This story begins well over a year ago, when I planned my original flower purses.
Along with the acorn, auricula and pink rose versions, I had intended a red rose one. Quite simply, I cut the parts for the red rose brooches, but hadn’t anticipated how long the actual bags would take and quite frankly, as per my last post, I ran out of steam and never made up the red ones. I had also bought some clip frames to have a play around with, thinking these might be an alternative to the zips, so I decided to save the roses for these.
I found this photo on February of last year. By now I am sewing up the roses….and here they stayed until last week. As I have mentioned, I am supposed to be finishing open projects, I have many on the go, but when sitting at my desk (for the first time in months) I just felt like doing something new and I remembered the clip frames.
As with most projects, pulling fabrics out and laying them together was the first part of the process. I take photos as a reminder (not just for the blog) and so I can easily reference how fabrics looked together in the future (sometimes I revisit colour and texture combinations at another time of year, as they simply don’t fit my mood when first put together). I already had an image on my head of how I’d like to make these bags, and I knew this involved two tweeds (to mimic the acorn purses above, as it’s a detail I really liked). The red tweed and even the lining fabric (Flea Market Fancy – Posie by Denise Schmidt) had been bought with this project in mind, again, last year; and the lovely dog-tooth tweed was bought for my 1940’s suit, only it’s too thick, but no bother, it’s the perfect weight for purses.
Next, I read loads of tutorials on the best way to draft a pattern for a clip frame – I found this one to be the most helpful – and I made a toile to see if it fit as I’d imagined.
I took time to decide where I wanted the join in the fabric to be, I was conscious it would affect the fold at the side of the purse if in the wrong position, and whilst doing so changed my mind about which fabric should be on top! (the dog-tooth check won).
At this point, I was confident enough to make up a final version, with all the correct interlinings etc. I always worry at this stage that the linings make the purse feel quite heavy, as I use lots of layers, including iron-on and a heavy sew-in Vilene, but I should trust my instinct as the final purse is prefect and holds it shape really well.
I then had a looooooong head debate about whether an inside pocket was necessary or not. The first clip-frame version doesn’t have one (I checked and hardly any do on Etsy), BUT, I have a thing about having somewhere to keep my credit card, where is wont get knocked against keys etc. The thing is, I’m not mad keen on the sewn in square kind of pocket I used in the first purses I made, it’s actually quite difficult to do it super neatly and lined up, so I did a nifty folded kind of thing (the pattern above is supposed to match up exactly and look really tidy, which I nearly managed) the down side of this means, depending on the pattern repeat, this could use up lots of extra fabric; then it’s stitched behind on either side to form a neat, little credit card space.
After then layering the bags together and stitching (and LOTS of ironing), comes to messy bit. Glue. Glue on my fingers, glue on the table, glue on my embroidery scissors (used to push the fabric into the groove). I am quite a tidy worker, but I think I just felt I needed to use a lot, as I panic when relaying on glue, I distrust it. I have this horrid image of the purse falling apart, so I really went for it, to make sure there was no chance of disintegration down the line. Again, I read lots of advice and opted for Gutterman HT2, and putting glue on both the inside of the frame and a bit along the purse edge. My top tip, is to stay stitch both long edges along the top (one you do naturally, to close where you have turned the purse and lining through) as this stops the fabric rolling, when you’re pushing it into the frame. I manage to keep glue off the fabric, only getting the odd bit on the frame, which I rubbed off with some acetate I once bought for removing gel nail polish (which I’d picked off by the time it arrived in the post, annoyingly), I knew it’d come in handy one day 😉
I love them. I really do. I think it’s the slightly oversized bobbles on the frame itself and, obviously, the tweed. I’ve put one aside for myself as I’d already nabbed a rose brooch to wear for a wedding last year.
So, now the really, really horrid bit, pricing.
There is no question that there is less work involved in these than the zip, pleat, handle versions from last year, but I did still put a lot of time into each one, and most importantly the frames are expensive, the little pile in the above photos cost £48!! When I totted up the materials, this is how it was starting to look: frame £7.50, tweed, lining & interlining £6, then there’s the glue (quite expensive and one tube did about 4 purses for me) and thread, so about £15 per purse for the materials alone. Then the rose, which I would sell at a minimum £13 (as it’s a large cluster). So we are at £28 already and this includes nothing for my time or skills.
Having looked about a lot on Etsy, the range in pricing for this kind of thing is huge, from the art end, to the ones from people sewing for fun (and I’m not complaining here, just saying it how it is) who only cover the frame cost plus a bit. I feel bad if I price my work high, but I have to make a profit or it’s all a bit pointless, sometimes I think it would be easier to sew one-of-a kind, high-end, art designs and pitch them much higher, but I actually enjoy the mini factory line and have already put myself into the market space where I am, too late to change now, unless I took on a second shop, under a new name with a completely different style (it’s an idea, actually).
Anyhow, I’ve gone for £35. Hardly any profit, but you win some and all that, and it shows how important it is to write down every bit of the materials, for instance, I wouldn’t have realised the glue cost so much. I wonder how much I made on the original purses? I wasn’t so careful with my sums then and just opted for £30 (which the remaining ones, just listed today, are still on at), I imagine there might even have been a loss.
It raises some questions though. Would you prefer to be able to buy the purse alone, and then you could buy a flower brooch separately, if you wanted to? (which would bring the price right down). In my mind these larger purses are not complete without the brooch, it’s part of the design, but perhaps I’m wrong?; there are many being sold in single coloured tweed (ie not even with the two-tone) on Etsy for a lot more money and clearly they sell. I do plan some smaller coin versions, just to fulfill my clip fame love.
If you’re still with me, thanks, that was a long one with much rambling 🙂 hope the photos partly made up for it. Next time – a giveaway – hurrah!
FYI, they are listed here and the original version with no pocket is at a reduced price.