Recently I came across this free Not-So-Big Messenger Tote tutorial over at SewSweetness.com and thought it would be a great little tote to try out with the faux leather I had purchased a couple of months ago. I also had the Alexander Henry Contigo fabric that I have been dying to use too! Her tutorial is very easy to read and understand and she links over to a site that shows you how to put a zippered pocket in too. I used a thicker fusible interfacing and attached it to the AH Contigo fabric and then used metallic, glitter and decorative threads to give the print some sparkle along with some outline and definition. The thicker interfacing acted like batting and helped give it that quilted look. I fussy cut two different scenes from the fabric and still have quite a bit of fabric left! I used fabric from my stash for the inside of the bag.
I really like how the faux leather looks on this bag.. it gives it a richer look and feel. I had never sewn with faux leather and learned a lot from this experience. I didn’t have a tutorial or a book or anything on how to sew with faux leather and really learned a lot as I put this together. I realized really quick that I can’t iron faux leather, and so I had to sew down my seams along the sides of the bag, but I think it added a nice touch to the bag and it helped the sides lay flatter. The leather was very easy to cut and when going through one or two thicknesses of it with the sewing machine wasn’t a problem. It is very pliable and worked just like a piece of fabric, if not better because it doesn’t stretch.
The straps are a 6 inch wide piece, and they are folded with the sides to the middle and then folded again in half. I quickly learned that since I wasn’t going to be able to iron it, I was going to have to do something to keep it in place so I could sew it. First I tried using hair clippies to hold the folded strap in place, but that only worked for about 18 inches, I then decided to sew with the wrong sides together along the long side of the strap and use that seam to fold my sides into. That ended up working very well, and other than the ends, went through my machine pretty good. I used a 20wt thread on the straps because I liked how it looked with the leather.
Putting the strap together was more challenging for me because I have never done a strap like this. In retrospect, I would sew the D rings on the side in with the purse when assembling it so that it is a cleaner look and try to find a different way to make the strap so I don’t have so many layers to go through, in the end the strap is just a little bulky, but it feels and lays nicely.