I wanted a fairly small, light-weight sling bag for going out—for those times when all I need to carry is some cash, an id, and my phone. I have never owned a clutch and probably never will; I find them terribly annoying and inconvenient. I like a hands free bag, so I can snap a photo and hold a drink, but not have a bulge in my back pocket. So I decided to make my ideal going out bag—a little Native American inspired with a 80's punky vibe...
I purchased this really nice black hide from this really old leather man that has a shop around the corner from work. I think most of his hides are quite old, like him and his shop, so I don't feel as bad buying animal skin as I would if they were new (it's the only way I can justify it to myself, guilt).
For the fringe, I cut a 7.5" x 3" rectangle from the hide and cut it into 1/8" strips leaving about a 1/2" on the top so the strips stayed together. I wasn't sure exactly how big I was going to make the bag or the exact shape so I held hands over the hide to get an idea.
"Ooow, I like that shape," I thought. It looks like a shield and my hands oddly, naturally make it. So I traced the shape my left hand made onto a piece of paper, then folded it in half so the bottom point was at the fold. I cut it out with scissors and unfolded to get my perfectly symmetrical template.
I traced the template onto a corner of the hide and cut that out with sharp fabric shears. Using Barge, an all purpose cement, I attached the fringe to the bottom back of the piece and placed the now shield shape with fringe onto the hide.
I roughly cut around the piece, leaving a good 7" on the top for the fold-over flap.
I laid the fringe shield piece over to the bottom edge of the new longer piece and was ready to stitch. Leather can be pretty tough to get through so I used the same technique I used to make the industrial felt case. I used my Dremel Stylus and drilled over a piece of wood along the edge of the shield shape every 1/8 of an inch through the two pieces of leather. I suppose you could also use an awl and hammer to make the holes as well.
I hand stitched around the shield with black waxed twine and an embroidery needle and then cut out the back piece of leather around the shield.
I folded the pouch over to create the flap and loosely sketched how I wanted the flap to hang over the pouch—a little longer and saddle bag shape.
I cut the flap out with fabric pinking shears.
I decided on a chain strap but chains can get uncomfortable so I weaved a strip of leather that I cut from the hide through the chain to soften it up a bit, leaving a lot of extra length on each end of the chain so it could be attached and tied to the purse.
I punched small holes in the back top of the pouch part with a leather punch and hammer (i had planned on using eyelets but nixed that idea) and strung the leather strip ends though the hole and tied knots. I left the leather strips from the chains long because they kind of just blend in with the fringe anyway.
It took me a few days to decide what exactly I wanted to do with the front (the flap) of the bag. I played around with studs, resin "ivory" pendants and beads, different stitch patterns and different leather applique. With some random leather scraps of two different leathers, I liked the three triangle pattern the best. With masking tape I taped around the loose triangles in their final positions and then removed them. With Barge, each side gets a coat of glue and is let to dry. So I coated the triangle backs and within the tape spaces painted with glue as well.
When the glue was dry, I carefully peeled the tape up and stuck the triangle shapes onto the flap.
Using the same process as before, I drilled holes through the applique and flap to make stitching with the waxed twine easier.
I wasn't convinced the bag was complete until it had a little flair. so I quickly whipped up a tassel that consisted of a mini vintage key, a piece of waxed twine with 6 crystal beads knotted at both ends, a skull charm with rhinestone eyes, and some thin chain from a lost earring I found and took apart. I attached all the pieces to a mini key ring and then to the chain strap of the bag.
And I made it! Done.