A Purse for All Seasons?

My mother (“God bless her”, as we say in the South) has been known to either carry a beat-up purse from the late 70’s or to stuff a cheap plastic purse so full of receipts, tissues, mints, and other sundries that it moments from bursting at the seams.  Seeing as everyone else in my family had been the recipient of a leather bag from me, it was her time.  So, for Christmas I began exploring purse options for her.  The challenge?  Making her a purse that she would be able to carry with her in every season.  A handbag so well-rounded that it could be her partner in crime indefinitely.  Challenge accepted!

I began sketching up concept ideas and finally settled on a nice medium sized bag with pockets on the sides.  My inspiration was the Jolie bag from Adeleshop.  On to picking the leather.  I knew she needed something classic, either brown or black.  I picked a nice warm brown from my leather stash and began getting it done.  As always, I used a ticking for my lining fabric.


Don’t you just love those clips?  They are essential when sewing with leather!

My roadblock came (and there is ALWAYS one in every project) when I went to find a zipper.  I could not find a zipper, Riri or YKK, that worked with the color of this bag.  I spent some long hours on hold.  Tears were shed.  I thought about switching to a snap closure.  Eventually, I decided to DIY-dye my own!  So, I bought a longer-than-I-needed white cotton metal zipper and several shades of Rit dye (brown, tan, orange, red) and began mixing the different dyes, in varying amounts (which I was careful to record in order to recreate),  into plastic cups.  Then, I snipped off small pieces of the zipper and placed one in each cup.  I think I had six different mixes going.  I wish I had taken pictures of this process.  I truly looked like a mad scientist.  I figured one would have to work.  Sure enough!  One of the mixes came out looking exactly like the red-brown of the bag.  So, if you ever need a zipper of a special color, it is possible to dye your way to triumph!


Coming along!  Just needs a strap!


Gotta have lots of internal organization, and boy do I love ticking!

Now, because I had promised my mother this purse last Christmas and was a year late (welcome to “Jen Time”), I decided I had better up the ante and make her some accessories as a kind of “look how pretty this checkbook cover is, no your purse isn’t a year late” kind of thing.  So, I whipped up a tissue holder, checkbook cover, and makeup bag in complementary fabrics.  Now, the big test.  Often, we give our parents gifts that will replace an outdated or even falling apart object, only to find gift sitting in a closet with them still using the broken one.  Was this to be the fate of my purse?  Hell no!  My mom has used her purse every day since I gave it to her.  She likes it so much, she has now asked me for one in black!  Winning!  I’m just happy that I gave her something that she treasures and that is worthy of the love, patience, and support she’s shown me over the years.  Love you mom!




Who doesn’t love a matching accessory?



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