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Saturday, 21 February 2015

Designing and making a Pleated Handbag (Part 1)

I've had a bee in my bonnet lately, not finding a bag that could accommodate the technology I always carry with me, i.e. mobile phone and tablet PC. I also want a space for my glasses and somewhere to hook my pen onto, so I don't have to search for it, madly shoving all sorts of oddities aside. Easy access to my USB stick would be nice as well. Or I could use those same spaces for make-up. But who am I kidding?! Every woman has her own ideas and priorities when it comes to handbags. Long story short, not finding what I was looking for, I opted to design my own handbag. I did not obtain a diploma in Haute Couture for nothing! Where to start? With a picture, of course.

No picture starts off looking like this. You start with a normal pencil drawing to kick things off. I sat in front of the television when drawing this and my favourite pencil was in my hand, the sturdy 4B clutch pencil from Marie's. A nice big A3 drawing pad would do the trick.

Having decided on a design and where the handy pockets would go, I wanted to add a bit more colour. This would not be representative of the fabric I would later choose, but it would make it easier to picture where I was headed with the design. It also made it clear to me that I would need to shop for three coordinating fabrics when I went fabric hunting. I used my Derwent Aquatone pencils to colour drawing with and then I used the Pentel Aquash brush to paint it with water, making the colours 'pop' on the page. Derwent Inktense pencils would have served me just as well.

I decided that I wanted the drawing to be better outlined, without giving it stark black borders. I used a brown Faber-Castell Pitt Pen with a brush tip to outline the drawing.

The next step was to design the pattern. This meant measuring and adjusting until I was satisfied that the pieces of paper would fit together in a sensible way. Pencil, paper, scissors, ruler and fine liner all came together for this mathematical experiment. I won't bore you with the details, but simply show you the results. The final pattern can be downloaded for free from A Pretty Talent's website in pdf format. Print on A4 paper without margins. Unlimited downloads.

It was finally time to go shopping for fabric and I matched the swatches with my pattern.

With the fabric in hand I could finally cut out the pattern and it was a difficult task deciding which fabrics to use for the different parts of the pattern.

Finally I had a nice stack of cut-outs and I was ready to start sewing. Except, not quite yet. You see, two days before, I had somehow managed to burn out my sewing machine and smoke was pouring from it when I arrived at my work station just in time to unplug everything before it went up in flames. I'll have to go shopping for a machine before I can continue with this project. I'll post a follow-up in Part 2 on 26 February 2015.

Here are the links for the follow-up blogs to jump to it quickly:
The pattern can be downloaded free of charge from A Pretty Talent.

Part 1 was published on 21 February 2015
Part 2 was published on 26 February 2015
Part 3 was published on 1 March 2015
Part 4 was published on 2 March 2015