My sister recently asked if I could help her clean the suede on her favorite purse. The entire purse is leather except for that back suede panel. Well, we tried to brush with a soft bristle brush and that didn’t work, so we “experimented” with a spray on oxi-cleaner that she had on hand. While the cleaner didn’t do any damage, our vigorous brushing took the suede off and the purse was pretty much ruined. So, now she asks if I can replace the panel. Silly me…. I love a good challenge, so the hunt was on to match the leather which was pretty much an impossibility! I drove all the way up to Tandy Leather to see if I could get a piece of leather to match. I guess the color can be called “Toast” which is basically a brownish-orange. Never realized how many different shades of brownish orange there are! Finally settled on a nice piece of black leather and when I got home, I proceeded to deconstruct that back panel. It was really not very hard to do and, long story short, I used the piece as a pattern and was pleasantly surprised with how nice it turned out. Needless to say, I’m now hooked an learning to work with leather! Actually, I would like to challenge myself further and totally rip the purse apart to make a new one just to see if I can do it, but figured I better try to seek out a leather class first. Another not-so-easy-task! But I did find the Chicago School of Shoemaking and after a few weeks of constantly looking at their website, I decided to take the plunge and sign up for their “Beautiful Bag” class. If you are interested in learning how to work with leather, I cannot recommend this class and the school highly enough! You don’t have to know how to sew, Sara and her crew will teach you! You can choose your class and start out by making something as simple as a leather bracelet or something more difficult like a pair of gym shoes! You can also schedule corporate events and date nights or sign up for the trade school portion and learn how to become a Cobbler! Trade schools have become pretty-much non-existent in today’s society, and I think it’s so important that we support and bring back schools and classes such as this. Here’s a picture of my first completed Leather Tote Bag complete with a zipper closure. Is it perfect? Nope. But I think it turned out pretty neat! The thing I was really excited about is that I was able to combine glitter heat transfer vinyl into the design and I know I can embroider on leather. The possibilities are simply endless! Would you like a bag like this? Check out Chicago School of Shoemaking, or contact me to discuss your personalized Leather Tote and I will make one for you!