Now, it may seem a bit crazy to some people that I bought an armoire just to store all of my individually stuffed and dust covered collection, mind you I don't have a grand walk-in closet, or that I keep a contact sheet with pictures, names and descriptions of each bag so I can see my collection at will. (I'm chuckling at myself). I want them to last a long time so I can enjoy them. To be honest, since I've been job hunting,its a bummer because I don't have a lot of opportunity to use most of them since I am interviewing, though my job hunting purse is very nice too.
Back to the handbag making. One day, I was going through my clothes and came across this great red vinyl jacket. I was getting rid of things that I wasn't going to wear anymore and this jacket was cool, but since I wasn't able to wear it (due to the size) and I hadn't worn it in ages, a lightbulb went off over my head and I said to myself: this would make a great handbag!
I started sketching and deconstructing the jacket in my mind. I looked at some bags I had and thought about the steps that went into making each part. The structure of the jacket lent itself beautifully to a shape of a modern and hip bag. I decided to work around the structure. The jacket was zippered and I thought that was such a neat touch. I then took a zeam ripper and took off the arms. I cut off the mandarin style neck. The jacket was lined with a lime green liner, so I decided to go with it and not make a new one. So I sewed up the bottom, made a handle using the arms of the jacket lined inside with fabric stabilizer, inserted a magnetic closure, sewed up the top of the bag also using some fabric stabilizer to give a little more structure/rigidity, made some inside pockets using extra arm material and voila! Ilana Graf Jacket Bag in Red Snakeskin Vinyl.
I made that handbag in 2009. A few months ago, in 2011, I made another one. This one was by far more complicated. I had bought a black leather jacket on a trip to Spain in 2000. The leather is soft like butter. While looking through my closet for more potential handbags, I saw that jacket and it was a done deal. Once again, I was inspired by the existing structure of the jacket, though this one was buttoned down instead of zippered. I also really liked the idea of reusing/recycling materials instead of purchasing all new materials and throwing the existing jackets out. How Green of me.
I went to JoAnn Fabrics and found some really cool buttons, some cool hardware and bought lining material, also green, some zippers and went to work. This time around I decided to make a rolled handle (not easy!) that connected to the bag on both sides with metal rings. I had just finished with the ottoman, so I had extra foam. I cut a long thin rectangle and used some fabric stabilizer rolled around the foam to give it more structure. But how to keep it from unrolling while I sewed the leather onto it? I decided to crazy glue the roll together and it worked perfectly! After it dried, I sewed the leather as close to the roll as possible. I was worried what the unfinished edge would look like when I cut it off but it actually looked fantastic. Then I had to make two leather pieces to go through each loop and attach to the rolled handle. I had to sew most of the those pieces together by hand using a leather curved needle. I wish I had an industrial sewing machine...the things I could do with that, but I don't. Then I made two smaller pieces that would eventually attach the rings to the inside of the bag on either side.
Then I made the lining. I like compartments for everything and organization in a bag, so I made three compartments, the middle one was a zippered compartment to divide the bag into two sections, with the middle section acting as a separate pouch. Out of the two main compartments I made a zippered pocket on the back wall of the lining and in the front compartment, I made several pockets including ones for a pen, cellphone, sunglasses, ipod, etc. This was the first time I ever sewed a zipper on anything and that was a challenge in and of itself to get it right. Luckily, everything came together. After the lining was finished I had to hand sew it into the top of the handbag by hand as my sewing machine couldn't handle the job. I also, included a magnetic closure. When all was said and done, I had my second Ilana Graf Jacket Bag in Black Leather. A little harder to see the details since the bag is black, but these should help.
Notice the handle and the buttons
The Liner. Maybe a little hard to see, but top of picture down: front compartment with pockets, middle zippered pocket as divider and back compartment with large zippered pocket.
More bags to come!
Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for more creativity!