Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Getting a handle on handles

I’m realizing this bag process is more involved than I thought. There are design decisions that need to be made at the outset and when you change those decisions – like which bag handles you’re going to use – complications follow.

This darn bucket bag has been my nemesis in this boutique-bag exploration. The plan was to use clip on handles. Cute, simple, fast, professional. Yeah! However, once the bag was made and I pulled out the handles I realized I had the wrong fabric for the handles I intended to use (they have a little fleur-de-lis stamped into the metal attachment – just doesn’t match the Japanese fabric, forgot that little detail was on the handle). Now what?

I had a long black leather handle strap and thought – great I’ll use that instead. But how do I attach the handles? I looked through my two bag making books I have for reference and they did not have an example.

I wrapped up the nearly finished purse and shoved it into my bag and headed to – you guessed it Swany’s. There I found an alternate leather handle, with stitching holes punched and a little tab that inserts between the lining and the outer bag for extra security. I thought perfect. Put those in my shopping bag (along with a few other items) and I imagined myself knocking out the bag later that night while I waited for my daughter at soccer.

Not so fast. Once home I realized I hadn’t thought this through as clearly as I’d imagined. What kind of thread was I supposed to use to attach the handles? Surely with all my thread I’d have something suitable. Did I have a needle that would be able to work its way through leather, lining and the interfaced outer fabric? I tried to make do with what I had – struggled to sew on one side of one handle, the thought crossing my mind more than once there has to be a better way.

Next day I find myself headed out to yet another fabric-craft store a few blocks off base and I found the appropriate waxed twine for sewing on the handle, a curved sewing needle marked for “leatherwork” quickly made my purchase and dashed home. I had delusions of being able to zip this project out and be on to the next bag (which is already cut out and just waiting its turn on the sewing machine). Two hours later the handles were finally secured, that’s 30 minutes per handle side! Either I’m not efficient or the thought did cross my mind that there’s a reason those gorgeous handmade Italian leather bags cost a fortune. This is labor intensive. A seam ripper, pliers, broken needle and cramped hands were all involved.

The end result is a cute bag but I will definitely be looking for a much more efficient way to attach leather handles in the future. One of the ladies who helped me at Swany’s earlier this week showed me their rivet maker ... oh so cool, that with the push of a handle I will have leather straps attached to my bag and it will look professional too, yes, learning this technique is now on my to-do list.

This go round, more than a few times I seriously considered pitching the bag and starting a different one but what kept me going was all the encouraging feedback I’ve been receiving on my posts – thanks faithful readers, you’re supportive words kept me ... inspired.

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