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
28 thoughts on “Finished Briefcase for BlogHer Food”
Great rehab – it looks beautiful. I have to admit, I get lazy with things like that – I buy them, seeing the possibilities, then never get around to actually remaking them. Great work.
Heidi, don’t feel bad – I had to let go of 13 chairs recently that never got re-done because I couldn’t do it all! Also, I’m out of room in my house! Thank you for the nice compliment.
I have an affinity for baskets and woven bags – and I love your briefcase! If I were going to BlogHer, I’d be keeping my eyes open for both of you, lol.
Thanks, Cynthia! I’ll be testing the limits of the strength of those new straps for sure this week. I’m planning to pass out lots of business cards 🙂 I love woven bags and baskets, too. Chairs and pillows are other items I have a hard time passing up. It’s my entertainment and lovely – altogether!
It turned out great!! Have fun at Blogher food.
Thanks, Petra! We’ll need to chat when I get back about some fabric ideas. More projects means picking out more fabric ~ which we love!!
Yes that’s my favorite thing!!
As usual the bag is beautiful, Sara! I always admire your handiwork and aspire to be you one day!
Oh, Darcy, you are so sweet!! Thank you. You can do this easily but use tape and not sewing pins 🙂
This is wonderful! Like Heidi, my project eyes are often bigger than my “get it done” tummy–but this is inspirational. Pinning it just in case the perfect bag comes along!
Thank you, Rita. I see lots of bags like this around and many are in need of minor fixes only. Just keep your seam ripper handy!!
It looks gorgeous! So creative!!
Thank you, dear Minnie! I can’t wait to use it – I just filled it with business cards to pass out this weekend. It holds lots of business cards, too!
Good luck ! Everyone is going to be impressed :))
I love the briefcase! Where do you find a good deal on oilcloth and the leather straps? I love reading your blog every day! You have great tips!
Thanks, Ruthie! The fabric is from Fabric Depot and the leather straps are from Oregon Leather. Both are great local resources if you live in Portland – and they both have websites, too.
Be sure to tuck a “before” photo into the briefcase, just in case you could work it into your “elevator speech”.
P.S. Since we’ve come to know her, I think your briefcase needs a name . . . like Belinda or Beatrice or . . .
Good idea, Michelle! She does need a name…I’ll have to time to think about one on the train ride later this AM 🙂 Thank you!
Envious of your obvious talent is all I have to say. 🙂
Oh, Kerry, thank you! There’s a lot of ripping out of seams, too.
You have some mad skills. It looks wonderful!
Thanks, Julie! Can’t wait to use this thing both with wine bottle in it and without!
This is an AWESOME post! You did such a nice job and the photography is really good. I am so impressed that you had time to do this project – as you are getting ready for all of your events! It looks top notch! Great job!
Annie, I’ve been working on this for a bit – I just needed something to kick start me into finishing it! It was a hit at the conference! Thank you.
I really love the concept of woven bag as a briefcase for the said event. It is an eye catcher bag indeed, pretty lovely.
Thank you, Natalie! I must say it was the belle of the ball and everyone wanted to take a peek inside the bag in Seattle at the conference. It worked out quite well and it’s now my favorite. Thank you for leaving a comment.
My friend, your talents never end nor fail to inspire. Cherished our time together… 🙂
Ah, thanks, Carrie! It was so fun to spent time with you at BlogHer Food. I look forward to our next adventure….
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