Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Nurse Called The Lady With The Alligator Purse

This one line of the Miss Lucy nursery rhyme must have left a big impression on me in my childhood, not because I wanted to become a nurse but because I wanted to become the lady with the alligator purse. I LOVE handbags.  So much so that buying them is not enough.  I have to make them too.  (Miss Lucy had a baby...)

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.



Being Modeled

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

Being Modeled

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!

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