Finally! I just finished my “new to me” briefcase for BlogHer Food. This year’s conference is in Seattle and I’m excited to be attending as well as a speaker. This briefcase turned out quite nicely considering how it began – as an estate sale find that was $1.50 and destined for the garbage heap if I hadn’t saved it. Even though it sat on my sewing table for a while, patiently waiting its turn in the do-it-yourself, re-do-it, tear-it-apart and fancy-it-up pile, it’s done now and I’m quite pleased with how it turned out.
Finished Briefcase for BlogHer Food
It has all new leather straps. I wasn’t planning to replace these but I had to replace one and that made the others look bad, so off they went. I cut the leather with a utility knife and then used a regular old finger nail file to round off the edges.
I don’t have a leather punch but used these simple tools instead to punch holes in the leather. If you don’t have an awl (pictured below), you can use a nail instead.
The top holes have new leather rivets.
These were installed with a hammer and this thick nail set.
The rivets seem sturdier than these little brackets that were holding the strap together previously.
After using the old plastic lining as a pattern for sewing the new lining, I placed it inside the briefcase. Notice how all of the seams are on the outside in the below picture? Once the lining is in place, you won’t see any of the seams.
Got it into the right spot…..
and carefully hand stitched around the top with doubled-up thread.
I attached some of the stitching around the sturdier spots on the briefcase. If it comes undone, I can always re-sew these.
It’s lined with oil cloth fabric that can be easily sewn on a standard sewing machine.
You can’t use pins when working with oil cloth. It leaves little holes that don’t disappear. The zipper pocket was a hassle to sew but I like having a little secret pocket for my checkbook or wallet. I sewed the pocket section first and then added the fabric to the sides.
Use cellophane tape to keep the oil cloth fabric where it needs to go rather than pinning it with regular sewing pins. And, yes, I added a little key holder, just like on the handbag I re-did.
The Velcro straps on the water bottle holder are adjustable.
I sewed the Velcro onto the straps and then sewed the straps into the seam.
And, since the water bottle holder is adjustable, I can easily use this briefcase for an impromptu picnic basket and place a bottle of wine in my briefcase instead. For those of you who know me, no, the box wine I usually drink would not fit in here and, yes, it is a miracle that there was an actual bottle, bottle of wine at our house!
So, the next time you see a sad little handbag or purse at a thrift store or an estate sale, just think about rescuing it from the garbage heap and transforming it into your very own new briefcase or picnic basket.
Now, I’m off to speak at BlogHer Food. Come say hello if you’re going. You’ll recognize me – I’ll be the one carrying this briefcase!
Go Gingham related links:
Estate sale finds: vintage wrapping paper
A winter cape: sewn from2 second-hand prom dresses
Pretty wine charms: made from estate sale treasures
How to take apart a skirt - similar to taking apart the lining for this handbag
Re-purposed bags: cover an unattractive logo with a pocket
Free stuff: tips for accumulating found treasures
A BlogHer event I hosted in my backyard
Light lanterns for garden – from the “Goodwill Bins”
The claw for the claw foot tub that got traded – even better than buying!
Our library book return basket is also second-hand
Hello handbag – a very stylishly frugal purse bought at an estate sale
The new briefcase before pictures