Italian luxury goods house, Bottega Veneta, best known for its leather goods offers some inspiring little vignettes on beautiful craftsmanship called “Hand of the Artisan”. My favourite is Cabat. Truly inspiring and a recognition of the importance of artisanal craftsmanship and the diminishing number of master leather-workers in the world of fashion.
Tag Archives: leathercraft
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.
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)
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).
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)
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)
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.
‘Braided Rawhide Strapping’
Leather strapping for handbag design can be made by braiding using the same leather skins used in the construction of the body of a handbag. Often rawhide thong (string) is used in leather braiding. Rawhide (also called leather) is an animal skin (pelt) that has been stretched to dry and had its hair removed.
Rawhide is “raw” because it has not been tanned. To create tanned leather, a chemical is applied to the hide to relax the skin and make it soft. Most of the leather we use today in handbag design is tanned leather, but rawhide is still used to make many products; everything from handbags and clothing to building materials and tools.
To prepare the rawhide string for braiding, a large circle is cut from the stretched animal skin. (Fig. 1) This circle is then cut in a spiral pattern creating a long continuous strip. (Fig. 2).
Braiding involves using a pattern that is repeated over and over again. As you work through these design styles, try to recognize the different patterns. Once you understand the pattern, the braiding will be easier to do. Braiding is a difficult skill to learn, so remember to be patient.
Before beginning braiding, try these helpful tips:
- Take your time.
- Look closely at the illustrations.
- Read the instructions aloud.
- Label each string with a letter (as shown in the illustrations) on a piece of masking tape.
THE THREE STRING “HAIR” BRAID
If you have ever braided someone’s hair, you might recognize the Three String Braid shown in the illustration below.
Start with a strip of leather that has been cut into three strings. (Fig. 1)
Begin by pulling string A over string B.
Next pull string C over string A. (Fig. 2)
Then pull string B over string C. (Fig. 3)
Repeat until completed.
Can you see the pattern? The outside string always crosses over the middle string.
THE FOUR STRING BRAID
The Four-String Braid is similar to the Hair Braid except for the addition of an extra string. You can use this braid to make beautiful bag handles and straps. Remember, labelling your strings with letters will help you through the braiding process.
Start with a strip of leather that has been cut into four strings. (Fig. 1)
Begin braiding by pulling string C over string B and under string A.
Next pull string B over string D.
Then pull string D over string A as shown in Fig. 2.
Pull string B under string A.
Now pull string C over string D and under string B.
Then pull string A under string C as shown in Fig. 4.
Next pull string D over string B and under string A as shown in Fig. 5.
Now pull string C under string D.
Next pull string B over string A and under string C.
Pull string D under string B.
Now pull string A over string C and under string D.
Next pull string B under string A.
Now pull string C over string D and under string B.
Can you see the pattern? The string on the right is pulled under the string closest to it. Then the string on the far left is pulled over one string and under one string, stopping in the middle.
Practice your rawhide braiding and add some leather details to your handbag designs.
Technical Information Source: Autry National Center’s Museum of the American West
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.
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
Draw out a rectangle onto kraft pattern. Label A-B-C-D.
X = desired height of clutch bag.
A-B = 3 times the desired height.
A-C = 2 times the desired height for the 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.
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.
Fold the pocket pattern in half and locate the pocket placement in the middle section of the lining pattern piece, as shown.
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.
- Iron fusible interfacing to back of lining fabric, following manufacturer’s directions.
- Mark out LINING pattern and cut out as one layer. Stay-stitch the curved edge of the lining.
- Turn under seam allowance on sides on patch pocket and press flat
- 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.
- Use the FOUNDATION pattern as a pressing template and turn under all lining seam allowances and press flat. Set aside.
- Punch a small hole at the locations of the snap fastener on the buckram stiffener. Set aside.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Attach “socket” portion of snap fastener onto metal cap on bag lining, following manufacturer’s directions.
- 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.
- On inside corners of bag lining (opening), hand-stitch metal chain (optional) to lining.