Saturday, September 01, 2012

FO: The "I Still Love You" Bag

Do you read the blog "ISLY:  I Still Love You"?
No?  Tsk!

I am not sure how I came across Melissa's blog.  It's a lovely mix of fashion-y DIY, home styling, calligraphy (ooh!) and bookbinding, with a very youthful, clean and fresh look.
Melissa knows how to do stuff that I don't, but she makes it look achievable.  So when I saw this bag, and realised she had made it herself  out of a cushion cover I was seized by an obsession to copy her.
Melissa and her bag - photo used with permission
Within three minutes I had found the same IKEA cushion cover on ebay.
Finding the leather took a little longer (maybe ten minutes).
And then I had to wait for my materials to arrive, along with a packet of leather-sewing machine needles (no, not needles made of leather - FL thinks he is so funny!).
My bag is not identical to hers, but I would never have thought of it without Melissa's blog post!

Pattern:  None

One zip-fastening IKEA cushion cover (Malin Figur design, 100% ramie) 50cm square, £3 from ebay
Two pieces of scrim-backed bookbinding-weight leather 25cm x 50cm:  one for the base, one for strap and pocket, £11.50 from ebay (Buy it Now price)
1.6m upholsterer's hessian webbing, leftover from my first bag project, here.
1m Anna Maria Horner cotton fabric from the depths of the stash for the lining, about £8

I started by sewing the leather onto the flat cushion cover, across the end opposite the zip.  I couldn't sew right into the corners, but I knew they would be folded away soon anyway.
The leather I chose was described as being super-soft and easy to sew and I had no problems with it.  I don't have a walking-foot for my sewing machine so I just took it slowly.  The special leather needle was essential - it sliced through all the layers like a hot knife through butter.
Then I turned it inside out, flattened off the sides and sewed across the corners, 8cm from the point of the triangle at right angles to the seam..  (If you have never made a flat-bottomed bag, this description might not make any sense to you!)
Here - look inside the unlined bag - got it?
This gives my bag a broader flat bottom than Melissa's, with most of my leather covering the base and only an inch coming up the sides.
When I turned it right-side out, I realised I had caught the leather into a fold at one side and had to unpick it and try again.  But the leather was so super-soft  I got away with it:  no visible needle holes - phew!
I then considered my strap options.  I wanted a bag I could sling across my shoulder, strong enough for 8 library books or about three kilos of fruit (!) so I decided to make it "bucket style" with a long strong strap to support as much weight as possible.  I didn't think the thin leather alone would cope, and my remaining piece was too short anyway, so I dug out this hessian webbing and ran it along the side, over the shoulder and down to the base on the other side.  If I had been really clever I would have sandwiched the ends into the base, but I didn't think of it until too late.

The hessian is pretty rough and would destroy my clothes if I left it "bare" to rub my shoulder, so I wrapped the top section of the strap with another strip of leather, cut from my second 25 x 50cm piece, stitching through all the layers.

The final step was to line the bag.  I considered inserting a piece of cardboard across the bottom, to make it firmer, but I thought it might get damp and stinky.  This would also be the time to screw in "feet" if you wanted to protect the base from wear and tear, but I didn't have any and I was on a roll!
I had a metre of lovely Anna Maria Horner quilting fabric in the stash and decided it was time to go wild and just use it!  I made two main compartments, with a double-layer divider up the middle.  I had planned to interface this but I couldn't find my double-sided interfacing (maybe I used it already?)  I added leather pockets inside for my phone / pen / car key, and a bigger one to hold a folded sheet of A4 like a map or a knitting pattern.  The lining hangs free within the main cushion cover, stitched along the top below the zip.


Ta Dah!  One strong and funky enormous everyday bag made out of a cushion cover!
I enjoyed working out the construction details, and I was really chuffed to sew leather successfully on my first attempt.
I will get loads of use out of this bag and it makes me smile to think that although it is OOAK, it has a cousin in America, over at Melissa's house!


Gail said...


Alessa said...

:D Great project!

Spikeabell said...

Hah, my other half came up with the same 'hilarious' comment about leather needles...8-)
Good project!

Lynne said...

That is fan-bloomin-tastic!!!! I love it! FL - he's such a hoot, another one straight from the dad jokebook!! ;)

Emily said...

I'll take three, please!

Seriously ... is there any room in your life/Etsy store to make more of these and unleash them on an unsuspecting and less handy public?

Scruffybadger said...

This was fun to read, great pics and what a great end result...fabulously colourful, strong as nails and designed with you in mind. I reminded myself yesterday that it's sometimes fun to make things apart from clothes....sometimes!

Mary said...

Wow. That bag is real neat and looks so easy. Thanks for this posting.

Sarahel said...

Genius. I'm eyeing up all our cushions now.