Trying something new

I love going on courses and learning something new! And I really enjoyed the one-day course I took one Saturday last month to learn how to make a leather bag. I’ve been making very simple fabric bags for sometime now and I think it’s watching The Repair Shop that made me think of trying leather.

I found Rosanna Clare’s courses on Facebook and when she couldn’t fit me in on the date I originally chose, she kindly fitted me in on another Saturday, alongside two people doing half-day courses in the morning.

I wanted a Saturday course because her workshop studio is just south of Guildford, and I couldn’t face the M25 on a weekday! On a Saturday, it was an easy journey down to the A3 and then off into the lovely Surrey country lanes down to Smithbrook Kilns – former brickworks that have been converted into a collection of artistes’ studios, shops, businesses, a restaurant and flats.

Rosanna’s workshop is an Aladdin’s cave of leather-working: skins in so many colours to choose from, all sorts of tools, sewing machines, all the hardware you need for bags, key-rings and belts, material for linings, and all the beautiful bags she makes to sell.

Two things impressed from the very start: the fact that the three of us had all arrived early, so we started early. And Rosanna’s passion. I think I’ve written a blog here before about PASSION in writing. Well, Rosanna has it for both leather and teaching.

The couple, on the three-hour course, were making a number of small items: such as a credit card case, a key-ring tassle, glasses case, luggage tag, bookmark, notebook cover and trinket tray. So Rosanna divided her time between them and me and not once did any of us feel we were left waiting.

I started by learning how to cut the leather pieces out, using a template and a rotary cutter. These pieces were then glued together, before stitching on an industrial sewing machine. That last piece of equipment was new to me, and it took a little time to get used to the slight differences from my home version. Zips, linings, tabs and hardware followed. Rosanna was happy to work through lunch, me too, so we carried on and had an early finish. And I was delighted with my fold-over bag.

I can quite see myself going back for another course and in the meantime, I might just try experimenting at home. Suzie Fletcher, watch out.  You may have competition!

If you’re interested, have a look at Rosanna’s website at

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