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Another red leather handbag

31 August 2011, 14:00

The changing of the seasons… the circle of life… and another Nairobi leather handbag for me!

I’ve become a bit boring with my handbags, but I just love everything about the Hot Patterns Nairobi bag and my own little evolutionary improvements that I just can’t bring myself to mess with a good thing. My mustard handbag has lasted over two years of heavy, every day use now, but it’s on its last legs, so it was time to create a new one.

This bag is very similiar to the bag I made Pip for Christmas last year, but without the central strip (I find it just too big with it in!), and with my own special lining pockets added inside.

The leather is leftover from Pip’s bag, and I was able to squeeze this out of the nearly-complete hide that was leftover. I’d bought this super soft, cow’s leather from Global Leathers when we were in NYC, and the brass rings in the strap are from Botani, bought on the same trip. I’d actually bought two skins of pearlised green leather to make myself a handbag, but Frugal Me realised that if I made this using the red leather, I’d have enough green to then make clothing instead of a bag…

Here’s a shot of my internal lining pockets, but I pretty much did the exact same configuration as in my previous handbag, so you can see the photos in that post. Even the lining fabric has stayed the same in my last three handbags, but this was the last of the Alexander Henry “Light Bright” quilting cotton, so I’ll have to change it up next time.

On one side, I’ve got two zippered pockets – the top for various small bits like chapstick, emery boards, eye drops, pills, mirror, etc, and the lower pocket is lined in black fleece so my iPhone is nice and cosy and unscratched.

The pockets on the opposite side of the lining are patch pockets specifically sized to carry: my Oystercard (tube/bus pass), headphones (with added velcro closure), pens, and business cards. I’ve also got a matching, long key leash with a closing clip so I can unlock my front door without fear of my keys dropping in the river!

To be perfectly honest, my crazy personalised pockets have forever spoiled me from purchased handbags ever again.

This must be the 8th? 9th? time I’ve made this Hot Patterns Nairobi bag pattern, no exaggeration. It was originally offered as a free pdf download pattern, but it’s so popular now that you can actually order a paper pattern from Hot Patterns now, and it’s well, well worth the $15.

To anticipate the inevitable “You can sew leather?” questions – yes! Get yourself some sewing machine needles for leather, and a rolling, teflon, or walking foot, and off you go. The only important thing to remember is that pins and needles leave permanent holes, so you can’t use pins (those plastic prawn clips that come in men’s shirts are a good substitute), and you have to be very sure your seams are correct before you sew, as any ripped out seams will leave holes that weaken the leather.

This is only the first of my enthusiastic Fall sewing over the past week or two, but there’s plenty more to share later…

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  1. Very professional looking results! I’ve never tried sewing leather before. I am impressed.

    Karin    Aug 31, 03:38 PM    #
  2. I have a big hankering to start sewing handbags. With all the resources I have at my fingertips I’d be a fool not to, right?!

    — Meg    Aug 31, 04:27 PM    #
  3. I love the LiteBrite lining – and your preference for lining pockets and a big space in the middle. That’s my kind of bag! Gorgeous all around. I may have to try that pattern, leather or not!

    — M Kate    Aug 31, 04:47 PM    #
  4. Fantastic bag! And you are brilliant to use fleece for an iphone pocket. I’ve had this pattern since it was offered as a freebie by HP…don’t know why I don’t get off my duff and make it, especially after seeing yours.

    — Izzie    Aug 31, 10:09 PM    #
  5. This is a really great bag, like you I am fussy about the pockets on my bag – not enough to venture into making one yet, but who knows…..

    allisonC    Sep 1, 12:56 AM    #
  6. Oh I love this bag!

    Katherine    Sep 1, 01:13 AM    #
  7. Very stylish. You seem to be able to buy very soft leather in Europe.

    Gail    Sep 2, 05:57 AM    #
  8. I’ve tried to work with leather recently. Even though it went better than expected my seams don’t look as nice and clean as yours. Great work!

    senaSews    Sep 2, 11:34 AM    #
  9. Gorgeous bag! I’m still scared of working with leather =(

    Lisette    Sep 2, 01:18 PM    #
  10. Love it! I’ve been using my “FehrTrade” mustard bag continuously for over a year and a half and it is still going strong, except for a bit of a split in the stitching of the handle that I need to repair. Melissa, you sure do know how to find quality leather that bears a lot of weight and abuse! I also love the idea of having a one-of-a-kind leather handbag.

    — Mom    Sep 4, 12:50 AM    #
  11. Oh, hello from Argentina! My name is Malala. Could you send me this pattern via email, please? (please, please, please, please!) feria_ropa_2010@hotmail.com

    — Malala    Oct 9, 01:22 AM    #
  12. A good looking leather bag. I think I should learn how to sew leather.

    — Mary Jones    Nov 21, 11:47 AM    #

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