Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Bag Version 2.0

So last year I made this bag:
leather and silk pile bag

Silk knotted pile pocket, suede, about 11" x 12". I like it a lot. I had to change out a few things, fix the handle attachment, trim the seams closer, but I've carried it, it holds things, I like the image on the front. It's a bit big, but I generally err on the side of "maybe I'll use this as a carry-on" so it would have to hold passport and boarding documents, phone, iPad, headphones, spindle tube, knitting, shawl/scarf, wallet, toothbrush and a few small essentials.

I sewed it with the skills I had at the time, on this:
sewing machine 001

Using the brain I had at the time, I thought: if I were to sew something, I'd need a sewing machine. If I were to sew leather, I'd need a big ol' honkin' powerful industrial sewing machine. So I used this. It was less than optimum, mostly operator error: I am not a big fan of loud fast machines, and this intimidated me. Enough so that I never really learned ho to use it well.

I gave the machine to a friend who knows how to use old sewing machines. First thing: she oiled it, and said it worked much better (duh, me).

Anyway! We move on to leather hand stitching lessons, and since then, I have been practicing.

Also last year, Kristy, at Opulent Fibers, gave me some leather. I have been plotting how to use that leather, or rather which bag, made how and with what textile attachment, because the leather was always going to be a bag.

I went back to last year's bag (above) and worked on v.2.0, entirely hand stitched, and not perfect, yet, mind you, but closer!
opulent leather FB

I originally planned to use the smooth side of the leather, but the suede side looked so good with the silk pile that it won. Marking stitch lines on fuzzy suede was a new one for me, so, mainly, I had to wing it, or find another way to mark the lines than with the tools I have learned to use. There are some decidedly crooked stitching lines, but once you poke that hole in leather, it stays a hole. No matter, it's my bag.

I have learned how to "make zippers", as in buy a length of zipper cloth, cut to size, add hardware and remove extra teeth. It's a bit challenging, but the zippers are better. The zippers in the bag at the top of the page are purchased from a sewing supply, and likely not strong enough to last for long. That problem? solved now.

The front pocket is again silk knotted pile:
opulent leather detail

I took apart this older bag to use this panel:
silk bag front

I carried this for about 8 years, replacing the worn out cardwoven handle once, and when the second handle started to wear out, I retired the bag and made another to carry. I like the panel though, so I rescued it from a box in the closet, and used it for the pocket here.

This new v.2.0 bag is not perfect, but it is very good! I am still learning, my stitching is getting better. I need to make a few specialized tools if I am going to make more bags: the gyrations and clamping and light-rearranging, and tool managing I had to do while stitching parts of this bag were humorous, when not actually painful.

I have stab marks and cuts all over my fingers: this leather stuff is not for the faint of heart. My Dad, who was a wood worker and a smoker, often had burn marks on wood projects where he'd put down a cigarette. He called them his "trademark". I have blood marks. Very little sweat though, and no tears! at least this time.

Now, to carry it, the true test. Is the handle the right length? Is the size right? Does it hold everything I need it to and can I get to stuff easily? It's lined with a light colored leather, for easier retrieval. We'll see during beta testing. Surely, it will not be The Last Bag, though. This is way too fun.

Last, keeping on topic, so to speak, we close with:
bag and Jackson, Carbondale

Duffel, filled, in use, in situ, with a small boy added for scale :)


Blogger sarah said...

I like the Opulent Bag design, but not sure about suede side out. It does look good with the pile, but I hate the way it sheds little bits of itself. Although maybe that was cheaper suede?

I love the duffel in use. The scale is cute too!

6:05 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

I agree! about the suede side out. This will shed, it will wear off in some places, making it look shabbier than I'd like, and suede catches on clothing, smooth leather slides on and off more easily.

The decision was aesthetic...and I wish aesthetics and practicality always meshed.

which is why...I am starting on v.2.5 :)!

It never ends.

6:19 AM  
Blogger Charleen said...

Saw your lovely bag on Facebook but I'm so glad I came over here to see your duffel and the so cute boy added for scale!!

5:41 AM  
Blogger the scarlet piglet said...

That duffel is so impressive!

I love the yurt panel fiercely. Gorgeous. And my admiration for you going after this new thing and mastering it knows no bounds.

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara, I just read your blog about how you hate sewing machines that are noisy and go fast. You might want to check out hand crank sewing machines. They are old, but still work well. Or, you can take a machine from say the 1960's with an outside motor and turn it into a hand crank by ordering a hand crank kit on line. The older machines have a lot of power behind them, but you are in control of how fast they go and they make no noise. I love to use mine while watching TV with my husband. He doesn't mind because it's very quiet. Good luck!

5:53 AM  

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