About a year and a half ago, I cut into a long red leather coat that I’d had for almost two decades but had never worn. I ended up with a shortened jacket, a purse, a phone case, a loyalty card holder and, of course, a coffee cup sleeve.
My friend Patty, whose office I volunteer for at my son’s high school, saw all of the transformed items first hand. It got her thinking about a red leather coat that had been passed on to her from another friend. That coat turned up at school one day a few months ago in a plastic bag with my name on it.
I decided two things when I saw this coat. The first was that whatever I made from it was going right back to Patty. The second was that I was going to try to keep those slash pockets. The logical choice to reform the coat was a into bag, but rather than draw up a pattern, I decided to let the coat’s shape speak to me as I went. Very Zen. I started out by removing the lining and interfacing. If you ever want to learn a thing or two about clothing construction, try some deconstruction.
After I’d gutted it, I started cutting. I originally thought I would keep the button placket but noticed there was some damage around the buttons, so I cut it off. I also cut across just below the arm holes and just above the fold for the bottom seam. At that point I was just aiming for the largest piece of leather I could get, but I liked the shape of it, so I stitched the middle together to create the basic bag shape.
The next step was to cut out the lining, so I used the leather piece as a guide and added a seam allowance.
I sewed patch pockets onto one side of the lining and added a zipped pocket to the other. I wanted some reinforcement for the magnetic closure, so I also added an extra strip of fabric to the area where they would be applied. It also gave the top of the purse a little more body.
I realized my purse still had a waist, so I gave it some belt loops. This would also solve the problem of my seams not matching up perfectly in the front because I could cover the area with a belt. I considered using the original collar as an accent at the top of the bag, but decided even my beast of a sewing machine wouldn’t survive that many layers of leather.
I finished stitching up the lining and added it to the inside of the bag.
Rather than make the strap entirely from leather, I used one of the lining fabrics instead and added a strip of leather down the middle as an accent.
I couldn’t have been happier with the way this bag turned out.
Of course, I added a couple of little accessories for the inside. All that remains of the coat at this point is one sleeve.
This is Patty. Does this photo give you some idea of how she felt about it?