Turn An Old Skirt into Something New!

I wanted a dreamy looking leather satchel in a soft, buttery leather only I didn’t want to shell out a couple hundred dollars for it. I saw a cool looking black leather skirt in a thrift shop and I suppose they were having a hard time moving it because it was marked down to $7.00. I grabbed a back leather belt for $2.00 and away I went!

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I turned the skirt inside out and marked there I wanted to cut it.  Since the skirt was lined, I could skip lining the tote.

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I had to decide how to work around the zipper and  decided that I would  make a seam there and remove it.

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I’m glad I scanned the Internet for tips (see end of post) because I got myself some heavy duty needles which helped immensely.  The leather I used was thin-it had been a skirt after all, and the Singer Slant-O-Matic had no trouble handling it.  Plus it glided smoothly because the lining and not the leather was making contact with the sewing machine.

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I cut the handles from a thick leather belt which was very hard to cut.  I used a utility blade.

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I attached the handles to the body of the bag with grommets I bought at Harbor Freight.

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I stitched the  handles to the top of the bag with a sewing awl, also from Harbor Freight.  You can see that I had to make the holes with a drill, but the awl was great for passing the thread back and forth between the holes.

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I installed a magnetic purse snap and I had a leather tote for under $10.00!

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Here’s another one made from a suede thrift store skirt

This tutorial from sewbeittudio.com was very helpful.  I also liked this one from the Vintage Ramble blog.

And here is a good video to get you started.

 

My Sewing Machine Will Quilt Again!

In my previous post, I told you how I murdered my sewing machine and how Jack De Sorte carried it and my other machine off into the night. Did I ever hear from him again?

I am happy to report that I did. As a matter of fact, he had the Slant-O-Matic back to me THE NEXT DAY!!!!! I was beside myself with joy and sewed like a mad woman all weekend. But what about the Kenmore? Well, that’s a little more complicated.

I got a call at work the next week. It was Jack.

“What did you do to that machine?!?!” he demanded.

“Did I do something wrong, ” I whispered meekly.

“Did you do something wrong? The gears were shot! I don’t know what you did to that machine but I had to call in favors and drive to shops in Jersey to get all the parts. What did you do to that machine?”

“I dunno,” I squeaked, “Could you fix it?”

“Could I fix it?-It’s like new,” he shot back me, ” and when I deliver it I’ll give you some instructions.”

Yikes. What was I in for?

He arrived at my house that might cradling the machine like a baby. He laid it on my dining room table and pulled a small bag out of his pocket. “Here are needles,” he told me, “and bobbins and a new zipper foot. I want you to use them.” He put the bag on the table.

“Do not use cheap needles!” he admonished me. If you hit something while you’re sewing, STOP AND STEP AWAY FROM THE MACHINE! Do not try to sew with a bent needle! Do not pull the thread! Do not sew with a dirty machine! Clean and oil it regularly! ”

“Yes Jack,” I whispered.

And now, I am afraid-I am afraid that if I screw up one more time, that Jack will find out, come to my house, take my machine and place it in a foster home.

I will be careful.

Seriously, if you live in the Philadelphia area and need sewing machine repair, call Jack. I cannot recommend him enough.

De Sorte’s Vacuum Cleaner Service

6153 Market St
Philadelphia, PA 19139
(215) 474-3045

Here are some pictures of what I sewed after Jack fixed my sewing machines

Stripey
Stripey
Stack-O-Blocks
Stack-O-Blocks
Two old dresses and a napkin
Two old dresses and a napkin
Chain Pieced Blocks before separation
Chain Pieced Blocks before separation
Home made thread cone stand
Home made thread cone stand
Just-Started Blocks
Just-Started Blocks
More Blocks
More Blocks
Wonky!
Wonky!

I Murdered My Sewing Machine!!

I managed to murder a sewing machine.   I was busy sewing wonky log cabin blocks on my late Mother-in-Law’s Kenmore when I heard, GADUMP!  I stopped and saw I had a bent needle.  I replaced it and stared to sew but the machine  continued to clunk!clunk! clunk! And clunk!  And basically not sew anything.     I needed sewing machine triage.
Chain Piecing
Chain Piecing on the Kenmore
There is no sewing repair place near my house and I don’t own a car.  I was determined not to ask a friend to schlep me and my crippled machine to a repair place so I started to look for someone who would come to my house.   I found a guy on Yelp who had one five star rating.  That was his only rating.  I called him.
“How old is your machine?” he asked
“I don’t want to buy a new one,” I retorted.  (I am always suspicious.)
“I don’t want you to buy a new one,” he answered,  “the new ones aren’t any good; but I need to know how old yours is before I know  whether I can work on it.”
“Seventeen years old, ” I replied.
“I can fix that no problem.”  He made arrangements to come to my house the next day.
My husband let him in and took his card, Jack DeSorte’s Vacuum Repair.  Jack parked himself at my dining room table and inspected the machine.  “I’ll have this fixed in about an hour, ” he announced.
My heart soared.  For the next hour,  Jack labored on the machine and treated my husband and me to the short version of his life story, his philosophy of sewing machines, sewing machine repair and sewing machine restoration.  It dawned on me that I had a first class, genuine, A-Number One sewing machine nerd repairman seated in my dining room.  Which is a good thing in case you were wondering.
After an hour,  Jack rose from the table wiping his forehead and informed me that he would have to take the machine into his shop.  “I don’t know what you did to this machine, ” he declared, ” but I’m gonna have to take the whole thing apart and it’s gonna be messy.  I  might need parts.  I can’t fix it here.”
“Will you bring it back when it’s fixed?” I inquired.
“Of course,” he replied as if wondering why I had to ask about something so obvious.
“Wait a minute,”  I called, running down the basement steps, “I have something else.”  I returned with  my Mother’s 1961 Singer Slant-O-Matic 500A. “This was my mother’s machine, “I told him, ” and I used to sew on it when I was a little girl.  It works but it needs a tune up.  She got that machine when Kennedy was president, ” I added.  (This means that I felt comfortable enough with Jack to date myself.  Which means something but I’m not sure what.)
Slant O Matic
Slant-O-Matic
He was beaming.  “Will you look at that, ” he exclaimed lifting  up the lid that covers the double  thread spindles. “It’s so clean!  Normally when I see one if these it’s got all kinds of crap on it.”
“My Mother was so clean that once she broke our television to clean it, “I bragged.  “My Father wouldn’t get it fixed, so we had to turn it on and off by using the plug.  And my brother claimed that we were the only family he knew who had a brutal cycle on their washing machine.”Maybe you are starting to understand why I took to Jack like I did.
Jack wrote up the proper receipts and disappeared with my sewing machines into the night.
To be continued. . .

Life’s Rich Fabric



I have boxes of old family photographs that bring back memories every time I look at them. But the women in my family preserved the family history  with different materials.  They sewed, knitted, crocheted, tatted, and quilted.


In my living room an afghan my maternal grandmother Emma crocheted is draped over a chair. Over another chair is a patchwork quilt my paternal grandmother Mattia pieced together from her bag of fabric scraps collected over the years. My mother Rosemary, who is still living, was a marvelous seamstress and I treasure her Singer Slant-O-Matic from the early ’60’s. Clothes she made for me still hang in my closet, and I have scads of towels and aprons she embroidered.


My mother-in-law Vicky, who died earlier this month, was also an accomplished seamstress. She made beautiful jackets for a few lucky women in the family (including me) from vintage velvet, lace, and her stash of fabric scraps. I wear mine on special occasions. I was fortunate  to have  inherited her sewing machine.  I will remember her every time I use it. 


Here are some pictures.