LEATHERWORKED: Embracing Imperfection

Thursday 14 September 2017

I am often very hard on myself.

I want things to be perfect. I expect to live up to my own very high standards.

If you're going to do something, do it well. And I know when it's going well. There is a certain flow to the process. The pieces fall into place neatly and with decorum. The project grows in one's hands with joy and excitement.

This here project just about broke me. It just felt awkward and half-arsed from the start. I'm not experienced with traditional bag making. You know... interfacings (heavy? light? medium? what does that even mean?), hardware (don't you get that from a hardware store? no?).

D-rings, keyrings, rivets. When? Why? How?

It's like a foreign language. And honestly, I usually learn best from hand holding, not from reading or listening. And I had no one to hold my hand... sniff.

This is the Ida Clutch, a free pattern from Kylie and the Machine. It's being made up everywhere and it's a looker of a bag. When I bought the leather for my Hello, Beautiful bag I also snapped up a delightfully tomato-hued hide specifically with the Ida in mind. Sheeny, shiny, chromed goodness.

I also picked up a few scraps from the remnant bins at Birdsall Leather with the idea of making up numerous versions for gifting and giving. Stuffed that right up. The remnants are all only big enough to cut one side of the bag. Why? Because I'm an idiot. I just didn't read the instructions right. And as they are all different weights and colours I can't even combine them to create a colourblocked bag. Ugh.

But back to the red. I did happily have enough of that for a bag and a decorative tassel. Happy days!

The leather was reasonably easy to manage. It's quite thin and Kylie suggested using Silk Fuse as an interfacing to give it body (and very kindly sent me some with my order of zips and magnetic closures. She's a good egg). That's where my struggles began. I could not get that bloody interfacing to fuse over the entire piece. It would fuse in places and not in others and the whole process made my blood boil.

In the end I just did my best and lived with the knowledge it would be sandwiched between lining and outer anyway, sight unseen.

To top it off I then realised I was supposed to have attached my invisible magnetic closures prior to fusing the interfacing. Farrrrrrrrk. I peeled off the top section and attached one closure (badly, stitching is more ovular than circular), but given that the other is about halfway down the piece, that one is attached over the interfacing. I will say, it would have been better under the interfacing as the magnetic pull is not very strong and the bag doesn't like to stay folded over.

I did a mess of a job inserting the zipper. I did not leave enough of a side seam allowance at each end so when it came time to close those side seams I had a devil of a time. The SA there is about 1/4" at best and I had to hand crank my machine to get over all those layers.

Speaking of stitching. Let's talk about how all my machines hate topstitching leather (well the two I tried anyway. Modern Janome and my beloved Singer 201P). I probably should not have used a traditional zipper insertion with a folded back seam allowance. The leather was just thick enough that turning back and topstitching was a bit of a monster. Both machines again had to be hand cranked several times to glide over the slightly sticky leather and eventually missforming/skipping stitches the whole way along the zipper edge. My brain nearly exploded with fury. Yes I know, walking foot, walking foot, walking foot. I'll get one, I promise. And you know there is no unpicking leather. What's done is done and that fact is damn hard to swallow.

But what about that lining, hey? It's a gorgeous upholstery weight palm frond print I made a beach umbrella bag out of. Happily there was enough left to create a lovely pop of colour on the inside of my bag.

So with all that ranting above, why did I finish? My loathing for UFO's is great. They bother me hugely. So I hung in there, finished the lining and then sent the pretty much completed bag into the naughty corner.

Three days later I found the fortitude to press on. Strangely, the memories of fury and frustration had faded (is that like they tell you you'll forget how incredibly painful delivering a baby is and go back to have more? Ummmm nope, I stopped at the one).

I felt strangely compelled to tassel up, so I set about slicing and dicing up a piece of leftover hide, whacking on some glue and a little attachment loop and what do you know. Tassels fix everything. I'm rather taken with my little clutch. It seems I can embrace imperfections after all. There might be a lesson there somewhere.

The Monkey and I agree though. We prefer it unfolded over folded. What do you think?

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