I wanted to try my hand at a fully woven bag, a la Bottega Veneta, wherein even around the edges the weave is continuous without sewing. Unlike Bottega Veneta, a lot of other brands are actually able to order the leather pre-woven in large sheets, and there are even leathers with a ‘fake weave’ wherein the weave design is stamped or mimicked.
Learning the hard version of things was, of course, the way I chose to go. I made a small paper test version on an old box of tea, and after trying this and that, decided on a diagonal weave, which is more difficult (I think) to do but is more efficient in its usage of the leather.
You have no idea how long it took to manually cut all these 1-cm strips :((
I cut up one whole piece of thin vegetable tanned leather (less than 1mm thick I think), but I didn’t use it all up because of the size of the box/ model I ended up using, which was smaller than the bag I had initially planned on making. I used the largest boxes I could find around the apartment, which were two boxes of Swiffer refills packed together.
The tricky edges
And plenty of masking tape to hold things together as I weave
One of the hardest parts of doing this is maintaining the tightness of the weave all throughout. I had to keep adjusting and pulling the strips tighter (my clothespins weren’t the best tools for this, but I was making do) in order to keep the spacing even and the shape right.
You can see the green Swiffer boxes underneath :))
Pretty happy with how it’s turning out, although it’s not as tightly woven as I would like it to be. I couldn’t tighten it much more, though, because when I tried to do so, I broke one of the strips and that kind of messed up my long-weave plans for this bag.
After this point, I was a bit stuck as to what to do next, like how to end it when the edges were all uneven.
I decided to stitch closed each strip just to hold everything in place without the use of the clips
I didn’t trim too much off the excess thread because this part would likely be covered up anyway
Normally this would be done before the weaving starts, but I figured I could still do it with a makeshift dye bath. Spot the gloves and tray from the 99 cent store :))
After I dyed the base black, I attached a strip of natural-coloured vegetable tanned leather to make up the rest of the bag’s body. Because the woven bag didn’t have even edges, I was glad to find that I could use the uncut edges of the leather to match the uneven lines of the woven part and make it look like design. This way, as opposed to a straight edge, less of the woven bag is wasted/ hidden.
After holding the two parts in place with some glue, I stitched them together with a wide running stitch that doubled as a decorative stitch. I decided to use wider stitches because I figured that small stitches would likely poke too many holes into the weave and decrease its integrity/ strength, especially because this was a thinner leather.
The seam is also the natural uncut edge of the leather, adding another design element to the bag.
The two parts attached.
I did a simple rectangular lining out of thin black calfskin and attached it to the interior of the bag
After sewing it together using the same running stitch, I worked on adding handles with 2mm-thick strips of vegetable tanned leather.
The completed IntrecciaTote
Some cool detail shots where you can really see the grain of the leather:
And here’s the bag on an impromptu shoot at the Bardini Gardens in Florence 🙂
My favourite thing about vegetable tanned leather is how beautifully it ages–here’s a look at the leather on this tote after more than a year of use:
Mind you, this was with rough-to-moderate use, so it has gotten rained on, tossed around, bathed in extreme sunlight, whathaveyou–I love the character it has gotten over the past year or so that I’ve been using it, and it’s only going to get cooler and richer the longer it ages and the more it gets used! ❤