Wednesday, 24 January 2018

A Clasp Purse

I still, after 20+ years, get confused about what to call things. I alternate between calling my 'handbag' (what seems a rather old-fashioned-what-the-Queen-carries term), my bag and my purse. I lean towards the latter most of the time. However, according to Bill, my purse properly refers to the thing which holds my money. Since I use an item made of wool that belonged to Bill's mother, I can't use the word I always did in the States, when I carried a 'billfold', with compartments for credit cards and a check (cheque - another term whose spelling I haven't absorbed). It's not really a big deal, though on the odd occasion when I ask Bill to fetch my purse and I get a mini-lecture. 

A-n-y-h-o-w, our craft group made one of these clasp purses (sometimes it is called a 'kissing' clasp; looks closer to a hug to me, but never mind) and I'm inordinately pleased with mine. I don't very often join in with their projects, as I prefer to make practical items rather than stuff to hang on the wall. I don't consider myself particularly artistic in the way that many of those ladies are, though several will tell you they don't have original ideas, the only copy; I can identify with this. My main area of creativity seems to be frugality, where I solve 'problems' by using materials in fairly peculiar ways. However, this project is refreshingly normal.

The clasps are available on Ebay I'm told. The lady leading this project had bought some and we purchased them from her. I used the first piece of elegant upholstery-weight fabric I came across, paired with some crepe fabric that looked suitable as a sturdy lining.

We were given a pattern based on the clasps provided, but the advice for using a differently shaped clasp was to trace the top of the clasp, draw a line at a 45 degree angle from the corner (which looks like a shoulder to me) down until it is even with the hinge. The shape below the clasp can be anything you like. One lady incorporated a gorgeous pineapple pattern in her brocade, making a long oblong shape. These clasps were rather larger than the one on Ella's wool purse, big enough for me to easily get my hand all the way through. These clasps come with two small loops for attaching a strap if you wish.

We cut two patterns for each of the outside and lining fabric (a front and a back) and stitched them right sides together leaving several inches open at what would be the bottom of the bag, on order to turn them. Some of us made boxed corners before turning our bags right side out through the gap we left. Pressing at every stage is important.

The fiddly bit is of course attaching the clasp. We were told we could use large fold back clips or baste the cloth in place. I did the latter. The metal has a u-shaped gap and with the fabric lined up with the shape of the clasp I shoved it into the gap and used sturdy thread to sew through the fabric and around the top of the clasp all the way around on both sides. 

Then we used three strands of embroidery thread to back stitch through each hole, taking care to keep stitches as hidden as possible. I had thought a curved needle would be easier but it proved rather unwieldy. That is until I came to finishing off a length of thread when I wanted to just loop the thread a couple of times under the clasp. A straight needle goes through just fine but it was hard to get it to come out of the U-shape to pull it through. Switching to the curved needle at that point did seem easier. 

It does take a bit of time to all this, but it's not terribly difficult. I can see me making several of these for gifts and it seems a great way to use some of my more luxurious fabrics.

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