For those of you who follow me on twitter, you’ve heard me pondering the idea to make pretty handbags for quite some months. The idea first came about back in January when I was shopping for the details for my nephew’s Baptism. We’d visited a craft shop, Manualidades Sonia in Mayaguez, and we walked up and down every single aisle in search of inspiration when it came to decorations and doing the favor boxes. Since I love to embroider and cross-stitch, I peeked over in that section even though I didn’t need anything. When there I found this cute little pattern pack to make a coin purse using ribbon embroidery.
The technique was new to me and I found that I enjoyed it. The look was so classic, I was enamored with the idea of using such floral designs but in a larger purse design.
I’d spent many nights googling and visiting sites, scouring etsy listings and then googling some more to find the right places for what I was looking for. But I sort of put it off. In a moment of continued interest after finishing the coin purse, I found a Silk Ribbon Embroidery Bible on Amazon (ps: Amazon is my new addiction for this year. Seems I evolved from eBay to Amazon. I have some issues because not every seller on Amazon ships to PR or to PO like addresses, but I do manage to get what I want) but didn’t look at it too closely because in that same order I got On Writing Romance: How to craft a novel that sells. That had my attention and then afterwards my attention got diverted to other books. My mother had looked at the embroidery bible and mentioned the purse idea too; she thought it would look quite beautiful and classic.
I don’t know what struck me but I went through the book a few weeks ago and started writing down which designs I wanted to try. Then one evening I did some more searching and found that I knew just where to go, so I decided to just get the materials. It took about 2 weeks for me to get everything that I ordered: the purse handles, the moire fabric, the silk ribbons & the labels. However I love getting packages, so each arrival was an absolute delight! I’d rightly assumed that I would not be able to find the majority of what I wanted locally. There were even a few things that I didn’t even know how to ask for in Spanish (like the moire fabric). The only thing I bought at a store in town was the satin fabric for the lining. (They did have moire, funnily enough, called the same but pronounced in Spanish, fabric and I purchased some, which I will be using for some future designs, but I don’t like it as much as the one I ordered online . Once the black and cream fabric gets used up, I’ll go back to ordering online).
When I went on my ordering spree, I had a few designs in mind but once I got the ribbons, I wasn’t as sure that I wanted to do them as much anymore. So I placed another order for ribbons at other sites, one with an amazing color selection of silk ribbons (it took me about an hour today to get just the right colors for the designs I know I’ll be doing next) and another with a wide variety of organza ribbons. For now, this was my trial run to see if my concept was feasible.
I started with the pattern for the purse which I started off with creating with gift tissue and tape once I got the purse frames. Once I had the sizing (I wanted it to be large enough to hold a Mary Kay Compact, a cell phone and a coin purse/ small wallet), I cut the pattern out into cardboard which I’d attained from re-using one of my large Mary Kay product boxes. It was quite interesting to try out since I did it all while working one Saturday. Thankfully calls were slow that day!
Using a washable marker (which thankfully allowed me to remove it with a moist paper towel and a bit of dabbing when I made mistakes), I traced out the pattern and estimated the spot I wanted my pattern to be. With the ribbons I had on hand, I opted for Closed Irises in a vase.
I had to enlist my grandmother’s help when it came to the beads. I had ordered some but they were too big. My grandmother loves to do different sort of crafts. She makes lace, crochets curtains and makes blankets and shawls as she sees fit. She was the one who taught me how to crochet (since my mother is left-handed and I’m not, if she had taught me, she’d have taught me how to do it backwards) and embroider, but all the ladies in my family know how to do something, albeit some are more proficient than others. But when I confided my latest project with my grandmother, she was absolutely delighted because she loves craft projects and that I was following in her footsteps in doing them. So my grandmother has boxes filled with craft supplies of all kinds. With a little bit of digging, I found regular pearl beads and pale pink pearl beads in just the right size which she thought would look prettiest with the fabric.
I think from start to finish, this purse would take me a day. I had finished the embroidery in a single evening.
I would have finished the rest but I was waiting on the arrival of the label.
In a few hours more I had sewn it all up. The entire thing was done by hand since I learned with making the apron that I can not sew a straight line with a machine. I didn’t want to ruin the fabric and all my hard work, so I relied more on my hand-sewing skills for the task. I’m sure with a machine this would be done in a fraction of the time but I enjoyed taking my time with it.
I think it came out beautifully done and my mother is most excited to use it for her special work luncheon to show it off. I’m really glad that my mother has been really supportive with this. I don’t know how much further I’ll take this project but it seems a few friends have already put their informal order for one. While I love them, the frame is rather expensive, so I will just have to see if we can work something out for their own unique BombshellWithin purse. I still have one more trial run to do with a more square design rather than the rounded bottom. Then I know I have to design one with a cupcake since I promised a certain cupcake loving person one for a giveaway.