The Katie Purse – Leather View A Tutorial

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This is a variation on the Katie Purse pattern view A, I’ve just omitted the fringe and used a printed leather. I thought the leather was pretty busy on its own. So first, here are a few tools I use the most when working with leather.

Rotary cutter

Wonder Clips (you can also use paper clips)

Rubber cement

Pattern weights (mine are just industrial sized washers I spray painted)

Teflon foot for your sewing machine (not pictured)

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Other tools that are also quite useful when working with leather are:

Multi end screw driver

Leather work hole punch

Chalk

Sharpie markers

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I love to up cycle leather garments! And this pattern is perfect for just that, since the pieces are quite small and fit easily between seams. When shopping for used leather or suede garments for this bag, its useful to print out the pattern and bring it with you. That way you can do a test layout before you buy it. If you are purchasing leather skins this is a great idea as well, since all leather skins are different. In the original fringed purse, I used an old scrap of moleskin leather I had left over from another project, and I lined it with suede I cut from an old leather dress.

I got  too excited and started cutting up this dress before I took a picture! It was a knee length, sleeveless suede dress, with a printed matching suede peplum. This was a great choice for the purse, since I had plenty enough fabric, and I had a perfect match for the lining. Also in the photo is leather stiffener, it was such great stuff, but unfortunately I can’t find it anymore. I have heard people having luck finding it in New York though. Tintex stiffener will work as well, it is a stiff craft stiffener. I found mine at Fabricland in the interfacing section.
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I chose to cut my SELF pieces out of the printed peplum leather, and line the purse with the plain suede. I like to do a quick layout to make sure everything will fit before I start to cut.

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I like to use a rotary cutter when working with leather, especially with this pattern since the purse has all raw edges.

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When you are done cutting you should have four sets like this. Each panel has a layer of printed suede, lining suede and stiffener.

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There are two methods for using rubber cement. The first way is to use it just like glue, quickly spread it across one piece and glue to the other. The second way is called dry mounting. I like to use this method when I have two large pieces to glue together and I can’t spread the glue quick enough across the full piece before it dries. For this method, spread the glue on both pieces, and let dry. Then stick them together. Make sure they are perfectly lined up because it is not as easy to reposition the pieces using this method. I used the dry mount method for the Back & Front Flap piece, and I used the first method on the smaller Front pieces and Centers.

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When glueing the printed leather to the stiffener on the Back & Front Flap piece, start by gluing the first few inches flat, then curl the remainder in your hand while glueing. This will encourage the front flap to fold over on it own. If there is a bit of stiffener overhanging on the top edge you can just cut it away. Glue stiffener to printed leather on remaining Front and Center pieces, these you can just glue them flat, no need to curl these ones.

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Now its time to install the first half of the snap! One side of the snap will go in the top edge of the Front Flap lining, centred over the X on pattern.

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Now glue the lining to the Back & Front Flap piece that already has the stiffener glued on, curling it again in your hand. The lining is cut just a bit shorter, this will again help the front flap to fold over, and will prevent the lining from buckling when the flap folds over.

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There is a marking on the pattern for the Front snap placement, but I like to make sure it is going to be in the exact right spot. I line up the Front piece where it will be sewn to the Back & Front Flap.  Then I pull the flap down to the placement line and press down over the snap.  This makes an imprint in the suede, creating an exact placement for the other half of the snap.

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Its hard to see, but all you need is a tiny imprint to get the perfect snap placement.

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I like to use my buttonhole cutter to create small slashes where the snap legs can be inserted.

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Push this snap through both the printed suede as well as the stiffener.

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Its coming together! Now you can glue the linings to the Front and Center pieces.

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At this point I like to look back over the pieces and make sure all the raw edges are flush. If there is any stiffener or lining hanging over the edges, just trim it back to match the printed suede layer.

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Topstitch the top edge of the Front piece, as well as the two Center pieces. Remember to use a teflon foot on your sewing machine. I just use a 90 universal needle, a leather needle isn’t necessary unless your machine is having trouble going through the layers.

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Next, paint the top edges of the Front and Center pieces you just topstitched. I used this paint made for leather work I got from Tandy Leather. It gives it a really professional finish. The only downside is each container is quite pricey, and I will never go through this much in my life. So I only have a few colours, but it really does work well. You can also use a Sharpie marker, just colour in the edges of the leather.

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Chalk lines 1″ in front edges along sides and bottom edge. Topstitch along chalk lines, pivoting where chalk lines meet.

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This creates the secret pocket!

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Clip the Front piece to one of the centers.  Edge stitch around sides and bottom edge, lifting the other layer of center to get between layers. Try to stitch this as evenly as possible, since this stitching shows on the front side of the bag.

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Now clip the remaining Center layer to Back piece. Stitch, just as you did in the last step, but this time continuing all the way around the Front Flap.

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Again, there are markings for the holes that need to be punched to insert the hardware, but I like to double check this as I am working.  The holes should be at the very top of the bag, where it folds over into the flap.

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If your hardware posts are too long like mine were, just cut small circles of lining suede and place between the lining and the hardware screw. I painted the edges with a Sharpie marker so they would blend in.

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To make straps, glue two long strips of suede together, wider than the intended width of the strap, wrong sides together. This is a tricky part if you are using up cycled garments, since its tough to find a long enough strip. That is why I used cording in the original purse, but this particular garment had some nice long strips so I was able to make leather straps. Stitch a straight line about 1/4″ in from one edge. Now trim away excess to a scant 1/8″. Stitch again 1/4″ away from first stitching line. And trim away excess again. Paint edges of strap.

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And secure to D-ring and you’re done!

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Unless you are lucky enough to live in New York and can go to Botani or Pacific Trimming, hardware is really difficult to find. I’ve had the most luck so far on Etsy. The first shop where I got the magnetic snaps has been pretty hit and miss for me, some of the hardware is beautiful but some has also been scratched up. The second shop where I got the swivel D-rings is a bit pricier but I have loved everything I’ve gotten from them, not  a single scratch!

Magnetic Snaps – Etsy

Swivel D-rings – Etsy

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