From Suede Jacket to Funky Tote Bag

I am continuing my commitment to working  with recycled fabric and recycled leather. I am trying to work with suede, which I originally thought would be an unforginving material to work with, but it has proven to be more forgiving than regular leather.

I started out to create a tote bag.  I have been working to improve my craft by working with the wonderful team of Richard and Linda Manigault at HMDH Academy .  There are amazing designers and have a school for serious handbag students.

I started with this nicely worn suede jacket which I bought from a thrift store.

Using my seam ripper I disassembled the jacket, following the seam lines.

Then I created a pattern.


Since there were elements on the front of the jacket that I wanted to maintain, like the pockets,  I copied the main pattern piece onto clear plastic so that I could get the placement I wanted on the jacket front.

I folded my see-through pattern in half and laid it out on the part of the jacket front that I wanted to be the front of the tote bag.

 The front of the jacket was not long enough to make the tote front so I ended up sewing the sleeve to the bottom of the bag.  Unlike leather, suede has a nap so you have to be sure to assemble your pieces so that the nap all runs in the same direction.

I cut out the right front of the tote and then I turned the see-through pattern over and cut out the left side of the bag.

Here are the front pieces. I was able to mainain the pockets

I sewed the front together and then went back and topstitched to reinforce that front seam.

There was some puffing out of the suede in the front.  I used some light seam and interfacing to work that out of the front of my tote.

Then I sewed up the bottom. Bag bottoms used to be difficult for me to get right but there are so many helpful videos on Youtube that have helped me out with that.

I added an Ankara lining with an inside zipper pocket.

Here is the finished bag!

I’m happy with it.

Here is the BEFORE and AFTER!