She seeketh wool and flax and worketh willingly with her hands. -Proverbs 31:13

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Upcycled Leather Belt Bag Handles

To use a leather belt for purse or tote bag handles, first assemble the tools. My favorite sources for belts are the Goodwill where they are $1.99 each, or the Genesis Thrift Shop in Dallas where they cost less than $5. I've tried lots of different kinds, and I prefer leather that is not bonded or sewn. Lots of belts are a different color on the back side. For handles I like the front and back to be the same color.

Cut the leather to length. If you don't like the holes in most belts, cut the the end off and make a shorter strap. Or punch holes the entire length of the belt to make them look intentional.

The easiest way to attach them is to use rawhide and lace it in place. The rawhide lacing makes a nice, strong junction. I would hate to have the handles fall off of something I had made.

For a rawhide lacing attachment, use a leather punch for a nice neat hole. Depending on the size of the bag, I usually either use four holes or six, but you really could lace it any way you would like. On the natural colored wool bag in the photos there are four holes in each end of the belt. Since the top of the bag is folded over, I put a slit in the top edge and sandwiched the leather in between the wool so the lacing could go through two layers of felt. It is a fairly large bag and I wanted it to have extra load bearing area. I use small scissors that have a very sharp point for poking holes in the felt. You can see the belt end peeking out of the bottom of the folded over edge in one photo.

If you don't want the lacing to show, cover it with something. On the outside of the bag I sometimes use beads threaded through the lacing. On the inside I often line the top several inches to both cover the attachment and add a contrasting color or texture.

When using belts that are woven strips of leather I poke the lacing through existing gaps instead of using a leather punch.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Felting Camel

A friend of mine raises camels and she gave me a bag full of down. I have washed it, removed the coarse outer hair, carded it and felted it into several scarves. Hopefully she will like at least one of them. All of that work makes me appreciate commercially produced fiber.

I took a spinning class last weekend at DFW Fiberfest and I've reached a few conclusions. If I lived in pre-industrial revolution times and had to raise the sheep, clean and card the wool, spin the yarn, weave the fabric, and sew the clothing we would be wearing either very few clothes or a lot of buckskin. Each task is enjoyable, but the idea of producing enough fabric to clothe a family is daunting.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Big Dipper

I embroidered around the stars and added some Austrian crystals to make the night sky pop. The bag is black, navy and white merino wool with some blue silk wet felted around a resist. I haven't decided yet whether to put a flap closure on it or a drawstring or to just leave it open.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Falkland & Shetland Wool Bag With Curly Locks

I love the curly locks on this bag. All of the wool is undyed. The gray is Shetland, the white is Falkland, and the curly locks are Lincoln lamb. There is blue and white upcycled cotton nuno felted in the "window" surrounded by faux pearl beads. The strap is an upcycled leather belt. This bag didn't shrink anywhere near as much as the merino bag in the previous post, which was made on the same mold.

Handbag for a Friend

This was a gift I made for a friend. The inside of the bag is white and the exterior is black, but felted together it looks gray. I sandwiched some assorted brown fiber in between layers so they would peek out where I snipped the surface with scissors. The wool is merino and the handle is an upcycled belt.