I have to admit that finding out my old sewing machine could successfully sew my leather made me a little giddy – probably because I had been so discouraged with my earlier results. I was anxious to get moving. I knew I was limited in the types of seams I could do, so I decided to simplify my bag design. I chose a smaller bag that would only have seams at the sides and bottom. The lining would have leather facing at the top and the rest would be charcoal-colored satin. The pattern was a variation of one that I saw in a different class on designing handbags. The lining was different, though, and I struggled in calculating the measurements.
I made my adjustments to my pattern pieces and cut out my exterior pieces. I made the commitment! No turning back now. Next I cut the leather for the facings and the satin for the lining. I cut pieces for a patch pocket and a zippered pocket. Then I applied the interfacing to all the satin pieces to give them a little more body. I was on a roll!
I was so curious about how the exterior was going to look, that I completely forgot my list of steps.
- Cut the pieces
- apply the hardware to the exterior pieces
- add pockets to the lining
- sew exterior pieces together
- sew lining pieces together
- yada yada yada
Yes, I jumped straight from 1 to 4. Then, to make matters worse, I went from 4 to 5. That might not have been that big a deal with fabric. I could have ripped it out and gone back a step. With leather, however, once you sew, you don’t rip out – the holes are made. I sat at the table with a beautiful exterior and no way to attach handles. Adding the tabs was going to be harder, but not terrible. I could do that.
The lining, however, was another matter. Ever since I had started planning this purse, I had dreams of everything it could be. It would be the perfect bag. It would have exactly the pockets I wanted. They would be perfect, and well-behaved, and just the right size. Unfortunately, in about five minutes time, I had put that dream in serious jeopardy. My lining was assembled. Leather to satin, front to back. No going back. And absolutely no pockets of any kind. Yikes.
In my enthusiasm to see results, I had made things so much harder than they should have been. If I had only stopped to take a breath and review the plan. I looked at the lining and I looked at the pocket pieces and knew I had just created a puzzle for myself. How to retrofit pockets into places my sewing machine wasn’t going to want to go. I was able to twist things around and hold my mouth just right and get the patch pocket installed. That was interesting. Probably a little funny to watch, too.
The zipper pocket was a whole different matter. No amount of twisting or turning was going to allow me to sew that in the normal way. I had to give up on the idea, or come up with a totally different solution. After several tries and a bunch of angry words, I ended up with a zipper pocket that I could add into my lining. The leather surrounding the zipper was really only sewn right next to the zipper teeth. That way, it could act like a flange. I cut a whole in the lining and slipped the leather through the hole. It looked like it had been there all along.
Securing it into place was my next challenge. I couldn’t sew it. I ended up using some glue for fabric and leather to hold the leather in place.
Reading this, it sounds so logical and simple. It took me hours and hours to get this figured out. It seems like every step I took, I would do something bone-headed that would force me to change my plan. Eventually, I got it, though. Never give up. Never surrender.
Pockets and hardware now in place, I assembled the lining and the exterior. It was magical. All of the hard work was worth it. It wasn’t complete, but it was so close. A few more finishing touches and I could call it done.