That’s right, it is February 4 and I’m just now getting around to sharing Part Three of my Christmas crafting tales. Some projects just take more time than others, especially projects for Regan. I’ve always had trouble completing projects for him in a timely and secretive fashion. We spend so much time together in our home that making gifts in stealth mode is extremely conspicuous.
I vividly remember one Valentines Day when I decided to sew him a little robot (a Love Bot). I tried to sneak in sewing it together every chance I had. Regan would run an errand and I’d hide away and stitch. He’d go out to the car to grab his sunglasses and I’d manage to spend three minutes stuffing it with batting. One morning as we were getting ready for work he hopped into the shower and I grabbed that stuffie and started sewing furiously only to lose track of time and have Regan walk into our bedroom before I could cover up my project. He looked at me standing at the foot of our bed in my underwear holding a needle and thread with something thrust behind my back. Looking at my sheepish face and half clothed body, he shook his head and walked right back out of the bedroom again. Stealth.
At any rate, this Christmas I tried to revisit my stealthy crafting days and create a gift for Regan in secret. I wanted to make him a messenger bag out of an old men’s suit coat. He really loves nice men’s fashion, but never really has occasion to dress up. I decided that a bag made from nice suiting could accompany him everywhere and could fit with his everyday wardrobe of jeans and a t-shirt. Of course, since I lack the ability to craft well in secret, I broke down a few days after Christmas and let him know I had one more gift for him, but that I was going to need his help. This messenger bag ultimately became a collaborative project.
The exterior is made from as much of the suit jacket as I was able to salvage. The back of the bag and front flap are a piece of continuous fabric made from the back of the jacket. The front of the bag, under the flap, is made from the front panels of the jacket with a seam where it would normally button up. This allowed me to utilize the front jacket pockets and incorporate them into a functional design.
The sides and bottom of the bag are made from the sleeves of the jacket. I was able to use the cuff and the decorative buttons as is, minus one button on each side in order to accommodate the straps. The left side panel repurposes the upper front handkerchief pocket so there’s plenty of space for keys and cell phones, etc. Each of the panels is reinforced with felt to add shape and stability to the bag.
The inside is lined with denim and I used a bit of old tie from Goodwill as an accent at the top of the inside front panel. Large washers are stitched into the felt on the inside of the front flap to give weight and keep the front of the bag closed.
The strap is one we repurposed from a bag I got for Regan when we first started dating. Originally my plan had been to find a nice belt to use, but because we wanted the bag to sit comfortably across Regan’s chest we couldn’t find a belt long enough. Because of this there was a period of time during which I was lamenting that people weren’t fat enough, but I got over that quickly enough and moved on to another plan. Guitar straps were up next to check out, but turns out those are kind of expensive. And so we settled on this solution, which works nicely.
After sewing through layers of wool, felt and leather, my fingertips are calloused. Many a thimble was required to help pierce the leather. A handful of needles are bent or broken. But everything finally got put together and it’s all stitched in place with love, and that’s what I was really going for.