Saturday, November 21, 2015

What's Your Bag?

Sad to say, my "bag" seems to be finishing late! Again I apologize for being "not quite there"...I absolutely loved this project and have spent many hours working on it, but again just ran out of hours in the day even with the extended timeline this time 'round. 

But...let me tell you about my process and show you a few pix along the way:

The inspiration:

Some time back, I had an internet friend who was living in the Middle East at the time and posting wonderful pictures of the area; she was kind enough, when asked, to send me a few coins with their unique designs. I knew I wanted to use them in my beadwork somehow, but the idea had not yet percolated. I also work part time at a retail location, and we are continually receiving in rolls of coin and from people's pockets..foreign coin of many different types. Again I asked, and was told I could gladly have them in exchange for their intended denomination~ie, I paid a nickel for the one we received in a roll of nickels and so on. At about the same time, while we were doing this exchange, another friend at work offered to bring me in some coin that she and her husband had from their world travels...and now I had quite a collection! 

One day, a phrase that my mother used to use all the time with my sisters and I popped into my head..."Mad Money". We always had to have "mad money" in our case one needed to make a phone call, or get the bus home from a date, or survive another "emergency".

 It was about that time that I got Therese's note regarding the challenge, and everything started to gel in my brain...I would make a bag for my phone, called "mad money". It would hold the phone, a credit card or two...and incorporate some of the "mad money" I had received from all over the world into the embroidery. 

Designing the Bag

 I actually spent several weeks looking for patterns online that would fit what was in my head, with absolutely no luck I decided to start from scratch, use my phone as a template and simply design my own. I put a great deal of thought into the practicality of what I was planning...what the orientation of the phone would be, how the credit card holder would work, the flap to protect the phone, how I would attach a chain strap...and then started drawing it out using the phone as a size guide.

I then transferred it onto pattern paper, and made sure the edges were straight and the pieces were properly broken out:

I originally thought to use ultrasuede for the fabric, but then decided to use some real leather I had picked up from a local designer, who uses it in garments.

Before cutting into the leather, I made a muslin prototype and stitched it together to see if the size would actually work:

It worked perfectly!....but only with the phone case off...and I rethought that and decided I did not want to leave my phone unprotected in this little bag....just in case. 

So that meant making some adjustments to the pattern for the added width of the case:

I simply split each pattern down the middle and added about 3/8" to the width of the bag. 
Once that was completed, I transferred the pattern onto the leather using a bright silver pen so that I knew where my edges needed to be: (the silver will be cut off when the bag is stitched together).

Embroidering the Bag

At last!! Time to stitch! 

I am supporting the bag with Stiff Stuff in certain places...the coins are heavy and I want the bag to stand up to the back pocket that I'm currently working on, the front, and the over-flap will all be supported. The back piece that the back pocket is stitched to, I think at this point will not. 

I wanted to continue the "mad money" theme, and the design that immediately came to mind for me is a bargello-like zig zag across the pieces. 

First, I glued several coins into place, and then drew a design baseline onto the leather with a marking pencil. This I followed for the first line of stitching, and then everything else can follow along that guideline. 

Then I bezeled the coins....

...and started to stitch....and stitch....and stitch, using "coin" colours from my stash of beads. WOW. This was taking a reaaaaalllly long time...but I realllly, really want the leather to be solidly embroidered

You'll notice I added another bezel to the original group...didn't like the empty space up at the top right....

And.....weeks later...the back panel complete....(I think LOL; I may add another row at the top).

 I'm liking the way it is coming together. The other pieces still to be embroidered are the flap, and the front, and of course it needs to be stitched together with a leather needle and thread. I will leave the leather edges raw. I plan to attach a magnetic closure to the front of the flap, with a coin embroidered over top of it. I will attach a chainmaille shoulder chain to grommets in the side of the bag. 

Thanks for wading through this long post!! 

I do hope you'll take a few minutes and visit the other participants...I can't wait to see "What's Their Bag"! 



  1. oh this is amazing ... each piece you were adding I was just ooohing, and awing along! What a fantastic idea to bezel around your mad money! that is so funny - my mom used to call it exactly that.

  2. Hi Lori,
    I love what you are creating! Using the coins you collected from other countries is a great design idea for a very practical bag. I love that you showed us your design process and I am so looking forward to seeing the finished project. Thank you for join in on another ATTS challenge and I hope you join us for the nest ATTS challenge.

  3. Everything you've made so far in this phone case is so good and beautiful. Thank you for explaining and showing to us how you've made it. Great job!

  4. I loved every word and photo in this post! Seeing the actual process and reading your ideas for this bag make this such a rich post to experience. The beaded coins, the M motif (MadMoney), the whole vibe ~ I cannot wait to see this bag done. It is already sensational. The end is going to be spectacular! Thanks for being a part of this hop, Lori. And for taking photos along the way :-)

  5. Oh, my! I have learned so much from reading your detailed planning and execution of this bag. It is already beyond gorgeous. Can not wait to see it finished!

  6. Hi Lori. Your bag is going to be exquisite. It is already so beautiful.The mad money idea is wonderful. My father-in-law used that term too. Thanx for showing your process.

    1. It's going to be gorgeous, a very unique one of a kind work of art. Love how you incorporated the various coins!

  7. Your bead work is lovely , and the idea of using coins is so unique. It`s so much fun reading about the process Just waiting to see the completed bag.

  8. This is such a brilliant and unique idea - never thought of using coins like cabs. I love your process, and I love the back panel - I hope you finish the rest and share it one day. I can only imagine how much work it is, and how hard is to embroider on that leather! Beautiful work.

  9. Such a cool project Lori! I am eager to see it finished :)

  10. Wow. thats going to be fantastic!!!

  11. This is fabulous! And it's going to be completely mind-blowing when it's finished. Thanks for walking us through your design proecess - and good for you for making the muslin prototype. I'd probably have blundered right in and kicked myself later when it went sideways. This is great work on an inspired idea!

  12. I'm such a non-planner, but it's smart and awesome that you created that muslin sample first. Love the theme and how it's turning out.

  13. What a great idea! I so enjoy seeing and learning about the process behind other artists' creations, especially items that need adjustment - like the one you made for size. I am also enthralled with using coins in bead art and saw an interesting post about making them into bead caps, which I thought was another good idea. Congrats on your great design and crafts-personship!

  14. I love you Mad Money bag, what a cute story.
    You will have to post the completed bag for us to see.

  15. I love your concept. Your bag is wonderful!!! It looks so interesting and engaging. It's also very pretty. I want to touch it. Please show us what it looks like when it's all done. I bet you will get a ton of compliments on it wherever you go. If someone from the countries of the coins sees it they will be so excited :-)

  16. I love your design! I don't plan things out like this and I think it's great that you do. It doesn't cause surprises!! Thanks for the comments on my post also.


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