A New Twist on Handbag Handles

Eileen Roche and Nancy Zieman are so creative! They devised a way to make the difficult task of constructing a handbag into the easiest process ever by creating it with machine embroidery.  The embroidery machine does all the work for you.  If I had to sew each stitch myself on my tote bag, I would have given up a long time ago, but take a look and see how much their designs ease the process.

Their book, Designer Handbags, comes with the CD to download the machine embroidery designs.  When you first look at the back of the book with the embroidery designs illustrated, you cannot believe your eyes.  They look so simple.  They took a complicated process and simplified it.

So that you will understand the different parts of this process, here is a picture of my finished tote bag that I created using their CD. The twisted cord handles are not really handles at all.

The design on the front of the tote bag was an Urban Threads Parisian Bee design that I had in my digital library and wanted to use for a long time.  Since the leopard fabric was bolder than my usual comfort zone, I decided to go all out and add the design. I convinced myself that it was just a tote bag that I was using to practice their designs.

Since I was going all out, why not add a bold monogram on the inside.  I used the Family Tree font by Anna Bove Embroidery.  I just loved it.  It added the touch of class I wanted.

The corners were the first part of their process.  They are a combination of applique and designs. The main black part is black fabric that has quilted stitches on top of it. The tan line is also fabric that has been appliqued, but the black satin lines and darker tan dots are all machine embroidery designs.

The bottom seam, side seams and the corner seam perpendicular to the bottom seam that gives the tote its depth, are all sewn on the machine, but the insides are well constructed so that they will keep their shape. I will keep that a secret so that you buy the book. Actually, if you go onto Nancy Zieman’s website Nancysnotions.com you will find all her tips there. Adding the feet gave it that designer touch!

The book gives instructions on how to make your own handles, but I love the feel of handles on my purse (so kinestic!) and I wanted something special. Plus, I was feeling really creative.  I had two black-corded curtain tiebacks that were just sitting in my closet - just the trick. Ugh! They were trickier than I thought.  My bamboo stick came in pretty handy as I held my breath trying to get the loop of the tiebacks to stay in place while it stitched close to the main part of the cord. This was very difficult and at the top of the stitching for the handles, I had to slow the machine down to its slowest speed and at a certain point I would stop the stitching, readjust, start, and do that several times.  I loved the look and feel, but it was stressful.

The rest of the construction was a breeze with a bias trim around the top and while they recommend sewing it with the machine, this is one process that I just love doing by hand even when I quilt.

Eileen and Nancy, thank you for such an easy process. I cannot imagine how many times you had to practice before you got it right for us.