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