for these small zippered bags. I also lined these bags with cotton. and added a strap to make it a wristlet.

I will be putting up these goodies for sale on Artfire. You can click on the shop at the right to purchase any of these as I post them.

Next: A little more sophistication in leather.

Monday, October 19, 2009

New (to me) sewing machine

I have been experimenting with sewing leather. I didn't think that my machine could handle sewing leather, but with a Teflon foot, leather needles, sewing very slowly, and paying attention, I can sew lightweight leather on my current sewing machine. In fact, it is very like sewing heavy fabric like denim. However, if I have to sew through more than two layers, my poor machine will not do it. It doesn't seem to have the punching strength to go through that much tough leather.

So in July, I purchased a used industrial Pfaff sewing machine. The sewing machine mechanic said that it was previously used to sew leather on shoes at Nike. Anyway it is equipped with a roller foot, and he set it up so that it uses regular household current and has an adjustable speed knob. It certainly goes fast enough for me even on it's slowest speed. It is kind of scary how fast and powerful it is and I need much more practice on it before I can feel comfortable sewing on it. However, I haven't found any amount of leather that this machine cannot sew. (Well, it is limited by how much I can fit under the presser foot).
I have been practicing and making some things using both this new machine and the regular sewing machine. But I had to get a supply of industrial needles, different bobbins and some heavy duty nylon thread to work with the leather. I will be posting some of my efforts here in the next couple of days.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Baby Diaper Bag

I am not particularly interested in sewing kid stuff, baby stuff or new mom stuff, but recently (like 3 days ago, a close near relative had her first baby and I promised to make a diaper bag for her. I have become more confident in my sewing skills so I told her that she could help design it, by picking out her fabric and telling me what size, number of pockets, etc.

Last Friday we met at JoAnn's and she chose the fabric. I had a sketch pad drew something as she was talking to me about what she wanted. Here is what I came up with at the store:

So when I got home with the thread, fabric and zippers, I went into a minor panic, because sewing skills are not the same as pattern drafting skills. How the heck was I going to make a pattern so I could sew a bag that looked vaguely like the drawing that Amber had seen? So then I came up with this:

Which is just a more detailed description of the sketch, and then I realized that I still needed a few pieces to make the adjustable strap. After that I came up with this:

And this is just trying to figure out what all the pieces I needed to make the bag including interfacing for the bag, lining and pockets. That piece of paper turned into this, so I had all of my pattern pieces before cutting the fabric.

I then had a minor panic because I realized that I needed to embroider some dragonflies on the pockets and I had no dragonfly patterns for the machine embroidery I planned to do. So I searched for some dragonfly patterns that were not too expensive and not too cartoony because Amber is not really a cutesy, cartoony kind of gal. I found some, and I just figured that I could choose whatever color I wanted in the pattern rather than following what the pattern told me to do. (Amber asked for green and white dragonflies). So that is the first thing I did was embroider them on the pockets:
The next thing that I had to think about was the double zipper for the top. I had never done one of these, but just figured that I would put one zipper in and then treat that whole piece like just another piece of fabric. Here is the top zippers with zipper pull:

And then I did the side pockets. The biggest challenge here was where to locate them on the gusset so they appeared in the right place once the bag was constructed. I sewed the front and back to the gusset, and then made the strap. I sewed the strap to one side and then the loop with the short strap to the other side:

After that I put the pockets in the lining and sewed the gusset to the lining front and back.

Then I put the inside out bag in the lining and stitched around the top with the top zipper panel (with the double zippers) sandwiched in between the lining and the outer bag. Going around the corners was the tough part. Then I turned the bag inside out, put the stiffer in the bottom through the hole I left in the lining and stitched the lining closed. The lining was kind of floppy inside, so I tacked the bottom corners down inside the bag.

And yes, finished product looks somewhat like the original sketch I made. I do hope Lilian Orianna and Amber like the bag I made for them.
If anyone wants a copy of this pattern, I am willing to send it to you. I don't know if I will have time write up any instructions, but i you are a bag maker, you can pretty much figure out how to do it. Let me know. I can recreate the order in which I did it.