Few objects have the charm that leather goods have. There’s something about the richness of leather. And because I love a challenge, I thought I’d endeavor to make my own leather bag using the least amount of know-how and tools as possible. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but really, I was quite surprised that my plan turned out a decent looking satchel. And the best part is, I have worked out the kinks just so you can make one too!
Skill Level: Intermediate
Time: 2 1/2-3 hours
Cost: 25.00-30.00 (assuming you have basic tools)
You will need:
1 piece of leather (my remnant was roughly 2 feet wide and 3 feet long)
8 small grommets
2 heavy duty snaps
1 package of 4 metal D rings, available here
1 yard (or less) of linen thread (or any other strong thread)
1 sheet stiff felt in neutral color
linen twill tape or ribbon for strap
gold leaf pen
To begin, measure 7 inches up from the larger piece. Place the side panel (the next smallest rectangle) at 7 inches at a right angle with the main piece of leather. Overlap the larger piece by 1/2″ with the smaller rectangle of leather. Making sure that the top side of the leather pieces are facing you as you sew, use a sewing machine to sew in place. (This method is to ensure straight stitching, as the stitches will be seen.) Repeat this process on the opposite side.
This step is the most difficult of all the steps. Take this part slow. And keep some straight pins handy to secure the leather into place while sewing. This is the point which you will sew up the sides. I found it nearly impossible to begin sewing on the machine at the corners of the side pieces, so I opted to start midway up and hand stitch later the bottom. Hopefully you can see this in the photo below. On each side, after pinning a 1/2″ seam allowance & making sure to fold over the leather to make a square edge, sew the sides into place. Repeat 4 times, until all sides are completed. As a tip, don’t be afraid to contort the leather bag in ways that best allow straight stitching.
Once all four sides are in place, using linen thread and a strong sharply pointed needle, sew the remaining portion of each side of the bag. Use a back stitch and make the stitches small (being mindful to match the stitching on the machine portion).
Based on the width of the metal d rings and the size of the grommets you have purchased, cut a small piece of leather to the same width, and fold over. Measure the fold over to be long enough to allow space around all sides of the grommet.
I used a Cropadile tool (a heavy-duty hole punch) to punch through the leather, making room for the grommet. If you do not have this tool, I recommend using an awl to first punch through the leather, and then use sharp pair of scissors to cut away enough material for the grommet to fit through.
Since the hole punching tool will not work in the place where this will be attached on the bag, use the awl to punch a hole where this piece will land. Make sure the hole is placed in the center of the side piece.
You attach this using the grommet tool. Follow the instructions on your particular tool. For mine, I had to place the bag with the grommet in place over a small metal stand
Repeat this process on the other side of the bag.
At this point we are going to attach the side flaps to the top of the side pieces of the bag.
Use the 2 square pieces of leather you initially cut out for this. Place one square piece a 1/8″ in from the edge of the bag. See picture below:
Using a sewing machine, stitch an additional 1/8″ in from the square piece’s edge.
Fold over the sewn seam, and top stitch into pace. Continue this stitching all the way around the front of the bag by folding over 1/8″ of the edge over. Be careful to catch the edge with your thread as you stitch.
Once you’ve finished stitching around the lip of the bag. Use this same method of turning under 1/8″ and sewing on the open edges of the outer flap. (I turned mine over to make sure that I was catching the edge.)
Now it’s time to hand-stitch those pesky holes we left open earlier on all sides. Carefully making sure each corner is square pin one portion in place to keep the leather from slipping. Using your sharp needle and linen thread, back stitch into pace.
Now it’s time to add the finishing touches to the bag. First let’s put on the snaps. Using the awl punch a hole on either side of the outer flap where you wish your snaps to be placed. Cut away any material that will not allow the snap to fit through.
Once your two snaps are hammered into place, fold over the flap, lining up all sides to be square, and mark where the bottom of the snap should land. Punch holes with the awl, and then punch into place with the hammer.
This post will be continued on Monday, Part 2 instructions can be found here.
Photo Credits: All // Ann Neslen via Drippingpaintbrush
*What would you use this bag for?