Monday, November 21, 2016

Designing Wool Purses

I started making wool purses in August.  

This one is called Constellation, the front pocket gives me the impression of twinkling stars against the night sky.  The shell is made from a black wool coat deconstructed.  Love this black wool with flecks of gray.  Let me get you a detail photo . . . hold on.

Purse # 4 "Constellation" a Black Wool with Gray Flecks

There are opportunities to make several purses out of one wool coat.  "Constellation" is purse#4 from the same wool coat.  The purse shell is sewn crazy quilt style from smaller pieces (leftover pieces of wool).  

Method: I use a rotary cutter to straighten edges of two pieces of wool.  Then I sew the wool pieces together using a zig-zag stitch.  

To cover the zig-zag--I cut a strip of printed black/brown cotton fabric; fold the raw edges under and pressed with an iron.  Laying that strip of fabric over the zig-zag, I top-stitched it in place.  

In the photo above is a purse#3 called "In Stitches" . . . 
I've turned the lower half of the finished purse inside out--so you can see the fancy interior wool pocket, pieced together and decorated with strips of printed fabrics.

Back to purse #4 called "Constellation"  . . . sometimes a "purse front" can get too busy looking, when sewing smaller pieces of wool together and top-stitching with decorative fabrics.  

Knowing when and how to edit is important.

 In the photo above I peel back the solid wool front pocket facing to show you the very busy purse shell.  It was just too much, too busy.

To edit (correct this) I added a solid wool front pocket to hide the busy piecing.  To finish, I chalked several lines on the plain pocket and stitched beads of blue, purple, and gold.

So--here's the finished purse #4 "Constellation"   

The cross-body strap is made from 1" wide black grosgrain ribbon length of 42", and top-stitched with a 1/2" wide strip of black/brown printed fabric.  

The evening before building purses #3 "In Stitches" and #4 "Constellation" I made 50 polymer clay beads with all the leftover colors of clay I'd been saving in a small plastic bag.  

Purse #3 "In Stitches"
Once again, I zig-zag stitched together smaller pieces of leftover black wool and covered seams with strips of top stitched printed fabric.  Double row of wavy running stitches in DMC No 8 perle cotton. 
An off-set button yo-yo, and handful of my random batch of polymer clay beads to make my signature zipper closure.

Black Wool Purse #4 "In Stitches" 

I've discovered that my hobby of purse  building, and my other hobby of making polymer clay beads work hand in hand.  When I throw random clay colors together to make a batch of beads--it influences my selection of fabrics to build a purse.  

I admit--while I'm building the beads I'm creating the next purse in my mind and planning how I will use the beads.  I don't let any time lapse between the two processes for fear I'll lose my momentum.

Black Wool Purse #2

The beads arranged "Shower Curtain Style" on the front pocket. 

Purse #2 was created from a large piece of the same black wool coat including 42" long cross-body strap.   After I wrestled with the very thick layers of the carrying strap I chose black grosgrain ribbon for later purses #3 and #4.  

Random beads for zipper pull and pocket decoration.  Before I sold this purse I removed the dark thread top-stitching and chose a matching thread . . . that means I took off all the beads and started over again.  Sometimes, things are just wrong and need to be corrected. 

Black Wool Purse #1 from the same black coat.

Decorated with random polymer clay bead batch, yo-yos, buttons, and simple embroidery stitches of No. 8 DMC perle cotton.

Black wool purse #1

Note:  all of these black wood purses sold within the first hour of my August show.  There were two fun gals I met who both like the same two black wool purses, and each gal had in mind their first and second pick.  It was a matter of deciding which of the gals (friends) would get the first pick.  

I added my two cents and suggested they go ahead and buy both purses now, as they could determine later who would get first pick.  I feared they might walk away to ponder the problem and possibly lose the purses to another prudent buyer.   

All my purses are padded and lined.  They feature an interior pocket and hidden pocket inside.  The hidden pocket is great storage for your passport or folded receipts you need to store rather than having them swimming around in your purse (in your way).   The best function of this zippered purse is to carrying and protect your phone or tablet.  

I wear my everyday purse around my neck, making my shopping experience always hands-free.  I clip my ring of car/house keys to the strap rings at the top of the purse.  I prefer a front zippered purse because it keeps things from spilling out.  

There is still more of the black wool coat left.  My neighbor Renee is taking a class from me right now and she is decorating the black wool with couched wavy lime green yarn, and a needle felted pocket with a dandelion type flower highlighted with No. 8 perle cotton and glass beads.  Let's keep in touch and I will post photos of Renee's finished purse.

By the way . . . my dear friends

Our Saturday/Sunday Oct 29/30 Halloween Victorian House Tour and Craft Show (at our house) was so successful.  What a turn out!  Thank you, thank you, thank you.   

Donations for the Humane Society of Waupaca County were fabulous and so were their staff Faye and Monica. 

Our talented craft show vendors Jerry, Patti, Kay, Jenny, Jan, Jane, Krissy, Deb, and Cathy enjoyed showing and selling their beautiful items. 

Our resourceful crew: Sandy the kitchen manager, Patricia the studio manager, delightful greeters Jean and Diane, and wonderful neighbors Renee and Steve--how can I ever begin to thank you for your support (and giving us your entire weekend).  You made it happen!

There were two days of delicious chili and dessert lunch provided by Scandinavia Library Group,   Melissa, Jane, and Sue--you are the best.  

If I left anyone out--please write or call me so I can update this post.  I confess, I'm getting so forgetful.  My brain, my brain--where did I put it?

And finally, a big thank you to our community.  You are wonderful beyond words.   We are in awe of the number of people who came by to see us during the event, some from far far away.  YOU are forever in my heart for making this event so successful.

Mrs. D (Linda and Jon)



  1. I don't often think about purses, but I knew that if Mrs. D. made them, they would be this original and well-crafted. No wonder they were such a success.

  2. Hello Jim,

    How are you my friend Jim? I haven't heard from you in such a long time.

    Thank you for such a positive review of my work. I appreciate you.

    Usually I'm building queen size quilts this time of year, but found an new detour with wool purses the last couple of months. Learning some simple hand embroidery stitches--hope to learn more because I am having such a good time. My grandmothers liked hand embroidery work. I think about them often when I'm practicing. Did your grandmothers do hand embroidery?

    I will visit your blog to see what you have been up to. Talk to you soon Jim.

    Best wishes
    Mrs. D (Linda)