A few weeks ago, Elsie from A Beautiful Mess posted on her blog, about starting a Project Restyle group for 2011. The idea behind it is to find something old and make it new again.. reuse, recycle, restyle. You get the picture right? Well of course I wanted to join in the fun, so I signed on board! So here is my Restyle Project! Keeping with the theme of this weeks Monday Moodboard.. menswear textures.. here we go! My before.. a worn out Men's Dress coat, that I purchased at the thrift store for $2.00 and a vintage scarf I picked up in New York last month at a second hand store for a a buck. My after.. a totally modern yet vintage handbag.. perfect for a day out on the town!
I love the little details when I create handbags.. and this coat made it SO easy to incorporate them! Since the coat already had pockets, buttons, and tags sewn into it.. it made it fun to create with!
I used the front panels of the coat for my outside of the bag. I made sure to keep the pockets intact which was great because both outside walls have pockets already built in!
I used the arms of the coat for the band around the top of the bag, which ended up being perfect because it each sleeve had buttons sewn on at the cuff of sleeve. I kept them intact which added adorable detail to the band!
I used the front lapel of the jacket, including the pocket that you put your handkerchief in, as one of the handles for the bag.. which made the perfect pocket for a cell phone!
I also cut the tags out of the jacket and put one on the outside of the bag, as a "designer" detail .
The other two tag, I sewed on the inside of the bag, to mimick the inside of the coat (it says where it was made and the size of the suit coat).
I lined the inside of the bag with some vintage dollar fabric and used remaining pieces of the coat to create pockets on the INSIDE of the bag as well ( I am a pocket freak now :)).
I sewed buckles into the handles and then used the vintage scarf for the rest of the handle! Its tied in a simple knot on each end, which allows me to swap it out for another scarf depending on the mood I am in! I honestly love how this turned out. Pleats and all.
I can't totally take credit for the idea of using a suit coat. Last year my friend rented this wonderful book at the library, about recycling old items into handbags. I actually tried to find it this week at the library to give you the name.. but no such luck. I will work on that though as It was a fabulous book! I also have to give huge credit to my wonderful friend, Gretchen.. who has been a patient mentor this past year for me, in sharpening my sewing skills. I have loved sewing from when I was a young, but like most things.. I taught myself and well.. I like to cut corners. I sewed mostly quilts, pj's pants, pillows and simple dresses.. but again.. always cutting corners and never following directions. Well this past year when Gretchen invited me to come over and make a handbag I was stoked! When I got to her house, she had a table set up for ironing, one for cutting (with a cutting mat and rotarty cutter) and one for sewing.. she proceeded to tell me about interfacing (what's that?) and pinning (really who pins?) and how it always good to iron down seams, pleats, etc. I was like.. ya ya.. I got this.. don't you worry... and I went to town. Both of us started our bags.. and while I finished mine a lot earlier than hers, I have to admit.. it looked NOTHING like hers. Hers was crisp and professional... it was lined and had pockets.. it had top stitching and pleats.. I was in love.. WITH HERS. I looked at my sad little bag.. wrinkles, seams showing on the inside...slumping as it sat on the table.. it looked like a 5th grader had sewed it. So I was determined to actually listen and LEARN the tips she had to share. Thanks Gretchen for being patient with me that first day. You will be happy to know with my second bag, I interfaced, lined, pinned, ironed, topstitched and even followed a pattern. It turned out FABULOUS! Since then I have created over 20 different handbags for family and friends and each one has gotten better and better! Now I am back to the point where I am creating my own patterns and designs but this time.. doing it right! It's has been fun to watch myself actually succeed at something and do it the RIGHT way.
Handbags really are easy and honestly if you follow some simple rules.. I promise it will turn out just as fabulous as ANYTHING you can buy in the store. Here are some tips to help you.
Tip 1: Always interface: Interfacing is inexpensive ($1.00 a yard and even cheaper if you use a coupon!)and it adds stability and stiffness to your project. I love the iron on stuff and I interface everything including pockets and my lining.
Tip 2: Line your bag.. it looks SO nice and its fun to use different and unexpected patterns.. a fun little surprise on the inside! I always try to find the clearance cottons for lining.. never spending more than a $1.00 for a yard.
Tip 4: Add pockets! I know pockets appear to be hard, but they are easy peasy and So dang cute! You can never have too many pockets inside of purse!
Tip 5: Iron your seams. I know this sounds silly, but it makes your bag look so crisp when it's done!
Tip 6: Topstitch. Topstiching adds the final detail that makes your bag look like you bought it at a fancy boutique! Its fast and so worth the little extra effort.
and Tip 7: It's all about the details. Adding buttons, handmade flowers or old antique broaches finishes off any bag! I love sewing tags on the outside and inside of my purses.. adds a personal touch.
It's all about having fun and ending up with a handbag you would be proud to show your friends and family . You can find patterns are your local fabric store, but I love finding patterns on Etsy or other handmade websites.
I hope you enjoyed today's Project Restyle! It's been a few month's since I made a bag.. so It was fun to play! Make sure you come back next week, as I will be giving away a "scarlet lime" bag I made.. perfect for just about anything (oh and didn't i mentioned it's got like 7 pockets inside?? lol).. so stinking cute.. Have a happy friday!