I received this email from a lovely customer back in January:

“My mother passed away from cancer about 20 years ago and I have been carrying around her old suede coat w/Mink collar since then.  I guess I felt so connected to the coat because my mom would fold it up and I would sleep on it during church.  J   She wore it all the time, but it is not my style/size so it has just been hanging in my closet.
Anyway, I’m tired of just seeing in hanging in the closet and I think it would be nice to have something that I can carry with me….E.g., messenger bag, lapop/ipad cover etc.”

And so began a process of discerning what would work. She sent me the coat, with the collar removed. As usual, I stared at it for quite a while, hanging on the door of my studio. But I also began the process of deciding what totes she would like me to create. One would be for her daughter and she wanted a messenger style bag. The other, for her.

I used two commercial patterns which I will review this week in a separate post.

I had never worked with suede before.  The coat was in great condition. It is always difficult to know where to make the first cut. I wanted to create as large of an area as possible to work with. I stayed away from most of the edges as they had a little wear and/or discoloration.  I also preserved the lining so I could use it if possible.  The seam in the flap of this bag was a seam that was in the coat. So I tried to center any details that I cut off of the coat.

Sometimes, due to seams in my pieces, sewing was a little challenging. So it is important to think about that as you cut.  But overall, working with the suede was lovely!

I used the coat lining in the hipster bag.

The back of the hipster bag is plain. But I found this section of the coat in which the pocket opening was vertical. I rotated the piece so that the pocket could be used for a cell phone. I love the thought that my customer’s mother’s hands would have been in this pocket.

This project started with such a beautiful memory. I can just picture a young girl falling asleep on her mother’s coat in church. I am honored to create these new items from that special coat. Check back this week for more details on the specific patterns I used.