Sunday, April 27, 2014

Blue Streak

The title of this post refers both to my sharp ability to buy fabric, these days, and a constant sense of malaise that I cannot seem to shake. Yesterday, having decided I'm on hiatus from parenting because it's fucking thankless, I opted to spend the entire day - morning till night - out in the city. I knit and took breakfast at Fika, had a snack at Terroni, shopped the garment district and went looking for yarn with Sara, discovered something hilarious (which I'm saving for another post about denim - but it involves buying denim from Nordstrom in America though the brand is now sold down the block from me). I perused all of the boutique windows. I went out for drinks and dinner with Sandra. Then I went out for more drinks with Sandra. I walked 10 square miles.

One thing I'll say, if you want to save money, don't go out in the city from morning till night.

To wit:




This is the first time I've bought leather. I haven't felt confident to work with it in the past. I barely feel confident now though many have told me that it's no harder than working with fabric. These skins are like butter with an electric hue that would stop traffic. I don't know what kind of animal this comes from (maybe I should have asked). Each piece is about the same size (they both have a 6 and a 2 stamped on the back). Each was 30 bucks.

It's enough leather to make 2 bags or a skirt and I don't know which would be the better use of a truly sublime material.

Pros of Making Skirt:
  • I know how to make a skirt and I have a great TNT.
  • Who has a butter soft leather skirt in electric blue for 60 bucks??? Seriously, that would cost 800 bucks in a shop, given the quality of this skin.
Pros of Making Bag:
  • I have enough leather to make 2 medium-sized bags, the first of which I could iron out the kinks and give away as a gift. 
Potential Challenges in Making a Bag:
  • I have no idea of how to make a bag and I don't know if this is the material to practice on. I mean, it's soft and forgiving and I do have 2 skins, but maybe I need to start with less special leather.
  • I haven't seen any patterns that appeal to me. I want to make a very chic bag which simulates a modern shape such as either of these:

Rough and Tumble Sling Bag
Admittedly, I haven't done much research of bag patterns as yet, but what I've found is very "fabric tote for carrying baby things" or messenger bag. If anyone can point me in the direction of patterns like the bags I've linked to above, I'd so appreciate it. BTW - I can branch out from these shapes, but I don't want something that looks like a suburban fabric carry-all. Now that I'm wearing flats, I cannot drop the ball with the bag!

Today's Questions (and I really need your feedback!): What's your favourite bag pattern? Have you made a leather bag and, if yes, how did it go? What other notions might I require (i.e. leather needles)? Do you think that very soft leather can hold up to a bag (if it's lined)? Fuck, how do you line a bag??? I know Craftsy has a course but I find I don't put those to very good use. I prefer online resources - websites or YouTube - cuz they tend to be quicker. I hate those Craftsy waste-of-time bumpers.

46 comments:

  1. I love how you tell it like it is re: parenting :-). And the leather is gorgeous. Would you need an extra-sturdy needle to sew it? I've made and lined bags, but only from cotton/linen . . .

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    1. You need leather needles, which I bought. Apparently regular thread in triple stitch (don't understand this but it's a feature of some sewing machines) will provide enough strength. Also, I suppose there's hardware I'll need though I have to find a pattern before I'll know what that is. There's a place in garment district that does leather supply stuff (the hooks and chains etc.) so hopefully I'll have a local source if I need that stuff.

      And I wish I could tell it like it is, re: parenting, and still have a fun story. I'm so tired right now. I know that my kid has hormonal insanity and I, with the perimenopause from hell, have hormonal insanity - but it's impossible, it seems, to have a normal conversation.

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  2. You might check out La Cartera at http://lcartera.wordpress.com/ as she makes purses and often has tutorials. Also try Pinterest? Here's a link to a hobo-style purse in suede http://wkdesigner.wordpress.com/2008/08/27/soho-slouch-tote-2/ Good luck!

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    1. Susan - thanks for these awesome links. I'm checking them out now...

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  3. Addendum - check out this blog for lots of info on making purses and leather

    http://bagntell.wordpress.com/

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  4. skirt. skirtskirtskirtskirtskirt.

    i have no go-to bag pattern. i tried to make a leather bag once, with the extremely simple burdastyle charlie pattern. it was alright (except for the highly questionable addition of a strip of hot pink sequins) but still. bags are like home dec. bags drive me batshit crazy, and it sounds like you don't need that form of crazy in your life?? non??

    i loved your antidote expensive day in the city.

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    1. I'm sure I could have done even better damage in your city!!

      I have to admit, if I don't find a very compelling bag pattern, I'm inclined to make this into a skirt. I know I'll wear it as a skirt and I know how to make a skirt. So, we'll see...

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  5. I made my first leather bag last year and I am 'sold' as we say in the Netherlands. Is is not much easier than sewing fabric.The tric is to use double sided tape instead of pins. Perhaps you can find some inspiration on my Pinterest Bag Board: http://www.pinterest.com/kloske/diy-tutorials-bags/

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    1. We say that here too! I will use double-sided tape - thanks for reminding me! and thank you for your link. Off to check it out now.

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  6. Glad you had a great getaway day, sometimes a re-set is in order!
    I had a leather knee-length pencil skirt in precisely that colour in the very early 90s. Then that length looked dated and I had the skirt shortened. Never liked it much after that, and gave it away a few years later (should have made a bag!!). Of course over the last year or two I've sighed nostalgically, knowing it would be perfect now (except that a 60-year old wearing such a skirt is a different creature than a 40-year-old . . . ;-)

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    1. I know! I needed to get out of my regular life! BTW, I have had that exact same experience with a leather skirt - and I too should have turned it into a bag! In fact, right now I've got a great leather skirt that doesn't fit. I was thinking of putting some side panels in it but a bag may be just the thing! Thanks for helping me to think about my clothing in this way. BTW, I'm sure you'd look great right now in an electric blue leather skirt. That defies age and stage! Young women haven't lived enough to carry it off :-)

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  7. SKIRT!!!!! Just sayin'. I think you would wear the skirt more, and that leather screams skirt. It's quiet but you can hear it!. BTW I had that kind of day a couple of weeks ago and mine was expensive too. Necessary but expensive. Better for all concerned in the long run though.

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    1. But bags can be worn everyday?! I hear you though. What's more classic than an electric blue leather skirt??

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  8. Dude, that's some lovely lambskin. My fave because it is small and buttery soft. You could line the bag, or leave it as is. For inspiration, get yourself to Holt Renfrew and look at their leather totes. They are dead simple to make, I swear. We can chat IRL and feel free to peruse my bag pattern stash.

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    1. Lambskin! That seems right. We are going to have to chat IRL. This is a new phase I can see myself exploring, now that I've worked up the nerve to think of leather as fabric.

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  9. Skirt!!! You need a leather skirt. That color is so fabulous!

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    1. OK, I'm hearing the skirt voters! :-)

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  10. Swoon! Beautiful! I vote skirt too, although a bag would be great. But I can really see you in an electric blue leather pencil skirt.

    I've been pinning lots of bag inspiration for the last couple years: http://www.pinterest.com/gaildokucu/bags/ Some of those pins have tutorials as well, although they're not all leather-oriented. Some are just design inspiration.

    I just made 3 leather bags yesterday (small ones). My leather sewing tips are:

    1. Use a leather needle.
    2. Use Wonder Clips or butterfly clips to hold the pieces together instead of pinning.
    3. Use a walking foot or roller foot.
    4. Do not back stitch at the beginning and end of seams. Instead, knot off the tails by hand.
    5. Use a long stitch length so that you don't perforate the leather.
    6. Leather stretches as you sew, especially very soft leather. So before sewing, stabilize the seams with something - I used "cold tape" (a specialty supply I had to order). It's basically adhesive twill tape.
    7. You can hammer seams flat. I used a rawhide mallet on a piece of wood.
    8. For very thin leather, I steam press seams flat. Don't believe people who tell you you can't use steam or moisture on leather - it's skin! Moisture can help to mold the skin to the shape you want.

    I got a lot of these tips from Don Morin's Craftsy class, honestly. His website Bagn'telle also has a lot of fantastic information.

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    1. I have bookmarked Ban'telle and I'm going to get that course. These are AWESOME tips! Thank you. Off to check out your bag page. Mind you, I'm leaning towards a skirt at the moment - with this yardage. I can see more leather purchases in my future - for bags!

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    2. I really loved the class - and I don't say that about all Craftsy classes. There were so many great tips for sewing leather in general, not just bags. But I agree - these pieces should become a skirt :-) Anyway, you can always go back there and get more!

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    3. Um - are you in my brain??? Of course I need to get more. And I need to get a walking foot for my Viking - which ain't gonna be cheap (on researching) given that it's a vintage machine.
      There aren't many to go around. And I've got to get that cold tape - I was wondering about seam stabilizing which is entirely necessary with this softness of leather. Gonna email you...

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    4. Depending on the shank of your Viking, you could try a generic walking foot. I had one that worked just fine for all kinds of madness, including a giant fake fur coat. And it didn't look all that different from my "special for the machine" walking foot now.

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  11. I have no tips for the parenting, since you're farther along in the process than I am, but someday it will get better. I gave my parents hell when I was a teen (and now I wish I'd have done things differently), but I get along fantastic with my parents now.

    The skins are lovely, and I think both ideas are fantastic--maybe you should see if you can get another skin and do both? ;-) Anyway, can't wait to see what you decide. It's going to be fabulous.

    P.S. If you decide on a bag, why not test your pattern with some cheaper vinyl that has a similar thickness before cutting into your beautiful skins?

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    1. Problem is (don't laugh), I was the perfect child. I am going to get another skin and do both! You read my mind. But I'll start with the skirt and make the bag in a sturdier leather, I think. Starting with vinyl is a great suggestion...

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  12. I'm seconding the skirt vote! You can probably squeeze both a skirt and a clutch out of these hides. I wish I had bought some of this as well... methinks I will be making a trip back to Kings in the coming week!

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    1. Since you're the only one, other than me, that's seen this up close, I have to give your comment serious consideration! :-)

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  13. i have to vote for skirt! though a bag is seriously compelling as well... haha i'm not much help :)

    i am seriously dreading teenage years... i'm sure a day out was money well spent!

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    1. I'm sure your babies will not be as challenging as my kid - who has always had a will of steel.

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  14. I'm going to vote for a bag because you can carry it every day. I haven't made any leather bags, but Hot Patterns has some patterns that look good - maybe the 1092 Pyramid bag?

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    1. Thanks for that pattern suggestion. I have to make a bag now. It's only a matter of what leather I use.

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  15. http://bagntell.wordpress.com/gallery/

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  16. I've made many a bag. My suggestion, NAYY, would be to check out "Studio Kat Designs". Her patterns are fabulous.

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  17. i have the same project on my brain these days, but i have not had the guts to shop for leather in the garment district yet. for some reason i find it very intimidating.

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    1. It is intimidating! Especially when you haven't bought before. I was lucky that Sara was with me and she could guide me. Bring a friend. And know that it's not so hard once you start petting things!

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  18. Oooh pretty! I have no constructive feedback on dealing with kids or working with leather... But I'm here to support your sewing & crafting habit. :) Lovely to have a personal day once in a while - sometimes you just need a "Kristin" day.

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    1. Thank you Liz! I appreciate the support. xo

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  19. I vote for a handbag! Handbags always fit no matter how much weight you gain/lose ;). Hot Patterns makes some handbag patterns, you could always take a look there.

    I have seen the antics of my nieces and nephew, and heard about the antics of various coworker's children. I'm just glad it isn't me that has to deal with it. The puppy is bad enough...

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    1. So true Anne :-) And I really like the HP bags... (Puppies, even when they're BAD, are so insanely cute. It saves them every time...)

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  20. Hey, if you're interested in leather bad design, there's a blog called bag'n-telle that has a bunch of resources, including tutorials with patterns.

    It's based out of Toronto, too

    http://bagntell.wordpress.com/

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    1. Love this site DanaRose - thank you!

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  21. That colour is amazing and I love the idea of a couple of purses! Have you seen the pattern for the Fold-Over Clutch from Pattern Runway? It's not specifically for leather, but it's free, so it would definitely give you a good starting point if you want to check out bag design without buying a dozen patterns first.
    http://patternrunway.com/shop/fold-clutch-free-sewing-pattern/

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    1. What a gorgeous clutch! Thank you!

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  22. Having left a teary eyed small girl at school this morning, after tantrums all the way there, whilst wrangling a demented Golden Retriever...I'm with you. Parenting IS thankless.
    Leather, though, is fabulous. Would it be silly of me to suggest a skirt in these skins then off to buy some more to make fabulous totes? No?

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    1. I can just imagine that experience - having had a dog and a young child in the rain, going to daycare. Oh, those days are tough... And there is more leather in my future. Fear not...

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