custom handmade faux leather bag

I know I say I’ll sew anything if it fits under my presser foot, but I’ll admit I was a little anxious when my friend asked me to make a zippered messenger bag out of faux leather. It was soft and thick and had a woven polyester backing. I decided to make small zipper pouch first to test it out. Here’s what I learned:

  • Folded faux leather creases and you can’t iron it. You can try using a press cloth, but it will warp.
  • Faux leather sews up nicely. I used a heavy duty needle that went through it like butter.
  • Corners are kind of tricky, especially the zipper corners. It was hard to get them square.
  • If you need to pin your pieces, do so in the seam allowance or you’ll have holes in your finished bag. Same goes for ripping seams. You’ll need to stitch exactly over the little holes to hide them.

The first thing I did was unfold the fabric and roll it up. When it was time for me to sew, most of the creases had disappeared.

Next I adjusted my usual messenger bag pattern to avoid some of the corner trickery. Instead of lining up the strap with the side seam, I moved it over about an inch on each side and sandwiched it between the outside fabric and the zipper.

custom handmade faux leather bag

The zipper was also a challenge. Usually I just sew right over zippers, but this one was too thick. I covered the ends with some extra fabric, so when I went turned my corners right side out, they weren’t bulky.

Mostly importantly, I went slow and used paper clips to hold my pieces together. I did have to rip in two places, but managed to stitch over the little holes. I’m really pleased with how this sewed up. It was a cumbersome project to get through my presser foot, but the finished result looked fabulous. I especially love the top stitching detail.

custom handmade faux leather bag

review: This project has got me thinking about faux leather in general. I know that animal rights organizations prefer it, but what about our earth? Here’s what I’ve found so far:

Polyurethane is much more environmentally friendly in both production and after-care. PVC contains chloride and does not biodegrade. In landfills, it leaches toxic additives and when incinerated, it emits carcinogenic dioxin. Leather production is a chemical-laden process that uses heavy metals. Polyurethane is biodegradable and is designed to deteriorate after usage.

Read more at Brentano Fabrics

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6 Responses to adventures in sewing with faux leather

  1. Carrie says:

    I’m very grateful that you were willing and able to make something so wonderful. Your work is very high quality and I recommend you to everyone who comments on my bag. Thanks, Julie!

  2. Lisa says:

    It’s official, you need to teach me how to use that stuff. Too cute!

  3. Julia Moya says:

    Love the bag!!! so adorable!

  4. […] friend Cathy loves bags, loves fabric and loves cats. When she saw my faux leather bag, she wanted the same thing, only bigger and with two handles. She’s going to use this to […]

  5. […] thinking this fabric looks familiar, you’re right! I had some bits left over from this bag. It’s the perfect project for those who can’t part with their […]

  6. psearsy says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your expertice. I had a piece of embossed faux leather that I’ve wanted to sew that’s been in my stash of fabrics for several years. Using your instructions I made an a-line skirt that I’m anxious to wear. Thanks again, me.