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DIY dressmaking + crafts with Emily

The Crossbody Bag // Bags and Pieces

AD – gifted kit

I’ve been eyeing up these amazing bag making kits from German company Bags and Pieces for a very very long time. Ever since I saw them on Instagram via @sleepless_in_bavaria (seriously, go follow Bianca if you don’t already – beautiful makes, great recommendations and lots of funny cat videos!), I’ve been obsessed with getting one! They are on the pricey side so I’d been tossing up between getting my family to pitch in for my birthday/ Christmas presents or just having a total splurge and getting it for myself! Before I had to make that call though, Vivian from Bag and Pieces got in touch to see if I’d like to try out a kit. The timing could not have been better!

I’d already been surfing the website so I knew what kit I wanted to try! (So lame but I can get really obsessive when I get an idea in my head!).

At the moment they have three bag designs – the crossbody, the tote bag and the bucket bag/ backpack. They also have some small accessories- the pochette (which is a little zipped pouch), sunglasses case, passport cover, luggage tags and key rings. Each design can be made in any of their stock leathers which come in a smooth or grain finish and a multitude of colours.

I knew I wanted to try the crossbody bag. It’s a good size handbag that could easily go from a casual day out to an evening event. It’s got a flap and lock closure and a pocket on the inside. Big enough to fit a small bottle of water, keys, phone etc so perfect for most everyday things. I tend to buy bigger handbags so something smaller was missing from my wardrobe!

My only problem was deciding what colour to get!

I hesitated between going for a neutral colour or something that would pop and be a statement bag. In the end I went for the statement option! I figured I’m not putting all the time and effort into making something that’ll blend into the background, though I may regret this in future if I find it doesn’t go with all my outfits!

I chose the grain leather in ‘Finding Nemo’ which is an orangey red (it looked like a fun colour!). I chose the grain leather finish over the smooth as it’s meant to be the more forgiving of the two as the smooth leather marks up more easily and I assumed I’d benefit from that! There’s options to personalise the kit with spaces to add initials, ‘made by me’ logos in all sorts of places. There’s also options for gold or silver hardware and either a chain strap or a statement belt strap.

The kit comes with everything you need to make up the bag. All the leather, lining, reinforcement material, thread, needles, glue and hardware. In addition you can get a sewing clamp which helps hold the leather together as you do the saddle stitch. The leather and lining are precut and the leather is pre punched which allows for easy stitching. The lining, reinforcement material and leather are glued and then stitched together. The edges of the bag get finished with multiple layers of a white base glue layer and then a colour match edge paint. This part was my favourite, as for me, it makes that difference between something homemade versus shop bought. It’s that little something extra I never thought would be achievable at home.

I also got a sunglasses case kit in addition to the crossbody bag. I wanted to use it as a practice run before I started on the big project!

It allowed me to try out the saddle stitch technique, use the sewing clamp and the edge finishing which was totally worth it as I realised the sewing clamp can leave some marks on the leather (see the square indent in the photo!) which allowed me to make some adjustments for the bag itself!

I purposely took my time making the bag, spending an hour or two a day on it and it really made for some excellent mindful making. The glueing and edge finishing techniques meant that there had to be a number of breaks anyway as you have to to let things dry! Took me two weeks in total to finish it and it was totally worth the effort!

I added a little heart on the back of the bag using the trapunto kit. Trapunto is a technique to create a raised design in the leather by adding a cut piece of the reinforcement material under the leather. You can get some precut designs from Bags and Pieces including letters, hearts and hashtags. I think most people use them for their initials. You can also get blanks to cut your own shape too! I initially planned to do this but in the end just added the heart as I felt it worked best to keep it simple.

I got two straps to go with the bag so I could change it up depending on the occasion. I got the long gold chain and a statement belt strap. For the statement belt I opted for a neutral-ish beige stripe. The ends of the strap get finished with a leather piece which I got embossed with my initials too!

I cannot tell you how much I love this bag! It was an absolute joy to make and I know I’ll enjoy using it as well. I can highly recommend it to everyone of all levels and abilities. It’s totally doable as a beginner by the way though if you’re unsure I’d recommend having a rifle through their instructions and videos which are all available on their website to see if you’d cope.

Now to see how long it takes for me to justify getting another kit!

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