I made this leather bag from a skirt I’d received from a colleague at my “exit” party from my previous place of employment. The colleague took me seriously when I invited people to give me any kind of fabric at all, even items from thrift stores that I could take apart. I envisioned plus-size dresses or long skirts, things that would have plenty of useable fabric. P. gave me a size 4 pencil skirt with top-stitched panels. Uh huh … leather underpants maybe? Or, I know, a clutch of leather thongs! I went round and round with tape measure and pencil to see if I could make a vest out of it. Finally I decided on the bag. Or purse, as some would call it. I’m not a purse person. For much of my life I got away with using my pockets for essentials. Eventually I needed a large bag for work to hold books and files, and that was okay. And in recent years I’d started carrying a backpack. For some reason I don’t always have pockets in my clothes anymore, and I seem to develop holes in the pockets of my coats. So this is a bag. Not a purse. Terminology is important! There were lots of firsts in the construction of this bag. It was my first time to make square corners, my first time to sew with leather, and my first time to try making a bag. There are lots of imperfections in the finished product, but I’m happy with it and I learned a lot. For example, I learned that the unfinished side of leather (the suede side) won’t cooperate with the sewing machine feed dogs. And that my sewing machine can handle three layers of leather, but four would be stretching it. And that a walking foot attachment is a miraculous thing! A few details about the process: since I was lining the bag, I got to start with that rather than tackling the leather first thing. For the lining I used another piece of fabric given to me by a colleague at that same “exit” party. I decided to make a zippered pouch on one side, and a double non-closing pouch on the other side. That’s the lining facing outward instead of inward, as it does once inserted into the leather shell. Cute fabric, eh? 🙂 Here’s a picture that shows that one side of the bag, the side with the flap, is made from the back of the skirt. I didn’t like the fact that the back of the skirt bagged out, so I sewed a couple of decorative welts parallel to the zipper and that worked well. And of course, when I cut off the waistband of the skirt I took the chance that the zipper pull would slide right off, and inevitably it did, so I had to swap it out. I made a storage compartment behind the zipper too by sewing another piece of leather behind before adding the lining. One of the great things was seeing how wonderfully my almost brand-new walking foot functioned. I attached it when I needed to sew more than just two layers of leather together and wow did it ever do the job. I’m curious about how often other sewists use a walking foot — I’m not talking about quilters who, I think, buy sewing machines with permanent walking feet. I also bought sewing clips (which look exactly like large clips you use to bundle papers together) for this project because there were places I couldn’t use pins. I like the clips (mine are in five pastel shades, rather than standard black), and intend to see where I can use them in future projects to save the bother of pinning. I wonder if any sewists have moved completely to clips from pins? So that’s it. One smallish courier bag, big enough for wallet, phone, keys and a book or e-reader. What else does anyone need to put in a bag anyway?