New designs and works in progress

Posted by Red Ruby Rose Thursday, October 24, 2013

I've been working on some new designs, including leather and some new original silk designs. First up, box clutches, which took a bit of experimenting to perfect and take several fiddly stages to complete.

This dusky pink leather is a gorgeous colour. The thickness of the leather is critical with this style - too thin and the hide can tear when it is hand-stretched over the shell, too thick and there's just not enough clearance for the shell to slot into the frame. This particular leather was just on the cusp of being too thick and did feel a little like wrestling an octopus into a string bag at the final stage but I'm so happy with the final result. Because leather is so naturally pliable and flexible it's lovely to get the curves around the shell without any chunky creases or folds.

Note the side gussets - it would be simpler not to include them from a construction perspective but with this style it would be easy for the bag contents to spill out when opened so this stops any unwanted fallout! The lining is a cotton fabric inspired by an English block-print from 1797, reprinted by the V&A museum from their collections.

Next up, a new frame style consisting of two separate pieces joined by a simple drop down clasp.

This style bridges the gap between a wallet and clutch, As a wallet it is slim enough to slip into a larger bag, with three internal pockets for cards, cash and documents. As a stand alone bag it can fit a smart phone and is substantial enough to be a clutch.

Considering the simplicity of the style it still takes me quite a while to make, because of the separate components involved and also because it's a new process for me.

Moving onto work in progress, one process I'm still trying to fathom and master is printing onto leather. Back at college I silkscreened single colours onto leather and suede which can be very effective but these days I want to create full colour photographic images. It's a dark art - those who have cracked it are very secretive about their methods and it's a minefield of blind alleys; heat transfer, dye sublimation or direct print, and then the process of treating the leather itself so it accepts the print and then holds onto it. Also, with leather being such a variable natural substrate it's not as straightforward or reliable as cotton and silk.

A couple of years ago I outsourced my leather printing to a company in the USA and the results were beautiful but the high cost of print and shipping made it commercially unviable, so I continue in my quest to produce something myself. This butterfly clutch is the closest I've got so far:

Experimental full colour print onto leather

I created this using the best heat transfer paper I could find, transferring the image with a heat press onto nappa leather. On first glance it looks great but it just isn't durable enough to take the rough and tumble of life as a clutch bag. The inherent downside of using a transfer is that it sits as a film coating on the surface of the leather so not only do you lose a little of the natural handle of the hide but you have the potential for peeling. It didn't take a lot of scratching and picking for the film to start lifting.

So, I'll carry on searching. Next step, finding a desktop printer with a flat feed so I can print the leather directly through the printer and then treat the surface to protect it.

Finally in this design round up, some new silk designs. Thankfully for these designs I don't have to worry about the printing process as outsource to a wonderful fabric printing company who reliably produce rich and vibrant prints for me. This collection was inspired by flocks of birds, Victorian stained glass and the linear pattern of telegraph wires.

1 Responses to New designs and works in progress

  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. Hii Rowena .... I m a reader of ur blog its amazing ... I have a request for u .... can u kindly show me how did u made and install side gusset in this particular box clutch