After you have picked out “the” model from all the possible designs, selected the color combinations, sorted out the hardware and created the first pattern – the next step to making a new style Italian leather handbag is the cutting of the material.
In the case of cutting a leather handbag, the size of the leather, the color, the grain, the thickness and the size of the pattern pieces all come into play. It is essential to have an experienced hand welding the knife.
It is a little bit easier when cutting a standard width roll of material – which is homogeneous in color, texture, size and pattern though if the pattern is complex and has many twists and turns a steady hand will make the difference between pieces that are sewable and pieces that . . . aren’t.
When cutting by hand, a rigid pattern piece is first cut from thick cardboard. It will then get laid out on the material in a way that will maximize the material in the best possible manner leaving as little as possible for scrap. If the material has a “nap” to it, the direction will be indicated on the pattern piece so that all of the pieces flow in the same direction. Below it is possible to view Marco cutting the center piece to the Toscanella Children’s backpack in the canvas line. The material used in these sturdy bags has a feel to it almost like a crushed velvet or stiff suede – so he will take care to be sure that each piece is cut in the correct direction.
In the video below Renzo, one of our Master craftsman cutting the material for a new model about to come out in the Toscanella collection in February 2013. The material to be used in this Italian leather handbag is an felted wool which has been a tradition in the Casentino Valley (located about an hour southeast of Florence Italy) for several centuries. Tuscany has always had a strong tradition working sheep and their by products namely milk (in the form of pecorino cheese) and wool. The distinctive color of the “tessuto Casentinese” is just one of the reasons that this material is so popular with the Italians in Tuscany. But perhaps the original material was appreciated for its high wear resistance and weatherproof, and was adapted to the needs of those who had to live on the road or spend out in the open, most of the day.
Next time we tell the secret of how this particular color came to part of history here in Tuscany, Italy.