Sunday, November 15, 2015

Slits and Slashes

My local ASG neighborhood group, Fashion Focus, has an annual challenge.  This year it was to sew an accessory.  The  meeting presentations during the year leading up the Challenge meeting included related topics like sewing purses and bags, scarves, etc.

I chose to make a couple of leather bags.

Last Christmas we received a gift box of citrus fruit from DH's aunt who lives in FLA.  The fruit was wrapped in plain brown paper, but the paper had slits in it which allowed it  to the conform to the rounded shape of the fruit without being folded. I  thought it was interesting and  saved it for scrap booking/art projects.

 When I saw this bag in a Japanese craft book entitled Leather and Cloth Bags ISBN978-4-529-04843-9, it reminded me of the slit paper.

  This particular bag has an outer layer  made from a large oval of leather with a pattern of cuts that create an expandable mesh.  The liner is a simple drawstring bag made from fabric.  The inner liner bag can easily be made of a variety of fabrics and changed out for different looks.  The book is available from different online sources and contains patterns and instructions for making a variety of bags combining leather and fabric.  I had no difficulties understanding  the drawings showing measurements and construction. My leather was thick and soft.  Similar to a heavy ponte knit.  How to cut slits accurately in soft spongy material?  My solution was to trace the slit pattern, from the book’s pattern sheet, onto freezer paper, iron the freezer paper to the leather and use a very sharp box cutter to do the cutting.
tracing pattern on freezer paper

 I used a straight edge to cut the straight slits and carefully freehanded the curved ones. The freezer paper worked great in stiffening the leather just enough to facilitate cutting. And peeled off  the wrong side of the leather easily leaving no residue.

completed slits

My inner bag was sewn from a homespun weave remnant and a turkey toile ( the name on the selvedge) print.  So appropriate in that the Thanksgiving holiday is coming soon and includes a meal that features turkey.


 This purse is a bit saggy because of the leather I used. My leather stash ( yes, I have a leather stash too!) is mostly soft supple leathers suited for fashion garments.   I  would like to make this purse again from a slightly stiffer leather. I  also found some other cutting patterns  that I would like to try.

From slitting leather to slashing it.

My second bag is a copy of  a Burberry Prorsum Fringed suede tote. There were pictures of this tote in every fashion magazine I read in Sept.

 It is available in burgundy or tan suede and retails for $2,795.

 I used some burgundy suede I had in my stash.  My suede was definitely a poorer quality that the suede used in the BR tote. And the size of my purse was dictated by the widest skin  that I had.   I was able to cut  four 6.5”x 27” rectangles  of the suede for the  fringed side pieces.  But I had to piece the bottom side piece  to make a 4 " by 27" rectangle.  I fringed the long edge of each of 4 side pieces. I put a piece of  low tack painters tape on the back of the suede 3” above the edge as a cutting guideline,  and used the grid on my cutting mat to  keep the rectangles square while I used a rotary cutter and clear ruler to  cut  fringe ¼” wide by 3” long.  .

To stiffen the suede so the bag would hold it's shape, I used iron on interfacing on the side pieces.   I used double sided sticky tape to position the fringed section of one piece over the solid part of the section below and topstitched in place just above the fringe. Similar colored pleather was used for the piping around the bottom and the handle.  There are also ball metal feet on the bottom just like the BP tote  and a magnetic snap on the top edge to hold it closed. I am really tempted to use a gold paint pen and scribe something like "Bluberry Possum" at the top edge where the Burberry Prorsum name is located on the inspiration bag. Same number of letters and easier to remember. I mean, what is a prorsum?  (latin adverb meaning absolutely, entirely, utterly, by all means)


  1. Ooooh, I love both bags. I am so tempted to make a fringe one as I have some leather but it may not be big enough. Did you line the bag and do the fringes so all the way around?

    1. Yes the bag is lined. The suede is folded over about 1.5" at the top edge as a facing and the lining is machine sewn to that. Yes the fringes go all the way around.

  2. Both bags are really cute though I really like the leather sliced one. It's unique and different.

  3. That fringe look is everywhere. Like your Blueberry Possum very much :)

  4. Weaving into the slits would be pretty too. Inspiring post. Thanks.

  5. I am absolutely in AWE on your bags an literally laughed out loud at "blueberry possum". Your sense of humor is divine! I would LOVE a "blueberry possum" bag! You rock. Simple as that. :)

  6. Your bags are amazing! Of course you should name/sign your bag. How long would it take for someone to realize that yours reads "Blueberry possum"?

  7. Love both bags, but the "Blueberry Possum" is my favorite. Great job with both!

  8. Fabulous bags, both! The "slit" bag is so unique and you did such an awesome job with your box cutter. Now I have to start thinking about a leather stash!

  9. Both bags are wonderful! I have bee wanting a fringe bag, one of the things I didn't have when they were popular the first time in the 70s.

  10. I love both! And the fringe one is such a pretty color!

  11. Just gorgeous - thanks for the tips handling leather!

  12. Amazing post! You have a wonderful blog:)
    What about following each other on Instagram, Bloglovin, Twitter?..

  13. You are a genius with leather. The fringe is so in and so boho but that slit leather purse is spectacular. So hip!!

  14. Wow! How fun! I love the fringed one especially. Oh, and I have a leather stash too ;). I'm glad I stashed it when I did as the place I bought it all from stopped carrying leather.