I’ve been following a lot of people in Facebook sewing groups for the past year, learning all about making bags out of fabric, vinyl and leather. Even though I’d never made anything more complicated than a zippy pouch, when the famous leather handbag creator, Laurie Dasso, agreed to do a sew-along for the Swoon pattern named Blanche, I jumped on board without a second thought.
Laurie told us how much leather we would need as well as all the supplies that would be required. I quickly realized I would not be able to make a leather bag without an industrial machine so decided to use some vinyl I had on hand.
The entire construction process was a thriller adventure with many new challenges. My connector tabs to which the handles attach on the bag front and back turned out a bit wonky so I dug around in my trims bin and found some vintage Wrights piping I’d picked up in an estate sale and that gold edging helped a lot. I decided to edge the contrast overlay to match.
When my daughter, Gigi, saw the gold, the lights went on and she decided to get in the game. Being a jewelry maker, she has oodles of goodies in her stash. She took some gold Swarovski pearls and glammed up the strap and handles. Then she crafted her name with some heavy, brass wire to which crystals were wire-wrapped and a gold chain was added.
the back view
A little bow was perfect for the zipper pull which she attached with more of the brass wire. An Eiffel Tower charm was perfect for the inner pocket zipper.
I made a tassel with some gold lambskin for more bling and swing. Gigi loves the fuzzy charms on the Fendi bags and since I happened to have an old rabbit skin, found at a yard sale years ago, she decided to make a pom pom for the finishing touch.
She used this tutorial, but decided to attach the fur ball with a folded strip of leather (a la Fendi) instead of using a chain. We installed 1/8” short brass eyelets from Volcano Arts into the ends of the strip. The thin cord she used to gather together the circle of rabbit hide went into the holes and we tied it off. Gigi put a drop of Loctite Super Glue with gel control on the knot and then clipped the ends.
Blanche is actually a fairly advanced project for a first bag, but the support of Laurie and the rest of the group made it doable. I’ve come to a few conclusions from the process:
1) No more vinyl, only leather from now on.
2) I need a machine designed for sewing handbags and similar items and am saving up for a Cowboy cylinder arm with removable flatbed conversion table.
3) Fabri-Tac (glue for bonding cloth) is a savior!
4) I want to make a lot more.
5) Working with Gigi is so much fun.
This wild group of crazy ladies I’m learning with has been a hot bed of ideas, innovation and sharing – so exciting! Laurie’s daughter taught us all how to wax canvas and I’ll be using that on a future bag.
The next bag scheduled in our sew-along will be the Summit Pack, a sling backpack that’s actually far more complex than Blanche. Gigi has picked out some burgundy crushed upholstery velvet which she plans on glamming up with rainbow crystals. I’ll let you know in a future post how that turns out.