Category Archives: Design Ideas

ANATOMY OF A BAG

lowes 2

Photo: Fashion Media Group

Ever think to yourself,”What does it take to design your own handbag?”.

In an ongoing series, CRFashionBook (Carine Roitfeld/Fashion Media Group) deconstructs fashion’s most iconic accessories to tell their story.

Beautifully photographed by Ulysse Frechelin, with words by Christopher Bartley, and edited by Shiona Turini, this peek into handbag style & design is truly insightful and inspirational.

The Loewe Amazona by the numbers

39 – Number of leather pieces used

24 – Number of individual linings used

21 – Number of pieces of gold hardware (not including zippers)

11 – Square feet of suede required to construct a single bag

6.5 – Hours of craftsmanship required to realize a single bag

– Number of specialized craftsmen employed in the process of preparing, cutting, sewing, and assembling each bag.

 loews am

http://crfashionbook.com/post/58242355263/loewe-bag

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CREATING PROTECTIVE LININGS

quilted lining_incase
Credit: photo by Incase

Designing a protective bag collection needs to be produced with three things in mind – conveyance, organization and co-ordination. Begin with a super durable fashion fabric for the exterior so that the bag will take you through your travels and beyond. It should be spacious and the perfect size for urban commutes and easy air travel. Remember some airlines have weight and size restrictions for carry-on baggage. Leather, suede, vinyls, waxed canvas are ideal choices as they are rugged and durable.

For the inside of the bag, the interior layer should be a soft-textured, moisture-resistant bonded fabric for easy sliding and ensures good protection against water and dust. Waterproof fabric make it suitable for swimwear, sun creams and conventional shopping. While, a padded interior made with a soft-textured quilted lining fabric or reinforced middle padded layer will provide superior protection against impact and leakage. Typically, the middle layer is foam or batting of 1/4 inch (6 mm). Between the exterior and interior layers (lining), this middle layer has a dual purpose: to protect the item(s) from scratches, bumps and smudges; and, in order to add structural body to the bag and its outward appearance.

On the practical side, you want to guard sensitive electronics with anti-scratch, smudge-free surfaces such as sueded microfibre polyester or neoprene as a smart addition. Use  high-quality nylon Riri® zippers to ensure a smooth operating yet scratch-free closure. You may want to include dedicated compartments for storing travel adaptors, cables and wires, as well.

When creating a bag style for carrying or storing fragile items, try to design a dedicated tote for that item, meaning that the dimensions of the bag is based upon the dimensions of the item being stored or carried, such as bag shapes found for laptop bags or casserole carriers.inserts In other cases, you might consider a padded lining or a flexible padded insert for the interior. Removable padded linings will allow you to customize the shape and division of the interior compartments to hold different or odd shapes, such as found in styles for gadget bags and keepsake storage, while keeping the exterior portion of the bag fixed yet roomy-in-scale.

Construction seams should be doubled for extra strength and durability, yet hidden for aesthetics and easy access. I often like to add adjustable and detachable carrying straps to the bag styling. This provides the flexibility of transporting your belongings truly “hands free” while en route.

When selecting fabrics for bag interiors, you may want to choose napped fabrics as their textures are characteristically a soft hand textile and will prevent scratching and make sliding of the item, easy. There are many upholstery napped fabrics with bonded foam backings to provide a cushioned surface, as well.

Pre-quilted fabrics are ideal for protective handbag making. They are conventionally fabricated in cotton and cotton blends with 100% polyester batting. They make perfect padded bag interiors while adding body to the exterior of the bag. Many pre-quilted patterns are offered in double-sided or reversible styles, and thermal or reflective styles making them perfect for simplifying bag construction and keeping it lightweight.

needle_punching

Batting is often constructed of different types of fibers held together using a variety of methods, so that it does not clump within the lining or break apart. Batting comes is different thicknesses: Low loft is thin (most popular for quilting), and High loft which is thick (commonly used in upholstered furnishings).

Manufacturers use these most common methods for holding the fibers together:

  • Fusible Batting: This is the fibre-fill that most quilters use in their projects. It can be used doubled over for a high loft, or pull it apart into a thin low-loft batting. It’s popular with the construct-as-you-go techniques and I have only ever used it for small projects. You can buy batting that already has the fusible applied so that just by using the iron it temporarily attaches the top, batting, and backing together, rather than having to baste or pin the layers. This is especially convenient for smaller projects (since you use a steam iron to fuse the layered “sandwich”).
  • Needle-punched: The fibres in the batting are mechanically felted together by punching them with thousands of tiny needles. This causes the batting to be stronger and denser while being lower loft. Because of the denseness of this batting it isn’t generally good for hand stitching. These types of batting will tend to migrate but will not bunch and shift if machine-stitched to the lining material.
  • Reflective Batting: Keep it hot or keep it cold with needled insulated/reflective lining (common brand names are Insul Bright and 3M Thinsulate). Manufacturers offer an easy-to-cut-and-sew form and the option to choose between waterproof/windproof and breathable/wind-resistant. Use in wine totes, casserole warmers, lunch bags and picnic totes. The hollow fibers resist conduction while the reflective metallic poly film resists radiant energy. The energy, hot or cold, is reflected back to its source.
  • Scrim: A thin stabilizer that is needle-punched into the batting to add strength, loft, and to prevent stretching and distorting. Most battings have a scrim backing.

Heat n Bond Ultrahold Iron-On adhesive is a paper-backed sheet of solid heat activated adhesive. It uses a low temperature & short pressing time so it allows for a wider range of materials that can be bonded. Use with fabric, foil, lame, denim, felt, suede, leather, wood and cardboard. It is machine washable. There is no steam or pressing cloth needed. It will not lift or pucker after washing. It’s no-sew bond is three times stronger than any other traditional fusible web. I find this product helpful in creating my own fusible fabrics.

wine toteUrethane foam is the material commonly known as foam rubber, which is produced by blowing gas into a heated, liquid chemical mixture. When it dries, the foam rubber is porous and spongy, and the gas trapped within the urethane foam gives it great insulative properties. This same material is used as cushioning for upholstered trunks, gig bags for musical instruments, and soft-sided luggage.

For handbags, a thin film of polyurethane finish is added to a polyester weave to create polyurethane laminate (PUL), which is used for its waterproof and windproof properties in wardrobe bags, camera bags, wine totes, and so forth.

MICHAEL-KORS-Neoprene-Ipad-Case-TANGERINE_92779_957f61af9db4f9f815dadb468640e1c3Neoprene has become a favourite material for lifestyle and other home accessories including padded handbags. In this market, it sometimes competes with LRPs (low-resilience polyurethane), which is a sturdier (more impact-resistant) but less-used material. LRPs are often molded to the shape of the item.

Neoprene resists degradation more than natural or synthetic rubber. This relative inertness makes it well suited for demanding applications such as a base for protective inserts and as padding in external metal cases to protect the contents while allowing a snug fit. This is ideal for laptop bags, tablet carriers, and mobile phones.

You should know the difference between a protective sleeve and a padded bag, as well as the variations, accessories, materials, and design choices. Essentially, bags are larger cases that offer more protection and more storage space than sleeves. Sleeves offer minimal protection, but are sleek and lightweight. Since most laptop devices are standard sizes, you should be able to create a sleeve or a bag with ease.

Still, designing a protective tote bag is a creative endeavour and has just as much to do with your lifestyle and the way you use your items, as it does with the size and shape of its fragile contents. Whether it is a tablet, casserole dish, bottle of wine, or any other breakable item, you will need the dimensions of that particular item to make a dedicated carrier. Length or height for the vertical measurements and width or circumference for the horizontal measurements are required to draft the pattern. To account for the depth or thickness of the item, plus the thickness of the type of padding being used, you must add ease into your pattern. This added ease will allow the item to slip into the carrier easily yet be snug enough to provide protection against impact or scratching. The thickness or loft of the padding used is usually determined by the degree of protection needed. Therefore, bag measurements will appear as such:

Height = length of item + depth of item + thickness of padding + 2 seam allowances

 

Width = width of item + depth of item + thickness of padding + 2 seam allowances

 

Depth = thickness of item + (2 x thickness of padding)

Storage compartments to hold auxiliary items such as chargers and cables, may be added to the exterior without compromising on the fit of the carrier. They can be designed as pockets with flaps or as pouch-style sleeves. The size of the bag will not affected.

In the case of photography or musical equipment, where the padding is loftier and denser, you may need a liner for the interior of the carrier bag as its exterior is often larger in volume to accommodate the individual inserts and various flexible configurations for transport. The contents should not jostle while being transported.

vony toteIn the case of wine totes and casserole/picnic thermal carriers, temperature is a factor to be considered, as well as protection. Keep it hot or keep it cold with an insulated/reflective protective lining. The hollow fibers resist conduction, meaning the fabric is breathable or wicks to keep interiors dry, while the reflective metallic layer resists radiant energy. The energy, hot or cold, is reflected back to its source.

In all cases, have durable carrier handles/straps to protect the contents and your hands, and make transporting your belongings easier.

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ETUI BAG

‘Etui Bag’

This compact bag design is ideal for small items like a cellphone, camera, wallet, or other articles of daily use you may carry.

Dimensions: 6” high x 4” wide x 2” deep [15 cm x 10 cm x 5 cm]

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: polyester-backed polyurethane leatherette

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

You will need:

  • 1/2 yard [0.5 m] of polyurethane leatherette, 54” [137 cm] wide
  • 1/2 yard [0.5 m] of nylon coil zipper chain, 5 mm wide
  • 1½ yards [1.4 m] of plastic piping cord, 3mm thick
  • 1 yd. [0.90 m] of webbing, 3/4” [20 mm] wide
  • 2 zipper slides, #5
  • 3 D-ring, 1/2” [12 mm] diameter
  • 4 swivel latch clasps, 3/4” [20 mm] diameter
  • 1 slide buckle, 3/4” [20 mm] diameter
  • 8 rivets, 3/8” [10 mm] diameter
  • 1 spool heavy-duty/upholstery thread
  • 1 roll double-sided seam tape, 1/4” [6 mm] wide

Designer Note: Coil molded nylon zipper chain allow you to make your own zipper lengths. Coil zips are more flexible making them excellent for going around corners. The slides run smoother than VF zippers. Use #5 Coil zippers for small handbags and other applications where a small coil zipper is what you need. #5 Chain is 5mm across the coil when closed.

PATTERN

This is a patternless design (simple block grid). The pattern shapes can be measured and plotted out directly onto the leatherette or drawn on kraft paper to keep as a permanent record, then traced out on the fabric. Keep the corners rounded as this will allow for easier construction and stitching. You may follow the prototype’s proportions or use your own measurements based upon what you will carry in the bag (seam allowances are not included in the pattern).

click on image to magnify

dimensions in  illustration are imperial measures (inches)

CUTTING

Designer’s Note: For smooth precise cutting, use a metal straight-edge and a sharp X-acto knife to cut the imitation leather. Only use scissors to cut round corners. This will provide a professional look to your project. Remember to add seam allowance to your pattern pieces.

Cut one (1X) of each pattern piece except for gussets, cut 2X and for D-ring tabs, cut 3X.

Also, cut a long strip of leatherette for a self-piped trim, 54” long x 1” wide (seam allowance is included in the width).

ASSEMBLY

a) Small Parts Preparation:

Make Piping with Plastic Filler – To make up, cut a long strip of leatherette and of plastic cord to desired length plus a bit extra for finishing. Use double-sided seam mounting tape for the trim construction as pins will leave a trace. Place one piece of tape on the fabric’s long edge (WSU), and one piece down the center. Remove the release paper and stick the plastic cord on center without any twists. Then, fold the leatherette straight over and press the edges together.

Sew along the edge of the filler. A cording foot is one of my favourite tools for this job to get professional results but you may use a roller foot as well. The leather and filler are controlled by the seam tape as they feed between the foot and the guide for a straight tight seam. Set piping aside.

Make D-ring Tabs – To make up, place a piece of double-side seam tape down the center of the wrong side (back) of a leatherette tab. Slip a D-ring onto the tongue of the tab. Fold the narrow strip over the ring and peel away the release paper on the seam tape. Then, fold the leatherette straight over and press the layers together. Using a zipper foot attachment, stitch as close as possible to the D-ring across the top of the tab.

Repeat 2 more times for the remaining hardware and set aside.

Make the anchor pad – To add additional support to the hardware, reinforce the D-ring tabs by mounting it onto an anchor. Equally space two tabs apart onto the pad with both D-rings facing up and machine-stitch around the curved edge of the tabs.

With the anchor FACE UP, secure a rivet through all layers below each D-ring to hold the thickness of the fabric together. Set aside.

Make zipper – Cut a length of zipper chain equal to the length of the gusset (including seam allowance). Thread 2 zip slides onto the end of the zip chain, one after the other with the heads facing each other. Zip up the zipper to the other end of the chain (be careful not to slip off the coil as there is no stop). Then reposition the sliders to the center of the zipper. (The zipper should now be able to open and close in either direction). Tack across each end of the coil by hand to secure temporarily. Set aside.

Make Hand Strap To make up, place a piece of double-side seam tape down one side of the wrong side (back) of the hand strap. Peel away the release paper on the seam tape and fold the leatherette straight over and press the layers together. Topstitch around the perimeter of the strap. On each end of the hand strap, place a swivel latch clasp and fold over the fabric approximately 1 inch [25 mm]. Secure with 2 rivets through all layers to complete, following manufacturer’s directions. Set aside.

Make Adjustable Strap – Slip the slider buckle onto the webbing, and then draw the end of the strap through the bracket of the swivel latch. Return the end of the webbing back through the slider and secure in place.

On the other end of the strap, attach another swivel latch clasp by wrapping a remnant piece of leatherette, cut-to-size, around the hardware and sandwiching the webbing between the 2 layers of leatherette. Use double sided seam tape to hold in place and topstitch around all sides of the leatherette, finishing with an X-stitch across the tab. Reinforce the strap with a rivet in the center of the X-stitch. Set aside.

Slip Pouch Prep – Trim the opening of the slip pouch by sewing a length of self-piping to the opening of the pocket (face sides together). Grade the seam allowance and turn under. With FACE UP, edgestitch along the piped edge of the pocket. Set aside.

b) Slip Pouch/Pocket Construction – With FACE SIDES UP, align and match pocket on top of front section. Baste around three sides of pocket.

Then, add self-piping around the perimeter of the front section. (see notes on piping)

c) Mount Hardware to Back – With FACE UP, position anchor pad onto placement line with the aid of some double-sided seam tape. Edgestitch around perimeter of the anchor pad.

Next, align the remaining D-ring tab to its horizontal placement position with the hardware nearest the seamline and tape in place. Edgestitch around the curved edge of the tab. Secure a rivet through all layers below the D-ring to hold the thickness of the fabric together.

Then, add self-piping around the perimeter of the back section. (see notes on piping)

Set aside.

d) Gusset Construction – Insert zipper between the 2 gusset pieces and topstitch in place. Next, align and match the short ends of the zipper assembly to the short ends of the base section, with FACE SIDES together. Stitch ends to create a large continuous loop. Grade seam allowances towards the base section. On FACE SIDE, topstitch along the seam on the base to secure the ends of the zipper coil. Set aside.

e) Attach Gusset to Front & Back – Begin by opening the zipper (this is how you will be able to turn the bag right-side-out). With FACE SIDES together, align and match the gusset to the back section. The base on the gusset should be below the sole D-ring tab. Follow the edge of the piping and stitch the 2 layers together. As the leatherette will not fray, you can clip into the corners to release the seam allowance if needed. You may wish to grade or sew together the seam allowances if desired.

Next, repeat the procedure for the front section. The opening of the pocket should face the seamline in the same direction as the anchor pad on the back.

Gently turn the exterior of the bag out through the zipper opening and close the zipper.

g) Finishing – Latch the swivel clasps to the D-rings on the anchor section. There are several combinations how the hardware can be used, in tandem or singly, for the Etui Bag:

  • each end of the Hand Strap attached to a D-ring on the anchor
  • each end of the Adjustable Strap attached to a D-ring on the anchor
  • each end of the Adjustable Strap attached to a D-ring on the anchor and both ends of Hand strap attached to a D-ring on the anchor (shown in photo)
  • one end of the Hand Strap attached to a D-ring on the anchor and the opposite to the bottom D-ring
  • one end of the Adjustable Strap attached to a D-ring on the anchor and the opposite to the bottom D-ring
  • each end of the Hand Strap attached to the bottom D-ring.

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CONVERTIBLE SLING BAG

Go out in style with this fashionable sling bag! This triangle-shaped sling bag sports a dual pocket front and the versatile zippered shoulder strap converts to either a one-shoulder or two-shoulder carrying strap. The bag comes with two zippered storage compartments and the aforementioned mobile phone pouch pocket.

Dimensions: approximately 15″ high / 14″ wide / 6″ deep with a 40″ [1 m] separating shoulder strap; an 8” [20 cm] zip front pocket and an 11″ [28 cm] deep front pouch. [38 cm x 35.5 cm x 15 cm]

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 except for topstitching. 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. The back section has a turned-edge finish. Skiving the seam allowance pares down the thickness of leather, along the outer edge to reduce bulk and/or allow for turning. A pocket lining is used to cover the interior of the front pouch for added support and a neat appearance.

Material Used: tanned cowhide leather with corded piping; 100% cotton pocket lining.

Design Tip: Other kinds of leathers may be used for this bag design as long as you select a fairly light-weight (think 2 to 3 ounce average, 1/16 inch thick) choice such as goatskin or pigskin. There are also many synthetic choices as well as durable woven fabrics in the marketplace that may be “easier” to handle other than genuine leather. In all cases, you may have to check that your sewing machine will be able to sew through several layers of the fabric before you proceed with making up this bag.

You will need:

  • 1 pair of metal square buckles, 1” dia. [25 mm]
  • 1 pair of metal grommets, ” dia. [10 mm]
  • 1 nylon coil separating zipper, 28” long [71 cm]
  • 1 nylon coil closed zipper, 14” long [35 cm]
  • 1 nylon coil closed zipper, 8” long [20 cm]
  • 1 cowhide or garment leather skin, 4-10 oz. (approx. 8 sq.ft)
  • yd. [0.3 m] of pocket lining, 24” wide [60 cm]
  • 2½ yds. [2.4 m] of pre-cut fusible interfacing, 1” wide [25 mm]
  • 1½ yds. [1.4 m] of cable cord, ¼” dia. [5 mm]
  • 1 spool of polyester heavy-duty thread
  • Double-sided mounting tape, 10 mm. wide
  • Leather punch
  • Leather brayer
  • Leather skiving knife
  • X-acto knife
  • Kraft paper

PATTERN

Draw a rectangle and label it, A-B-C-D.

A-B = 21″ [53.5 cm].

A-C = 14″ [35.5 cm].

Square down from C and square across from B to locate D.

D-E = 6″ [15 cm].

Square across to locate F.

B-D-E-F is the base of the bag.

Find the mid-point of line A-C; label point G.

Square down from G to locate H.

A-G-H-F represents the front section of the bag.

1 from G = 4″ [10 cm].

Join F to 1 with a straight line.

2 from G = 3″ [7.5 cm].

Square 3 from 2 = 4-1/2″ [11.5 cm].

Square 4 from 3 = 3/8″ [1 cm].

Join F and 4 with a straight line.

5 from 2 = 2″ [5 cm].

6 from 5 = 4″ [10 cm] or half the desired zipper length (optional)

7 from 6 = 3/8″ [1 cm].

This is the front pocket with inset zipper.

Square down from 7 to locate 8 on base.

9 from 8 = 1″ [2.5 cm].

This is the buckle placement.

1-G-H-F is the bag front.

G-C-E-H represents  the back section of the bag.

10 from G = line G-1.

Join E to point 10 with a straight line.

Draw a 45º angle line from E; on this tangent line measure 1″ [2.5 cm] from E.

Arc a curve to pass through this point and lie on lines E-10 and E-H.

Measure the length of 10-E + half of B-D.

Measure this distance from 10 to curve at E to H (and beyond) to locate point 11.

Join G to 11 with a straight line. Square from this line (12) to blend smoothly into curve at E.

Square from G a curve to meet point 10.

13 from G = 2″ [5 cm].

square 14 from 13 = 1″ [2.5 cm] for the grommet placement.

G-10-E-12 is the bag back.

Draw a rectangle and label, H-I-J-K.

H-I = 1-F.

Square down from J and square across from I to locate K.

H-J = half of B-F.

M is the midpoint of line H-J.

Join M to K with a straight line.

For the front portion of the gusset, round off the point at K with a curved arc (as shown).

Square at M on line M-K to line H-M to locate N.

N-M-K-I is the gusset of the bag.

Draw a square and label O-P-Q-R.

O-P and O-Q = 6″ [15 cm].

This is the collar ring (neck) for the bag.

Trace off the following sections on pattern paper:

BASE = F-E-D-B.

COLLAR = O-Q-R-P.

SIDE GUSSET = N-M-K-I.

BACK = G-10-E(rounded)-12.

Fold pattern paper in half and align centerline (G-H) on foldline:

FRONT = 1-G-H-F.

FRONT POCKET = 3-2-H-F-4

Add seam allowance to all pattern pieces except for top of gusset pieces and cut out pattern.

CUTTING

Tip: Use a rotary cutter or X-acto knife, along with a metal ruler to cut leather.

         Remember to “flip” pattern pieces to mirror image.

FRONT – cut 1X leather

FRONT POCKET – cut 1X leather

BACK – cut 2X leather (mirrored)

FRONT GUSSET – cut 2X leather (mirrored)

BACK GUSSET – cut 2X leather (mirrored)

NECK COLLAR – cut 1X leather

SHOULDER STRAP – cut 2X leather ( 40” long x 3” wide) [100 cm x 7.5 cm]

BUCKLE STRAP – cut 2X leather (10” long x 3” wide) [25.5 cm x 7.5 cm]

POCKET LINING – cut 1X pocketing

PIPING TRIM – cut 2X leather (approx. 24” [61 cm] long x 1½” [4 cm] wide

ASSEMBLY

For all pieces: Bevel the seam allowance with the leather skiving knife on each leather piece to reduce any bulk when turning.

a) Small Parts Preparation

Making Leather Piping with a Cord Filler – To make up, cut 2 strips of leather to desired length and twice the width of your filler, plus seam allowance. (I used a 1/4″ cable cord inside the piping as a filler).

Take advantage of double-sided seam tape. One piece on the edge, and one piece on the center. Remove the release paper and stick the cording on center without any twists. Here again, this is the real trick to making up piping trim successfully (try to do this some other way and see what happens). Then, fold the leather straight over and press the edges together.

Now lets sew it together. A cording foot is one of my favourite tools for this job when I make it in leather but you may use a roller foot as well. The leather and filler are controlled by the seam tape as they feed between the foot and the guide for a straight tight seam. Set piping aside.

Making Buckle Strap – To make up, cut 2 strips of leather to desired length and twice the width of the inner diameter of your buckle, plus seam allowance. (I used a 1” diameter metal buckle with a prong).

Once again, make use of the double-sided seam tape. One piece of tape on each long edge, and fold each side towards center. Remove the release paper and stick the wrong sides of the leather strip on center without any twists. Press the folded edges with a nylon hand brayer to set the fold.

Topstitch around the perimeter of the strap. A roller foot is my favourite tool for this job when I make it in leather. Use a leather punch to make a hole in the leather for the buckle’s prong. Attach buckle into place and secure it by stitching across the ends of the strap. Repeat for second buckle and set aside.

Make Shoulder Strap – To make up, cut 2 strips of leather to desired length and twice the finished width of inner diameter of the buckle, plus seam allowance. Bevel the seam allowances with the skiving knife on each leather strips to reduce any bulk when turning.

Cut 2 lengths of narrow Knit-fuse® interfacing (I used pre-cut tape sold by the roll) equal to the length of the leather straps. Iron on fusible interfacing to back of leather strips on one side of center.

I know this is contrary to what you have heard of leather care yet you CAN heat press leather. Now, this may seem like the exact opposite of good care treatment, but “fusible knit interfacing” that tailors and seamstresses use, will add body to thin layers without stiffening the leather. It has an extremely thin layer of dried adhesive on one side of it which you activate with heat without much pressure.
Now here’s the part that the leatherworks will get up in arms about — fuse some of the Knit-fuse
® to the leather, meaning you stick it under a press (like a 30″ long iron, with the option of using steam), sandwiched in-between layers of brown paper (I used brown kraft paper aka parcel wrap). So the sandwiched layers are: bottom of the press, then brown paper, then leather (FACE SIDE DOWN), then fusible interfacing, then the top layer of the brown paper, then the top of the press. The sandwich is heat-pressed for say 10 seconds (you might want to trial-test your timing on a scrap piece). You can also do this operation using a hand-iron but you will need to pin the leather to an ironing board to prevent it from shifting, and use a low-setting on your steam iron. Ok, that said, I wonder if anybody out there wants to scream at me that applying heat to leather is not advisable? Do remember that the grain side of the leather is not ever touching a hot surface — just the back side gets the heat. Although this leather isn’t thick, do not rest your iron for more than 10 seconds at a time, keep it moving in a up-and-down direction. (That is why the 30” press is a better option; the leather will not move). Most importantly, allow the fixed leather to cool down completely before going to the sewing machine.
This operation is done frequently in mass-production, and it does not damage the leather, and the fusible interfacing adheres marvellously to the wrong side/suede side of the leather, lending just the amount of body that one would want to stabilize the shoulder straps to apply the long zipper.

Make use of the double-sided seam tape to attach the long separating zipper, with one piece of tape on each long edge of the zipper tape. Allow approximately 10 inches from the end of each leather strip and align zipper to edge of leather. Remove the release paper and stick the zipper, FACE SIDE UP, to the FACE SIDE of the leather strips which has the applied interfacing. Sew in place, using a zipper foot attachment. Turn in the sewn edge and press the seam with a nylon brayer to set the fold. Use more double-side seam tape to hold the rolled seam down.

Next, turn in the seam allowance on the opposite edge of the leather strap and press it down using the hand roller and double-sided tape.

Fold the leather in half lengthwise, with wrong sides together, and align the turned-edge along the zipper teeth. Use double-sided seam tape to keep the layers together. Press with hand roller to neaten the turning.

Topstitch around the perimeter of the shoulder strap, using the roller foot attachment for this job when making it in leather. Use a leather punch to make several evenly-spaced holes in the leather, on the free end of the shoulder strap, for the buckle. Repeat this method for other side of the separating zipper and set aside.

b) Front Pocket Construction

Cut 2 strips of fusible interfacing tape equal to the width of the front pocket piece. Using the same procedure described above for heat pressing leather, iron 1 strip of fusible interfacing to the top edge of the front pocket; and the second, over the zipper opening on the back of the leather.

Mark the placement of the zipper opening onto the back side, using tailor’s chalk. Carefully cut out the outline of the opening, with the aid of a metal ruler and sharp X-acto knife.

Align the zipper, FACE SIDE UP, from the back of the leather so that the zipper is centered in the cut-out window. Use double-sided seam tape to secure the position.

Topstitch around the outline of the opening to attach the zipper, using the roller foot attachment.

Layer the front pocket and the pocket lining, with FACE SIDES together, matching the top edge of the pocket. Stitch lining in place. From FACE SIDE of lining, understitch lining to leather.

On the wrong side of the leather, lightly score a line parallel to this seam, 1-inch away [2.5 cm]. Fold leather on the scored line and turn under facing. With FACE SIDE UP, edgestitch along top of folded edge of pocket. Machine-baste sides of front pocket with lining. Set aside.

c) Gusset Construction

Take 1 front and 1 back of the gusset pieces and lay them with FACE SIDES together. Stitch center seam and press seam open with hand roller. Grade one of the seam allowances and fold the wider seam allowance over the graded one. With FACE SIDE UP, edgestitch along the center seam to catch the seam allowances underneath the layers. Set aside.

Take the remaining pair of gusset pieces and attach closed zipper in the center seam. Do this by, taping the zipper, FACE SIDE DOWN to the center seam on the FACE SIDE of the leather and from the bottom of the seam. Sew in place, using a zipper foot attachment. Turn in the sewn edge and press the seam with a nylon brayer to set the fold. Use more double-side seam tape to hold the rolled seam down. With FACE SIDES UP, topstitch on both sides of the zipper to secure, using the roller foot attachment to prevent drag on the leather. Set aside.

d) Back Construction

Take the pair of back pieces and lay them with FACE SIDES together. Stitch center seam and press seam open with hand roller. With FACE SIDE UP, edgestitch along both sides of the center seam to catch the seam allowances underneath.

On the back of the leather, mark the placement points for the grommets. Iron on a small square of fusible interfacing at these 2 points, as directed above, to stabilize the area.

Using a leather punch, make a hole at each location (if the hole is too small for the stem of the grommet, carefully clip into the outline of the hole to release it slightly). From the FACE SIDE, push a grommet into each hole and secure, following manufacturer’s directions.

e) Body Construction

Lay the Front Pocket, FACE UP onto the Front section of the bag. Match the bottom corners of the Front Pocket to the bottom corners of the Front (at point F) and align the raw edges at the sides to create a slight ease at the top of the pocket (the top edge of the pouch will bow slightly). Machine-stitch the Front Pocket to the Front piece.

With FACE SIDES together, layer the Base piece on top of the Front section and match the long seam.

Machine-stitch the seam and press seam open with hand roller. Grade the seam allowance of the Base piece and fold the wider seam allowance over the graded one. With FACE SIDE UP, edgestitch along the seam on the Base piece to catch the seam allowances underneath the layers.

With FACE SIDE UP, align and match piping trim to outer edges (sides) of the Front-Base section.

Machine-baste in place.

With FACE SIDES together, align and match a gusset to each side of the Front-Base section. The gusset with the zipper is located on the right-hand side of the bag. Sew each seam following the stitch line of the piping trim. Clip into the seam allowance if necessary to release any puckering of the seam

At top of each gusset, fold the gusset, with FACE SIDES together, and sew across top with a slant 1/4-inch seam allowance (this seam will be hidden inside the bag).

Three sides of the bag are complete. Once again, making use of the double-sided seam tape, tape the open edge of the partially completed bag. Remove the release paper and stick the wrong sides of the leather edge (seam allowance) toward the inside of the body, without stretching the leather (you may clip the seam allowance if needed). Press the folded edges with the hand brayer to set the fold.

Repeat this step on the back section. You will definitely need to clip the curved seam allowance at the top of this section and at the corners. (I often find it easier to use shorter lengths of tape on curved seams for more control when turning the leather).

Now, carefully match and butt the folded edges together (FACE UP), align the seam along the outer edge of the back section (I find paper clips or clothespins are ideal for holding the layers together).

Before edgestitching the layers together, slip the shoulder strap between the 2 grommet holes, and center-align the shoulder strap over the centerback seam with the zipper FACE SIDE UP. Machine-stitch the curved seam to the Front section, tucking in the gusset tops on each side.

Along the bottom edge of the back section, locate the placement positions for the buckles. Slip the bucket strap between the 2 layer at each location (the buckle prong should face up). Edgestitch the outer edge of the bag along the sides and bottom.

f) Finishing

Make up the Neck Collar – Start by, taping 2 opposite edges on the wrong side of the Neck Collar piece. Remove the releasing paper and turn under the edges (seam allowance). Press the folded edges with the hand brayer to set the fold.

With FACE SIDES together, fold the Collar piece in half lengthwise and sew up the raw edges. Press the seam open with the hand roller. Turn Collar piece right-side-out.

Now, fold the Collar piece width-wise, with FACE SIDES OUT, and align the folded edges together. Tape open side close, if desired. Edgestitch along the turned edge to create a collar ring.

Slide the Neck Collar onto the Shoulder Strap and pull it down to the end of the Shoulder Strap (as shown in the front view of the bag) to cinch up the top of the bag. Alternatively, you may leave the Collar off and allow the top of the bag to lie flat (as shown in back view of the bag).

Make a Grip Handle – Construct a leather “cord” by folding a scrap piece of leather over a cord filler and stitch it as a leather cord. Thread each end of the leather through the grommet holes. Knot each end of the leather cord to prevent the grip from sliding out (do this by going into the cavity of the bag via the side zipper opening).

Attach the loose ends of the Shoulder Strap to each of the buckles. (if you plan to adjust the Shoulder Straps often, you might want to reinforce the holes in the strapping with metal eyelets).

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THE PLAITED HANDBAG

Here is a simple tutorial I have designed for a woven “plaited” handbag made with flat braid. Any type of non-fraying, flat-surfaced medium may be used, such as leather, suede, upholstery webbing, vinyl stripping, or straw plaiting to name a few. You may cut your own slats for weaving or purchase pre-cut ones by the roll. The shape and size of the woven handbag will depend on the scale of the slats you use. For the weaving, the wider you can cut the strips, the wider the size of the bag; and the longer you can make each strip, the more height (length) you with achieve to the bag. You will have to work with what you have available yet the style of weave is up to you. The uniqueness of this design is that no two bags are alike, as a wide variety of patterns can be made by changing the size, colour, or by placement of a certain style of weave.

Dimensions: 16″ high / 15″ wide / 2″ deep with a 42″ [1.1 m]  shoulder strap. [40.5 cm x 38 cm x 5 cm]

Construction Method: Plaiting  – this method may be recognized by noting the checkerwork: two elements are woven over and under each other at right angles, resembling a checkerboard pattern.

Material Used: 100% cotton drill, 54″ wide and 100% cotton flat braid, 1″ wide. Interior lining is 100% cotton percale.

You will need:

  • 24 yds. [22 m] of flat braid, 1” wide [25 mm]
  • 6 yds [5.5 m] of flat braid, ½” wide [12 mm]
  • 1/2 yd. [0.5 m] of upholstery fabric, 54” wide [ 137 cm]
  • 1/2 yd. [0.5 m]  of lining fabric, 45” wide [115 cm]
  • 1/2 yd.[0.5 m]  of fusible interfacing, 45” wide [115 cm]
  • 1  handbag zipper with O-ring pull
  • india stay tape, ¼” wide [6 mm]
  • alligator clips or clothespins
  • string
  • kraft paper

Designer’s Notes:

For the prototype, 12 yards each of black and white flat braid was used to show the over-under action of the weaving. Coloured weavers can add visual interest to the weave, as well as the placement of the weavers to create a pattern in the weave. Choosing a single colour for the plaiting is equally elegant.

CUTTING

Cut 20 strips of flat braid for the total weave; 10 slats and 10 weavers. Make them about 1” wide and 42” long. [25 mm x 107 cm]

For the shoulder strap, cut 4 lengths of narrow flat braid, about 54” long [137 cm].

For the bag opening, cut 2 solid panels with interfacing (front and back) following the pattern.

For the interior lining, cut 2 pieces equal to the height and width of the finished bag. Additional pieces may be cut for patch pockets and other compartments.

Design Note: If you are cutting your own weavers, use a metal yardstick and a rotary cutter (with a new sharp blade), and cut long, narrow strips for the slats.

PATTERN

Whether trued or free-form, the bag design will need a bag opening with a closure to attach to the woven section. The woven section of the bag will need to be completed first before the bag’s top pattern can be drafted to determine the parameters needed. For the bag closure, I am using a handbag zipper. At each end of the zipper, I will attach the 2-inch wide braided shoulder strap.

click on image to magnify

To draft the pattern, measure flat across the width of the woven bag section minus twice the width of the  shoulder strap. This is the length of the zipper needed.

Draw a rectangle on kraft paper to equal the zipper length plus the shoulder strap width across and two-thirds of the zipper length, up and down (you may wish it increase/decrease this vertical measurement to suit your own design). From the top corners of the rectangle, measure down one-eighth of the zipper length and square a line across the paper. On this line, measure half of the shoulder strap width from the sides of the rectangle. Join these points to the centerline at the bottom edge of the rectangle with a straight line.

Add seam allowance to all sides; label it CUT 2X FACE UP.

PREPARATION & ASSEMBLY

BRAIDING THE SHOULDER STRAP

Using the 4-strand braiding method, braid 4 lengths of narrow flat braid (½” wide [12 mm]) following the diagram below. Stitch across the ends of the braided strap to secure. Set aside.

WEAVING THE BODY OF THE BAG

Weave the flat-braid strips over-and-under one another (plaiting) using 10 strips of the same colour across and 10 strips of the same colour, up and down.

Keep the weave tight, squared (90º) and centred. If you have to join strips to get the desired length, do so with a scant 1/4-inch seam. When weaving, hide the seam by positioning it under a corresponding perpendicular slat in the weave, if possible.

Once the base is woven, make a keeper row with thin string using the twining technique. This will keep the base centred and fixed (the string will be removed later in the assembly). You need enough string to go around the base a little more than twice. Take the length of string and fold it in half.

Start in the center of the weave and lace the loop end of the string around a flat-braid slat. For right-handed people, work the doubled string from left to right. Both end-pieces of string are sitting above the surface of the woven base. Take the string length most to your left and twist it under the next strip to your right. Now the string length that was to the right is now on your left. Both strands of string stay above the surface. Take the string on your most left and twist it under the next strip of braid to your right and repeat until you get to the corner of the base. Keep the string tight, bring it close to the weaving. Once you get to the corner, wrap that bottom string length around the corner good and tight. The remaining strand of string gets twisted under the slat going the opposite direction at the corner. Keep it tight. Once you are around the corner rotate the entire base 90 degrees. Continue wrapping the string from left to right as before, keeping the string strands always above the woven base. At the corner, bring the bottom string length around the corner and keep it tight and take the top thread and wrap it under the perpendicular strip. Continue working the string most left under the next slat on the right. Each will create a half twist of the string. Keep the base squared. When you have gone around the base, tie the ends through the beginning loop and tie off. If you had to join strips to get the desired length for your weavers, adjust the slats horizontally and vertically to hide the join under a flat-braid slat wherever necessary.

Now that the keeper row is in place, turn the base 45 degrees and fold the lower point of the base to the upper point of the base with face side up. You are now ready to start a 3-dimensional weave.

At corners of the base on the left and right, begin to weave the flat-braid strips from front to back on each side. Use alligator clips or clothespins to hold the strips while weaving. While the weaving remains a simple under-over operation, now you are weaving one flat-braid strip from the ‘front’ with one strip from the ‘back’, which is a little more complex. Pay attention that you do not twist or mis-align the flat-braid slats. As always, keep the weaving tight and build the sides of the weave, alternating back and forth. Use alligator clips to hold the intertwining slats in place. Continue the weaving until you can go no further. Repeat this process on the opposite side of the woven base.

Baste across the ends of the flat-braids to hold the 3-D weave. You now have the “body” of the handbag. Carefully snip the string and remove the keeper row.

Along the top edge of the woven section, you can use a stay-tape to stabilize the woven edge and prevent the weave from stretching. You can square up the top edge of the bag and cut away the excess, or you may want to follow the shape of the top edge as I did to “keep” as much of the completed plaiting as possible. In this case, the bag sides are built up yet at the center of the front and back sections, it dips because I have run out of weavers. In many cases, you can premeditate a conceptual plan yet be prepared to be flexible to “allow” the design to develop as you style the weave pattern.

Measure the dimensions of your plaiting and draft the solid portion of the handbag (zippered opening).

MAKING THE BAG TOP OPENING

Iron fusible interfacing to the back of the upholstery fabric, following manufacturer’s directions, to stabilize the front and back panels of the bag opening. Cut out the desired shape from the pattern.

Turn under the top edge of the front and back panels and press along the fold.

Attach the bag zipper. On the interfaced static solid portion of the bag opening, center the zipper FACE UP. Using a zipper foot, topstitch the panels to the zipper.

Next, attach the shoulder strap. Place the ends of the shoulder strap across the ends of the zipper and stitch across the width of the strap. Carefully clip the fabric at a 45º angle between the shoulder strap and the front and back section (see diagram), stop at the outer edge of the shoulder strap.

At this point, bring the front and back sections, with FACE SIDES together, to sew up the gussets (side seams). Stitch up side seams and open flat. Fold the side seams back onto the zipper end with the strapping sandwiched between the two layers to create the gusset. Sew across the ends to mitre the corner and secure the shoulder strap in place.

To complete the bag, attach the top section to the woven base. Open the zipper and turn bag opening wrong-side-out. With FACE SIDES together, align and match the raw edges of the solid panel with the woven edge and stitch together, easing wherever needed. Turn right-side-out when completed and topstitch along the seamline.

INTERIOR LINING

For the interior of the handbag, you will need a strong fabric to support the contents of the bag. Suitability for a given purpose is my rational for using laminated or bonded fabrics for linings in my handbag designs. The woven section of the bag will not be strong enough to hold contents securely, so a reinforced lining is necessary. Some fabric choices are percale, faille, or moiré, which are tightly woven, then bond them with fusible interfacing. This special treatment gives the interior bag lining its strength and durability, while taking the strain off the plaiting.

For this design, I have chosen the drop-in lining method as it’s the easiest to make. Basically, you are making it separately from the outside of the bag. These lining pieces are more or less square grids with the bottom corners cut out. This gives a lining the same size and shape as the body of the bag before being inserted into the bag cavity and attached to the opening. You may decide to add interior pockets to the lining interior for security and organization, as I did.

For the lining, iron a light-weight interfacing to the back of the lining material. Mark out two rectangles equal to the height and width of the finished bag. Add seam allowance. Cut each of the bonded fabric pieces out.

For the lining pockets, cut 2 rectangles equal to 2 times its width, for the length with seam allowance.

Fold each patch pocket piece, with FACE side together, to form a square. Stitch on all open sides, leaving a small opening to turn out the fabric. Turn right-side-out and press square pocket flat. Slipstitch opening closed. Align each patch pocket to center of lining piece and secure in place by topstitch along sides and bottom of the square, then sew up the middle to create compartments.

Turn under the seam allowance along the top edge of the lining pieces and press flat. With FACE sides together, match and align the perimeter edges of the lining and stitch the sides and bottom. Insert the lining into the cavity of the bag and slipstitch the top edge of the lining to the back of the zipper tape at the opening of the bag.

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PAILLETTE EVENING BAG

A little sparkle for a night out.

Dimensions: approximately 15 cm high X 30 cm wide X 5 cm deep

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% polyester-backed paillette fabric, 112 cm wide; 100% polyester sateen lining; 100% polyester Pellon® fleece interlining, medium-weight; 100% polyester Knit-fuse® interfacing.

You will need:

  • 30 cm of paillette fashion fabric, 112 cm wide
  • 30 cm of sateen lining, 112 cm wide
  • 30 cm of needle-punched fleece interlining, 56 cm wide
  • 30 cm of knit-fuse interfacing, 75 cm wide
  • 1 metal purse frame with double loops, 30 cm x 6 cm
  • 1 metal purse chain, 50 cm
  • 2 metal jumprings, 5-6 mm dia.
  • 1 spool of coordinating thread
  • 1 tube of clear-set bonding adhesive
  • kraft paper

PATTERN

The size of the frame determines the size of this evening bag.

The width is equal to the width of the purse frame. The height is equal to half the width and the depth is 1/6 of the width. The dimensions of the purse frame used is 30 cm X 6 cm.

Take the purse frame and draw around the outer perimeter following its shape onto kraft paper, including the points where the hinges stop.

Square down vertically from the hinge points, and measure 15 cm from top of frame to base line for the finished height.

To create the depth, add a 25 mm gusset on each side. Extend the baseline outward on either side of center and join to the top edge with a straight line.

The distance from the top corner of the purse frame to its hinge equals 6 cm. Transfer this amount to your pattern draft plus add seam allowance and fit ease (this equals 1 cm for the seam allowance and a few millimetres more from end of the purse hinge location). Indicate the hinge locations with a notch. Label O. This is where the purse hinges will sit on the fabric.

Cut out pattern and label INTERIOR with cutting instructions for lining/interfacing and add a vertical grainline for the marker.

Trace draft onto a folded sheet of paper with the baseline aligned on the fold. Cut out pattern and label EXTERIOR with cutting instructions for paillette fabric/interlining and add a vertical grainline for the marker. Label the notches, X.

CUTTING

Cutting Tip: Do not use your best fabric scissors to cut the paillette fabric; the plastic will dull them quickly.

Exterior Bag: cut 1X the paillette fabric and the Pellon interlining.

Interior Bag: cut 2X the sateen lining and knit fusible.

Slip Pocket: cut a square from remaining lining fabric – 22 cm long X 22 cm wide

Sewing Tip: Use a roller foot attachment on your sewing machine for more control and less friction when sewing the paillette fabric. The metal roller will not imprint the fabric.

CONSTRUCTION

a) Preparation

Iron the fusible knit-fuse interfacing onto the wrong side of the lining fabric, following manufacturer’s directions.

Baste the sew-in Pellon® interlining to the back of the paillette fabric, by hand, around the perimeter.

b) Exterior

To construct the exterior of the bag, fold the paillette fabric FACE SIDES together and match the X notches. Sew from the X, down to the fold of the fabric, using a 1 cm seam allowance.

Create a flat bottom for the purse by mitering (see: mitering). Take one of the corners of the exterior bag and match the sideseam with the foldline of the bag. Flatten to form a triangle. Measure 25 mm from the tip of the triangle  and mark the line with chalk and pin. Stitch along the marked line perpendicular to the seam and trim the excess fabric 1cm from the seam to create a mitered corner. Repeat for the opposite bottom corner of the exterior. Turn exterior bag right side out.

c) Slip Pocket

Make a slip pocket by folding a square of lining fabric in half with FACE SIDES together. Stitch up sides from fold, using a 6mm seam allowance. Turn fabric right-side-out and press flat.

d) Interior

Center slip pocket on one section of the lining and match the raw open edge of the pocket to the base of the lining fabric. Edge stitch along the 2 sides of the slip pocket to attach the pocket to the lining. Stitch across the bottom of the pocket. (as an option, this slip pocket can be divided into 2 smaller compartments by stitching through the center of the slip pocket, if desired).

Place the 2 lining pieces, with FACE SIDES together, and align the bottom edges and the O notches. Sew from the O, down to the bottom corner of the lining, using a 1 cm seam allowance. Then, sew the bottom seam of the lining, using a 1 cm seam allowance, except you have to leave an opening in the bottom of the lining to allow for turning.

Create a miter by matching the side seam with the bottom seam on each bottom corner of the lining and proceed in the same manner as described above.

e) Assembly

Slip the exterior section in between the lining. The FACE SIDES of the interior bag and the exterior bag should now be touching each other. Match up the X and O notches. Sew the two flaps of the purse. On one of the flaps pin the lining to the exterior bag at the top and sides. Begin sewing where the stitching starts on the lining, sew all around the sides and top edge stopping at the stitching on the lining. Repeat with other purse flap. Clip ‘V’ notches at the X and O in the seam allowance to aid in securing a smooth edge and trim the excess Pellon from the seam allowance.

Gently pull the exterior of the bag through the opening left in the lining. Drop the lining into the cavity of the exterior section and smooth everything down with a wooden creaser, as a hot iron will melt the plastic paillettes.

f) Purse  Frame Attachment

To complete and before applying the glue, dry-fit the bag into the frame to check the fit. Check the bulk of the seam and trim seam allowance if necessary. The thickness of the layers at this point should fill the cavity of the frame nicely.

Then, remove from the frame and sew up opening in the lining closed. Stitch the gap in the lining closed by pushing the raw edges into the gap and edge-stitching close to the edge for a neat finish.

Apply clear-set bonding glue to the channel of one of the sides of the frame. Start at the hinge and work your way to the other hinge. Go easy on the glue and only do one side of the frame at a time! Use a craftstick (or something similar) to spread the glue around inside the frame. Don’t let it form “globs” or it will ooze out on your fabric. Allow the glue to become tacky for 5 minutes.

Insert the purse into the frame. Start by inserting the sides of your purse into the frame (hinge end first) then work your way up to the top corners. Use a pointed tool to poke and stuff the fabric evenly into the frame – a crease presser/turner is perfect for this job. After you have inserted the sides of the purse into the frame, start inserting the top edge of the purse into the frame working reasonably quickly before the glue dries. Turn the purse over to check that the lining side is also inserted evenly into the frame. Leave to dry for 15 minutes before tackling the other side of the frame and purse in the same way. Let everything dry for about 30 minutes or according to manufacturer’s directions.

g) Finishing

Add the purse chain to the double loops on the purse frame by threading the jumprings onto the chain links and the frame loops, then closing with pinch-nosed pliers.

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OLD SCHOOL BACKPACK

“OLD SCHOOL BACKPACK”

Around campus or across the country, make the journey more beautiful with this vintage-inspired backpack.

Dimensions: approximately 14” high X 12” wide X 7” deep (35.5 cm x 30.5 cm x 18 cm) with grab handle with dual adjustable 17” (43 cm) shoulder straps for versatility and exterior flap and zip pockets at the front and sides.

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. Topstitching adds a decorative element while reinforcing all seams for durability.

Material Used: 100% cotton denim canvas, 54″ wide; trim: pigskin leather; lined-interior features a back wall zip pocket and front wall slip pockets, made of 100% cotton ticking.

You will need:

  • 1 yd. (.90 m) canvas or upholstery weight fashion fabric, 54” wide (137 cm)
  • 3/4 yd. (.70 m) heavy-weight lining fabric, 54” wide (137 cm)
  • 1/2 pigskin leather hide for trim
  • 3/4 yd. (.70 m) fusible interfacing, 60” wide (153 cm)
  • 1/4 yd. (.25 m) transfer web, 36” wide (91 cm)
  • 2 ¼ yds. (2 m) cotton/polyester webbing, 2” wide (50 mm)
  • 8 metal grommets, ¾” dia. (20 mm)
  • 2 metal zippers, 7” long (18 cm)
  • 1 nylon zipper, 8” long (20 cm)
  • 1 metal dome snap set, ” dia. (15 mm)
  • 2 metal buckles, 2” inner dia. (50 mm)
  • 2 metal square rings, 2” inner dia. (50 mm)
  • 1 metal O- ring, 2” dia. (50 mm)
  • 2 connector rings for zippers, ¼” dia. (6 mm)
  • 1 hook & loop fastener, 1” wide (25 mm)
  • heavy-duty all-purpose thread
  • double-sided mounting tape
  • rotary cutter
  • hole punch
  • awl
  • kraft paper

Design Tip: Match the hardware and zipper metals in colour and metal finish for a sleek unified look. Colour coordinate your choice of trim with the bag strapping to achieve further harmony in your design.

Pattern

The draft and formation of this backpack is based upon a simple flat grid, which fits into a square or rectangle, of which the size depends on the drafting scale.

** Add seam allowances to all pattern pieces, except pocket flap and bag flap.

Draft Body Pattern

Drafting scale = the depth of the bag; in this case, 7 inches (18 cm)

click to magnify

On kraft paper, plot a straight line vertically from A to B; AB = 2 X scale minus 2″ (5 cm).

Square (90 degree angle) a horizontal straight line from A to C; AC = 20″ (51 cm).

Square across from B and down from C to locate DABCD is a rectangle.

1 from A = half the distance between AB; square across to locate 2.

3 from 1 = 2 X scale minus 2″ (5 cm).

Square up and down from 3 to locate 4 and 5.

6 from 2 = the scale

Square up and down from 6 to locate 7 and 8.

9 from 7 = 1/2″ (12 mm). Join point 9 to point 6 with a straight line.

10 from C = 1/2″ (12 mm). Join point 10 to point 2 with a straight line.

This is the pattern for the side lining. Label cut 2X lining.

11 from A = 1/2″ (12 mm). Join point 11 to point 1 with a straight line.

12 from 4 = 1/2″ (12 mm). Join point 12 to point 3 with a straight line.

Point 13 is located midway 11 and 12; square down to locate 14.

This is the pattern for the back section. Label cut 1X self.

The same draft may be used for the Front and Back Lining. Trace off and label, cut 2X lining.

click to magnify

Trace off the draft onto kraft paper.

15 from 6 = 2″ (5 cm). Join point 15 to point 2 with a straight line.

Cut on line 15-2 to create the Upper Side and Lower Side pattern pieces.

Label the Upper Side cut 2X self.

Label the Lower Side Cut 2X self and cut 2X lining (pocket bag).

Point 16 is located at the intersection of lines 1-2 and 13-14.

Point 17 = the distance between 1 and 16 minus 2″ (5 cm).

Point 18 = the distance between 16 and 3 minus 2″ (5 cm).

This is the placement line for the front bellow pocket.

Points 19 and 20 are located 3/8″ (1 cm) above points 17 and 18.

This is the placement line for the front pocket flap.

This completes the draft for the front pattern. Label cut 1X self.

Draft Bottom (Base) Pattern

On kraft paper, plot a straight line vertically from A to BAB = scale

click to magnify

Square (90 degree angle) a horizontal straight line from A to C; AC = 2 x scale minus 2″ (5 cm).

Square across from B and down from C to locate D.  ABCD is a rectangle.

1 from A = 1/2″ (12 mm).

2 from 1 = 2″ (5 cm).

3 from C = 1/2″ (12 mm).

4 from 3 = 2″ (5 cm).

Points 1-2 and 3-4 are the placement points for the connector ring tabs.

Point 5 is midway between B and D and marks the centerfront (CF) of the bag.

Draft Front Bellow Pocket Pattern

Trace off points 14, 16, 17, and 18 from Front pattern draft onto kraft paper.

click to magnify

Square down from points 17 and 18; and across from point 14 to locate A and B.

C-D is equidistant from 17-18; C-17 and D-18 = 1/2″ (5 cm).

E from 14 = 1″ (2.5 cm).

Square across from E to locate F at intersection of 17-A.

Square across from E to locate G at intersection of 18-B.

H from G = 1″ (2.5 cm).

I from F = 1″ (2.5 cm).

Join D-H and H-B with a straight line.

Join C-I and I-A with a straight line.

Draw a tangent line from G at a 45 degree angle.

J from G = 1″ (2.5 cm). Join J to B and H with a straight line.

K from F = 1″ (2.5 cm). Join K to I and A with a straight line.

This is the pattern for the bellow pocket. Label cut 1X self.

Mark placement location of hook & loop fastener (at center) about 1/2″ (12 mm) from point 16.

Draft Front Pocket Flap Pattern

Trace off points 16, 17 and 18 from Front pattern draft onto kraft paper.

Square down from 16 to locate L; L from 16 = 3/4 of scale.

Square down from 17 and 18; and across from L to locate M and N at the intersections of the lines.

Gradually round off the corners at M and N.

This is the pattern for the Front Pocket. Label cut 1X self and cut 1X lining.

Indicate the placement of the hook & loop fastener at center approximately 3/8″ (1 cm) above L.

Draft Top Flap Pattern

Trace off points 11, 12, and 13 from Back Pattern draft onto kraft paper.

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Square down from 13 to locate P; P from 13 = scale amount + 2″ (5 cm).

Square down from 11 and 12; and across from P to locate Q and R at the intersections of the lines.

Gradually round off the corners at Q and R.

This is the pattern for the Top Flap . Label cut 1X self and cut 1X lining.

Indicate the placement of the clasp at center approximately 4″ (10 cm) above P.

Draft Drawcord Placket Pattern

Draw an oblong shape on kraft paper.

The length = 2 x (distance between 11 and 12 + distance between 9 and 10), from the body draft.

The width = 4″ (10 cm).

Label pattern, cut 1X self.

Cutting

Back and Front – cut 2X self; cut 2X lining

Upper Side – cut 2X self

Lower Side – cut 2X self; cut 2X lining

Bottom – cut 1X self; cut 1X lining

Bag Flap – cut 1X self; cut 1X lining

Front Pocket Flap – cut 1X self; cut 1X lining

Front Bellow Pocket – cut 1X self

Bag Placket – cut 1X self

Side Lining – cut 2X lining

Drawcord – cut strip 53” X 2” (135 cm X 5 cm) self fabric

Interior pocket – cut 2 squares lining, 11” X 11” (28 cm X 28 cm)

Assembly

Small Parts Preparation

Make shoulder strap from webbing. Cut 2 lengths of webbing 36 inches long (90 cm). Attach a buckle on one end of each length and turn-under the cut end. Stitch across the width of the strap to finish neatly. Set the pair aside.

Make drawcord. Cut a strip of fabric 53” X 2” (135 cm X 5 cm). With wrong sides together, fold strip in half lengthwise and press flat. Open strip and fold in long raw edges to the center of the fold. Press flat. Refold strip and stitch close along open edge. Set drawcord aside.

Make grab handle. Cut a length of leather using a rotary cutter (or x-acto knife) 12 inches X 2.5 inches (30.5 cm X 6.5 cm). Using an awl, score down the length on the wrong side of the leather. Place double-side mounting tape along the length of the leather strip on the wrong side. Peel off the paper coating from tape and fold the leather in half lengthwise. Machine-stitch (use a long stitch length) along the cut edge of the strip’s length. Set aside.

Make leather clasp. Cut 2 lengths of leather using a rotary cutter 8 inches X 1.5 inches (20 cm X 3.7 cm). On one of the pieces, make a centred hole using a hole-punch, 3 inches (7.5 cm)from one end of the leather strip. Attach the stud portion of the snap set (receiving end) and rivet into the hole, following manufacturer’s directions.

Place double-side mounting tape along the length of the leather strip on the wrong side. Peel off the paper coating from tape and place onto the other leather piece, with wrong sides together. Carefully round the short ends of the leather trim. Machine-stitch (use a long stitch length) along the perimeter edge of the trim.

On the end of the trim piece without the hardware, make a centred hole approximately 1 inch (25 mm) from the end and attach the remainder of the snap set, with the dome stem coming through the hole so that the socket is facing upward on the same side of the trim as the stud portion of the set. Set clasp aside.

Make ring tab. Cut 1 length of leather using a rotary cutter 6 inches X 3 inches (15 cm X 7.5 cm). Score along the length on the wrong side of the strip, 3/8-inch (10 mm) on either side. Place double-side mounting tape along the length of the leather strip on the wrong side. Peel off the paper coating from tape and fold the leather in half lengthwise. Machine-stitch (use a long stitch length) along the folded edge of the trim.

Wrap the leather trim around the O-ring and machine stitch across the trim’s width, as close as possible to the ring. Trim any excess from the backside of the leather. Set aside.

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Pocket & Bag Flaps

Iron on fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the front pocket flap and its lining piece. With face sides together, match and align the layers. Pin/baste along the straight edge of the flap and sew a scant 1/4-inch seam (6 mm). Press seam open.

Iron on transfer web to the wrong side of the exterior portion of the pocket flap, following manufacturer’s directions.

Center a 2-inch length of the hook side of hook & loop fastener vertically, on the face side of the lining portion, about 1/2-inch (12 mm) from the rounded edge of the pocket flap. Stitch in place.

Peel the paper coating from the transfer web and with wrong sides together, fold the pocket flap in half (on the seamline) and match/align the rounded edges. Fuse the two layer together from the lining side while working around the loop fastener. Stitch along the curved raw edge to secure.

Measure the curved edge of the flap and cut a 3/4-inch (20 mm) wide strip of leather equal to the measurement taken. On the wrong side of the leather, score down the center of its length and apply double-sided mounting tape. Peel off the paper covering from the tape and carefully wrap the raw edges of the flap. Machine-stitch in place using a long stitch length. Set pocket flap aside.

Repeat the same procedure for the bag flap except, instead of the loop fastener step on the interior lining, attach the leather clasp to the exterior portion of the flap once the bag flap is completed.

Set bag flap aside.

Front Pocket

Make up front bellow pocket. Turn under a 1/4 inch (6 mm) double hem along top of pocket piece. Press and topstitch down. Center a 2-inch (5 cm) length of the loop side of hook & loop fastener horizontally, on the face side of the pocket. Stitch in place along the completed edge of the pocket opening.

At each bottom notched corner, fold the pocket with face sides together and align seam. Pin/baste dart and sew each corner dart. Press seam to one side and topstitch along seam, face up to reinforce the darts. Turn under seam allowance and press flat. Set front pocket aside.

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Insert Zipper In Sides

Cut 2 strips of fabric, about 8 inches X 1 ¼ inches (20 cm X 3 cm) to make pocket welts. Fold each strip in half lengthwise, with wrong sides together, and press flat. With face sides up, align raw edges along side pocket opening and pin/baste in place. Stitch a welt to each the upper and lower side pieces. Grade seam allowances and press flat.

Next attach zipper in place using a zipper foot, but before doing so, modify the zipper head. In most cases, you will have available only a regular metal closed zipper to purchase. Using needle-nosed pliers, carefully remove the pull tab from the zipper head and insert a metal connector ring in its place. Cut a 12-inch (30 cm) length of leather 3/8-inch (10 mm) wide and loop it through the connector ring using a cow hitch knot. Repeat for the zipper on the opposite side.

To attach the zipper, center it along the welt of each side piece so that the zipper zips closed from the back of the bag downward to the front of the bag. Stitch in place.

Align and match the lower side lining piece to the outer edges of the lower side of the bag. Baste in place. Along the upper side welt, pin the zipper tape to the top of the lining and stitch together.

With face side up, topstitch along welt seams.

Repeat this procedure for the opposite side panels. Set both aside.

Insert Zip Pocket in Lining

Make interior zippered pocket. On the interior of the backpack, the lining on the back wall features a zip pocket. Start by ironing a strip of fusible interfacing to an edge of one of the interior pocket squares. Cut the interfacing 11” X 2” (28 cm X 5 cm) and fuse it to the wrong side of the lining fabric.

With face sides together, center the pocket lining onto the back lining portion, placing the pocket lining so that it aligns with the bottom edge of the back lining. Pin/baste in place. On the interfaced edge of the pocket lining, mark out an opening for the zipper about 1/4-inch wide (6 mm) and as long as the length of the zipper teeth. Stitch around this outline with neat squared corners, then slash through the middle of this outline and cut diagonally into each of the corners. Push lining through the cut opening and press opening flat to neaten. Align and center zipper face up behind the opening and pin/baste zipper in place. Topstitch around pocket opening to attach zipper in place.

From wrong side of the back lining portion, fold the pocket lining upward to meet with the top edge of the zipper tape. Pin/baste pocket lining to zipper and sew along the zipper tape to secure in place. Sew up each side of the pocket lining to create a “pocket bag” ensuring to stitch through the diagonal cuts at each end of the zippered opening. (see more about inset zipper method)

Attach Slip Pocket in Lining

Make interior slip pocket. On the interior of the backpack, the lining on the front wall features a slip pocket. Start by folding the remaining pocket square in half, with face sides together. Sew up each side of the pocket using a scant 1/4-inch (6 mm) seam allowance. Press seams open and turn pocket right-side-out; press flat.

With face sides of the fabrics up and the raw edges of the slip pocket facing upward, center-align the pocket onto the front lining portion, placing the folded edge of the pocket so that it matches with the bottom edge of the front lining. Pin/baste raw edge of the pocket in place. Stitch along the raw edge, using a scant 1/4-inch (6 mm) seam allowance. Trim seam allowance, if needed. Fold pocket up and press flat. Topstitch along the outer edges of the slip pocket leaving the folded side open. If desired, you can divide the slip pocket by stitching through its surface to create compartments for smaller items like cellphone, sunglasses, or wallet.

Lining Assembly

Iron fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the bottom lining piece, following the manufacturer’s directions.

With face sides together, pin/baste the base of the front and back lining sections to each long side of the bottom lining. Ensure that the zip and slip pockets are facing upward. Stitch each seam and grade seam allowances towards the front and back lining sections. With face side up, edgestitch the seam on the front and back interior portions.

Next, add sides to interior; match and align one side section to each side of the lining to create a bag. Pin/baste and sew up side seams. Press seams open. Set interior lining aside.

Bag Assembly

Iron fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the bottom bag piece, following the manufacturer’s directions.

Cut 2 lengths of webbing, 4 inches (10 cm) long. Thread each length of strapping through a square connector ring and fold webbing in half. Stitch across the width of the strap to secure ring neatly. Attach each ringed tab to one long edge of bottom section, face up, and approximately 2 ½ inches (6.5 cm) from each short end. Baste in place. Set bottom section aside.

Center the front pocket so that its opening aligns with the zip openings at the side of the bag (in this case about 6″ (15 cm) from the bottom of the front bag section). Pin/baste turned edges of the front pocket to the front of the backpack and edgestitch in place.

Next, attach ringed leather tab. Center the leather trim on the backpack front section, about 1/4-inch (6 mm) above the front pocket opening. Machine-stitch leather tab in place with the ring facing upward.

Add pocket flap by placing it lined side up, approximately 1/4-inch ( 6 mm) above the front pocket opening and ensuring that the cut end of the ring tab in sandwiched under the pocket flap to encase it. Double stitch along the straight edge of the pocket flap to secure in place. Fold down pocket flap.

With face sides together, pin/baste the base of the back exterior section to the long side of the bottom of the backpack, with the connector ring tabs. Stitch the seam ensuring to catch the tabs in the stitching of the seam. Grade the seam allowance toward the bottom section and on the face side, edgestitch along the seam on the bottom section.

With face sides together, pin/baste the base of the front exterior section to the long side of the bottom of the backpack. Machine-stitch the seam. Grade the seam allowance towards the bottom section and on the face side, edgestitch along the seam on the bottom section.

Add sides to exterior; match and align one side section to each side of the backpack, with the side zipper pockets positioned to close in the direction of the front of the backpack. Pin/baste and sew up side seams. Grade seam allowances. Edgestitch along side seam, on front, bottom, and back sections to reinforce the seam.

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Attach Placket to Bag Opening

Iron fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the placket piece, following the manufacturer’s directions.

Match and align the short ends of the placket, with face sides together. Stitch together to form a loop of fabric. Press seam open. Fold placket in half, with face sides out, and match up raw edges. Baste together and press fold. Edgestitch along the folded edge of the placket.

With face sides together, align and match placket to body of bag along the raw edges. Pin/baste placket to bag opening.

On back section of bag, thread webbing straps through the ringed connectors, then drawing though each buckle end of the strapping. Attach the cut end of the strap to the placket, approximately 4 inches on either side of center on the back section. Pin/baste in place.

Between the two webbing straps, place each end of the grab handle next to the webbing and pin/baste in place.

Sew around opening of the bag, catching the grab handle and webbing straps in the stitching. Turn the placket facing upward and edgestitch along the seam on the body portion of the backpack.

Mark a placement location 1 ½” (4 cm) on either side of each vertical seam (8 in total) in the middle of the placket width and insert grommets (2 on each side), following manufacturer’s directions.

Position bag flap along turned placket bottom edge, centred between the back sideseams, and double-stitch in place, through the seam allowance.

Finishing

Insert the lining by dropping it into the cavity of the bag. Align it so the interior zip pocket is on the back wall of the backpack and the side seams match up. Slipstitch top edge of lining to base of the placket to enclose the raw edge.

Lace the drawcord through the grommets and tie a knot at the ends of the drawcord.

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