All posts by Donna B

From One Artist to Another

For an artist friend and mentor.

Split black chaps leather (remnant) with angled slit pocket.

The back.

Rounded corners are preferred to slip into a pants pocket.

Only two interior pockets on this one.

Filled with my business cards of course!  Hand stitched with red linen thread.


The edges are finished with red colored edge paint and burnished.

I enjoyed making and sending this to my Artist friend and mentor – a California (style) watercolor artist.

A Thank You

Front with angled slit pocket.

This  was to thank a family friend who knows of my hobby and generously donated an old handbag with nice hardware I can upcycle into a new bag.

I split a remnant piece of black chaps leather for all the visible parts.  The pocked backs (not visible) are recycled garment leather (from a skirt); hand stitched with sage green linen thread and finished with gold edge paint.

Interior has three pockets.
Profile – finished with metallic gold edge paint and burnished.









The Cana in Dusty Pink Textured Leather

Front view.

The main difference between the front and the back is the front view has my logo; it was more difficult to add my logo on this textured leather.

Back view

Other than that, the front and back views of this version of the Cana are basically the same.

Inside view of the bag.


The interior is recycled leather (I use the terms upcycled and recycled to describe items I reused) – in this instance, the interior or “lining leather” was once a pair of leather pants.

Zippered opening.


As with the original Cana, this bag is all hand stitched with linen thread, the edges are colored with leather edge paint and burnished.

Side view.

Practice, practice, practice – I need to continue working on my stitching skills.

The Cana

This was an experiment…a reverse engineered handbag fashioned from recycled leather…a couch!

The name of this bag is a play on words…kanape’s; it means sofa in Greek.
This bag has a nylon zipper, is hand stitched, and all edges are hand finished.
Side view.
The Cana Interior
The Cana inside back with a zippered pocket.  The inside is surprisingly roomy too.


The interior fabric was leftover from a dress and the zipper recycled from a skirt.  I bonded clear vinyl to the back side of the fabric and used water repellent spray on the printed side.  What an exciting way to recycle!  🙂

More Tools

This little beauty is a skiver and can be used to split leather too.  A shout out to Dan at Campbell Randall and his team for crating this baby up so she arrived ready to go.  🙂


I said I needed to “up my game”…

I considered taking courses at a local college or tech school, but found a one-year program in San Francisco. Beatrice, the owner and founder of the program, and her staff offer intensive programs. I took the beginner three-week session and successfully completed the first six projects.

Yes, there are seven items here…the first is a sample to learn basics like cutting, gluing, stitching (each piece is hand stitched) and edge finishing.

I recommend the program for anyone interested in improving their leather working skills. All students begin with how to properly hold and use the tools and basic pattern making.  By creating each piece in the requisite order, students build on their skills to more advanced projects.

For each of these pieces, the pricking irons were used on only the front side.  I learned how to hold and use the awl to prick through to the back side while keeping a needle in each hand and completing my stitches.  This technique requires lots of practice to develop muscle memory so the back sides will be just as perfect.

This is the back side of the first project, a slim card wallet (of buttery soft leather).  Look closely and you can see the stitching lines around the outer edge are not quite straight.  An even closer look and you may be able to see the creasing iron marking.  My plan is to incorporate creasing and the edge finishing techniques I learned into wallets and leather handbags.

The possibilities are endless.

My thanks to Beatrice (Amblard Leather), Misty, and Emily for three amazing weeks of leather work immersion.

Looking forward to seeing them again.



Another try with new hardware

I need to take more pictures of this bag – I only have the one right now, but I reworked the reverse engineered structured handbag.  I finished it a while ago, but am just now getting around to posting.

This time around it went faster except with my post sewing machine, I could not stitch it properly…I ended up hand stitching the final parts during construction.

The first time I carried it a woman stopped me and complimented me on how much she liked it.  That was an inspiration of sorts and made me want to “up my game”.

Reverse Engineered Handbag

I bought this handbag in the late 1990s at a London department store; I carried it often and it barely survived my 2007 truck fire (too worn and smelled of fire/smoke to carry).
It took me a while to take it apart, inventory and create the pattern pieces and then work up the courage (and skills!) to make this bag.
I used the original hardware along with a remnant piece of funky textured, almost metallic flannel-backed vinyl for the shell.
I think the handle can be a little thinner and shaped more so it will lay flat on the top edge of the bag. The rigidity is from Texon (thanks to Kayla at Lyn-Fle this is the thickness I needed!)
Another remnant for the inside/lining this was some knit material that worked rather well. I placed my logo under the back zipped pocket.


Metal feet similar to the original. Now that I did this first one, I know more can be done and possibly even with some really nice leather…first I must call Anne or Sandy at Ohio Travel Bag for supplies, I see they have just what I need to make this bag again only with new hardware.