Forget Hillary. Forget Asshat. Vote for This Instead.

Lemme just clear up that this post has absolutely nothing to do with the US election campaign. You can relax. 🙂

———-

Asking directly for what you want is a good skill for women to have. I’ve read about studies that show women are less likely than men to be direct about what they need, whether it’s asking for a raise, asking for help, or even pointing out their own achievements. In fact, I read about this in the book Women Don’t Ask by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, which I highly recommend. The authors pick apart the psychology of this problem and illustrate their points with studies and stats, and suggest strategies for change. (If you know a young woman who has just started her career or is about to, get her this book, stat! In fact, if you are a woman or know some women, make sure you all have a copy!) Not asking for what we want may be part of the reason — aside from living in an inherently sexist society that undervalues women and their contributions, of course — that women on average earn less than men in the same profession. And believe me, I understand that particular situation personally first hand.

So that’s a really loooong (and uncharacteristically serious!) way of saying I believe in trumpeting one’s own achievements and asking for what you want. So, I want you to marvel at this awesome leather handbag I made! And I want you to vote for me in the Pattern Review Handbag Contest! Can you help a girl out? 😀

Red Leather Bundle Bag

Whaddya think? I’m pretty chuffed about this bag, let me tell you! I think it’s rather professional looking with its blood-red leather, exterior pockets, drawstring closure, and gunmetal hardware.

redleatherbag1

But wait, check out the inside! Bag lining is the perfect place to get my silly-patterned-fabric ya-ya’s out. I used some leftover cotton from Cotton + Steel’s Tokyo Train Ride collection, which I originally used to make this high neck sleeveless top. There’s a zippered pocket as well as a cell-phone patch pocket in the interior.

redleatherbag_interior2

I don’t mind telling you that this was a *bitch* to sew. Neither of my sewing machines (not even my trusty 1983 model Singer that I figured could sew through a two-by-four) liked the heavy-weight thread that was recommended for use with leather. I think the thread broke at least 22 times while I stitched the seams. In some spots where there were 6 layers of leather to sew through, I had to use the foot pedal *and* physically push the needle contraption down as hard as I could with my hands. I’m sure this is not good for a sewing machine. Where the handle meets the top of the bag, there were 8 layers to get through. The machine absolutely would not budge. I bent 4 hand sewing needles trying to finish those seams.

redleatherbag5

And do you know what? I can proudly say that in spite of the challenges, my alter-ego Sewzilla didn’t even show her face. She politely stayed away while I patiently replaced needles and rethreaded the machine countless times. You could say she was a No-Show Sew-Zo. Must be the unseasonably warm sunny weather we’re having here in Toronto lately keeping this house Sewzilla-free. Or maybe it was that I knew this bag would kick ass, so it was worth the effort. I do absolutely love it.

Sewzilla
The No-Show Sew-Zo

[UPDATE: my husband and #UnsungSewingBlogHero proofread this post for me and kindly pointed out that Sewzilla did, in fact, show up during the making of this bag. So apparently Sewzilla now knows how to take over my brain and then erase my memory of it. Shit. Maybe I can bribe her to erase my husband’s memory of her visits, too. I mean, have a little MERCY, Sewzilla.]

redleatherbag3

I now have two versions of this bag. I made the first one, in black leather, at a workshop at a local sewing studio called Sew Be It, where we were guided through the process of making the bag with instructor Sherri Gallagher. Sherri is a professional leather worker who designed the bag and drafted the pattern, and gave the students in the workshop copies of the pattern pieces to keep and use again. Then along came the Pattern Review Handbag Contest and it was the perfect excuse to see if I could sew one on my own.

I bought the red leather hide for $60 at Leather & Sewing Supply Depot on Spadina Avenue in Toronto, as well as all the findings, thread, and double-sided tape to hold the seams together before stitching. There’s an old fellow who I think owns the shop who walked me around pointing out all the perfect things I would need for the bag. They have excellent customer service there. They will even install snaps, eyelets, rivets, etc. into your project while you wait, which is what I did. I spent about 30 mins with someone at the shop who helped me find the best rivets and put them in for me, for a measly 75 cents per rivet. That was the best sanity-saving $7.50 I ever spent.

the materials for making the leather bag
Pattern pieces, buckram interfacing, lining fabric, double sided tape, leather, and various findings

At first I thought I’d use that cute Nerdy Stag fabric above for the lining — see how his little glasses match the red leather? — but I didn’t have enough. It’s now destined to become a cosmetics bag.

redleatherbag_hide

The verdict? I LOVE THIS. The size and shape of the bag plus all those pockets make it a favourite for every day use. And it’s the kind of project that stuns people when I tell them I made it.

Hey everyone, I MADE THIS! (Trumpeting my achievement — check.) Will you vote for me in the Handbag Contest? (Asking for what I want — check.) Thanks, friends. We gotta look out for each other. 🙂

redleatherbag4

Thanks so much for stopping by!

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29 thoughts on “Forget Hillary. Forget Asshat. Vote for This Instead.

  1. I think they make tools that are like a spikey pinwheel that will stab seam holes into leather. Probably would have saved you some trouble. Or of course a good awl. Looks fabulous either way!

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    1. Yes, I know the one you mean. I used one of them on my first version of this bag, and found I barely had the strength to press the tool through the leather! Maybe I need to go to the gym. 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

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  2. Nice! Sewing leather on a domestic machine isn’t all that fun, so we’ll done. Even though sewzilla appeared and left no trace in your mind. But I wonder if using heavy jeans/topstitching needles would’ve worked better? In case you don’t know, those industrial leather sewing machines don’t use leather needles like those made for domestic machines. Oh, and when sewing by hand, everything goes so much more smoothly if you pre-punch your seam with a sharp awl. Have a block of thick felt or cork to protect both awl and work surface.

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  3. Wow, what great work and the effort really shows through. We bet you get stopped on the street by people wanting to know where you “bought” it!

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  4. Great post! It’s so cool that something that was really really hard & challenging to get through rewarded you at the end- it look so incredibly fantastic! I will vote for you too.

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  5. I voted for your bag! Yours really stands out. I’ve learned that if your thread is shredding, it’s because you need a needle with a bigger eye and/or a larger needle. As thenaughtybun mentioned, you might be better off with topstitching needles. For example, size 100/16 topstitching needles have a much larger eye than size 110/18 leather needles. With topstitching needles you can often go with a slightly smaller size needle, which makes it easier for your sewing machine to punch through the material, but still doesn’t shred your thread.

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    1. Thanks so much, Leila! That’s a good tip about the shredding thread. I found it was mostly shredding at the last thread guide before it reached the needle, so that must be too small for the thread I was using. I wonder if it’s adjustable? And I will definitely try out topstitching needles next time…thanks for the tips.

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  6. Your bag is definitely the best of the group. It’s stylish and useful, too! On another note, where in Toronto can you buy SA rulers for pattern grading? They’re so expensive to import from the U.S.

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    1. Thanks, Tammy! I got my SA ruler from Sew Be It. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen them as well as French Curves at Fabricland (but of course you have to be a member and/or wait for a sale because their notions are so overpriced) and The Workroom. I haven’t been in the market for them lately so I guess I haven’t really noticed when I’ve seen them. Good luck on the search…I’m sure you’ll find some locally.

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  7. Absolutely gorgeous. The color is the best. I can’t believe you sewed that on a regular sewing machine. I’m sure my machine would die if I tried it. Amazing professional bag! WOWEE.

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    1. Thanks, Janet! Believe me, my sewing machine and I both almost died. 😀 I agree about the colour…that red is just gorgeous. I feel lucky I found that particular piece of leather.

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