A while back, I went on a thrift store run through my little town with the express purpose of buying purses to revamp. One of the purses I found was a drawstring style and had long leather leaves, of a sort, hanging down all around. I thought it showed particular promise. Destiny (and everyone else who saw it and felt moved to comment) thought it was atrocious.
I pictured painting each leaf a different color. Or something. But the spirit hadn’t yet moved me. (I think my enthusiasm for the revamp was drained by the fact that NO ONE seemed to think I could make a silk purse out of this particular sow’s ear.)
Then, early in January, I went to hear my favorite fabric designer, Kaffe Fassett, speak and show slides of his work. His fabric designs are about COLOR, COLOR, COLOR. I have loved his fabrics for years and getting to hear him speak was a real treat. I also got to do a little fabric shopping — I came home with seven quarter-yard cuts of his different floral prints in a range of reds and blues with purple and other highlights.
One of the things Kaffe (pronounced Kay-ff) loves to do in making quilts is to use primarily one color but in a huge number of different prints. An example of this is his Hot Diamonds (at left), which is in Kaleidoscope of Quilts, one of his many delicious books of patchwork designs. His inspiration made me decide to cover the leather leaves with his fabrics, using various blues on the upper tier and a variety of reds on the lower one.
I started by tracing one upper and one lower leaf (they were slightly different sizes) onto some heavy paper. These I cut out to use as templates for tracing the leaf shapes onto the back of the fabrics. After tracing the outline of the leaves onto the fabrics — but BEFORE cutting them out — I squeezed a line of Fray Check onto each of the outlines I’d traced. When it was dry, I cut out the leaves.
Then I played around with color combos to determine which blues to put atop which reds, and what sets of leaves should be next to the other ones. Once I’d decided, I set the leaves aside and started thinking about what color to paint the purse. (I wanted to get the painting all done before gluing the leaves on.) Destiny advised me that if I chose any color other than black, the colors of the fabrics wouldn’t look as dramatic in contrast. But I couldn’t leave the darn purse black! It’s not in my nature to leave things be….
So I opted for a dark rich eggplant, which I created from Grape Lumiere with a little bit of Neopaque Black mixed in. I cleaned the leather surface with rubbing alcohol, then painted on the color. Finally, I sealed my paint job with Future to add shine to the lovely eggplant color.(I didn’t bother painting the leaves, since they would be covered with fabric.)
Then I got out my Fabri-Tac glue, which is what I prefer when gluing fabric to unpainted leather. I applied a thin line of the glue to the outline of the leather leaf, and pressed the fabric leaf onto it. Naturally, there were places that needed a little extra trimming of the fabric, so I did that too. Once the glue dried, I went back to look for places that needed a little extra glue. You have to be careful not to use too much glue or it will come through the fabric and leave traces of itself. Also, I only recommend doing this with really nice quilting cotton, or some other tightly woven fabric (other than silk, which will stain). When in doubt, test the glue before cutting out your appliques.
For the finishing touches, which are what make a revamped purse look like an artisan purse, I did some highlighting with different paints and added beads to each leaf. I painted the stitching line immediately above the leaves with ef=”http://store.sassyfeet.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=PAINT-LUM” target=”_blank”>Burgundy Lumiere and painted the facing at the top of the bag the same color. I used Indigo Lumiere on the drawstrings. I sealed these areas with Future, too.
When I got done with that, there still seemed to be something else that was needed. So I rummaged though my bead stash and pulled out some luminous pink beads, which I stitched on using a leather needle and some Fireline beading thread.
Now all I have to do is decide whether to add this revamp job to the Sassy Feet store, or use it myself…. Hmm. I’ll let you know how that turns out!
NOW I HAVE A QUESTION FOR YOU, dear reader. I usually wait until the end of each post to show you a picture of what the shoe or purse looked like after it was redone. Would it be more helpful if I put an “after” photo at the beginning of the post too? Or do you like working up to it? Please reply by leaving me a comment. THANKS! –Margot