How to make a purse tassel

Hello, Stacy here.  Today I am going to show you how to make a leather tassel to go on a purse.  You can also use vinyl to make this happen.  There are places where you can purchase small cuts of leather (etsy has some sellers that do this), which would be a good option to be able to make one of these.

Tassels on purses can be a great accent. They can go on the zipper, or just hang off the handle. I also use these for my keys. I tend to have large purses, and it is much easier to find my keys when it is attached to a bit of fringe.

This is how I make these leather tassels, though, I am certain there are many other ways. (Yes, my cutting mat has seen better days. I tend to do multiple crafts on it, and it gets a bit messy!)

Step 1: Cut out a piece of leather. You can roll the leather to figure out how thick you would like the tassel. Some leather is thicker than others, so it will be larger when rolled. This piece is 6″ long and 13″ wide. I usually cut somewhere around 10″ wide. The length, again, is personal preference. I sometimes keep the natural edge of the hide. I do these for two reasons.

  • One: I don’t like to waste the leather.
  • Two: It’s an interesting edge.

This piece sat next to an oil tanned hide, which leached into this one. The discoloration will look fine on the tassel.

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Step 2:  Next, you need to take a straight edge and a rotary cutter to cut the fringe. I make them roughly 1/4 inch apart, and stop it at 1.5 inches from the top. You can use a scissors, but rotary cutters work really well for this.

Step 3:  Now that the fringe is cut, you need a little strap for the top. This is around 1″ x 4″. I just rough cut the length to make sure it is long enough to go into the fringe.

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Step 4:  Using a glue (here are two options), spread the glue across the entire top piece. I used a bit too much on this one. You could also use something like a school glue, too, if you don’t have access to these.

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Step 5:  Place the top strap at the inside edge, and tightly wrap the fringe. Make sure the top is even as you wrap it. The glue leaked out a bit on this, since I went a bit too aggressive with it.  20170705_637120170705_637220170705_637320170705_6374

Step 6:  Next, I put a contrast leather around the top piece. Cut to size. I suggest cutting a little wider than you think you will need. This should have been a smidge wider. I added some “bling” to dress this up. You can also add decorative rivets.

Step 7: Sew the contrast piece to the top. Generally, I want to have to stretch it to fit, so it fits tightly.

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Step 8:  Add a split ring and snap to finish it off. Usually the snap piece needs to be wide enough to fit over a purse’s hardware. I also had purchased some odds and ends on clearance at Michaels, and this stone worked perfectly!

Now you have a lovely fringe for your new Market Shopper purse!

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Bag Making Made Easy – Tips and Tricks for the New Bag Maker

If you are just beginning your sewing craft, or have been sewing clothes, crafts and other projects but want to learn to sew bags, this article is for you. Bag making is different. Like quilting, it is in a category on its own. There is a different set of problems and issues; you need a few special notions and tools; lots of sewing machine needles; some basic hand stitching skills which can be perfected with practice; and a foundational knowledge of fusibles and stabilizers (we have a cheat sheet for that!). There are also lots and lots of websites and bag making sites with resources for just about anything related to bag making on earth.

On the pro side: it is fabulously rewarding, genuinely fun, a great tool for income potential (craft markets, direct sales, Instagram orders, etc.) and high end gift-giving. It is also a great way to improve your sewing skills from “meh” to “WOWSA!” There are so many ways to personalize bags that bag makers now use the term “pattern hack” to describe this personalization.

What is pattern hacking?

Using a pattern and turning it into something completely different to suit your personal style. Simply put, this means, taking a simple pattern and creating a bag that looks like you purchased it from a high end bag shop for $2,000. You really can learn to do this with the right techniques.

Bag making, my friends, is seriously fun sewing business.

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First, there are various names of bags—here are a few:
* Handbag
* Bag
* Purse
* Tote

Then, there are different styles of bags—to name a few:
~ Baguette
~ Tote
~ Evening
~ Crossbody
~ Weekender
~ Drawstring
~ Wallet
~ Hobo
~ Clutch
~ Satchel
~ Shoulder
~ Cosmetic
~ Backpack
~ Saddlebag
~ Doctor’s Bag

Hefty Hobo Bag

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Note: There can be many variations of a style of bag. For instance, a hobo bag can have many of the same “hobo” characteristics, but look completely different. A hobo bag generally is a classic styled bag with a slouchy, but shaped appearance, and tends to have depth room, or more room from top to bottom (as opposed to width room).
Now, let’s look at the anatomical structure, or parts, of a basic bag:
• Handles, straps
• Pockets
• Closure
• Bottom
• Lining
• Exterior
• Guts
• Hardware (includes feet, D-rings, O-Rings, swivel clips, etc.—anything metal, although there are some plastic “hardware”)
• Connectors
• Accessories

Handles/Straps

There are various types of handles and straps. The type of handles/straps you choose will depend upon what type of bag you will carry, the distance and type of use of the bag and the weight and contents of the bag. A lot of information, yes. But the following will simplify all of this.

Arm Strap—an arm strap is simply a short strap for a daily use handbag with normal handbag contents. The arm strap is usually 1 or 2 straps, and tend(s) to be shorter in length, and wider for a more comfortable carry.

Wrist strap—a wrist strap is typically used for wallets, wristlet bags, and other smaller bags.

Shoulder strap—the shoulder strap is typically one strap, but can be two. Longer in length than the arm strap, and used either for carrying on one shoulder, or a longer and wider version for carrying across the shoulder (shoulder to hip) for larger, heavier bags, or smaller “crossbody” styled bags.

Waist strap—generally used for holster-type bags (sometimes includes a combination of waist and thigh strap).

Note: A bag can have more than one style of strap. It is not uncommon for modern bags to have an armstrap, along with a detachable shoulder strap.

Pockets

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There are so many fun types of pockets in handbags. Pockets are just as much fun to sew as they are to use.

Zippered—the zippered pocket can be an embedded pocket (where the zipper is located either on the exterior or the interior of the bag), a hanging pocket (i.e. beach bag), a floating yet connected compartment (such as a laptop bag), or a small and attached “kangaroo pouch” (for easy access to cosmetics, keys, etc.) which is attached to the inside of a handbag or tote bag.

Pleated—pleated pockets, in a vast array of designs, are a great way to store bulky items (like large smart phones and other electronic devices; baby bottles in diaper bags, etc.) without consuming room inside the bag when the pockets are not in use. Pleated pockets are pretty and super useful. There are many types of pleats.

Open (slip)—a simple and classic form, used for pads of paper, pens, and other flat objects.

Hanging—a hanging pocket is one found mostly in unlined leather bags or beach bags, and can either be zippered or open. Hanging pockets are simple to sew and can be substituted for other types of bags for the beginner bag maker.

Closure(s)

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Bag closures are important. Or not. Basically, you can have a closure, or not have a closure (and chose an open tote or bag with no closure).

When we talk about “closure” in bag construction, we are usually referring to the main compartment of the bag. Some of the types of closures you will see are: zipper (nylon or metal); magnetic snap (attached to the bag lining or attached to a connector tab); tie (fabric or leather); twist lock or click/tongue lock; pin clasp; and toggle—to name a few. Closures are a fun way to add your own personality to your bag.

Bag Bottom

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Depending upon the way a bag is constructed, the bag bottom can either have a gusset, a panel, or can be part of the main compartment. When constructing the bag bottom, think about how and where you will be “parking” your bag…do you normally place your bag on a dirty floor at school? On a nice plush carpet at the office? On a concrete walkway at your child’s soccer practice three times a week? These considerations will determine whether you will want to add bag feet, use leather or vinyl in place of cotton fabrics (for better wear and the ability to wipe clean), etc. These choices will also determine the life of the bag. (When you invest time and resources into sewing a bag, you want it to last many years.)

Lining

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The lining of your bag is basically the fabric on the inside of your bag. Some bags are lined while others are not. Some leather bags are not lined because they can be sewn with an industrial leather sewing machine. Due to the thickness involved, this unlined quality provides a classic and unique beauty. An unlined bag can still have attached pockets! A bag’s seams can also be serged or finished with biased tape for a finished look. It is all about personal choice.

Exterior

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The exterior of the bag is the outside portion of the bag. The exterior can have all kinds of pockets, cute zipper pulls attached to zipper tabs, and tassels attached to bag hardware. The exterior of the bag should always be well sewn and be constructed to withstand its intended use. It is a good idea to Scotchguard your bag (if using cotton fabrics) or wax your bag (if using leather) to waterproof it. Remember that your bag has “guts”; if the “guts” get wet, it may take a long time to dry, and may ruin your bag.

Bags costs a lot of time and resources. Invest just a little more into your bag to get the longevity from the time and talent you have already invested.

Guts (Stabilizers)

Foam stabililizer

The guts of a bag is the foundation of its support system. A better explanation of this would be the “skeletal system” of the bag—or the bones. Without the proper kinds of stablizers, your bag would basically be a pile of fabric. Information sheets about stabilizers can be downloaded from the http://www.pellonprojects.com/ website where you can find lots of useful information about stabilizers. Always purchase the best stabilizer(s) you can afford so that you will have the best finished project. Oddly, the stabilizer is going to be your best ally for a professionally finished bag.

Different bag designers prefer different stablizers for different reasons. Always use the suggested stabilizers listed in the pattern instructions until you become familiar with bag making. Once you become moderately familiar with bag making, begin experimenting with various stabilizers using the Pellon charts to get the outcome that you desire. Also experiment with small projects and scraps of stabilizers.

There are two types of stablizers: fusible and sew in (non-fusible). Some fusibles are only fusible on one side. When using fusible stabilizers, make sure to press the glue side of the stabilizer to the WRONG side of your fabric, or you will get a sticky mess on your iron. (If this happens, use iron cleaner or a dryer sheet to remove the glue from your iron.)

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In conclusion, bag making is a practice art. Begin with free patterns and cheap fabric. Gain experience and confidence. Ask questions. Watch videos. Have fun.

Angie Hebert, Admin Team
Bag Maker and Life Long Sewing Student

Photos courtesy of Admin Team, Stacy @ stylinstacy.com

Admin Bio – Stacy

I am Stacy, a forty-something *cough, cough* (I am I really this old??) wife, CPA, and mother of two very cute, smart and multi-talented little urchins.  I blog over at Stylin’ Stacy.

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I started sewing at 12 with a machine (over 30 years of sewing at this point!), and paper patterns.  Shortly thereafter, I began drafting my own creations.  At this point I can draft pretty much anything I need, but I do still like to use others patterns for convenience.

I have two sewing machines (Janome and Singer 401A) and a serger (Janome). I would love a coverstitch and an embroidery machine, but alas I am not willing to pony up the cash for them…yet.

I do, however, use a Silhouette Cameo to cut out designs that I either make or buy.  I use heat transfer vinyl to add some bling to our shirts.

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My fabric stash is way too large…I can’t fit it all in my shelves!  I buy almost all of my fabric at local fabric outlets.  I rarely buy at a chain store…well, except for notions.  Living in a large metro area has its perks!  If I buy a fabric online, I will usually link to the fabric if it is still in stock.

I also do a bit with leather.  I am lucky enough to have a sort of neighbor that overbought her leather supply and have been reaping the benefits of that association.  The Singer 401A comes in handy for those sewing tasks.  See this blog post on sewing with leather for tips and suggestions.

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Costumes are another passion of mine.  These are the posts related to costumes/cosplay.  They take a lot of time and are spendy, but I love learning new things.  Every costume has something new to figure out!

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This is my sewing room.  Yes, I know I am very lucky.  After sewing in unfinished basements or dining room tables most of my life, this is such a joy.

Photography is another hobby of mine, and I purchased my first DSLR (Nikon D50) in June 2006 and Nikon D300s at some point later.  My poor little D50 was the victim of a playful cat (pro tip…don’t set your camera on a table with the strap hanging down if you have cats).  I am fairly proficient in Photoshop and barely knowledgeable in Lightroom.

I also work full-time as a CPA.

I don’t sleep much.

Oh, and if you want to send me an email: stacy at thelandofka dot com.