Here I am again after quite a long hiatus combined with attempts at other things that may or may not have gone well. I’ve brought an old friend with me this time: sewing. Now that my jewelry business has slowed down to almost nothing, I have had gobs of time to pursue this pursuit of mine. It’s an activity that my mother taught me when I was a girl. Sewing is the part of me that is connected to part of Mom even when none of the rest of our relationship ever amounted to anything other than heartache. Sewing is my way of saying I love you “sew much” to my mom and it is the way that I feel her telling me the same.

I’m getting close to the age that my mom was when she died. It’s an unusual feeling; at first it was scary but now it feels like an impetus to do better with my life. To be healthier, inside and out. To connect with things that are important, like sewing and being a wife and finding myself and forgiving old hurts and taking new hurts in stride. I think I can kind of mash up my emotional, inner life musings and the physical hand-eye coordination of making thing that I think are beautiful, and come up with some interesting thoughts.

So I’m going to start by showing you some of the things I’ve been making. Right now I’m kind of into bags and cork fabric and leather and machine embroidery. Here’s a goat leather bag that I embroidered with a tone on tone medallion design.

The construction is very plain – the flap is just folded down from the purse itself, not a separate piece. This gives the bag a casual style that I really like. I decided not to put a strap on it, instead, I carry it like a clutch. The leather smells really nice.

The embroidered medallion was a quick stitch out and worked pretty well on the leather. I used upholstery thread, which messed with the machine tension a bit and pulled some of the white bobbin thread from underneath to the surface of the leather. I fixed that with a brown Sharpie. Can’t even tell!

The lining, peeking out in this photo, is an abstract print quilting cotton. The aqua, turquoise, green, and purple of the cotton perfectly complement the rich brown leather. Did I mention how nice it smells?

I keep wishing I could show my mother my embroidery machine. I know she would love it. I made up another little goatskin clutch with a piece of leather that was in the seconds bin at Tandy Leather. The finish on the leather is weird, kind of a patent finish, and the color is unusual. I don’t know if/when I’ll carry it but it was a lot of fun to make.

The diagonal accent came about because of the shape of the leather. I cut it this way in order to use the most leather possible. The construction is the same as the brown bag.

I embroidered a little hummingbird on this one. I wasn’t totally satisfied with the way it stitched out only because of the texture of the leather – the patent finish made the leather less forgiving. Still a fun project and a good experiment.

I lined this little clutch with some brown silk I got a bargain on from Fabric Mart Fabrics. I have several yards of it and it makes a really nice lining, but also makes a nice bag body, which is what I did on my next clutch bag, which uses the same brown silk as a foundation fabric for an embroidered butterfly, and natural cork fabric for the main body.

I didn’t even bother to trim all the threads before I photographed this. I was kind of excited about it. It was my first make with cork fabric. I bought a bunch of cork, I spent way too much money and bought way too much. So you’ll be seeing a lot of things made with all this cork fabric. This bag is unlined as of yet, because I just wanted to start carrying it. I have been using this one the most because I love the butterfly so much.

Darin is a Realtor now and bought himself his first laptop so he can look up MLS listings on the fly. I just finished a messenger bag for him – actually its the second one, but this one has a better design. It has two zippered compartments so that he can keep the laptop separate from all the other “stuff” that ends up in the bag. I made it from… guess what… cork. 

It’s called the Zip Zip Messenger Bag (yes, I used a pattern for this one), by Sacotin. Buy the pattern here.

It was an interesting sew. The cork houses two inner cotton bags that close with zippers, and there are two flap pockets on the front of the bag lined with cotton. I liked the engineering on the bag, with one exception – the seam between the zippers looked like a weakness to me and if I make it again I’ll eliminate that seam by making the connector from one piece of fabric instead of two. I tryed several different things in an attempt to strengthen the seam, but ended up inserting cotton piping.

I like the way it looks. I also put a piece of stiff Peltex stabilizer in the bottom of the bag to give it structure. I glued it down, since Darin didn’t want feet on the bag, which would have automatically held the Peltex in place.

I lined this one with some very pretty Tim Holtz quilting cotton. I love his prints. This one seemed manly enough for my man, and a good theme for a real estate agent or a world traveler. There’s a patch pocket in one side of the bag and a zippered pocket in th other, in addition to the flap pockets on the outside.

I wasn’t sure I’d like the strap when I saw that the pattern called for webbing instead of a strap made from the main fabric – yet at the same time I didn’t want to use that much cork either. I found some high quality cotton webbing on Etsy and it’s actually very nice. I think Mom would approve of my latest sewing attempts.

Featured photo is courtesy of Fleur Treurniet on Unsplash

Written by Tina Gasperson

1 Comment

J P Cavanaugh

I have missed your blog and am happy that you have found that connection with your mother. Although I’m not a purse guy, they look impressive.


share your observations