Thursday, January 8, 2009

Getting "Purse-onal"

For about the past 8 years or so, my best friend Cate and I have been exchanging handmade gifts we create especially for each other. It's alot of fun and one of the highlights to our holiday since we're both pretty creative and neither of us knows what the other will conjure up. One year, she gave me this giant pair of Aboriginal-esque painted snake earrings. Good grief. I nearly wet my pants when I opened the box!! (she knows I HATE snakes). Yea, she got a great laugh with that one. (I didn't sleep for a week.) Another year, she gave me a beautiful lapel pin made from vintage silk ribbon roses & beads which is still one of my favorite pieces of jewelry--so you see, it's always a fun surprise.

Of course, every year I try to think of something special to make for her and usually I will design something that gives me an excuse to try out a new technique. For instance, last year I decided to make her some type of small purse so I started pulling out different fabrics to layer together and then pulled out my burning tool and went to town. Here's her finished "evening bag".

I started with a piece of lime green felt (the cheap stuff--nothing fancy), layered a piece of Lumiere-painted fusible on top (Steam-A-Seam II, I think), then a layer of magenta organza followed by another layer of turquoise organza. Originally, I had intended to put a piece of purple cotton as the bottom layer (in case I accidently burned through the felt), but my creative juices were flowing and well....when that happens, I tend to get so excited I forget stuff.

Anyhoo, after layering all the fabrics I took it to the machine and sewed a meandering grid pattern using a contrasting metallic thread. In retrospect, I think it would have been neat to sew the grid using a double-needle which have added a bit more texture and surface interest. After sewing, I fired up the heat tool and gently, EVER-so gently started randomly burning through the various layers inside the squares that were created by the grid pattern. Since I had forgotten to add the cotton layer, I was VERY careful not to burn through the felt. Then I just sewed it up envelope style, added a hand-braided handle I made from about 5 different yarns, and some beads. Oh, and btw, I added a neat piece of varigated red/purple silk for the lining. It is really eye-catching and I was really happy with how it came out. Cate absolutely loved it so....

This year I decided to create another special bag for her--only this time I wanted to do something using my new needlefelting machine. My inspiration for this bag was a gorgeous remnant of a deep amber-colored silk dupioni that I received from one of my trade partners on FAT. Honestly, I don't remember who sent it to me (sorry!) but I'd been hoarding it for something special. Using that as a stepping off point, I started ripping through my fabric & fiber stash and pulled out different colored rovings, curly mohair locks, organzas, twisted silks, velvets, yarns, cords & threads. Again, I started with a piece of brown felt (only this time it was a wool felt) and just started needlefelting bits & pieces of all the different fabrics/fibers to the wool. After the first couple, I could see a bit of a pattern emerging so decided to just go with it. I just kept adding bits & pieces to cover up the felt. When it was covered, I freemotion-stitched in a leaf pattern using a green metallic thread. I ended up with an irregular, scalloped-type edge and decided to go with it---so I added a lining and stitched it following that pattern and ended up with the irregular edge that you see, which I love. This is also an envelope-style bag (so easy!). I had to get creative with the lining since I didn't have enough of the silk left so I combined a printed silk and organza. With the small scraps of the silk dupioni left, I whipped up a couple Yo-Yos and added some beads to embellish. The handle is made from a leftover piece of thick upholstery cording I encased in a silk tube and ruched it. Cate was really thrilled with this bag--and I absolutely love it too. In fact, I just snagged some more silk dupioni in some fantastic colors from a local fabric store that is going out of business. It was $14/yd and I got it for $3. WOW! Gawd, I love a bargain.


  1. they are both just gorgeous! ;) thx for the inspiration. your work is amazing! ;) xo

  2. Hi Deb ... well you have certainly 'hit the ground running!' Your blog is lovely and already a good read. Love the way you have set it up. The header is gorgeous :-) Love Heather xx

  3. Hey there, BF! Congrats on your new blog! No one could ever call you a couch potato---you don't know how to sit still and your mind is always working on something new to try. Yes, I LOVE my OOAK purses and can't wait to see others in your Etsy shop when you finally get it opened. FYI, I think we should exchange gifts more than once a year, since we're both soooooo creative... ; ) Yours Truely, Moi (aka Cate)

  4. those are absolutely gorgeous!!!

  5. The purses are truly awesome! I am a purse gal! (Or is that bag lady. lol ) I could have one of many kinds as I switch so often just to show them off!