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!


From Suede Jacket to Funky Pillow

I have been rolling around in my mind, the idea of doing a pillow for my best friend, for a while.  I thought it would be fun to do something a little different before launching into the spring bag making frenzy.  My BF and I have very different tastes so I wanted to come up with something that I thought she would like.  When we were in World Market one day she told me that she wanted a red pillow.  So I knew that color would provide the basis for the pillow I would craft.

She’s big on quality and is quite fond of the earth, so I knew she would appreciate my desire to create something that was made from high-quality recycled material.

I chose this vibrant red suede jacket.

Red Suede Jacket

Many hours of labor later this funky pillow was born!

Red suede Pillow - After

Read the Stitch Story here.

From Old Leather Coat to Trendy Leather Tote

I followed Don Morin’s “Making Leather Bags” course on Craftsy and created this fabulous leather bag.  This coat’s Stitch Story starts way before I met it at a local thrift store and gave it a new life. The coat had a decidedly 80’s style.

One of the most challenging aspects of making this bag was constructing the rouleaux handles.  In order to construct the handles it takes 2 strips of leather about 30 inches long, two small  pieces of leather to be used as tabs to cover the ends of the handles, and cording for the inside of the handles.

The cording is placed inside of the leather strips, which is folded over the cording and then stitched on the outside.


Slits are made in the tabs, the rouleaux handles are placed on the body of the bag, through the slits and the tabs are then sewn down.



This is done before the two sides of the bag are sewn together.   The result is a beautiful custom handle on a one-of-a-kind bag.


The result is a beautiful custom handle on a one-of-a-kind bag!

Got an old coat you’d like to see re-tooled into a stylish trendy tote?