We first introduced you to designer Randa Roberts as one of our OLFA Creators 2019 designer. You can read her previous interview on our website here. We enjoyed her work so much that we’ve asked her to come back and create more recycled projects for you! Here’s a chance for you to get to know Randa a little better.
When did you first discover an interest in turning leather into new, useful pieces?
2014 was when I first tried to make a bag from a leather jacket. At the time I was hand making and selling a whole different product. I started to learn about bag making, had a great industrial sewing machine that would sew through leather, so I gave it a try, and really enjoyed it. I got a great response online, and kept going and getting better. Soon I cut out any other items and went all in making bags. Custom orders started rolling in and thankfully haven’t stopped.
Do you mostly make purses and bags?
Yes, although I’ve been working on adding smaller accessories such as wallets, and passport covers along with coin purses. I would say crossbody bags are what I’m known for.
What kind of sewing machine would you recommend for someone who wants to sew leather?
Thin leather can be sewn on a good home sewing machine using a walking foot attachment and a diamond point leather needle. If you wanted to sew thicker leather, I’d recommend looking into an industrial machine with a servo or clutch motor because you need power, and they’ve got it. I actually was given my first industrial sewing machine from my mom, and when I bought my second one, I did a lot of research to find one that was best for my needs. They’re big and heavy, and need regular maintenance, but I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without them.
Besides leather, what other items do you rescue and recycle?
So many things! I’ve reused the stuffing in a leather couch I reclaimed to make cushions and a dog bed. I’ve also made my dog jackets from old sweaters and a waterproof car blanket. My husband is a carpenter, and I’ve put his skills to use around the house making reclaimed wood shelves and a bench. I’ve always love to re-purpose and I’m sure I always will. It feels good, and I think re-purposed looks good too.
When someone gives you a purse or garment to remake, how do you know what to make from it?
Years of experience has helped me to know what, and how many, can be made from a leather jacket. Often the first question I ask a customer when they come with jacket in hand is “what style would you love to wear” and I’ll have a few sample bags to see and try on, and then we design a bag together. I’ve had leather jackets come from all over Canada, and I do my best to make it an easy ordering process through messages online. I love the connections and friendships I’ve made through transforming leather jackets.
You’ll always find ________ in my fridge.
Milk and coffee cream!
What is your favorite holiday?
Every holiday! When I had kids, holidays became special again and we enjoy them all. I don’t go over the top, I just love spending time together.
What book is on your nightstand?
I actually am not much of a reader, but I love podcasts. My current favourites are Canadian True Crime, and The Business of Making. If I were to have a book on my nightstand it would definitely be on the topic of true crime or entrepreneurship. Really.
Randa shared some tips for getting the most out of recycled leather during America Recycles Day. They will help you be more successful in your own recycling projects.
Randa’s project, Reclaimed Leather Wall Pockets, is just right for organizing things in your life – such as your keys, or phone, or OLFA tools! Be sure to check it out.
Connect with Randa on social media:
So Comfy Designs
Other social media links: