Vintage tea towels are easy to thrift, mega cheap and full of ace graphics and lovely colourways. The great part about using them as a fabric to make a new object is that most old tea towels are completely unused as folk in the olden days would buy them as souvenirs and pop them in a drawer as a memory keepsake. But really, how many tea towels do I actually need in my life? So I set out to find more useful things I could make ’em into. After setting aside two amazing Babycham versions which I’m going to frame and put on my kitchen wall I figured I didn’t mind cutting up and crafting with the rest. I spied the Metal Snap Purse Workshop on The Make Lounge website and instantly booked my slot…
Down a pretty street in Islington is The Make Lounge shop and studio. As I stepped inside a group of gals were already selecting fabrics to make their purse from and helping themselves to vino and snacks. At first I was a bit miffed there was only white wine on offer, but as our teacher Laurel pointed out if we spill red wine over our projects it’s a messy and unforgiving affair. Of course!
One by one the gals bring forth their selected fabric to be cut from the roll. I in the meantime leaf through my 10 tea towels to decide which one to use…
I take the pattern piece provided and run it over my towels to see which one works the best. I select an adorable Irish linen version with pretty art deco styling and illustrations of frolicking children. The individual scenes fit the size of the template perfectly. Aces.
We’re then all seated around a long table and the workshop begins. I liked having an instruction sheet to work from and a professional on hand steering us through how to do stuff with an abundance of top tips. From one pattern piece we cut 2 outer fabrics, 2 lining fabrics and 2 of the felt. The felt is the magical part which gives the purse structure – especially when using a thin fabric like tea towels.
We then choose a fancy computerised sewing machine and matching threads to start stitching everything together. I’m not sure I’ll be able to go back to my rickety old sewing machine after using one of those smoothies…
All the pieces are sandwiched together, stitched and the seams are trimmed. Then for the abracadabra moment of turning out the fabric to discover in just a little over an hour you’re well on your way to making a purse! A little squeal did pop out.
A hop ‘n’ a skip over to the ironing board to press down the fabrics. I’ve never been so happy to iron something before.
The final stage involved gluing the top and side fabric edges into the metal snap frame. This was probably the trickiest and messiest part of the process. Although a top tip put our minds at ease that if the glue lands somewhere it shouldn’t just let it dry and then it will either peel off or can be removed with nail polish remover. Ah-hah. The screwdriver helped to push the edges of the fabric fully into the frame using an action described by our eloquent teacher as “some serious shovage”.
The purse needed to rest for 15 minutes or so to let the glue take effect. During this time I got to know my workshop comrades a little better. I found most were Make Lounge regulars – one girl called herself “addicted”. I pictured the self help group “Hello. My name is Leona and I’m a craft-a-holic”. Most folks were in agreement that the workshops were a great way to quickly and effectively learn a new skill and feel a sense of achievement as well as getting away from the computer screen! I couldn’t agree more.
I have to say everyone’s purses looked absolutely stunning and it was soooo quick and easy! As a craft beginner I was bowled over by how professional my purse looked. The clever part about making a snap frame purse is all the sewing bits are hidden on the inside and then under the snap frame. So even if it’s not absolutely perfect it’s all squirreled away from peeking eyes.
I felt all the gals in the room were just as pleased as me with their purses and there was a rush back to the shop to buy more fabrics to make more purses to give away as gifts to friends. Then the lovely Chloe popped in from the cupcake decorating workshop next door with a platter of freshly baked goods. What a wonderful way to end a workshop!