Prototype bag Style# 4216 & 4217

4214_finished If you need to catch up, previous entries are pt.1, pt.2, pt.3, pt.4 and pt.5. I neglected to post a photo of the finished black velvet shopping bag (4214) I was working on before. Black velvet never looks good in photos. Gal pal Sal used it in Albuquerque and said it was grand. It holds a lot of stuff.

A mention to those who said they wouldn’t buy a velvet bag because the pile can be easily crushed. I should have mentioned that crushing velvet comes with the territory in New Mexico. Here, velvet is used in more casual pieces rather than upscale like in other places. We have Native Americans to thank for the tradition. They bought velvet from traders and made it into broomstick skirts. I prefer velvet like this to the extent I had forgotten people use it any other way. Crushing the pile gives it a pretty sheen that velvet doesn’t normally have.

Anyway, after the test drive of 4214, I decided it was kind of a hassle to keep the handle folded with the lining tucked back in there (although I probably could have stitched it into place) so I recut the pattern into another block (4215) which I haven’t sewn because I don’t think I need to because I’m making yet more bag prototypes from it. The main modifications were halving the strap width and adding a leather facing to compensate for added structural integrity (previously, the strap had lining to finish it off). A third change was a different kind of pocket in the lining. Much easier than a patch pocket and no pressing required as with the welt pocket. See? My shop limitations are already paying off if I don’t have to iron. This pocket will open at the lining and facing seam line. I’ll photograph it later.

4216_pattern_sm Having the new block, I made two more patterns neither of which I’ve sewn for two reasons. One, these are more complex and took longer to make than the ones I showed you before. These are more in line with the kind of design details I want. I just mention that so you see I’m working on the design paralysis thing. The second reason is, I need design advice. I’ve photographed the hides and need you to tell me which I should use, if any. For now, would you like to see the patterns? They’re pretty cool.

First is style no 4216 (right). It has three layers of leather, differing colors is the goal. A larger version of this file is here. What do you think of this one? Yes, it’s a lot of sewing and cutting. These are technically overlays rather than underlays. This red jacket I made is underlays by way of comparison. Speaking of, guess how they do this in the leather trades (bootmakers etc)? Believe it or not, they cut all those shapes out by hand, glue them (I’m shrieking) and then they stitch them down. Sheer insanity if you ask me when there’s much easier ways to do it.

4217_pattern_smThe next pattern is style 4217, a larger version is here. I suppose I was inspired to piece this after seeing the East West Musical Company Smoke jacket. Like I asked before, is this homage or plagiarism? As far as leather colors on this one, I’m clueless. Half the time I want to do it in all one color like the Smoke jacket or I want to use many colors. I have nearly all of them. Ideas? I’d love some.

Speaking of colors with reference to the “Flame” bag (style 4216), I have two cool hides I’ve never known what to do with, a white and black embossed calf hide and a red and black one (shown below). Both are shiny. I’ve labeled each hide A-E.  Again, there’s a larger photo so you can see these better. I think the flames are detail enough that solid colors are needed to break it up. I mean, the flame details would be lost if the two embossed calf leathers were stacked on top of each other. So, choices are red or black embossed with contrasts -or? Maybe just the two reds with one solid black or both blacks with solid red. The choices are endless. And even among the solid red and black, I have two choices, suede and grain (the red grain #D is redder than pictured). Both give a different effect. So, if you have any ideas to share, those would be much appreciated. Choices are the reason these hides have been in my stash since 1997. Heck, you can give the thumbs down to all of these. I have all kinds of colors. Yellow, orange and red would also be cool, don’t you think? Yellow hides could represent a replenishment problem, it’s a rare color, difficult to source and more expensive.

drama_hides

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25 comments

  1. Jesica says:

    Oh Kathleen I’m getting so excited about these now that you’re sharing these intricate patterns with us! I’m not generally inspired by embellishment but I love it when design details are built into the structure of the pattern. I go nuts over this stuff but my pattern skills aren’t where I’d like them to be so many of my ideas never make it to reality.

    I love the red embossed leather (E). B is pretty too but I feel like it’s so bold that it might distract your eye from the delicate flames. For some reason I’ve never been a fan of the red & black color combo, it seems like an overly used color pairing but I know a lot of people love it. I’m partial to something more subtle… monochromatic or a quirkier color combo. I’m not sure what your target market would be drawn to though… I’ll have to ponder on it for a while.

  2. I love the homage to the smoke jacket, and I’d love to see it in one color like the jacket. Although, I’m sure you could mix it up and find just as many fans. I love patchwork.

    Marguerite

  3. Theresa Riess says:

    You could make the sun copper and have yellow orange and blue radiating from it, but that’s just the Arizonan in me talking. The flame bag in the red and black would be nice. Red pebble bottom layer, black and then the red. Too bad you don’t have any purple , you could market it to the Red Hat Society. Us girls over fifty need to advertise our presence. I’d let the black pebble marinate a while longer. That needs it’s own design and on the simple side. Pebble black with just a speck of black trim or maybe even white or all pebble and a classic, subtle shape. Theresa in Tucson

  4. Christy B. says:

    Your smoke jacket pattern looks like how I do my quilting patterns- I’d never thought about how similar a leather jacket pattern or bag pattern could be. Colors… I like the embossed ones but think I’d prefer to see them on a simpler bag. That’s just me, though. For 4126 I think I’d be inclined to do something like black top layer/black bottom layer and something funky like the embossed as the middle, so only that edge peeks out. So many possibilities! Looks cool so far.

  5. kathleen says:

    (love, love, love your ideas!)

    A bit OT: Personally, I would love to talk about how it is I go about designing a pattern and the process in which I do something as mundane as cutting it out. The 4217 is a good example, great example actually. Every line is drawn with deliberation and intent. Has it occurred to anyone to wonder why the piece labeled #1 (visible in the large photo version) which forms the left side (as you look at it) and bottom, is so large? It’s comparatively much larger than the other pieces. It is not so difficult to figure out if you think a moment. When you design patterns, you must be mindful. Do these topics interest anyone? If I ever wrote a pattern making book, it would be how to make leather patterns. Problem is, who’d buy it if I can’t even talk anyone into sewing it? There’s rarely a match between my interests and the market. :)

  6. Marilynn says:

    I believe solid color bags of red or black using contrasting textures would be most “sellable”. There are “red” women and women who only buy black — when you start mixing colors it starts looking like a quilting project and gets too busy. The flame bag could be black with only the underlayer of red providing the accent on the flames. Question, what IS the other way of doing flames, other than gluing, that you would suggest. Also, I don’t think the sunburst is plagiarism — many a quilter has done a variation of this and no one accuses them of copying.

  7. RachelMM says:

    I absolutely love the black velvet bag. I think it’s really beautiful.

    My question is why you decided to have the handles for the bag go the way you did. When you carry the bag over your shoulder does it lay smoothly against your body or does it fight the shape of the bottom? I’m probably just not seeing the entire bag properly but I know that if a bag doesn’t lay right against me, I never choose to wear it.

  8. Connie says:

    Here is my opinionated opinion.

    The smoke jacket homage is great. I would do it in one colour only. It could be all red, or all black or all natural or all blue or whatever colours you like.

    The flame design is not my cup of tea but I love the red jacket underlay. I think that design would look better on the bag and you should limit yourself to 2 colours of any of the black/red combo but only put embossed leather with solid or solid with solid.

    I don’t like the velvet bag. I think the rivets would look better on a solid leather bag, red or black (or whatever).

    Love this series of posts.

  9. Amy says:

    Some people are minimalists, some (like me) are maximalists. I would love to wear the velvet bag as a tank top. Even better yet, turn it into a dress and put a matching rhinestone pattern at the waist, at a drop-waist or on the hem.

    I’d like the bag two-tone–black but with just a crescent of the embossed red color circling the sun. I think the flames would stand out with a small strip of the lighter plain red or the black embossed bordering the black spokes.

    I’m a vegetarian, so I’d prefer to see this manufactured in faux.

  10. Amy says:

    Some people are minimalists, some (like me) are maximalists. :-)

    I would love to wear the velvet bag as a tank top. Even better yet, turn it into a dress and put a matching rhinestone pattern at the waist, at a drop-waist or on the hem.

    I’d like the bag two-tone–black but with just a crescent of the embossed red color circling the sun. I think the flames would stand out with a small strip of the lighter plain red or the black embossed bordering the black spokes.

    I’m a vegetarian, so I’d prefer to see this manufactured in faux.

  11. Charles says:

    “A bit OT: Personally, I would love to talk about how it is I go about designing a pattern and the process in which I do something as mundane as cutting it out. … Has it occurred to anyone to wonder why the piece labeled #1 … is so large?”

    Maybe I’m thinking too obviously but is it to account for the bottom of the bag widerning as it gets filled with things? I for one would LOVE to read about the pattern design process – that’s the #1 most interesting thing to me personally. It would be really helpful to see how someone else goes about it!

  12. LisaB says:

    Kathleen, I’m interested in reading more about how you developed the pattern and why piece #1 is larger. It’s not obvious to me at all. The posts on pattern making, the better. :-)

  13. Leslie W says:

    The possibilities! I love the flame bag. The design itself is intricate so maybe the colors need to be more subtle. I think sandwiching the black/white, skin B, between two layers of black (A) would be chic. Or, skin B for the base of the bag, skin D for the under flame and skin A for the upper flame. It would be italian-ish, sort of Cavalli looking. Depends on your market. I really like skin B; I am a confessed and recovering black-and-white-aholic. Also, solid skin D as base of bag & the upper flame with skin E as the under flame. On the sunburst I would stick to solids, maybe golds or warm shades of reds, browns, maybe turquoise.

    This is always where I get mired in the mud. To many possibilities and I get brain freeze. I think I am afraid to make a mistake, but if no one but me sees it, why should it be a problem?

    Anyway you go Kathleen, I think you have a winner(s). Seeing you go thru the process is great.

  14. celeste says:

    I love hide E, I think anything made with that I would want to buy!
    But for 4216, I would like E for the main part, and the top flame, and then D for the bottom flame.
    I think for 4217, the choices are limtless (like you could do that same pattern every season, but have a different color combination) you would always have somethign different.

  15. ken simmons says:

    Kathleen,
    Make a tiny little bag shape and cut leather or colored paper and glue up these mock ups to test color combos then test market the little paste ups and see which combination is most apealing when put together.

    I would make the flame bag black with the tips of the flames yellow, and the rest red.

    I would use the top grain and the suede side of the same piece of leather to have a monochrome but differing textures for the sunburst pattern. It looks a bit Deco.

  16. kpotenti says:

    For 4217 I would use some combination of hides A & B; I’m a big fan of B, the black and white embossing is very chic. For 4216 I would go with the black and red from the choices offered, though I think black with purple flames would be cool.

  17. Kaaren says:

    I love this series. I believe all your concepts are beautiful, have merit and marketability.

    Personal Preferences follows IF that matters and maybe it should not. I am probably not your demographic as I am an older woman, who is a conservative if somewhat bland dresser. Some if not most of my designs are best suited for someone else, I spend little time designing something for me even though I produce my entire wardrobe. I have to force myself to up the ante on my own clothing and accessories.

    I especially like the flame pattern – 3 layers of overlay provide a lot of texture, structure and expense even in soft hides. Love the drama! I am even more partial to the underlay concept-with just one extra layer of contrast hide, which I think would be softer, (cheaper/faster) with fewer layers to cut and stitch.

    The smoke jacket in one natural color knocks me out. I like the clean lines and natural design. It is dynamic yet subtle. I reach for subtle over bling every time.

    Can we see a picture of the proto bag on the shoulder? The straps concern me, not sure if its placement or width or just that it is out of context as in not on the body. If the bag is near full, how do the straps fit and balance on a narrow shoulder?

    Cant wait to see the next installment.
    Kaaren

  18. Marian says:

    Just a guess as to the reason for numbering the pattern pieces: when you work with leather and have to work around rough spots, you would probably want to cut the biggest pieces first and then fit the little ones around in the places that are left. So you number the pieces in the order in which they should be cut. (?)

  19. Kathleen says:

    Just a guess as to the reason for numbering the pattern pieces

    Good eye Marian! Actually, the numbering of each piece (1-7) is the one reason I hesitated to post the photo of the pattern because as you know, we don’t number individual patterns (in this way) in industry. Sure, they’re often numbered with a PN numbering system but we never use a number instead of a piece name.

    In brief, the pieces were numbered because they could not be named in an orderly fashion according to piece naming conventions. Imo, a pattern like this would require a pictograph, ideally on each pattern piece which I’ve done before (it was wildly popular).

    It isn’t important that each piece be cut in order in leather. It is important that each pattern piece be cut in order in the pattern process tho.

    For example, a beginner should start with piece #1, cutting it out and notching it. Then you lay piece #1 on top of the seam line to which it sews of piece #2 to make sure piece #2 matches piece #1.

    If someone is more experienced, you cut out all of the pieces in the order you please but I would not notch them. Not yet. I would notch piece #1, then lay it to its seam line on piece #2, trace off the notch and then notch it. I’d also double check the seam line and trim off any minuscule overhang (amounting to 1/32nd or 1/64th”). I repeat the process until all pieces are notched.

    Another thing I do in this phase is to true off the ends of the seam allowance to match the piece onto which it is paired. That sounds too complicated to make sense of. I realize I need to illustrate it.

    A step previous to this, still the drafting phase, I rarely trace straight lines even if the piece to be copied has “straight” lines. The reason is, few lines drafted perfectly straight end up cut that way. Or at least I can’t. I don’t cut so well, particularly not lately, my eyes are getting worse. Still, I’ve always done it this way, it’s an ingrained habit. I draw anew, on each piece, all straight lines with a ruler. That way, if there’s an error in the piece I’ve traced, the error will not be passed onto the new piece -which may end up with it’s own wonky edge.

    But, indirectly returning to your point Marian, it doesn’t matter the order in which you cut the pieces out in leather. The only thing that matters is nap (note the arrows point down). Which reminds me of another arcane pet peeve, how grain lines are often misused. The arrows mean something. If you have only one arrow, that indicates the direction in which the nap lies. If there’s two arrows, this means it doesn’t matter in which direction you lay the piece (no nap or directional pattern). If there are no arrows at all (typical in industrial patterns), it means the same as if there were two arrows. While I’m ragging on this topic (should I do a short entry on this?), it is really really annoying if the grain line does not extend to the end (edges) of each pattern piece IF it’s a hard copy pattern. Not that I ever fail to do this, heh. I’m not always good about it on leather but I’m a bear about it when it comes to match stripes. It’s aggravating to have to draw the rest of the grainline to make a new one, lay it on stripes, or to grade it. Full size grain lines are unimportant on markers tho, there’s a difference.

  20. Faye says:

    Very helpful lesson/explanation of pattern construction. It is fascinating to me actually and it is the type of lesson I would pay for in a course or subscription set up.

    These are cool patterns Kathleen. I really love your variation on the smoke jacket! I would buy this bag in spring brights such as yellow, orange or grass green, and in tanned brown and black. I know you have a target market and that these colors would be harder to source but that could be a whole other project – doing custom, made-to-order bags.

    With style 4217, I was thinking what about trying to make the top and middle layers detachable/reversible so that customers can have a variety of color choices, especially if the bottom layer is a solid color. This style would look really good in a solid dark brown or tan. I don’t know about mixing/pairing colors like red with white or black, especially for this bag but I am someone who likes bright accessories.

    On the other hand, the pattern and construction of these bags alone are so strong that maybe there can be a way to offer custom/made to order options for colors that are not available in the main line. I keep saying this but I do enjoy this series.

  21. Susan says:

    I love both bags. And love Amy’s idea of a dress.

    I don’t think the sun design is plagerism. Their are way too many sunburst designs dating back eons to the Chinese and Egyptians to name a few for this to be plagerism.

  22. “…guess how they do this in the leather trades (bootmakers etc)? Believe it or not, they cut all those shapes out by hand, glue them (I’m shrieking) and then they stitch them down. Sheer insanity if you ask me when there’s much easier ways to do it….”

    I worked in a leather shop many, many years ago and yes, that’s how they taught us to do it! So, what’s the easier way?

    And yes, I’m interested in the pattern design process also.

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