So if you have been following my blog, then you may know about a project that I am doing for a friend. You know, the Star Wars costume project. Well, I just keep running into walls, and I think my head is starting to get sore from all that head bashing. Argh.
So, in order to keep from going crazy, I have been trying to find a way to keep a positive mindset and do something that will help me with the project of creating a Jedi Temple Guard costume. I have already done some preliminary sketches. I can’t go much further without a dress form and some serious measurements. And I have also considered what kind of materials should be used in this costume. What would look best, be comfortable, and give the correct feeling for what the character is supposed to be. One of the materials that I need to use is leather. It is a natural material that will not cause my friend any allergy concerns and it is sturdy, and will look right for the kind of character. But not all leather is the same. There are many kinds and I am not expert on leather goods or making leather items.
My experience with leather is creating Renaissance Era pouches, belts, gloves, and protective Landsknechte vests and leggings. I have even made a WWI era German Captain’s hat for my Uhlan’s costume. The brim was leather. So since it has been awhile since I have made things in leather and I have these delays, I thought I would make something to help improve my skills and knowledge base. And one side note here – when doing a project just for learning, pick something that you really want to do for personal reasons. It will help you stay inspired and focused on the project. If there is no drive to get the project done, then completion and the drive to do it may never happen. So I decided that I am sick and tired of having purses made of plastic or man made materials. I like leather purses. They last longer, are more durable, and tend to look better.
So I bought some materials to make my very own leather purse. This involved designing what the purse looked like and considering what functional aspects I needed to make this a usable piece for when it was finished. This was no simple task. I also had to keep the construction process in mind as well because I was the person doing the construction and my skill set is somewhat limited and I was going to have to do this all by hand.
So first I drew out my designs for all the pieces, which included a lined interior. Then I purchased the materials for the purse, which was not easy considering that I live in a town that has limited resources. I was not able to get all my desired color choices. Zippers for this project were proving to be less than easy to find, so I had to settle for brown zippers for the outside part of the purse. I had wanted a matching dark green to the interior or a matching mustard gold color for the leather. I got neither. The outside zippers are dark brown. And I have to live with it. Oh well. What can I say, I live on the Outer Rim.
New cell phone slip cover made of the leather to help project the phone from scratches.
Then next part is to carefully cut out materials. When it comes to leather, it is expensive and taking care to conserve as much as possible is wise. I already made a mistake and had to cut a second outside pocket to replace the one I messed up. Luckily, I was able to turn the old outside pocket into a new cell phone case. That seems to be working very well. I have also discovered from working with this particular type of leather is that it is very soft and stretchy. A bit too stretchy for making a purse. It really needed to be a bit stiffer, so there is lesson number one. Be mindful of the leather’s qualities in that it may cause unexpected problems during construction or even during use. This Italian leather was on sale at Tandy and was wonderful to touch and probably would have been perfect for a jacket due to it’s flexible nature. This would not be suitable in my mind for making a belt.
So below I have shared a few pictures of my progress on the purse. I have no idea how this will look in the end. In my mind, it looked fabulous, but as for reality, we shall see. My hands are already sore and blistered from poking holes and shoving sharp thick needles through the leather. This project may take some serious time, but I am learning something new.
Here I am trying to use common straight lines for the edges of the pieces to reduce the amount of waste. I also drew lines on the wrong side of the leather to make cutting easier.
Here is the back pocket that I had to cut out a second time. Hand stitching is not easy and keeping the leather in place is also proving to be difficult so I used alligator clamps that are normally used to keep paper together.
G. Winkler ©2015