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Metallic Leather Tall Tote with Renaissance Ribbons

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Tall, thin and elegant, this bag could be a runway model. Or maybe at least be carried by one of those long-legged beauties. Soft faux leather with a slight metallic sheen is the perfect background for the exquisitely woven, richly colored, simply beautiful jacquard ribbons. These are brand new selections by Bonnie Christine for Renaissance Ribbons. We went Bonnie-all-the-way, using a matching fabric from her Art Gallery collection for the lining. Our specific ribbon selection is what creates the bag's fashionable spirit, but there are many, many others from which to choose at Renaissance Ribbons

The fabulous Renaissance Ribbons inventory is offered via their own online store, plus many of the best online and in-store retailers carry Renaissance as well. Right now, we encourage you to take some time to browse the entire line from Bonnie Christine as well as the new Deer Me collection by Tula Pink and their rich colors of French Grosgrain.

You'll also love the Treasure Packs they recently brought online. Each one contains a variety of hidden gems – 10 to 15 yards in each package!

Sewn-in foam interfacing gives the soft faux leather and quilting cotton the substance they need to hold their shape. 

We added rivets to make sure the handles are extra secure. If you're new to adding metal rivets to fabric, we link to our step-by-step tutorial below. 

For today's project, we used invisible thread for all our ribbon stitching. This is not mandatory, but is a nicer look against the ribbon. For best results, you may need to loosen your upper tension slightly. It's also a good idea to lengthen your stitch and sew at a slow and even pace. This type of thread does not stretch as well as regular thread and can break more easily under pressure, especially if it accidentally slides off the spool and wraps around the spool pin. Using a spool cap against the spool helps hold it in place on the pin, and again, going slowly and evenly helps the thread to feed correctly off the spool. Finally, always sew in the same direction along both sides of the ribbon. This will help prevent any shifting and puckering.

If you'd prefer not to use invisible thread, choose colors of regular thread that very closely match your ribbon, and take the time to re-thread as often as needed to maintain that perfect match. 

Our bag finishes at approximately 11" wide x 15" high with a handle drop of 10".

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

We used THREE beautiful jacquard ribbons from the Bonnie Christine collection by Renaissance Ribbons

Getting Started

Cuts are given below for the specific ribbons we chose and we will refer to them by name throughout the instructions. Refer to the key above or use the links to click through to Renaissance Ribbons.

NOTE: All our cuts are determined based on our selected ribbons, each of which had continuous motifs. We did add a bit extra yardage for ease of cutting in the list above, but If you choose different ribbons with larger or more dominant motifs, you may need additional yardage.

  1. Cut the ⅞" Aqua & Gold Bee Sweet Brocade into FOUR 12" lengths.
  2. Cut the ⅝" Aubergine Tiny Bird Flight into SIX 12" lengths.
  3. Cut the ⅞" Ivory on Gray Nesting Blooms into FOUR 12" lengths and ONE 8" length.
  4. From the exterior fabric (Perfecto Platinum Leather in our sample), cut the following:
    TWO 12" wide x 16" high rectangles for the exterior panels
    TWO 2½" x 25" strips for the handles
  5. From the lining fabric (Wings Ave Chatter in our sample), cut the following:
    TWO 12" wide x 16" high rectangles for the lining panels
    ONE 8" wide x 13" high rectangle for the lining pocket
  6. From the foam interfacing, cut TWO 11" x 14¾" rectangles.
  7. Download and print the Rounded Corner Template.
    IMPORTANT: The template download consists of ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print this PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
  8. Cut out the template along the solid line.
  9. Using the Corner Template, round the two bottom corners of both exterior panels, both lining panels, and both foam panels. 

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Lining and lining pocket

  1. Find the 8" x 13" lining pocket rectangle. Fold it in half, right sides together, so it is now 8" x 6½". Press to set a center crease. 
  2. Unfold right side up so the crease line is visible. 
  3. Find the 8" length of ⅞" Ivory on Gray Nesting Blooms ribbon. Place it across the pocket with the upper edge of the ribbon against the crease. Pin in place.
    NOTE: We pinned and edgestitched our ribbons throughout, using either our standard presser foot or a Satin Stitch foot. A Clear View Quilting Foot and Guide Set would be another option for precise stitching. If you feel pinning is too cumbersome, you could also adhere the ribbons in place with fusible seam tape.
  4. Edgestitch the ribbon in place along both sides. 

    NOTE: It is very important to the finished look of the bag that all your stitching runs as close to the edges of the ribbons as possible and that your thread is a close color match so the seams become nearly invisible. Thread the machine with thread to best match the ribbon or use our choice, Invisible Thread in Clear.
  5. Fold the pocket in half again, right sides together. Pin along all three sides, leaving an approximate 2" opening along the bottom for turning.
  6. Re-thread the machine with regular thread to match the lining fabric in the top and bobbin. 
  7. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around all sides, pivoting at the corners. Lock your seam on either side of the 2" opening. Clip the corners and press open the seam allowance. 
  8. Turn the pocket right side out. Push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. 
  9. Fold in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam. Press well.
  10. Place one lining panel right side up and flat on your work surface. 
  11. Pin one pocket in place right side up on the right side of the lining panel. The pocket should be centered side-to-side (3½" from each raw side edge) and 4" down from the top raw edge of the panel. Pin the pocket in place along both sides and across the bottom
  12. Edgestitch the pocket in place along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners and slowing down to carefully stitch across the thicker ribbon layer at each top corner. This edgestitching closes the opening used for turning.
  13. Place the two lining pieces right sides together, sandwiching the pocket between the layers. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom. 
  14. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom. Go slowly around the bottom corners to maintain a nice curve. Press the seam allowance and clip the curves.
  15. Press down the top raw edge of the lining ½" all around. 
  16. Leave the lining wrong side out and set aside.

Stitch exterior ribbons and assemble front to back

  1. Collect all the 12" lengths of ribbon. Referring to our pictures above, arrange the lengths in order. The front and back of the bag are identical. 
  2. Starting with the bottom and working your way up, place the first ribbon (⅞" Aqua & Gold Bee Sweet Brocade). The bottom edge of the ribbon should sit 2½" up from the bottom raw edge of the fabric. Take the time to insure the ribbon is perfectly straight and parallel with the bottom of the fabric. Pin or fuse in place.
  3. Re-thread with thread to best match each ribbon as you stitch or with invisible thread.
  4. Edgestitch in place along both sides of the ribbon.
  5. Continue adding ribbons in order. There should be ¼" of space between all the ribbons. 
  6. It is best to pin and stitch the ribbons one at a time rather than pinning all and then stitching all. By working with one at a time, you are better able to keep each ribbon flat because the fabric to one side is flat and the fabric/ribbons to the other side are sewn in place and so also flat.
  7. Continue until all the ribbons are in place on both the front and back panels, EXCEPT... on the last ribbon (on both the front and back), DO NOT stitch the final top edge. Leave the top edge free on this last ribbon.
  8. Find the foam interfacing panels. Center one foam panel against the wrong side of each exterior panel. There should be ½" of exterior fabric extending beyond the foam along both sides and across the bottom, and ¾" extending beyond the foam across the top. Place just a few pins or clips to hold the layers together and flip to the right side. 
  9. Edgestitch the final free edge of each top ribbon. We switched to our Walking foot to stitch across the thicker layers with a super straight seam. 

    NOTE: This stitching line on both exterior panels holds the foam interfacing in place throughout the remainder of the construction. This interfacing is not a fusible, and we purposefully cut it smaller than the exterior and lining panels to keep its bulk out of the seam.
  10. Place the front and back panels right sides together being very careful to perfectly align the ribbons along both sides. 
  11. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the exterior fabric in the top and bobbin. 
  12. Pin or clip the panels in place, and using a ½" seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom. Again, we are using a Walking foot. Your seam line should run right along, but not on, the foam interfacing. 
  13. Clip the corner curves. Trim the rest of the seam allowances to ¼".
  14. Turn the exterior bag right side out and finger press the top raw edge ½" so it covers the top raw edge of the foam interfacing. Clip or lightly pin the fold in place. 
  15. Press flat, using a pressing cloth.
  16. Set the exterior bag aside. 

Handles

  1. Find the two 2½" x 25" strips.
  2. Press back each 25" raw edge ½". Use a pressing cloth against the faux leather. You can see in our photo that we simply used a scrap of lining fabric for our pressing cloth.
  3. Fold each strip in half, wrong sides together, so the long folded edges align. The ends are raw. Press flat.
  4. Pin or clip in place. As mentioned above, pins are certainly an option for this project and we used them. However, Wonder Clips are also a great option when working with faux leather. 
  5. Increase the stitch length. Topstitch along the folded edge. We are still using our Walking foot
  6. Find the exterior bag. Its top edge should be folded down over the foam interfacing. 
  7. Measure 2" in from each side seam and place a marking pin or clip. Do this on both the front and back of the bag. 
  8. Place the outer edge (the seamed edge) of the handle loop at these points. 
  9. The raw ends of the handle should extend down into the bag approximately 1". Make sure there are no twists in either handle loop. Pin or clip in place.
  10. Find the lining. It should be wrong side out. Slip the lining inside the exterior bag so the two layers are wrong sides together. Align the bottom and side seams. The top folded edge of the lining should sit just barely below the top folded edge of the exterior bag. Adjust one or both folds as necessary. Pin or clip the lining to the exterior.

Topstitch and apply rivets

  1. The machine should still be threaded with the thread to best match the exterior fabric in the top. Re-thread to add thread to best match the lining in the bobbin. 
  2. Keep the stitch lengthened. 
  3. Starting at a side seam and using a ¼" seam allowance, topstitch all around the bag's top opening, securing the lining to the exterior and securing the handles. 
    NOTE: This step is MUCH easier with a Walking foot. If you don't have this foot, you may need a Teflon® type foot or to insert a sheet of parchment or wax paper under the foot to keep the presser foot moving smoothly across the faux leather. 
  4. Mark the placement for the pair of rivets that holds the end of each handle in place. The top rivet should sit just below the topstitching and the two rivet center points are ½" apart, which means there's only about ⅛" of space between the finished rivets.
  5. We recommend using a leather hole punch to get clean holes for the rivets.
  6. Insert the bottom of the rivet from the back... 
  7. ... so it comes out through the mark on the front.
  8. Set the top.
  9. If you are new to inserting metal rivets, we have a great step-by-step rivets tutorial.

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas 
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild

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