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Lets make another custom handbag

This time, instead of copying a bag we have been sent, we are going to make a leather handbag from a magazine advertisement photo. This was scanned and e-mailed to meHow to make a Leather Handbag

  I had to put it in paint shop and adjust the color so that I could see as much of the construction details as possible. The first thing that pops out is that they use velcro on the pouch flaps that they stitch on with an automatic bar tack machine... How Tacky. Really, for the money this just shouldn't be!
  The first thing we have to determine is the size of this girls finger, or maybe her shoe size. We need something to determine the size. The zipper slider may even work.
  Making this leather handbag is easy if you just decide that it is a hobo handbag with a lot of pouches stuck on it. First thing to do is make the hobo pattern.
How to make a Leather Handbag

This is the low tech approach. No computer software required. Find something to make the pattern out of, decide on the size, and find something to use for an appropriate radius.
Leather Handbag Construction

  OK, we have made our pattern and cut out the leather for the sides and bottom. The picture is the lining that we cut out at the same time. This customer wanted the bag wider to hold more stuff so I cut a banana shaped gusset for the bottom that won't interfere with the look when the hobo handbag is finished. I also added end seams or darts to give the bag width or thickness, whatever you want to call it.
Leather Handbag Construction

 Now we start making the pouches and sewing them on. They are all similar, with the same thickness gusset. I make a pattern and cut out the top, add whatever it needs, sew it to the gusset and there it is sitting there to be sewn to the bag. It's easy to mess this up and get things on crooked so I make a pencil mark on the side of the bag so I can tell where the pouch should be located as I sew it on. The edge of the pouch that I am sewing on has been skived and folded back 1/4" so that the raw edge won't show on the outside.
Sewing a Leather Handbag

  You see that I have added more pouches and have left the leather side of the bag lying flat as long as possible but now I have to apply a pouch over the top of the corner dart seam. From the pictures I was sent it appeared that there were two different bags with pockets only on one side. This customer loves the pocket concept so we are going to make two for the price of one and put the pockets from the other bag on the opposite side.

Sewing a Leather Handbag

  Here we have the other side finished and have applied the center bottom gusset that makes a wider bottom. We are going to fold this back and top stitch the seam then sew on the other side and topstitch that seam also. This is exactly the kind of thing I try to avoid but there's no choice on this one. It would be a lot easier on a post machine, but you gotta do what you can with what you have. By this time you can see that I have a big investment in this bag and sewing crooked or catching something underneath and sewing across it would be disaster.
  It gets even worse! I'm sewing the pockets onto the ends. I have to trust my marks and hope for the best. It's hard to see what I'm doing with my hand in there aligning as I go 1" at a time. With all those pouches it's hard to tell what's what.

Handbag Assembly

  Well, we're getting there. Time to put this aside and make the lining. I'll put in a pocket or two in the lining, something a little bigger, plenty of storage for small stuff in this bag already.

Leather Handbag Lining

  Here it is with the lining inside and the zipper sewn in. It's just a matter of binding this seam and making and attaching the strap.

ARE YOU READY?  Here it is...

Finish Leather Handbag
I want to point out that I don't have the velcro stitching disfiguring the flaps.
  I did something else that I would also like to point out. Go back and look at the original picture. Remember I said it's a Hobo, can you tell that with the pouches breaking the lines of the bag? The thing for me, that distinguishes the Hobo and makes it a classic, is the graceful teardrop shape formed by the strap and top line. I placed the pouches lower so that they would not ruin this look. I also made the pouch flaps curve and follow the curve of the top line. Would you have noticed?
  There is something else about this bag that is interesting, is it just happenstance? Hmmm... do you see what looks like bullet loops on the pouch. I did that and put it on the net over a year before this bag on what I called my Defender Fast Pack.
  The customer wanted a copy of an expensive designer bag, but I still add my own influence.

 For more design information you can go to my design page  or view some of my other handbag styles. Now that you know how to make handbags how about learning to make a harness leather belt? or a Braided Leather Belt

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   If you want more information about making leather goods I suggest the manuals available from Francis from his website www.theleatherconnection.com this is similar in name to my www.leathergoodsconnection.com web site but we are not affilliated in any way.

by Henry Hibbard