My last two accessories for the contest were purses. The first was a drawstring purse for the beach look. This was my rough design drawing.I thought bright stripes were appropriate for a beach tote. I had orange and tan denim in my stash, both of which were a nice contrast to the blue and brown of my outfit. I have always liked the look of leather trim on a linen purse so I decided to make the top and bottom of the bag out of brown leather. The leather would add contrast, but also strength in the top drawstring area and bottom. At the same time I was mentally planning this bag I was looking through my “sewing with leather” books and saw a version of this made entirely of leather. I wondered if there was any way I could make this beach bag so that it could be converted to all leather. Only the striped panel needed to be covered for it to be all leather.
Convertible garments fascinate me and I have lots of pictures in my idea file. My sons’ favorite pants for years were cargo pants that could be converted into shorts by zipping off the bottom of the pants leg just below the knee. And I like this Cynthia Rowley coat that can be converted from a knee length to waist length coat or from the coat into a vest in two different lengths. Zipper were key to the convertibility of both these garments. So I thought, what if I put one side of a zipper between the leather and the denim stripes and sewed the other side of the zipper to a leather panel that could be zipped on over the denim stripes. And if the zipper had metal teeth, it would be a nice accent on the bag, sort of like piping. And why stop with the leather zip on panel, I could make panels out of other materials like fur, tapestry or painted canvas to change the look of the bag. The most difficult part of this project was finding the zippers. I ended up purchasing the 31” open ended (separating) brass teeth zippers from Zipper Source They make zippers to your specifications. My zippers cost about $13.00 each. The other convertible part of this bag is the strap, It is made of two pieces of leather with another zipper iinserted between them. Unzip the zipper and the one strap turns into two, which can be worn over both shoulders like a backpack. I got this idea from the bag my husband uses to haul his towel, ipod, reading material and gazillion SPF sunscreen to the beach. Here are all the parts of the striped version before final assembly The brown lambskins leather used on this bag came from www.Fabricmartfabrics. They have very nice leather and you can get some great deals when they have sales. here is the finished striped version. A closeup of the purse with the leather panel zipped on
And the third version. The day before the contest deadline, I was at Hancock Fabrics buying the grommets and I stopped to look through the upholstery remnant pile. There was a 5/8 yard piece of brown and tan zebra jacquard that was perfect for another panel. In fact, my favorite version of the bag is with this panel.
A friend suggested I put together instructions for making this bag and I have started doing that. She has promised to be my pattern tester.
The second purse is also convertible. It can be worn 2 ways, hanging from a belt or across the shoulder on a chain accented strap.
My inspirations were these pictures torn from magazines. One a picture of a belt with a small purse hanging by straps, and the other a picture of small purses on chains worn around the neck.
The bag is made with a purse frame from which I bought at Hancock’s. There were no instructions in the package on how to use the frame. There was a sticker on the packaging that said "Visit our web site for project instructions". The web site had projects for other stuff the company makes, but not purse frames. Fortunately, an Internet search yielded an excellent purse frame tutorial at u-handbag Purse Frame Tutorial For this purse I used orange distressed leather from Etsy dealer SantosLeathers.
I could not find a chain of the right metal color, weight and size to use for the strap. I had an old chain necklace that was exactly what I wanted, but it was not long enough for the whole length of the strap. So I cut the necklace in half and used the chain on the end of the straps where they attach to the frame. The swivel hooks used to attach the strap to the purse frame were salvaged from a thrift store purse. I added a round leather medallion made out of contrasting brown leather to the front of the purse. I cut it out using the wavy blade of my rotary cutter and attached it to the bag with decorative stitching. I added a large brass bee as a decorative accent. The bee has personal signifigance to me. I have enough leather to make a matching belt and I plan to do that in the near future, but for now I can wear the purse on belts I already own.
These purses are so cute and I see them everywhere. Including on the cover of the Oct 2010 Burda magazine. One is shown with the Karl Lagerfield jacket which I am working on now.