THE MAKING OF AN ALEXANDRA DE CURTIS HANDBAG
I’m excited to share a step-by-step guide of how my handbags are made. Here's an exclusive sneak peek into what goes on behind the scenes in my Roman workshop.
Step 1: The design process
This is one of my favourite steps, as I get to put my initial ideas on paper. I’m not a big drawer though, I’m more of a 3D kind of person. So, rather than picking up a pencil, I pick up paper and scissors and I start cutting away until I get to the shape I had envisioned. By this point I usually have a good idea of what leather I will be using because certain leathers work best for some shapes, and as I quickly discovered in may early days as a designer, not so well for others.
Step 2: The pattern
Once I have a good idea of the shape I want to make, I go and see my trusted team with my ‘paper’ bag and together we create the first prototype. The first step is to create a pattern of the bag, just like you would for a shirt or a dress. We deconstruct the bag into carefully measured and cut cardboard pieces which represent the various pieces of the handbag and use these to cut the prototype to size.
Step 3: Making the prototype
If it’s a completely new style we’ll make a full paper and fabric prototype of the bag and stitch it together, otherwise we cut it immediately with the leather I’ve chosen to see if the shape works. This is a crucial step because this is when you see whether the leather will hold the shape or not, so I tend to go straight into cutting the leather sample.
When all looks good, (even though minor changes which will always happen at this stage), we cut the patterns onto the leather and my team gets to work on the different sections of the bag. Below you can see the handle in progress: a rubber tube is placed between two pieces of leather and each end of the handle is reinforced by gluing sections of leather back to back before the leather is sewn together with a sewing machine. Once all the pieces of the bag are cut and glued, the accessories such as zips or studs are attached, and all the pieces are sewn together - it’s a bit like a jigsaw puzzle!
Step 4: Adding signature features
This is the final step and where we personalise the bag. Elegant embossing is a distinguishing feature of all my handbags and is done very simply with a press, either plain or with a gold finish. Every bag comes with a removable shoulder strap and a small leather pouch to keep your items from getting lost at the bottom of your bag.
Another distinguishing feature is the bow on the front of most of my bags. This simple detail represents my minimal aesthetic and the true craftsmanship of this ancient craft. The bow is made with a piece of leather that is cut raw to show the colour contrast of the bonded suede lining against the smooth leather. It’s that pop of colour that will hopefully brighten your day whenever you wear one of my bags!
I hope you enjoyed my step-to-step guide to making an Alexandra de Curtis bag. You can view the whole process in my video by clicking on the image below.