This project was an indulgent nod to the fringed bag trend of right-now. As a girl of the 90s and early 00s, I’m conditioned to let anything with bold, Eastern-inspired patterns render me weak at the knees and powerless to resist – although the era itself can keep its character tattoos, whose aesthetic value is meh at best and whose capacity for embarrassing mistranslation is simply boundless! I’m talking more about geisha motifs, cheongsam dresses and blossom patterns – dramatic outfit paradigms, in both visual and dream-selling terms. The exoticism will forever have its hold over my imagination and the emotional triggers that incite us to buy or, in my case, senselessly plagiarise!
I have my local vintage/charity shop to thank for a £7 pair of size 14 leather trousers I upcycled to make the bag; the amount of skins needed for the bag would get me little change from £100 – possibly even more. It might not be 1986 any more but there’s always a place for old forgotten leather trousers in my craft room, and my minuscule heart – even if my love entails lacerating them!
You will need
NB: If you want to include a lining, you also need fabric for that. I would recommend a firm satin but most fine non-stretch fabrics would work. I used red jacquard fabric.
You also need a sewing machine and a hammer for the eyelets.
I’m going to put this on the easy side of intermediate. It involves sewing and working with patterns, so it would be foolish to assume everyone would find it a walk in the park, but both are minimal and straighforward in this project, so don’t let them put you off.
Keep calm and Kokon
Cut out the pattern pieces specified in the drawing. I wanted to make my bag quite bog so I used the measurements in the pattern, but you don’t have to make yours anything like that size. I’d recommend using a trouser leg (ideally along the thigh) to save time, although you will have to unpick one side, so that you can lie the piece flat. It would also be helpful for calculating the size of the bottom piece by using its width as the circumference of the circle you need to cut.
Cut out three pieces of white satin in the shape shown above (print and trace from the image as a guide, if necessary). Place them along the side of your bag (rectangular piece) and stick the pieces to the leather using craft mount.
Go around each piece using a zig-zag stitch. If you can programme your sewing machine, make the stitches as wide and close together as possible, so that it creates a solid border around the satin. You might need to go around it twice to ensure this.
Sew on the fringing, so that it is wrong(matte)-side-up with the non-fringed part along the hem.I also added some leather stars to the middle of the satin shapes to look authentically like the original and in aid of a slightly weaker argument: YOLO.
Unpick the waistband and belt loops from the trousers. Fold the waistband in half and sew it in place so that it forms a long cord. Sew one of the belt loops to make a figure-of-eight shape for holding what will be our drawstring in place. The other loops are for attaching to the bag as a base for strap attachment.
Sew the side seams together and then attach the top loops and bottom. Since I was working with leather, I found that it helped to use staples along the edge, instead of pins, in order to hold the pieces in place for sewing. Leather is a tough fabric to pin and holes are permanent – although these didn’t matter as they were inside the seam allowance.
Repeat the sewing process with the lining and hand-stitch it to the top. I would recommend a slip stitch but you’re likely to need a thimble.
Punch holes in the top. You will probably need a hammer or some form of eyelet puncher if you’re using the ones that I used. I hated this part because it’s loud as hell and – it being late in the process -I had to do it late at night. I prayed I wouldn’t get the screaming abdabs from the neighbours for disturbing them. Thankfully I didn’t but it was a tense moment, nonetheless!
The final step is to thread the drawstring through the eyelets and attach a strap, if you so wish.