Well, it was kinda perfect. It's messenger bag size and orientation, soft leather, lined, with a textile decorated zip pocket in the front for phone, glasses and keys, zip pocket in the back for boarding docs, and plenty of room inside for knitting, a tablet and a book. Travel necessities. Now you know my priorities. I kinda loved it, took on a couple of trips and it performed well.
Except. One day I noticed a white thread sticking up along the bottom edge. On close examination, it was a warp thread working its way out of the bottom hem. Oh dear. When I got home I looked closely, and the warp was not alone, it had friends slipping out of the construction. Quick fix for a trip coming up? I glued the whole thing down. When I got home, I could examine and repair. Or replace...?
Turns out leather stretches when you put things into its pockets. And textiles do not...necessarily. This is the textile's 3rd incarnation, and all that re-working meant there was very little edge to sew down, and some had come up:
What to do?
I ran my finger along the bottom edge and the whole bottom edge came up very easily:
Clearly, a failure just waiting to happen. This had been a canvas bag before it was a leather bag, so it had likely been distressed in the un-making of this bag:
I like the pile piece, it's silk, its imagery is personal to me, and it seemed like it would have more years of use in it...but not as a scrap, falling apart as I used the bag. I am not going for that "used up" look, "distressed" or whatever you might wish to call it.
So, I had a few choices:
a) rip off the whole textile and replace it
b) stitch it in place hairy edge and all
c) apply glue and hope for the best
d) try to repair as if this were someone's favorite object
I asked a few friends. One comment struck home: Devin said "It is more fun to fix things I think, sometimes, than make something new. It spurs creativity."
He is right. I chose "d" and began the process of repair. The bottom edge was "mostly" intact, and none of the warps had pulled up into the body of the pile. Most of the soumak edge was still present. If I were presented with a textile like this to stabilize, I would be able to, by handstitching, and covering the edge with cloth or ...leather!.
First, I cut a piece of leather the length of the bottom edge. I stitched in on, through all layers, then glued and folded it over, covering the raw edge. The I re-stitched the whole thing down in the same space again:
We shall see how this holds up. The stitching is not as secure as I would like: I tried to leave ease so when the pocket is full, and the leather behind this textile stretches, the textile will have room to give. I do have a few trips where I will pack this up. In the meantime, I am making another bag, using some of the information I have learned from this. Always learning. Always something new.
It is what keeps me going, frankly, the part I love best: learning. That, and all the doing!