making frame purses

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I'm pretty excited to say I can make frame purses now! This will be a great way to upcycle the precious scraps from my vintage tablecloths and feedsacks. On my last trip to the NYC garment district, I picked up some purse frames to play around with. Then I read up up about how make purses here. Lisa Lam's directions for making your own patterns and assembling the bags worked great. She's not kidding, don't drink wine and then try to glue your purse into the frame. The gluing part is a little touch-and-go, but overall, it's very satisfying to make a frame purse.

Oh, and a word about glue. You can't just use any glue. The first glue I tried was Goop and I don't recommend it. It worked OK for gluing fabric to metal, but it didn't have the fine nozzle you need to get the glue neatly into the frame and it stank to high heaven. The first little purse I made still reeks over a month later. A little research revealed that all the pursemakers use Guterman HD2 which is not available in the US. You can order it from Lisa's company, U-Handbag and several suppliers on Etsy. It stinks at first, but dissipates relatively quickly.
Once you know the basics, it's not hard to customize patterns for different frames and bag shapes. I decided to try a rounded gathered shape. To get the gathering, I did the "slash 'n' spread" patternmaking technique we learned in 1st year apparel design class. I kept the lining flat and only gathered the shell.
Interfacing is important in bag construction. Lisa's example bag has a flat bottom and is meant to stand up on its own , so she recommends very stiff, heavy interfacing. For the gathered bag, I didn't want to lose the drape, so I went with  tricot interfacing- Stacy Easy Knit by Pellon- on the wrong side of the shell. It's the same silky, soft fusible I use as a backing on my appliquéd onesies.
Then I made some appliquéd coin purses. For these I used a lightweight interfacing - Pellon Feather/Midweight- to stabilize the shell for appliquéing, then applied Pellon Fusible Fleece. The fusible fleece is a thin batting that gives the purses just the right structure.
I've been making these initial purses for birthday gifts and they've gone over well, so I decided to add them to the shop. My little models loved playing with them at the photo shoot. And they're not just for kids if my sister-in-law's squeals are any indication!

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