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The 241 Tote in Recycled Fur, Corduroy, and Denim

A friend of mine had a friend who had inherited her mother's mink coat, and had it cut down into a gilet by a furrier.  They gave her the leftover scraps, and she wondered if I could use them to make her a bag.  I said I probably could.  A week or so later I received the bag of fur pieces. There was just one large piece from a sleeve, the rest were small strips and pieces. 

When asked she said she would prefer a slouchy bag. I spent some time googling fur bags in general, then a lot of time looking at my pattern collection.  Nothing was quite right, and in the end I decided I wanted to try Noodlehead's 241 Tote for this.  I liked the shape, and it looked like I would be able to use the large fur piece for the front panel, so I bought the pdf pattern.

In fact it was pretty close, but I did have just enough to make the front panel!  I chose to make the side pockets version as I had no intention of cutting into the fur for the zipped pocket version! I used an old trick from my youth and used selotape to fix the pattern pieces to the hide. It gives a very accurate cut and strengthens the pattern pieces.  

I snipped carefully with my Gingher scissors, sliding them along to cut the fur at the base, not through the fur. I clipped the seams together with my Clover Wonder Clips so I didn't make holes in the hide.  I used a leather needle to sew the seams, and I poked the fur down inside the seam allowance as I went along using the square end of my sewing gauge. 

I chose some recycled striped corduroy and pale denim from my recycling stash to use for the side panels and pockets.  For added interest I quilted the denim.  I had to piece the strap together to get it long enough, and added several rows of top-stitching.  It's not fixed in place here, I was just trying it out.

For the back I recycled some plain brown corduroy, and decided I could add the zipped pockets there, just to give more storage options.  It seemed a good idea not to use brown zippers that would disappear into darkness, but choose a couple of colours from the striped corduroy instead. A bit easier to see, and maybe easier to remember which pocket you put your keys in! I think I like the effect?

I carried on and finished the bag as per the instructions.  For some reason the pockets look uneven in this picture, but they are not.  This displays the fur well, with that darker stripe down the middle, but I am not sure about the strap, it's too stiff, not slouchy enough, and it doesn't appear to be the same colour as the quilted pieces even though it was from the same pair of jeans!

Here's the lining.  I used a quilting weight cotton from my local patchwork shop, a batik from Anthology (#5126) as the colours were perfect.  I had to buy new, as nothing I had in my stash was quite right - you know that feeling right?  I added a zipped pocket to go inside the front, and a slip pocket as per the instructions against the back.  However, I really wasn't happy with the strap, even more so when it seemed to be in the way when I tried to open it up to take this picture.  So I unpicked the seam and took it off!

I had a re-think and decided to add some hardware.  I would use O rings to attach the strap.  I would need a couple of tabs to fit them so I took a look at ones I had made for other bags.  I picked the ones from ChrisWDesigns "City Slicker Advanced" as they were rounded, like the bag.  I used more of the pale denim and quilted it to match the pockets, then slipped a couple of rings on.  I had to unpick the top-stitching round the top edge of the bag, turn it wrong side out and stitch up the gaps made by removing the strap.  Then I turned it right side out again, stitched up the gap in the lining and top stitched around the top to seal it all in.  Again.

Now I could attach the tabs and rings.  I like that the weight of the rings helps hold the bag open.  As for that strap, I unpicked all that top-stitching, removed the fusible interfacing and sewed it up again, this time just 1" wide but I still didn't like it.  I scrapped it and made a totally new strap from the plain brown corduroy, this time 1 1/4" wide, and without interfacing.  I only top-stitched around the edges and I liked that much better, so I fitted it to the O rings.  Now it can slide round the ring and be out of the way when you want to get inside.

Yes, by Jove, I've got it!   This is just the look I was aiming for, slouchy but with style, curvy and soft, full of interesting shapes and contrasts.  

It just needed the finishing  touch - rivets on the strap and the tabs - to make sure everything was secure.  The City Slicker uses one, but I went for two here.  You can see the strap came out well.

241 Tote ( in recycled fur, corduroy and denim

.......and I still have all the other scraps and pieces to play with!

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