Thursday, March 27, 2014

Making leather dreams come true

I have mentioned before that an industrial sewing machine is on my wishlist. I have a heavy duty machine that has served me well for some projects. I have successfully added leather handles to my  Beautiful Belle Bag, but I want to do much more. I have a stash of thrifted leather jackets that I hope to repurpose in many ways. My virtual friend Hilary at Entropy Always Wins has an industrial Juki machine and has begun to sew with leather and I am so jealous. She makes awesome stuff and her bags are drool worthy.

In an effort to calm my jealousy while I wait for the right machine, I decided to make a bag with the machine I have. I thought a simple tote bag would be a good test to see what I am up against.

I chose view A and a jacket from my stash. In my haste to get started, I neglected to take a before picture. Here is a picture of a similar jacket.

 Here is the  completed bag



I sewed it with heavy duty needles for sewing leather and broke two of them. The needles broke when I was top-stitching the lining to the body of the bag. I ended up starting and stopping at the bulky areas and not stitching through them. Beside that issue, with my roller foot it was fast and easy. I lined it with fabric leftover from these pants. 

Initially, I wished I would have applied interfacing to the lining of the bag to give it more structure. I was uncertain about how the machine would do with the added layer, so I did not. The bag is floppy when empty, but holds its' shape when full. It is a perfect library bag. I can put it in my purse when empty and fill it when I need too.

I am not sure I will make this again. I am testing patterns and styles to use the thrifted leather. I have many other styles to t try.

Happy Sewing,


  1. Well Bianca, I think you all need to move to Northern California so you can borrow my industrial machine and teach me how to use my serger. Deal? :) Cute bag! Love repurposing!


    1. It's a deal! I would be a poor friend if I didn't help you with your serger issues remotely though. What is your concern?

      I was really intimidated with the entire idea of using one because it was so different from my machine. I went to the International Quilt Festival and used one for the first time to make a pillowcase for charity. I came home that night, told my husband I had to have one and ordered it immediately.

      The threading was so overwhelming to me that I did not even try to do it. I took it to a local sewing shop and asked them to thread it for me. I recorded the process (I am a visual learner) and began sewing knits that night If you don't have local hands on shop, you maybe able to youtube it, but I wanted a hands on experience.
      She did it for me for the cost of the threads.

      I sewed without re-threading for months and when I did I used the tie on method. The link below shows how it is done. She does all threads at once, I do one at a time because I have more success that way..

      Another trick with the threads is knowing which is closest to the seam, i.e which shows when the fabric is stretched. I think it is the right needle. Depending on the colors of the fabric I am sewing I only change the right needle. (It feels like washing your face and adding deodorant when I bath is better, but it gets the job done!)

      Let me know if you have specific concerns. My sewing was elevated from to homemade, to hand-crafted with the introduction of my serger. You will not regret mastering it.

      I also found this book to be helpful.


    2. Thanks for all the suggestions. I haven't been much of a clothing sewist and so have always put getting to know my serger on the back burner. But I think I would sew more for myself if I became fascile with it. I'm embarrassed to admit that my husband bought it for me several years ago, I had a first lesson then quickly forgot even the basics. Thanks for the book recommend. I think I need to role up my sleeves put on my girl pants and just get going. I'll let you know how it goes. Loved your pattern review interview by the way. Good stuff.

  2. One option while you are waiting for an industrial Juki - is a vintage Singer 201 or 201-2. I have the 201-2 from my grandmother - I have had no problems with it sewing leather. I also have a vintage Singer 15-91 and it sews leather great too. One in excellent condition can be had for around $200.

    1. You are heaven sent! Thanks for that information! I have to find one!