Making of the 3.3 handbag

The tale of a craftswoman and a handbag

[ This article is also available in Italian, French, Korean and Japanese ]

In the countryside near Florence, another day has just started.

Upon the Arno River, the workshop opens the doors and switches the lights on, as it has always done for the last fifty years. The artisans reunite around the coffee machine to have a warm cup of espresso and to share few words. They have a long day ahead and they need good energy.  

The creation of the 3.3 handbag is about to begin.

Master Giorgio selects the crocodile leathers. Some times he chooses Alligator, others he takes the rare Porosus. He carefully checks that the surfaces are free of defects. From a dedicated folder he pulls out the pattern pieces, which include sizes and some notes for cutting. All elements in crocodile leather are cut symmetrically.

Caterina controls the thickness of all parts. Then she glues the inside base on the smooth backs. This will reinforce the structure of the handbag.

The expert craftswoman pairs each piece with the lining. The upper sides of the backs are embellished with strips of crocodile leather. The scales are similar in and out the handbag. It is a little trick, which offers a sophisticated look and a neat design.

The edges, previously smoothed, are painted only one way with a thin brush, guided by a precise and steady hand. There is not room for any smear or excess of paint.

Still wrapped in the protective sheets, the lock is assembled on top of both compartments of the bag. Caterina tightens the back plates with four tiny screws.

The handle is composed of the base and the head. Comfort is the key word. The base is stuffed with a malleable filling, which gives to the grip strength, flexibility and pleasure to the touch. Caterina turns the edges of the base upward, framing the central lining. Right after, she folds down the edges with a pointed splint, made of horn; a simple, but precious tool from her mother, a master craftswoman, back in the day. At last, Caterina hand sews the two ends of the handle around the shiny metal rings.

Leo Camerini is embossed with a glazed ribbon on a rectangle of leather, which will be stitched inside the bag. The “Made in Italy” label appears right after, as the statement of the noble art, the entire World admires.

The sewing machine is switched on. The needle stitches the thread guided by the mechanic vertical movement. The presser foot runs around smoothly. Caterina’s eyes do not miss a single stitch.  She prefers to use the hand wheel on the most delicate parts. Each step needs the right patience.

Finally the 3.3 handbag shows off its definitive shape. However the work its not fully accomplished. Caterina inspects every spot of her creation, inside and outside. Once she is fully satisfied, she covers it with the dust bag and leans it in its box; ready to join the new owner wherever she lives…