February 19, 2014

It's all in the bag

My beloved old coat isn't the only trusty, much-used item which is dying… My favorite bag seemed to be going through the same, slow process.

I'm sure I've made a blog post about this bag just after I finished it, but I can't find it now. So, let me tell you that the leather always had a bit of a battered look. I made it from an old motorcycle jacket (which was given to me by a friend). The leather looked nicely worn but was still quite sturdy. I used one of the pockets on the front of the bag. 
Other than that, it was a pretty basic, rectangular bag with a zipper closure and shoulder strap. 

Over the past months, I had noticed that the corners were starting to wear out (unfortunately, demands of pocket placement had forced me to use a thinnish bit of the leather there).

And the stitching of the top panel broke at one end (probably just from pulling at the zipper again and again and again). Because it didn't go past the corners, it wasn't a big problem and it would have been almost impossible to fix because I put in grommets at the corners after sewing this bit.

But then, about two weeks ago, the zipper suddenly got stuck without reason whenever I tried to open the bag. This annoyed me for a while until the day that no amount of fiddling would suffice to convince it to open anyway. The zipper pull came off. I had to cut the zipper tape to open the bag.
That was the end.

If the zipper hadn't failed, I would have continued to use this bag but now that it has, I don't think it's worth repairing. In fact, I don't think I could because of those grommets I mentioned above. 

I'm sewing a new bag now. The shape is, again, quite simple but instead of old leather clothing, I'm now using bits of leather which had a previous life colour samples for a furniture store. 
Which means it's thick leather. My sewing machine handles it very well except at those points where two seams have to be sewn to each other, so it has to sew through eight layers of the stuff.
And to do the machine justice, the side seams went fine. The leather on the top is a bit thinner which must have helped. It's just those cross seams on the bottom (only one sewn yet in these pictures) which were tricky.

When sewing leather, I usually glue the seam allowances down. With thin leather, you have to be really careful it won't show on the outside. With this stuff, it's pretty difficult to make them stick, even if you let the glue dry while weights keep the seam allowances in place (if you're interested, my tips for sewing leather are here. And I can add that with the top feed option on my sewing machine, I don't have to resort to stitching through tracing paper).

I like where this bag is going. It will, of course, get a zipper and a lining and it will be worn folded over, like this, hanging from a shoulder strap. Now, I'm just wondering whether or not to look for a better matching zipper and, obviously, I'm pondering the old question: Copper or silver? ('old' look, so slightly blackened, copper or shiny silver, that is)
What do you think?


  1. Old copper would add so much character to what looks like a great looking purse.

  2. Those are beautiful beginnings. Just that leather alone, with its buttery glow, ensures your new bag will be fab. I'd look for a coppery or gold zipper, but if not available, black would be my next choice before silver. Good luck!

  3. How creative of you to make your own leather bags! I have tried dyeing leather handbags with some success, but never actually tried making one. I didn't know a normal sewing machine could handle leather, not that I've got a sewing machine at all. I think the copper zipper will look best with the tan leather on your new bag.

    Peter @ Colourlock