Coconut shell can be cut into pieces, connected with copper, sterling silver or filled-gold wire and combined with semi-precious gemstones to create high-end, one-of-a-kind purses. Coconut shell pieces can also be connected using hemp, jute or sisal cord to make vegan-friendly versions of popular designer-leather ones. While the project may take time, those with jewellery-making and/or sewing skills will be able to create an exotic coconut shell purse that looks like it came straight from a boutique.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- Coconut shell sections
- Power drill, 1/8-inch bit
- Black steel, sterling silver, copper or filled-gold wire jump rings
- Sisal, hemp or jute cord
- Tapestry needle
- 10-inch by 19-inch piece of heavy burlap
- Any desired purse handle with fasteners of your choice
Purchase or cut sections of coconut shell in various shapes and sizes. Drill holes in each piece, like the drilled coconut sections in the amber, gold wire and coconut shell necklace by coconut jewellery artist, Aileen Parmenter. Position the holes on opposite sides of each shell section, approximately an equal distance apart.
Decide how wide, deep and tall your coconut shell purse will be. Divide those dimensions by the width and height of each coconut-shell section. For example, if you want a 2- by 16- by 8-inch purse, and your coconut sections are 2-inch squares or circles, you will need four pieces each for the right and left sides, eight pieces for the purse bottom, and 32 pieces each for the front and back, for a total of 80 coconut-shell squares.
Assemble the front section first. Lay coconut shell sections four high and five across. Connect every section to every section it touches, using jump rings made from your choice of wire, or by stitching the sections together with sisal, hemp or jute cord on a tapestry needle to make a 32-square patchwork. Repeat to assemble the back section. The front and back sections should resemble the purse in the photo at Eco on a Dime.
Assemble the right and left sides by connecting two sets of four stacked coconut sections, using jump rings or thread and a tapestry needle. Connect eight more sections for the purse bottom. Stitch the right-side stack of four coconut sections to the corresponding sections on the purse front. Repeat for the corresponding sections on the purse back.
Repeat by stitching the left-side stack of four coconut sections to the corresponding sections on the purse back and front. You should now have a purse exterior that is four coconut shell sections tall, one section wide and eight sections long.
Finish making the purse exterior by stitching the eight-stack coconut shell pieces to the front and back sides to make a bottom for the purse.
Fold the top edge of a 10- by 19-inch piece of burlap over twice and stitch across the fabric 1/2-inch from the fold to make a top seam.
Fold the 19-inch piece of burlap cloth in half across the 10-inch side and stitch up the side, 1/2 inch from the open edge. Stitch across the bottom of the jute bag 1/2 inch from the open edge.
Turn the bag inside out. Cross-stitch it into place along the top edge of the inside of the coconut purse exterior.
Attach your desired handle using whatever fasteners or jewellery findings you choose. Suggested handle materials include brass, copper or steel chain, with at least 1/4-inch wide links or braided or macramed sisal, hemp or jute rope.
Making the Lining
Tips and warnings
- Jewellery artist Aileen Parmenter uses coconut shell when making her pieces because, "I liked the look of the material. The shell has a slight curve to it. Coconut shell looks like leather but of course it is not. It is very organic. I like to use natural materials, especially things that would ordinarily be thrown away."
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