On Holiday Bag with Leather Handles

I was so inspired by the Folk Flower Print from Alexia's new collection and knew that I wanted to make an On Holiday bag with it. Leather is one of my favorite materials to work with and I love the way that is adds refinement to a handmade bag. I had the idea to use a piece of black leather I had been saving for a rainy day to make the handles. The Cotton + Steel Gingham in Black and White was clearly the perfect lining. I grabbed a spool of the new Cotton + Steel by Sulky Thread, a couple black zippers, and I got started!

I picked Version A of the On Holiday Pattern so that it would be roomy enough to use for an overnight or weekend trip. I like to start by tracing all of my patterns because you never know how many versions you will want to make! Then it was time to cut my straps. I did this very carefully following the measurements given in the pattern and using a ruler and rotary cutter because the piece of leather I had was just barely enough.

After I finished cutting my straps I set them aside and started on the rest of the bag. I really wanted to show off this gorgeous print so I took the time to make sure that it would be centered on both the back and front bag pieces. I recommend laying your pattern piece on top of your fabric and checking to be sure that it is aligned the way that you want it before cutting on any print.

After cutting out my pieces it was time to attach the short leather straps. Here are some tips for sewing with leather:

  • Switch out your sewing machine needle to a Leather type needle, I used a size 18 leather needle for the stitching. 
  • If your machine has a foot control that plugs directly into your sewing machine and is separate from your power cord, you can sew slowly and still utilize the full horsepower of your machine's motor. If your machine foot control is joined to your power cord and plugs in as one unit to your machine, then the faster you sew the more power you will have from the machine. If you want to be able to sew slowly, you can always hand turn the handwheel (always turn the handwheel towards you, never away) stitch by stitch. 
  • Take care when sewing leather, the holes made by stitching do not heal if you have to unpick your stitches and start over.
  • I like to use a fairly mid-lightweight leather (not a belt or "tooling" weight) for sewing these straps.
  • You can use wonder clips or Scotch tape to hold the leather, do not use pins. 
  • Use a non-stick teflon foot to allow the leather to glide under the presser foot. I don't recommend walking feet because the upper feed dogs of the walking foot can damage the face of the leather.

For the rest of the construction I simply followed the pattern. I love the way it turned out and can't wait to use it the next time I go out of town. Hopefully, for a holiday!



p.s. Here are some great sources for purchasing leather online if you can't find a local shop that carries it: (FYI these are not affiliate links, they are just places I've shopped or browsed before!)


Fancy Tiger

Leather Hide Store

Marcelle Medallion Coloring Sheet

I made a little printable coloring sheet for you to help with the planning and placement of fabrics for the Marcelle Medallion. You can download the free PDF by clicking here

Happy planning and coloring! Check back for more about choosing fabrics for the center block!



Marcelle Medallion Machine Paper Pieced Tips

I'm happy to share this tutorial about paper piecing the center block of our Marcelle Medallion Quilt pattern. If you have any questions, leave us a comment!

To sew-along with this tutorial you will need-

Marcelle Medallion Pattern

paper piecing templates copied 4x at 100%

all of your fabrics prepared as instructed in the pattern

sewing machine and all purpose thread (I like to use polyester thread for paper piecing so that when tearing the paper away I don't break the threads.)

optional-fabric glue stick, lightbox

The general technique of machine paper piecing utilizes templates printed on paper, which as you sew your fabric pieces together is behind the fabric stabilizing awkward seams and providing a printed stitching line to follow. Usually you will sew with the wrong side of the fabrics touching the un-printed side of the paper, with the printed side of the paper face up as you sew, and the fabrics underneath. It can be awkward to sew this way at first, but many people LOVE using paper piecing to get their points crisp. I would recommend completing one practice block to get warmed up before starting on your actual center block for your Marcelle Medallion.

Here we go! Oh, and you can click on any of these images to enlarge them for a closer look.

You will follow the paper piecing order shown in step 1 under the paper piecing method heading in the pattern. Start with pieces A and B.

Lay piece B wrong side down on the un-printed side of the paper template and check to be sure your fabric covers the entire B1 area a little beyond the dark outline.

Lay piece A right side down on top of piece B, now the right sides of the fabric are touching and the paper is behind them. Folding piece A along the future seam line, and over area A1, test to be sure that piece A will cover the A1 area after you sew the seam. Flip it back in place and carefully flip the whole fabric/paper stack over so that the printed side is up, and sew along the stitching line starting at the solid line and ending at the solid line.

Press the fabrics open and press with a dry iron or a seam roller. With the fabrics held in place flip the paper/fabrics over and trim the block down along the solid outer line using a rotary cutter, mat, and ruler.

Now you will piece C/D or E/F, for tutorial purposes I'm sewing C/D here. You will follow the same process of laying down your first fabric, D or F in this case, and then placing the second fabric right sides together, folding on the future seam line to test placement and be sure if the fabric will cover the entire C or E area, folding the fabrics back together and preparing to sew.

Sew the fabrics through the paper just as you did with piece A/B, this time you will have excess fabric to trim. Trim the seam allowances down to 1/4" and then press open as you did before, with a dry iron or seam roller.

Trim the block in the same method as with A/B.

Repeat these steps to piece both C/D and E/F.

Next you will piece G/H or I/J. For the purposes of this tutorial I am piecing I/J. 

Repeat the same method of placing fabric, checking that your pieces will cover the entire corresponding area of the template, sewing, pressing, trimming.

Repeat these steps to piece both G/H and I/J.

paper piecing-2-32.jpg

Now that you have all of the components pieced you are ready to assemble one quarter square block.

Sew F/E to A/B along the B and E edges following the stitching line on the paper. If you want to double check that your seams intersect you can poke a pin through both units front to back, and then carefully peel up the front unit to see where the two blocks match.

Sew G/H to I/J.










Sew the completed G/H/I/J unit to the C/D unit along the I and D edges.

Now you are ready to piece the upper and lower sections of the block and are ready to sew the "sort of" Y seam. I like to think of it as more of a bend in the road seam. Align the two sections as shown, don't worry that at first they will only match along the E and G edges.

Sew the seam that you have aligned, starting at the edge and sewing in towards the center point of the block. Stop sewing with the needle down when you reach the point at which the center points meet, about half-way. Lift the presser foot. Pull the remainder of the upper and lower block together to align the seams, put the presser foot down, and sew the rest of the seam.

Repeat your steps until you have four identical blocks, and then piece them together as shown in the Marcelle Medallion instructions.

You can see above that the block looks a little strange at first, don't worry, it will look a little misshapen until you sew the four quadrants of the star together and remove the paper. 

I hope this sew-along is helpful, and please if you have any questions or want to share a link to your block let me know in the comments!