August 26, 2010

the Leather Purse

So, here is the tutorial some of you have been asking for - the Leather Purse.  This is a pretty beefy tutorial, so hang in there.  I wouldn't say it's really hard to make this, but it is quite time consuming.  However, it's pretty fun in the end to have a leather handbag that you've made.  I never would have even dreamed of trying to make something like this a year ago.  I love figuring out new stuff!

I tried to make it big enough to carry everything I need, but not giant.  While I won't be giving exact measurements for everything, but I will explain and draw out exactly what you need.

The first thing I did was to create a basic pattern.  I used my freezer paper and cut a rectangle the size I wanted the bag to be.  (Later I ended up rounding the bottom corners.)  The pattern is nice because you can lay it all out on your mat and use a rotary cutter to cut the leather, just like you would if it was fabric.  Yes, it might make your blade a little more dull, but it will cut the leather really well.

Here's a quick sketch of the different parts you'll need and the shapes of each piece.  Remember geometry?  Well, you don't really have to, but just realize that "a" is the same length as "a" below.

The majority of the bag is held together by the leather lacing.  You need to make holes all along the edges to be able to lace it up.  I bought the leather hole punch at the leather store.  It's best to put a cutting board (from your kitchen) underneath while hammering in the holes.  The holes of the two leather pieces that will be laced together need to match.  That's why I laid them next to each other and made sure they'd match up.  Don't panic.  They don't have to be perfect.  You can eye it up. 

You'll punch holes along all the edges except for the top of the bag.  Take your time and be sure not to get too close to the edge with your holes.  Make sure all your holes match up. 

After some sweat, you'll have this.

The leather lace can be purchased at Hobby Lobby.  They have a variety of colors, too.  Lace the pieces together.  Leave the extra lace hanging out of the top for now.  You'll be able to sew it down later.

To create your lining you will use your pattern again.  Cut the pieces the same size and sew them together.  Insert the lining into the purse.  Now, here's something I didn't do but should have.  Find some hard plastic or cardboard.  Cut a rectangle to fit perfectly into the bottom of the bag.  Then insert the lining.  If you do this the purse will keep its shape better when you're carrying a lot of stuff.

I tacked down the lining in places along the top.

Next you'll cut and fold over some long strips of leather to go over the edge.  Sew them down.  This will also help to firm up the purse a bit.  I didn't do that on the sides because I left the leather extra long there.  I folded in the leather flaps on the side and sewed them down.  I made sure that I sewed the leather lace down under that flap so it would stay down tightly.  You now have the main part of the bag finished!

Next up are the straps.  I recommend measuring the length of straps that are comfortable to you on a purse.  Use that length.  Some people like them longer and some like them shorter.  Here's another sketch showing you how the straps work.

Lastly, you'll want to add the flap.  I didn't want the flap to be flimsy, so I made it two layers thick.  I also wanted to carry on the leather lacing here so I cut two flaps, punched my holes through one of them.  Then I lined them up and made marks on the unpunched flap so I would know exactly where to punch the holes to have them match up. 

I sewed the flap onto the back, where I made sure I sewed the leather lace under it as well to hold it in place.

I sewed on a large button for looks and then added a magnetic snap underneath for convenience.

Now you're all done!  Whew!  That was a big one.  Thanks for hanging in there.  If you try this one out PLEASE let me know.  I'd love to see how it turns out.  Here are a few more tips if you're going to make one:

- Most sewing machines will go through the leather quite well.  There is a leather needle you can buy for your machine.  It's a bit thicker so it won't break.  (I didn't use a special one and I didn't have a problem, but you never know.)
- You might want to use a bit of fabric glue between the leather and the lining so it doesn't shift around on you.
- When adding the magnetic snap, use an exacto knife to cut the slits for it in the leather.
- You might want to add a little pocket in the lining.  It would be nice.
- If you don't like having to maneveur things awkwardly under your sewing machine then I would sew the handles on before lacing up the purse.

Thanks for reading my blog.  Thank you especially for all your kind, supportive comments on yesterday's post.  I sincerely appreciate it and I'm glad you're here.  Have a terrific day!


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