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FAUX FUR SHOULDER BAG

FAUX FUR SHOULDER BAG

 

The ornamental nature of faux fur provides you with a creative palette to design attractive handbags and some styles feature many characteristics similar to natural fur and come in a multitude of vibrant fashion colours.

 

Dimensions: 8″ high X 15″ wide [20 cm x 38 cm] with a 42″ [1.1 m] adjustable chain shoulder strap and trimmed with 7 fur tails.

Construction Method: Turned finish – this method may be recognized by noting the lack of stitching that is visible at points of assembly on the exterior side of the bag. This is possible by placing the material, or parts, face to face, stitching together and turning right-side out. It is the most commonly used assembly process.

Material Used: 100% modacrylic faux fur, 64” [162 cm] wide; 52% acetate – 48% cotton Kasha satin lining, 57″ [145 cm] wide.

 

You will need:

  • ¼ yd. [23 cm] of faux fur fabric, 60” width [152 cm]
  • ½ yd. [45 cm] of flannel-backed satin lining, 60” width [152 cm]
  • ¼ yd. [23 cm] of needle-punched polyester fleece interfacing, 60” width [152 cm]
  • 1 spool of coordinating nylon finishing thread
  • 1 spool of coordinating heavy-duty thread or upholstery thread
  • 1 spool of coordinating thread for lining material
  • 1 wide-toothed closed plastic zipper, 14” [36 cm] long
  • 1 nylon closed invisible zipper, 12” [30 cm] long
  • 1 metallic chain, 42” [107 cm] long
  • 7 metallic bead caps, 5/8” dia. [15mm]
  • 2 ½ yds. [2.3 m] of narrow stay tape, 1/2 -inch wide [12 mm]
  • 1 sharp X-acto knife or a safety razor blade
  • 1 roll of kraft paper

 

PATTERN

The draft and formation of this faux fur shoulderbag is based upon a simple flat grid, which fits into a square or rectangle, of which the size depends on the desired length of the zipper opening. There are no seam allowances used on any of the exterior pattern pieces.

 

To make the fur tail pattern, follow the measurements given and cut out paper pattern on the fold for symmetry. (ie.: the foldline is the centerline along the length).

Click on illustration to magnify

The draft and formation of the shoulderbag interior lining is based upon a simple flat grid, which fits into a square or rectangle, with self-lined patch-style pocket inserts. The pocket pattern piece should be cut out with the paper on the fold for symmetry. (ie.: the foldline is the centerline across the width).There are seam allowances included in the lining pattern pieces.

CUTTING

* DO NOT use scissors to cut fur! Cut one single layer of fabric at a time, following the direction of the pile (ie.: hair down).

Exterior Front & Back – cut 2X fur

Interior Front & Back – cut 2X lining

Patch Pockets – cut 2X lining

Fur Tails – cut 7X fur

Fleece Interfacing – cut a rectangle = 15” x 16” [38 cm x 41 cm]

 

ASSEMBLY

1. SMALL PARTS PREPARATION

Make the fur tail trim. Begin at the bottom end of the fur tail piece and hand-stitch a ladder stitch across the back of the fur fabric (a), working small stitches from side to side along the outer edges. Use a single strand of nylon finishing thread and draw-up the thread very taut every 5-6 stitches (b). Finish at the top of the fur tail with a few back-tacks and bury the thread end into the fur pile (c). Repeat 6 more times and set aside.

 

Tape the fur. Place a narrow stay tape along the perimeter of the fur backing. Use a single strand of heavy-duty thread and baste the tape along the raw edge of the front and back fur sections, with long stitches.

 

2. LINING CONSTRUCTION

Make the self-lined patch pockets. Begin by folding the pocket piece in half lengthwise, with FACE SIDES together. Machine-stitch from the fold down each side using a 1/2” [12 mm] seam allowance, and leave a small opening at the middle of the pocket bottom. Clip ‘V’ notches in the rounded corners and grade the seam allowance. Turn the pocket right-side-out through the bottom opening and press flat. Slipstitch the opening closed. Repeat for second pocket and set aside.

Insert invisible zipper. Begin by aligning the zipper in the center of the shorter side of each of the lining panels. Sew the zipper in place using the invisible zipper application. At each end of the zipper, sew up the remaining seam allowances. (see Techniques)

Apply the patch pockets. With the lining FACE SIDE UP, align the top of the patch pockets to the placement markings. Pin/baste in place. Edge-stitch around the 3 sides of the pocket edge and backstitch at the top corners of the pockets.

Above each pocket, turn under  a 1/2-inch [12 mm] hem across the width of each lining panel. Press flat. Edge-stitch along the folded edges.

Fold each turned lining panel towards the zippered center seam so that the zipper seam is about 1/2-inch [12 mm] below the turned panel edges. Pin/baste the 2 panels together, with FACE SIDES together, encasing the zippered center section. Machine stitch the side seams through all layers, using 1/2” [12 mm] seam allowance.

To complete the lining, press the lining flat and match up the 2 folds that are created. Pin/baste and edge-stitch along the foldline to create the center compartment and set aside.

3. EXTERIOR BAG CONSTRUCTION

Sew the bottom seam. Butt the edges of two fur panels, with FACE SIDES together and align along the taped raw edges. Each panel should be hair down. Use clothes pins or large paper clips to hold the pieces to each other when necessary. This seam will be thick as the pile direction is running in opposite directions. Push any fur hairs that are sticking out of the seam to the hair side of the fabric.

Begin to sew the taped edges together, using a small, even blanket stitch. For real fur, use a thin glover’s hand-needle. For faux fur, use a medium (size 5) sharps hand-needle; and for either fur material use a single strand of nylon finishing thread.

Keep to the very edge of the two layers and catch the stay-tape as you overcast the seams together, poking any stray hairs that may be caught in the seaming. Avoid the temptation to trim them away with your scissors (it will create a bald spot). The stitches do not have to be tiny; just try to keep them uniform and evenly-spaced. Begin and end the seam with a back-tack to secure the ends.

When the seam is complete, lay the fur FACE UP and comb the fur to fluff it up and make the seam less noticeable. Most seams will be invisible from the face side if you tease the fur.

 

Attach the wide-toothed zipper. With the fur FACE UP, align and match the zipper tape to the top edge of the fur and center its placement. The zipper will be placed FACE DOWN on top of the fur. Following the same sewing method as before, handstitch the zipper tape to the fur edge using a blanket stitch.

Fold the fur in half with FACE SIDES (hair) together to form a “tube” and repeat zipper stitching on opposite side. Tack both ends of the fur on either side of the zipper’s length.

 

Sew the side seams. Begin on the side seam where the zipper slider is located. Butt the edges of two fur sections, with FACE SIDES together and align along the taped raw edges. Use clothes pins or large paper clips to hold the pieces to each other when necessary. Sew up the side seam with the same blanket stitch method in the hair down direction of the fur pile, sewing top to bottom. Push any fur hairs that are sticking out of the seam to the hair side of the fabric.

Once the first side seam is complete, reach inside and carefully open the zipper (you will need to do this to turn the bag out). Repeat the same sewing method on the second side seam.

 

Apply the needle-punched fleece interfacing. Cut a rectangle piece of fleece interfacing to size and fit it around the backing of the front and back of the bag. Use large stitches to baste it in place. Do not worry, the hair will hide the long stitches. At the top edge of the opening, whipstitch the fleece to the zipper tape.

4. FINISHING

Add the fur tail trim. Using a long needle and heavy-duty thread, load a double strand of thread and knot the end. Begin from the inside of the bag and draw the needle through the bottom seam of the bag. Place a bead cap onto the thread and pass the needle through the top of the fur tail, and back up through the bead cap. Fit the bead cap to the top of the fur tail. Bury the needle back into the fur at the starting position, (gently blow on the fur to find the original starting point) and draw the thread back inside the bag. Reach inside the bag’s interior and pull the knotted thread end and the needle end taut to take up any slack and triple knot the thread ends. Clip away any excess thread.

Repeat this procedure for each of the fur tails. Evenly space the fur tails along the bottom seam of the handbag.

Drop In the Lining. Place the finished lining inside the bag cavity and slip-stitch the turned lining edge to the underside of the zipper tape.

Attach the shoulder strap. Secure the chain to each end of the zipper opening with tight hand stitches using the heavy duty thread. Self-knot the thread and sink the thread end into the fur.

Gently comb the fur in the hair down direction to fluff it up and make the seaming less noticeable. Most seams will be invisible from the face side if you tease the fur or pile out along the stitching line.

 

 

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ECO TOTES

You buy organic, ride public transit and recycle. It’s time to achieve the truly ultimate green lifestyle. Create your own reusable canvas shopping tote bag to replace your plastic and paper bags.

Eco-friendly and reusable, you can design a wide-range of fashionable organic totebags — numerous styles, sizes, and colours. These sustainable alternatives to your traditional shopping bags are often made using hemp, bamboo or, most popular of all, organic cotton.

Dimensions: approximately 18″ H x 20″ W x 4″ D  (46 cm H x 51 cm W x 10 cm D)

Construction Method: Turned finish – this method may be recognized by noting the lack of machine-stitching that is visible at points of assembly on the exterior side of the bag.  This is possible by placing the material, or parts, face to face, machining and turning right-side out. It is the most commonly used assembly process.

Material Used: 100% cotton drill, 54″ wide  [137 cm] in contrasting colours.

What you will need:

  • Fabric A – 1/2 yd. [0.5 m] of 54″ [137 cm] width, natural fibers
  • Fabric B – 3/4 yd. [0.7 m] of 54″ [137 cm] width, natural fibers
  • Matching thread
  • Card or Bristol board – 4″ x 20″ [10 cm x 51 cm]

If you want to launder the tote, serge or zigzag the edges of the fabric, preshrink it in the washer and dryer, then cut the bag pieces to size. (note: allow extra yardage if preshrinking)

You should have a new sewing machine needle for this project and match the size to the weight of fabric being used.

All seam allowances are ½” [12 mm] unless stated otherwise. RST = right sides of fabric together. WST = wrong sides of fabric together

INSTRUCTIONS

Step 1: No pattern is needed. From self fabric [A], cut two 25″ x 14″ panels. [63.5 cm x 35.5 cm]

From contrast fabric [B], cut one 25″ x 15″ [63.5 cm x 38 cm] rectangle for bottom section, two 19″ x 5″  [48 cm x 12.5 cm] rectangles for the base liner, and a strip 54″ x 5″  [137 cm x 12.5 cm] for the handle straps.

Step 2: Fold fabric B in half lengthwise. Cut out a 2.5″ [6.5 cm] square at the lower corners of each folded end.

Step 3: For bag straps, fold strip in half lengthwise with WST and press. Open strip and fold raw edges to centerfold. Refold strip on pressed fold. Edge-stitch along open edge, then edge-stitch along fold. Press. Cut in half for handles.

Step 4: Press under top edge of each panel section (fabric A) 1-1/4″ [30 mm] turn. Divide top edge into thirds and mark with a pin. Open folded edge of front panel and place face up. Align strap ends to each pin location and stitch ends in place along edge. Repeat on back panel.

Step 5: Stitch each panel section to bottom section along its width, with RST. Press seams to one side.

Step 6: Fold body of bag in half with RST, aligning side seam at seam of contrasting fabric and at top edge foldline. Stitch fabric pieces together on the sides and press open.

Step 7: Matching the side and bottom seams of the fabric at point X, stitch across corners. (see mitering)

Step 8: Turn under ¼” along bag top and turn under foldline to create a 1″ [25 mm] facing at the top opening. Drop straps inside bag. Stitch facing at top edge catching the handles on the front and the back.

Step 9: Then, flip strap handles up, out of bag. Stitch 1/4″ [6 mm] topstitching at top edge catching handles once more to reinforce.

Step 10: Make the bottom liner. Use the 2 rectangle pieces of fabric and press under seam allowance on one short end. With RST, match both pieces and stitch around edges leaving folded edge open. Grade corners. Turn right side out and slip in cardboard. Stitch open edge closed. Drop lined base into bottom of bag to reinforce.


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CABOCHON ROSE HANDBAG

‘Cabochon Rose Handbag’

This little evening handbag resembles a corsage and is carried on the wrist. It can be made up in colours and fabrications to compliment the lady’s dress.

Dimensions: approximately 6 ½” in diameter X 1½” deep  [16.5 cm X 4cm ]

Construction Method: Turned finish – this method may be recognized by noting the lack of machine-stitching that is visible at points of assembly on the exterior side of the bag. This is possible by placing the material, or parts, face to face, machining and turning right-side out. It is the most commonly used assembly process.

Material Used: 1oo% polyester dobby-weave satin, with contrast piping.

You will need:

  • 1 closed zipper, 5 ½” [14 cm] long
  • ½ yd. [0.5 m] of fashion fabric, 45” [115 cm] wide **
  • ¼ yd. [0.25 m] of lining fabric, 45” [115 cm] wide
  • ¼ yd. [0.25 m] of fusible interfacing, 45” [115 cm] wide
  • ¼ yd. [0.25 m] of nylon netting, 18” [45 cm] wide
  • 1 package of piping, ¼ ” [6 mm] wide
  • ⅓ yd. [0.30 m] of belting, 1” [25 mm] wide
  • coordinating thread
  • kraft paper

Design Tip: Instead of contrasting piping, make up your own piping to match.

PATTERN

The size of your hand bag is based on the span of your hand. The opening should allow for your hand to enter and remove contents from the bag interior. A zipper length of 5” to 6″ (12.5 – 15 cm) is required.

Draw 2 circles onto kraft paper with a radius equal to half the zipper length plus 1” (25 mm).

To create depth to the bag silhouette, draw a narrow dart on one of the circles, from the center of the circle. Make the dart opening about 1 ½ inches [38 mm]. This is the bag front pattern.

On the second circle, reduce the diameter so that the circumference is equal to that of the first circle. Do this by drawing parallel to the inside of the circle ⅛” (3mm) for every ½ – inch of circumference reduction. (In this case, ¼ ” [6 mm] is used to reduce the diameter to 6″ [15 cm].)

Cut the circle in half. This is the bag back pattern. (To verify the size, the circumference of each circle should be equal.)


Next, draw an oblong for the strap handle. It is double the width of the belting and 2” [50 mm] longer in length. This is the bag strap pattern piece.

Add seam allowance to all pattern pieces.

CUTTING

Bag Front – cut 1X self; cut 1X fusible; cut 1X netting; cut 1X lining

Bag Back – cut 2X self; cut 2X fusible; cut 2X lining

Strap – cut 1X self; cut 1X belting

Petals – cut strips of bias cloth about 2 – 3” wide [50-75 mm]; use as many as needed to make flower.

** Cautionary Note: The fabric used to create the petals should be a thin and lightweight one, as the layers will thicken as you make up the flower. Your sewing machine’s presser foot must be able to sew through the thickness of the layers.

ASSEMBLY

a) Fabric Preparation:

Iron fusible interfacing onto wrong side of fabric on front and back pieces following manufacturer’s directions.

b) Bag Handle Preparation:

With FACE SIDES together, align and match long edges of the fabric strip and pin/baste together. Sew up seam and press open. Turn the “tube” right-side-out and press flat.

Place a length of belting between the layers of fabric through the tunnel. Top stitch close to the edges through all layers to create a relief effect. Set aside.

c) Cabuchon Rose Preparation:

For the handbag’s curved silhouette, cut a circle of netting the desired size (1), and sew dart to form a conical shape. Cover this with fashion fabric, made up in the same way (2). Cut bias strips of fabric, and fold these in half; link these as in a chain (3). Pin and sew these to the shape. Place another bias strip across these, allowing enough slack to give a natural shape, to represent a rose petal (4). Arrange more bias strips around the shape (5), alternating them to give the appearance of a rose (6). The last strips need to be cut wider to allow the piping to be placed along the circumference to neaten the edges of the bag (7). Trim any excess away around the circumference of the bag and keep layers along the piped edge thin and graded. Add piping to edge of circle.

Design Tip: Use a shade darker colour for fabric for the centre of rose.

d) Zipper Insertion:

Align and center zipper between the two half-circles. Pin/baste zipper to straight edge of each circle. Sew zipper in place using zipper foot attachment or back-stitch by hand. Press flat and topstitch.

e) Bag Assembly:

Fold the strap in half and baste the open ends to the back section above the zipper opening.

With FACE SIDES together, pin/baste the edges of the back section of the bag and its front section together along the piped trim.  The strap handle should be located at the top of the handbag, and be certain to open the zipper so that you’ll be able to turn the bag right-side-out. Stitch around the outer edge of the piping to shape the body of the bag, ensuring to catch the strap ends in the stitching.

Gently turn bag right-side-out.

f) Finishing:

With FACE SIDES together, pin/baste the back sections of the lining fabric and sew each end together, leaving the center of the seam open.

Layer the front and back of the lining with FACE SIDES together; align and match the circumferences and pin/baste together. Sew around the circular shape.

Drop lining into bag and slipstitch lining to back of the zipper tape to neaten interior of the handbag.

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PANNIER TOTE

PANNIER HANDBAG

Hard sided Pannier handbags are basically soft-sided cloth baskets with a molded liner which acts as a framework. Plastic and metal liners are often super tough, roto-molded construction. Sides are curved to fit your bag and allows for a lower slide clearance. It makes for a neat, clean interior.

Dimensions: approximately 6.5″ high / 8.5″ wide / 5.5″ deep with a 18″ [45 cm] carrying strap. [16.5 cm X 21.5 cm X 14 cm]

Construction Method: Combination Faced-edge & Turned Finish –  this construction has 2 turned-over edges placed together and then machine-stitched through. Often seam edges are piped or encased with  bound trims at visible points of assembly on the exterior side of the bag while providing clean, neat interiors.

Material Used: 100% polyester outdoor canvas, 54″ wide; basket liner – 3L molded plastic storage container.

You will need:

  • 3L molded plastic storage container
  • 1 heavy-duty closed zipper
  • 2 D-rings, 1 ½” dia. [38 mm]
  • Approx. 1/2 yard [0.5 m] of canvas/upholstery weight fabric, 54″ wide [137 cm]
  • Approx 1/2 yard [0.5 m] of fusible interfacing, 45” wide [114 cm]
  • 1 pkg. of single fold bias tape, ½ ” wide [12 mm]
  • 1 pkg. of piping cord, ¼ ” dia. [6 mm]
  • ½ yd [0.5] of belting, 1 1/4” wide [30 mm]
  • grid paper

Design Tip: Match the colour and metal finish of your hardware to your zipper.

PATTERN

The size of your pannier handbag is based on the dimensions of your liner. (height x width x depth)

For instance, the prototype has a plastic bucket container for the liner: 6.5″ high / 8.5″ wide / 5.5″ deep.

Begin by tracing out the bottom of the container onto grid paper. This will be the base pattern piece.

Add seam allowance.

Plot out a rectangle shape onto grid paper equal to the height (H) and the width (W) of the top edge (open lip edge) of the container. From the center of the rectangle, plot out half of the bottom width (½W) measurement on either side of center on the lower part of the rectangle. Join the top corner to the plotted lower location with a straight line on both sides of the rectangle. This will be the side pattern piece.

Next, repeat the step above for the depth. Draw a rectangle shape equal to the height (H) and depth (D) of the top edge (open lip edge) of the container. From the center of the rectangle, plot out half of the bottom depth (½D) measurement on either side of center of this rectangle. Join the top corner to the plotted lower location with a straight line on both sides of the rectangle. This will be the gusset pattern piece.


Make the bag body pattern seamless. Cut the gusset pattern through its center along the height (vertical cut). Align and match the gusset pattern pieces to the height of the side pattern piece and trace out the half-gusset portions. At the chevron points, blend smoothly with a curved line.


Create the zipper closure for the bag. Extend the sides of the body pattern with tangent lines equal to half of the top depth (½D) measurement. Join these two points with a parallel line drawn across the top.

Measure the distance across the container diagonally from opposite corners and round up to the next inch. This is the length of zipper required. Plot the zipper opening equal on either side of center across the top of the pattern piece. This final draft is the body side pattern piece.

Add seam allowance.

For the pannier bag handle, draw an oblong equal to twice the belting width  X desired length (18″ [45 cm]). Add seam allowance.

CUTTING

Body Sides – cut 2X self

Base – cut 1X self;  1X fusible

Cut 2 bias strips (length equal to H + 1/2D + 2″ [5 cm] extra) for banding. (see bias cutting)

Cut 18-inch strip for bag handle (width equal to 2 times belting width)

ASSEMBLY

  1. Iron fusible interfacing to the fabric base, following manufacturer’s directions.
  2. Apply piping cord to the perimeter of the base. (see bias piping) Set aside.
  3. Create the bag handle by sewing the fabric strip into a tube. Turn tube right-side-out and insert belting. Trim the belting by1.5″ [37 mm] at each open end of the fabric tube. Topstitch along the long edges of the bag handle to secure the belting in place. Set aside.
  4. Center and insert zipper to top edge of fabric body pieces. Topstitch in place.
  5. With wrong sides together, align and match side seams of bag. Pin/baste and sew sideseams. Press seams open.
  6. Turn under long edges of the bias banding strips and press flat (make banding as wide as finished bag handles).  Align and center each banding strip over the seam allowance at the side seams, with the excess length extending beyond the top edge of the bag. Topstitch each banding strip in place.
  7. Attach base to bottom edge of bag. Pin/baste and sew base. To neaten raw seam, bind edge with bias fold tape. Keep zipper edge open to facilitate turning out the body of the bag.
  8. Thread D-ring hardware onto each banding extension. Fold fabric over and secure in place.
  9. Thread D-ring hardware to the ends of the bag handle. Fold fabric over and secure in place.
  10. Insert plastic liner bucket into pannier bag.

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DESIGNING A PANNIER

Pannier totes comes in two basic types, hard sided and soft sided. These different types of styles allow for several basic strategies: you can use a hard sided bag to provide the contents with some extra support and protection at the cost of being able to stuff some extra things into a bulging soft sided bag.

Hard sided models are basically soft-sided panniers with a molded liner which acts as a framework. The hard liners are often super tough, roto-molded construction. Sides are curved to fit your bag and allows for a lower slide clearance. It makes for a neat, clean interior.

Typically, a soft-sided pannier is shaped like a bucket with a round or oval bottom base and is usually longer in its height and shorter in its width. Often they feature a drawstring closure.

Sometimes a pannier has one single strap handle just like a basket but other times it has two as in a tote bag combination style. It can be designed to carry in your hand, on your shoulder or across your chest. Strap attachment points can be riveted within the body for extra strength.

Selecting a Liner

Whenever selecting a liner of a pannier, look for a container that will be roomy enough to carry your belongings. Look for something deep. It will provide the “basket-shape” of your bag so keep this in mind as well. Search out containers that have no sharp edges or seams. This will allow for a smoother fit within the cloth portion of the bag. Keep the mouth (top) larger than the bottom, or at least equal to its sides so that you can insert the liner into the cloth body of the tote. Choose a container that has rounded corners (no sharp angles), or has a round or oval bottom. This will allow for as few seams as possible. Here are a few ideas for liners: plastic food storage containers, metal tins, smooth straw baskets, cardboard boxes, vegetable baskets, nesting pots.

Making the Pattern

The easiest way to making the pattern for the exterior of the pannier bag is to take measurements of the liner’s dimensions (height x width x depth of the container) and trace out its shape.

Begin by tracing out the bottom of the container onto grid paper. This will be the base pattern piece.

Now, plot out a rectangle shape onto grid paper equal to the height (H) and the width (W) of the top edge (open lip) of the container. From the center of the rectangle, plot out half of the bottom width (½W) measurement on either side of center on the lower part of the rectangle. Join the top corner to the plotted lower location with a straight line on both sides of the rectangle. This will be the side piece.

Next, repeat the step above for the depth. Draw a rectangle shape equal to the height (H) and depth (D) of the top edge (open lip) of the container. From the center of the rectangle, plot out half of the bottom depth (½D) measurement on either side of center of this rectangle. Join the top corner to the plotted lower location with a straight line on both sides of the rectangle. This will be the gusset piece.

Drafting a Seamless Pattern

Now, that you have a 2-D drawing of the sides of your container, you want to make up the pannier’s body pattern piece by joining them together.

Cut the gusset pattern through its center along the height (vertical cut). Align and match the 2 gusset pattern pieces to the height of the side pattern piece and trace out the half-gusset portions. At the chevron points, blend smoothly with a curved line. This is the body pattern piece.

Closure

Create a closure for the bag. Typically, it is a drawstring closure that would cinch up the opening of the bag and allow easy access to the interior. However you may choose to insert a zipper or a toggled flap for additional security.

For the drawstring closure, draw a rectangle, with its length equal to the width + depth (W+D) of the container; and its width equal to the depth (D) of the container (open lip edge).

For a zipper closure, extend the side seams of the body pattern with tangent lines equal to half of the top depth (½D) measurement. Join these two points with a straight line drawn across the top. Measure the distance across the container diagonally from opposite corners and round up to the next inch. This is the length of zipper required. Plot the zipper opening equal on either side of center across the top of the body pattern piece.

Here is a tutorial on how to create a DIY pannier handbag.

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SADDLE-STITCHED HANDBAG

Dimensions: approximately 10″ high / 12″ wide / 4″ deep with a 20″ [51 cm] pivoting strap handle and zippered opening. [25.5 cm x 30.5 cm x 1 cm]

Construction Method: Cut edge finish – the edges are not skived or turned over; the full thickness of the material used is retained and its edges are usually stained and polished. Keep the styling simple in design as all the construction is done by hand.

Material Used: cowhide leather

You will need:

  • 1 pair of metal square loop brackets, 1” dia. [25 mm]
  • 1 metal closed zipper, 16” long [41 cm]
  • 1 cowhide or garment leather skin, 4-10 oz.
  • 1 spool of waxed linen thread
  • 2 harness needles
  • Leather punch or awl
  • Leather polish
  • Beeswax or clear paraffin
  • Fine-grade emery paper
  • X-acto knife
  • Kraft paper

Design Tip: Match the colour and surface finish of the metal hardware with the zipper metal.

PATTERN

Click on illustration to magnify

The draft and proportions of this handbag is based upon a simple flat grid, which fits into a square or rectangle, of which the size depends on the  desired depth of the style.

Scale = X = the depth of the bag; the prototype is 4″ deep [10 cm].


CUTTING

Tanned leather is sold by weight per square foot. Therefore, one-ounce leather weighs one ounce per square foot, two-ounce leather weighs two ounces per square foot and likewise for other weights. One-ounce leather is approximately 1/64-inch thick, two-ounce leather is 1/32-inch (or 2/64”), and the measurement continues to get thicker with heavier weights. Leather is usually sold by the hide, half-hide or by parts such as back or shoulder and charged per square foot.

The first step is to choose the perfect hide of leather. The skin must be free of any defects like growth marks or nicks. You will have to lay out the pattern pieces in such a way as to avoid tears and the imperfections. The pattern draft may have to be divided so that both the back and front planes will look exactly the same. Even in one hide there are many variations that might cause the two surfaces not to match. Chalk-mark location of blemishes on underside of leather to avoid them when laying out the pattern.

BAG BODY – cut 1X

STRAPPING – cut 2X

TAB & LOOPS – cut 3” long X 1” wide [75 mm X 25 mm]

Cut the body of the bag in the center of the skin and cut the strapping for the handle, one on either side of center along the underbelly where the leather hide is a bit thinner. Use the remnant to cut the loops and tabs. Layout and mark the pattern on the wrong side of the leather skin.

Use an x-acto knife or rotary cutter and metal straight edge to cut leather with neat straight edges. Cut the pieces using a sharp new blade.  (Be certain to provide a cutting mat or a backing of cardboard to protect tabletops.) Hold the knife or rotary cutter so the cut edge is perpendicular to the face of the leather. The actual art of the cutting is quite subtle. Depending on whether a cut is fairly straight or very rounded you will either cut with the knife or leave the knife stationary and move the leather. Any experienced hand does this all so quickly that it seems quite simple. But it isn’t; use a steady hand. When cutting thick leather, make several passes with the blade, being careful to follow the previous cut.

ASSEMBLY

Cut edge bag construction is generally similar for all projects with one important exception: the edges are not skived or turned over; note that there are no seam allowances. The full thickness of the material used is retained and its edges are aligned with seams on the outside of the bag. The stitch holes along the edge of the leather are pre-punched and sewn with saddle-stitching.

For thick leather, begin by making the stitch lines a scant l/4 inch [5 mm] from the edge. Using an awl or punch, make regularly spaced holes through the leather. If possible, glue pieces together with double-sided mounting tape as they will be stitched. This will assure proper alignment of stitch holes. Consistent holes are important so seams do not pucker. Drive the awl by hand; drive the punch with a mallet. When punching the leather, strive for uniformity, but recognize that small inconsistencies are the mark of human craftsmanship.

  1. Stitch the body’s side seams, then miter the bottom to the sides. Set aside.
  2. Stitch the strapping one on top of each other with ends of top layer wrapped around a loop bracket. Skive the short ends to make the turnings. Apply the underside layer of the strapping and trim away excess to neaten and hold the brackets in place.
  3. Stitch leather loops to each bracket.
  4. Stitch strapping to inside edge the bag opening across each side seam.
  5. Stitch tab to end of zipper tape.
  6. Stitch zipper to inside edge of bag opening and extend the end of the zipper to create a grip tab on the bag.

For all stitching, begin by cutting a length of linen thread about an arm’s length. If the thread is not pre-waxed, wax it now by passing it several times across a cake of beeswax or paraffin. Thread both ends of the thread with needles to do the saddle stitch. When sewing a single thickness of thread, pass the strand through the needle’s eye and pull several inches through. Twist this end around the main thread.

Always begin and end seams by backstitching. Backstitching is a technique for beginning and ending a seam, or joining a new piece of thread into the seam. The purpose of backstitching is to lock the thread and prevent unraveling at the ends of the seam.

The saddle stitch requires a single thickness of thread with harness or round needles at both ends. It is recommended for pre-punched stitches since both needles pass through the same holes.

Begin saddle stitch by passing one needle through the aligned holes at one end of the seam. Pull through until there are equal amounts of thread on both sides of the leather. Take one needle and start it through the next stitch hole from the same side of the leather. Start the other needle through the same hole from the opposite side. Grasp both needles and pull through until the stitch is taut. Put equal tension on both needles. Repeat the procedure at the next stitch hole and so on until the end of the seam.

Sewing Tip: If possible, grip the leather pieces between your knees so that the work is perpendicular to the floor. This makes it easier to pass the needles back and forth.

FINISHING

Once all of the seams are sewn, the project is ready for finishing. Finish leather seams by gently smoothing down raw edges with emery paper. Protect exposed edges by rubbing briskly with beeswax, or polishing with leather polish.

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CLUTCH PURSE

The clutch purse is a small tailored stiffened handbag with a metal hinged-clasp or snap closure that has became the standard for business and special occasion activities. Clutch bag styling is often neat flat rectangles specifically designed to be carried in the hand because it has no handles. Leather clutches are most often cowhide leather or pigskin suede, but cloth purses could be of a colour and fabrication that complements a woman’s fashion ensemble.

Dimensions: approximately 6″ high / 12″ wide / 3/8″ deep with a 18″ [46 cm] optional carrying chain and fixed lining. [15 cm x 30.5 cm x 1 cm]

Construction Method: Turned-over finish – a finished edge is turned onto a stiffener to create the silhouette yet often is not used throughout the whole construction because of weaknesses in machine-stitching. Skiving the seam allowance pares down the thickness of leather, either all over or along an edge to reduce bulk and/or allow for turning. A fixed lining is used to cover the stiffener for added support and a neat appearance.

Material Used: embossed cowhide leather with gimp braid trim; 100% cotton bengaline lining

You will need:

  • 1/2 yd. [0.5 m] of metallic chain (optional)
  • 1 set of magnetic or dome snap fastener, ⅜” dia. [10 mm]
  • ½ yd. [0.5 m] of buckram, 54” wide [137 cm]
  • ½ yd. [0.5 m] of lining, 45” wide [115 cm]
  • ½ yd. [0.5 m] of fusible interfacing, 45” wide [115 cm]
  • ½ leather hide, approx. 2 sq.ft.
  • Flat braid trimming, approx. 8 ft.
  • Rubber cement glue
  • Double-sided mounting tape, ⅜” wide [10 mm]
  • 1 spool clear monofilament thread
  • 1 spool of nylon finishing thread
  • Kraft paper

PATTERN

Draw out a rectangle onto kraft pattern. Label A-B-C-D.

A-B = 3 times the desired height.

A-C = 2 times the desired width.

Divide the rectangle horizontally into 3 equal parts.

E-F is parallel to B-D.

B-E and D-F = 1.5” [38 mm].

Mark a flat trim placement around the perimeter of each section, as shown.

From each corner, measure across and down 1.5” [35 mm] to create a diagonal edge.

For symmetry, fold the rectangle in thirds and trace off each corner.

Find the midpoint of line E-F. Square up 1” [25 mm] from this point and draw a gentle shallow curve from trim end to trim end, as shown in draft.

Center snap closure location 1” [25 mm] below the curved edge. Fold the paper and use an awl to mark its location on top flap.

This is the FOUNDATION pattern piece.

Trace off foundation pattern (heavy solid line) onto kraft paper.

Add ½ “ [12 mm] seam allowance to the pattern piece.

This is the self pattern piece or SHELL.

Trace off the foundation pattern (heavy solid line) onto kraft paper.

Reduce the perimeter by 1/8”     [3 mm] all around the edges.

Trim away excess paper and trace out on kraft paper.

Add ½ “ [12 mm] seam allowance to the pattern piece.

This is the LINING pattern piece.

Draw a rectangle onto kraft paper.

Make the rectangle 7” [18 cm] long and 5” [12.5 cm] wide.

Add ½ “ [12 mm] seam allowance to the pattern piece.

This is the POCKET pattern.

Fold the pocket pattern in half and locate the pocket placement in the middle section of the lining pattern piece, as shown.

CUTTING

SHELL – cut 1X leather

FOUNDATION – cut 1X buckram

LINING – cut 1X lining

POCKET – cut 1X lining

INTERFACING – cut 1X fusible** (see assembly)

TRIM – cut 8 feet [2.5 m] in length or as needed.

ASSEMBLY

  1. Iron fusible interfacing to back of lining fabric, following manufacturer’s directions.
  2. Mark out LINING pattern and cut out as one layer. Stay-stitch the curved edge of the lining.
  3. Turn under seam allowance on sides on patch pocket and press flat
  4. Fold pocket piece in half and align upside-down to pocket placement lines on lining portion. Stitch across “open” edge and trim seam allowance close to stitching. Flip the pocket “up” and stitch along the folded edges of the pocket side.
  5. Use the FOUNDATION pattern as a pressing template and turn under all lining seam allowances and press flat. Set aside.
  6. Punch a small hole at the locations of the snap fastener on the buckram stiffener. Set aside.
  7. Lightly chalk-mark outline of trim placement on FACE side of leather shell, as shown on SHELL pattern. Use double-sided mounting tape along the chalk marks to temporarily hold the trim in place. Using clear monofilament thread, topstitch flat braid trim to FACE side of leather on its upper and middle sections. Sew with long stitches so as to not perforate leather,  miter the braid trimming at outside corners, and turn under ends of braid to butt together. If leather is thick, skive (bevel) the leather edges prior to applying the trim (plastics can be skived but cannot be done as easily as leathers).
  8. Brush a thin layer of rubber cement glue to back of leather skin right to the edges. Set aside and allow adhesive to become tacky. If leather is thick, skive the leather.
  9. Repeat this step on back of buckram stiffener and place a metal cap for the “socket” portion of the snap fastener on the top part of the stiffener. Set aside to dry.
  10. Once the adhesive is tacky to the touch on both pieces, align and center the buckram to the leather with glued surfaces facing together. Allow glue to set.
  11. Next, brush a thin layer of rubber cement glue along the edge of buckram stiffener. (about ½” [6 mm] around the perimeter). Allow glue to become tacky.
  12. Turn the seam allowance on the straight edges of the leather, from the center out to the corner, is such a way as to “push the corners” together to form a miter. Trim away the excess material at each corner. On curved edge of leather, clip the seam allowance at regular intervals and turn over seam allowance onto stiffener. Place a heavy weight (I used a book) on the stiffened leather to set bond.
  13. Punch a hole in the leather at the snap fastener position on the lower curved section and place a metal cap on underside of bag. On FACE side of leather, attach “stud” portion of snap fastener onto metal cap, following manufacturer’s directions.
  14. Cover underside of leather and stiffener with the fixed lining. Being by using double-sided mounting tape to turned edges of the lining. Center and align lining edges to cover the turned edges of the leather and tape edges together. At the cap for the fastener, snip a tiny slit in lining and push metal post through material. Top-stitch lining to leather shell with long stitches using clear monofilament thread or under-stitch by hand if desired.
  15. Attach “socket” portion of snap fastener onto metal cap on bag lining, following manufacturer’s directions.
  16. Fold lower section of bag upward onto middle section. Align leather sides one on top of each other. Sew up back and front sides of leather together by hand using a ladder-stitch with nylon finishing thread or upholstery thread.
  17. On inside corners of bag lining (opening), hand-stitch metal chain (optional) to lining.

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