Here’s a post long overdue – two leatherworking kits I ordered in March 2019 and didn’t finish sewing until March 2020!
I ordered from company in the UK called “Simple Way” as a treat to myself during my concussion recovery, and my first impression wasn’t good. The wallet went together easily, but the holes on the blue purse kit weren’t properly punched. I sent customer service a video of me struggling to get a needle through the hole, and they said, “Oh, we can replace that!”… until the realised that when I said “purse” I meant the handbag, and then they told me it was too expensive to replace! WTF? It was too expensive to but and then have to repunch thousands of holes myself, thank you very much.
Here’s how that email chain went:
Simple Way: “We sell lots of the Sarah handbag kits and this is the first time we had complain that it was hard to sew. I would advise to persevere and the bag would look lovely.”
Me: “I’m confused. At first you offered me a replacement, and now you are telling me to persevere?”
Simple Way: “We thought it was a purse, not a bag as per your email.”
Me: “The kit cost 81 pounds plus international shipping – that’s $141CAD plus $25 shipping. For that price, and with the difficulty I showed you that I’m having, I would like either a replacement or a refund. I’m going to have to use an awl to enlarge hundreds of holes, which defeats to whole point of buying a kit.”
Simple Way: “We do appreciate what you say, however it’s a first time we have had a complain of that type and as make everything to order (we do not keep stock of any of our products, every items is made specifically to order) it is quite expensive for us also to make another kit, especially when it is a handbag or a satchel. And as a company we do need to have our queries regarding the product that is faulty, especially when we do not have many complaints. We do pride ourselves on quality of our products and as a small business we do care about our customers. We are sorry to hear the sewing was too hard, but you need to understand that we do have a right to ask questions why our product was faulty.”
A whole bunch of emails later, they paid for me to ship the original kit back and I waited for a new kit to arrive. The new kit was like night and day, much easier to sew. They also put an extra version of the wallet in with the replacement, which I appreciated. I just wish they had taken one look at the video and said, “Nope, that’s not up to standard” and made it good without me having to put up such a fight! As it happens, that purse is no longer sold on their site. Interesting.
That said… by time I sewed it during Coronavirus lockdown, I had better things to worry about than poor customer service! The final product turned out fine. I haven’t used it at all yet – partly because it is so floppy, and partly because leather just isn’t as easy to sanitize. (Now that I type that, I’ve never sanitized my pleather purses, so maybe I should just use this one anyway.)
Here’s the wallet I made with their Tardis kit, and it is excellent! I left out the third accordion compartment so that it would be slimmer, and it has been perfect. I’ve used it for the last year and I like it a lot.
Like my dress? It’s the Seamwork Ariel which I first sewed last summer, and I like this pattern so much! All the darts hit me perfectly, and it is part of what convinced me to try Seamwork subscription this month!
So here are my final thoughts: If you are curious about Simple Way and they are in your budget, go for it. Having everything all ready to put together is certainly lovely and makes for a relaxing project… if you can get your needle through the holes. If you get a kit that isn’t up to par, get ready to fight for a replacement.