Burning Betty

Meet Betty. She's refined, but volatile. Rub her the wrong way and you'll regret it. Despite all this, she lit a fire under me, and friends, I'm swooning! (note to self: learn better puns)

As you may recall, it's Pattern Parcel time and this one is all bags. I mentioned in my last post that I had a Betty Bowler from Swoon Sewing Patterns in progress- here she is, done just in the knick of time! This parcel sale ends today, so I'm just barely sneaking in to the PPP Inspiration tour. (psst- if you have any inclination to sew any of the patterns in this parcel ever, just go ahead and buy the parcel. It is so worth it- and you'll probably end up sewing something you didn't expect!)

So Betty. Burning betty, she snuck in to my brain and persisted until she got made. I had the vision in my head for what I wanted this to be and it just. wouldn't. quit. Rich, worn leather to pair with this fantastic Cotton and Steel print that I got as part of my spoils for taking 2nd place in Shorts on the Line 2014- yeyeah! I scoured Craigslist for a leather couch to dismantle (a la Mandy) and almost got one for $50, but I was mere minutes too late and they'd sold to someone else. Blerg. Then I did what any self respecting scavenger does- I hit the thrift stores. My usual haunts came up fruitless in the leather department, but I did find what I *thought* was my thrift score of all thrift scores- this vintage steamer trunk for $8.50!

It is in great shape, all things considered, and even has the original travel labels. Turns out this trunk was owned by a naval officer from Myrtle Beach stationed in Naples. Double awesome points for having the history still attached!

But my search continued. Must find leather. Two more thrift stores turned up no leather, but mother of thriftiness, I found this beaut:

It's a Singer 66-16, made in Elizabeth NJ on Aug 25, 1947, and it still runs. It was marked at $15 because there was no foot pedal. Lucky for me, I knew that some machines are equipped with a knee lever rather than a foot pedal and this happened to be one of them :) Naturally I snatched it up as quick as I could and madly started researching.

But anyway, back to the hunt: I finally found a leather jacket for sale on an online yard sale site called Varage Sale. $35, lovely color, and beautifully worn.


So yes, then I promptly cut it apart and began sewing Burning Betty. I learned a few tips and tricks for sewing leather along the way, but I'm going to share them in another post because this thing is already so so long, and I'm not even done yet, ha!

I'm planning to have this bag double as a camera bag with an insert that I'll make to fit lenses and camera snugly inside. Stay tuned for that. I'm also making a shoulder strap, hence the D-rings on the zipper pull tabs- it'll attach to that with a removable clasp.

Things I loved:

  • that shape. mmmm Betty, love them curves.
  • the size- a nice big-but-not-a-duffel size
  • easy to assemble pattern pieces
Things I changed:
  • omitted the large and small exterior stripes for an in-between width leather panel
  • added faux piping next to the leather panel
  • enlarged my zipper pull tabs and added D-rings
  • moved the zippered pocket from a vertical position next to the stripe to a horizontal one on the leather panel
  • divided the inner pocket into three smaller ones
  • added an extra layer of interfacing for extra stability (as suggested in the pattern)
Things I'll change next time:
  • omit the extra interfacing (it was plenty sturdy)
  • no leather zipper pull tabs. while I love the look, I broke 3 needles trying to sew through all that bulk.
Fabric and notions:
  • up cycled leather jacket
  • fusible fleece from Pellon (also part of my Shorts on the Line spoils- thanks Pellon!)
  • heavy weight interfacing and fusible stabilizer, all Pellon
  • metal zipper, main purse zipper, piping, contrast fabric (from fat quarters), lining fabric, and D-rings from JoAnn
  • rectangle rings from Hobby Lobby
  • main fabric is Cotton and Steel- Moonlit Blue Meet Your Match by Rashida Coleman Hale from The Fat Quarter Shop (thank you FQS!)

Yeah, I'm a little lovestruck. Our love burns bright, Betty and I. We're a match made in heaven. Still swooning:)